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Flying Squirrels are usually classified as a pest species because they love to live in buildings, they are nocturnal, and they live in colonies of several animals. The most common complaints include the following:
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Flying Squirrel Removal Information - Most homeowners don’t know they have flying squirrels until they hear noises overhead. Flying squirrels are mostly nocturnal, and can be distinguished from regular squirrels by their large, orbital eyes. Flying squirrels are often mistaken for infant grey squirrels due to their small size, lack of tail fluff and generally calm demeanor. Because these creatures like to be active after dark, homeowners often discover a problem when their sleep is disrupted by strange noises.
Unlike many other types of squirrels, flying squirrels are less destructive to the home. Their nuisance qualities have to do with the mess which accompanies their communal bathroom sites. They are also social animals, often living in groups of eight or more. Eight squirrels stomping around overhead can make quite a ruckus. They are also known to chew on wood and wires in an attic. Because it's a common problem with fliers, I've written a How To Get Rid of Flying Squirrels in the Attic page or read the guide Can You Use Repellent to Remove Flying Squirrels from the Attic?.
Despite the differences between flying squirrels and regular squirrels, both species will live in homes regardless of food sources nearby. Homes next to wooded lots and state forests are often most susceptible to fly squirrel infestation. All it takes is one hole in the exterior of your home to provide the mammals access to the inside structure. Flying squirrels are often smaller than grey squirrels and require even less of an opening to squeeze through. The best defense against a squirrel offense is to routinely maintain the outside of your home. By patching all holes along the roof line, you are preventing squirrel interest in your home. Since they are adept climbers, care must be taken to check eves, overhangs and roof outcroppings closely. One missed crack or hole can result in squirrels moving in.
Once they are inside of the home, many people take the leap and go right to poison. Make no mistake, poison will kill a flying squirrel; however, what happens next is often the cause of much more anxiety and stress for the homeowner. Poisoned flying squirrels will not die immediately. Remember, too, that they are communal animals. If one is poisoned, all eight may be poisoned as well. These eight furry bodies are going to retreat into the safe, tight spaces of your home where they will then die. The smell of decaying carcasses will linger inside the home until the bodies are removed. Unlike smaller animals such as mice, a squirrel body (and those of multiple squirrels) will take longer to decompose. Waiting for the smell to “go away” may not be realistic in this situation.
Commercial companies will try and dupe the homeowner into buying a stack of repellents and deterrents for flying squirrels. Fake owls, predator urine, vibration and ultrasonic emitters, predator sounds and chemical sprays are all options on the market. Home remedies, like the use of mothballs, also exist. All of the above have been proven useless during field tests. If you think about your own response to stimuli, you’ll understand why many of these are ineffective. Fake owls and predator sounds, smells, or decoys are fakes. It won’t take a flying squirrel long to figure out that danger is not really at hand. Just as we know a fake when we see one, so does a flying squirrel. Ultrasonic emitters have never been proven to be efficient, and most professional will attest to that fact. Mothballs and other home remedies are not potent enough to be used in large areas, and most nuisance animals will simply avoid the toxin’s immediate location.
Flying squirrels are most effectively trapped and removed from the site. This trapping can be done with a live trap, though squirrels have excellent memories and will often return to a den site miles away. The most recommended for of trapping is with a humane, lethal snap trap. These traps use a lever system to quickly and humanely kill a flying squirrel. Be sure to buy large traps, not those used for the common mouse, and to bait them with something the squirrel will be attracted to. Leave the traps baited and unset for a few days. Once the squirrels have no fear of taking food from the devices, set the trap and wait. Remember that flying squirrels live in communities. Trapping one will not eliminate your issue. As there is no definitive way to determine the size of the colony, you must keep your traps set until all signs of the infestation have resolved. Complications often occur when traps are taken away too soon or when infant squirrels are left behind to decompose behind walls. Improper trap size will also be a detriment. Squirrels that are trapped but not killed may drag the trap into the wall where the animal will eventually die of starvation or from its injuries. Read the guide Best Ways to Trap or Exclude Flying Squirrels.
FLYING SQUIRREL BIOLOGY AND INFORMATION
The flying squirrel is an umbrella term that includes all the subspecies of flying squirrels that are named after their geographical location. For the purpose of this web page, flying squirrel will refer to all of the flying squirrel species in North America from Northern Canada all the way to South America. Flying squirrels inhabit wooded areas and make their nests/dreys in all different types of places. The most common nest is in the cavity of a tree, bird’s nests, bird houses and in the attics of homes. Flying squirrels are very small squirrels that can be gray, white or brown. They are known for the webbing that is attached to its belly and connects all the legs that gives it the unique ability to glide between the branches of trees, and this is how it got its name.
Since the flying squirrel spans across the entire continent of North America their diet changes dramatically depending on their geographical location and how hungry they are. Generally speaking, flying squirrels are omnivores and will eat a variety of insects such as; spiders, beetles, slugs and moths. They will also eat many different plants such as flowers, moss, lichen, mushrooms, bark and nuts. They also enjoy eating fruits, nuts, tree sap and bird eggs when the opportunity arises. Flying squirrels are classified as scatter hoarders; this means that they hoard their food in many different spots surrounding the main living area, and this behavior is meant to increase food security.
The life expectancy for a flying squirrel is six years, and can extend to fifteen years if they are held in captivity. The reason that flying squirrels’ lives are cut short when they are in the wild is that they are a favorite prey animal. The main predators for the flying squirrel are: foremost is the owl, raccoons, coyotes, weasels, tree snakes, ground snakes like rattlesnakes and house cats. However, flying squirrels have very finely honed senses to protect against these predators.
Firstly, the predators of the flying squirrel use sound and movement to detect them and the squirrel responds by “freezing” and thinking about its escape route. Flying squirrels know the area they live in very well and will glide to the nearest refuge when they sense danger. The only time that this is not true is when the flying squirrel is in its juvenile stage. This is the time in a flying squirrels life when it is in the most danger of being killed because it has not yet learned the terrain like the adult flying squirrels.
The mating season for flying squirrels is in the early spring. The usual litter size is 1-4 young per female every two years, but the number depends on the size of the forest. For example, flying squirrels who live in larger forests will have larger litters. This gives the mother flying squirrel plenty of time to wean her young before the bitter winter sets in. When a flying squirrel is born it is defenseless; it has no fur and the organs are still developing. After 5 weeks the babies will have their fur and will be ready to start learning how to hunt and glide. The male is not present at any time during the raising of the litter.
The flying squirrel has long been mistaken for bats. Be aware that these squirrels do not fly like bats but glide and jump so it only appears that they are flying. Some flying squirrels can glide for over 1,400 feet! While these squirrels are adorable, they do not make good pets. The only suitable place for these furry gliders is in a forest or in a zoo. Read more About Flying Squirrel Biology.
Flying squirrels are best treated with a nice dose of exclusion therapy when you’ve located an invasion in your home, and this basically means using exclusion methods to get rid of them. There are different approaches you could take, of course, including trapping (both live and kill trapping), poisons and repellents (neither of which we would recommend), and even just making a bit of a racket with a radio, some lights, and maybe even a couple of dustbin lids bashed together. All of these things could help in their own little way, but there’s one really big thing that you need to know before you decide on a course of action …
You MUST seal up your home at the same time as getting rid of flying squirrels, otherwise, you’ll find yourself with a big nuisance wildlife cycle on your hands.
Exclusion methods are the best approach because they take this big thing into account. The aim is to use exclusion traps or doors (similar to one-way doors) on the most used holes or entrances/exits. A little bit of quiet monitoring will point you to the right spot before long. If you head outside when the sun sets or rises, you’ll see the flying squirrels either leaving your home, or coming home after a heavy night of looking for bugs and other juicy treats to eat.
Once you know where the little critters are coming from, you can use exclusion devices on those spots. The rest of the space should be inspected at the same time, with the lesser-used entrances and holes sealed up. This forces them to use only the holes that you have left for them — the ones with the exclusion devices attached.
Exclusion devices can work in many ways, and you can use many of the same methods for flying squirrels as you can for bats. A funnel made out of mesh wiring can provide a simple enough funnel exclusion devices. The creatures are able to get into the small hole at the bottom of the funnel/cone shape, exiting the building via the larger end. When they try to get back in, however, the inward pointing ends of the wire prevent them from being able to. You do run the risk that the animal could injure itself in the battle to get in, especially if there are youngsters inside. We wouldn't recommend using a mesh wire funnel style device unless you're pretty sure you know what you are doing. Sizing and measurements are very important. One wrong move and you could impale a tiny creature that you were trying to get out safely and humanely.
You could look at exclusion traps, but these give you a slight problem on the other side. You will rarely have just the one flying squirrel, so you would likely need a large trap fitted to the exclusion hole. You potentially could end up with a number of flying squirrels in a single trap, and when they're all flapping and panicking away in there, many of them could become injured.
If you have a flying squirrel group in your attic, it is strongly advised that you seek a professional opinion. In some states, certain species and subspecies of flying squirrel are actually protected, which means that stringent laws surround the removal and handling of them. Read the guide Ways to Tell if There is A Flying Squirrel in Your Attic.
Go back to the Flying Squirrel Removal page, or learn tips to do it yourself with my How to Get Rid of Flying Squirrels guide.