Of over two hundred squirrel species living all over the world, there are five different types that can be found in Michigan. Each squirrel exhibits a different appearance and behavior, and the habitats they choose to call home vary.
Grey and fox squirrels are the most common nuisance squirrel species in Michigan that cause problems. Occasionally homes will become infested with flying squirrels however it is not as common. How do you know if you have squirrels in your attic? Squirrels tend to take up residence loud and proud. They will run and chase back and forth throughout the attic space very loudly. Squirrel being diurnal animals are active during the day and sleep at night. You may not hear much during the day however, and for good reason. During the day squirrels will be out finding food, hence the reason some only hear them as they enter and exit. With wildlife all scenarios and situations differ, as animals are free thinking and unpredictable. It is best to do your due diligence in listing and investigating if you feel you may have squirrels in your home.
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Squirrels in a home can truly be your worst nightmare. Little do many homeowners know, squirrel damages are not covered by the majority of homeowner’s insurance policies. Why? For the fact that their gnawing of wires causes over 30,000 home and business fires annually across the United States. Along with their gnawing, squirrels smash and crush insulation as they trail throughout attic space. This renders the attic insulation useless and needing replacement. Poorly insulated attics can increase energy costs by up to 50%. Other damages that squirrels cause is water damage from their entry point. When a squirrel gnaws it’s way into a home through the roof, soffit or fascia board, the home is open and exposed to any and all elements. This means rain and snow will directly enter and start causing damages. These damages are not limited to water damage as this can create mold as well. Squirrel damages can be extremely expensive if left alone for too long and allowed to escalate to drastic levels of home damage.
Many online sources will state that cayenne pepper, mothballs, ammonia soaked rags, peppermint mint oil, loud sound, animal repellent sprays & powders, flashing lights, predator urine and ultrasonic devices will rid your home of nuisance squirrels. If this were true, there would be no need for professional squirrel removal. Squirrels are extremely smart and adaptable animals. Anything short of a live animal chasing them down will not deter them from a safe attic space that free of elements and predators. These squirrel repellents are simply gimmicks. Using mothballs for the deterrent of squirrels is illegal and highly ineffective as the weight of the odor falls into the living space of the home and does not rise into the attic space where the squirrels reside. Predator urine has to be the most laughable on the list, as coyotes, fox and bobcats in the midwest urinate everywhere. Squirrels aren’t actively avoiding every one of the multitude of places that a predator has urinated.
True squirrel deterrents would be to trim branches back at least 8 feet or cover the base of the tree with sheet metal to prevent climbing. Down spots should be modified to prevent or make climbing difficult as well. Attic vents and fans must be correctly squirrel proofed with non home improvement store bought steel mesh to prevent entry through these large open areas. Chicken wire will not due in preventing home entry. Also removing food sources such as bird feeders will remove the need for squirrels to want to den nearby. Chimneys must be tightly capped leaving so open areas as many squirrels fall down every year and are unable to climb up the brick to exit.
The Fox Squirrel
Description – The fox squirrel, also goes by the names of Eastern fox squirrel and Bryant’s fox squirrel.
Appearance – The fox squirrel is usually a brown color, light or dark, sometimes brown and black and some fox squirrels have hints of yellow and gray to their fur. The fox squirrel is native to North American.
Habitat – This is a tree squirrel and it is the largest tree squirrel in the region. Fox squirrels are found mostly in the eastern and central regions of the United States.
Diet – They mostly eat tree buds, roots, and pines. They also eat insects, fungi, and bird eggs, all of which are found trees or near trees. They can be seen gathering acorns, fruits, seed, and berries. They have a keen sense of smell and that is how they find the nuts they store for winter.
Reproduction – Fox squirrels mate all throughout the year. The gestation period for a fox squirrel is forty-five and a female can give birth to two to four young. The young fox squirrels are born naked and blind. They become independent when they are about twelve weeks old and then go on to repeat this life process.
The Gray Squirrel
Description – The gray squirrel also goes by the name of Eastern squirrel. It can be found in Canada as well as Midwestern America and it shares a lot of similar traits to its rodent cousin, the fox squirrel.
Habitat – This adaptable species can be found in woodland areas as well as suburban areas.
Appearance – The gray squirrel is not grey in color, rather they have a white tip to their brown, black, and white furs which give the illusion that they are gray.
Feeding – This squirrel shares similar eating habits to the fox squirrel, but chooses that make their home in different places. The nest in trees, but also have been known to build their nest on the outside of houses.
Reproduction – Unlike the fox squirrel, the gray squirrels have a mating season twice a year. They have a similar gestation period to the fox squirrel and can litter two to six your squirrels.
The Red Squirrel
Description – The red squirrel is also sometimes called the American red squirrel or pine squirrel.
Feeding and Habitat – These omnivorous rodents also make a tree their home and make their nest from grass in the branches. The red squirrel eats seeds of conifer cones, from conifer trees, so they can be found in any area of North America this tree is found.
Appearance and Behavior – True to its name, the red squirrel has a reddish colored fur with a white underbelly. This mammal lives on tree squirrels and it exhibits territorial behaviors.
Reproduction – The red squirrel is what is called a spontaneous ovulators. Most females breed for the first time at one year of age.
The Flying Squirrel
Description – The flying squirrel is also known as the Northern flying squirrel is by far the coolest one on the list. This little guy can be seen flying across distances although it is more of a glide than a fly.
Habitat – The flying squirrel can be found in forests across Canada, Alaska, and other parts of the United States like Oregon and North Carolina.
Feeding – They are good gliders but not the best at walking on the ground. They eat a variety of plants, tree sap, fungi, carrion, insects, and bird eggs.
Reproduction – They breed once a year in a tree cavity lined with lichen or any other soft material. Unlike their other squirrel cousins, the flying squirrels are not solitary. During the winter multiple will huddle together in a shared nest. Unlike other members of the squirrel family, flying squirrels are strictly night creatures. They are very unique and come in a variation of colored furs.
The Ground Squirrel
Description – The ground squirrels normally live on or in the ground rather than trees. Ground squirrels are slightly larger in size than other squirrels.
Habitat – A ground squirrel lives in grassy areas like parks or anywhere else that open grass areas are found.
Feeding – A ground squirrels diet includes, nuts, fruits, fungi, and seeds, but they also eat other small animals like eat rats and mice even larger in size than they are.
Reproduction – They share breeding habits with the fox squirrel since they can breed all year long and their gestation period ranges with that of the other squirrels found in North America, thirty to forty-five days.