When Squirrels Invade

When Squirrels Invade
by Ken Chadwick

The squirrel population in North West England has rocketed over the last 20 years to the extent that they are now a major pest species.

The grey squirrels which we see in our gardens (Sciurus carolinensis) is not native to Britain, having been introduced here less than 200 years ago.

Like many members of the family Sciuridae, the Grey Squirrel is a scatter-hoarder; it hoards food in numerous small caches for later recovery.

Some hoards, especially those made near the site of a sudden surplus of food.

Others are more permanent and are not used until months later.

It has been observed that each squirrel makes several thousand caches each season.

The squirrels have very accurate spatial memory for the locations of these caches, and use distant and nearby landmarks to retrieve them. Smell is used once the squirrel is within a few centimeters of the cache.

The nest of the squirrel is called a dray (or drey) and it is usual for the female to have two litters per year, with two to four babies each.

They are minor pests in the garden, digging up bulbs and stealing food intended for birds but become major pests when they enter our homes.

It is increasingly common for pest controllers to be called out to homes where a dray has been constructed in a loft or attic space.

It is increasingly common for pest controllers to attend homes where a dray has been built in a loft or attic space.

Home Improvement Help

Squirrels are rodents and as such have teeth which never stop growing; the word rodent comes from the Latin ‘rodere’ meaning ‘to gnaw’ and this they do extremely well.

Unfortunately they can also chew through water-pipes, especially with the modern trend towards plastic push-fit piping.

As if that wasn’t enough, many household insurance policies specifically exclude damage by rodents so if a squirrel floods your home by chewing through a water pipe in the loft you may find yourself without insurance.

Dealing with squirrels requires professional help, not least in as much as the law regarding squirrels restricts your options.

You cannot simply obtain a packet of rat poison from your local hardware and deal with them that way as you would be committing a criminal offence.

You cannot simply get a packet of rat poison from your hardware store and deal with them that way as you would be committing a criminal offence.

Furthermore you cannot trap them and relocate them some distance from your home, quite apart from the fact that removing a squirrel from the area of its food caches would probably condemn it to death by starvation, it is also a criminal offence under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 under which it is illegal to release a grey squirrel in Britain.

In the majority cases trapping is the the only option and this must be done in a specified manner with routine, timed inspections of the traps.

Trapped squirrels are then humanely dispatched.

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