Flying squirrels don't get as much attention as other nuisance wildlife like skunks and raccoons, but they can still pose a major problem for American homeowners. Here are five things you need to know about these lesser-known pests.
What do Southern flying squirrels look like?
Southern flying squirrels are fairly small animals. They reach lengths of between eight and 10 inches. They have greyish brown fur on most of their bodies, but the fur on their bellies is white. They look similar to regular squirrels when they're not in the air, so you may not realize that you're looking at a flying squirrel until you see it launch itself out of a tree and glide across your backyard.
Where are they found?
Southern flying squirrels are found throughout the eastern half of the United States. They're found along the east coast of the country and are found as far west as Minnesota and Texas. Within their range, you can find them living in deciduous or mixed forests. They can also be found in suburban areas that have a lot of trees.
Do they infest houses?
Flying squirrels don't limit themselves to living in trees; they can also be found living inside attics. They tend to live in fairly large colonies of about 20 individuals, and since they're social creatures, they will make a lot of noise. If you have flying squirrels in your attic, you will hear squeaking and scratching sounds.
Why are they pests?
Flying squirrels' teeth grow constantly, so they need to gnaw on things to wear down their teeth. If they're living inside your attic, this gnawing can be a big problem. They can gnaw on wooden support structures, insulation, wiring, or anything that you're storing in your attic. This can cause damage to the structure of your house and to your possessions.
The gnawing isn't the only problem. A colony of flying squirrels will produce a lot of urine and droppings, and this waste will eventually soak through your ceiling. This will smell awful, and it can even lead to structural damage.
Southern flying squirrels also carry diseases like typhus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Typhus is a serious disease that can kill you; it causes symptoms like a high fever, stomach pains, and a headache. You can get it by breathing the air in your infested attic or by touching flying squirrel feces with your bare skin. You can also get it if a flying squirrel bites you, so don't get too close to them.
How can you get rid of them?
To get rid of flying squirrels, you need to find the gaps in the exterior of your home that they are using as entry points. They can squeeze through small gaps that are hard for you to see. The easiest way to find these gaps is to go outside in the early morning hours when the flying squirrels are returning home; you will see one or more places where they are entering your attic.
Seal all but one of these entry and exit points with caulk, metal mesh, or another appropriate material. When only one exit point is left, a trap needs to be set in front of the exit. It's best to leave this step to the professionals due to the risk of disease. The pest control company will catch the flying squirrels and relocate them far away from your house so they don't come back. Once all of the pests are gone, you'll need to seal the last gap in the exterior to keep more flying squirrels from moving in.
Southern flying squirrels don't get as much attention as other types of nuisance animals, but they're still a big problem, and if they move into your attic, you need to get rid of them before they cause any damage. A pest control company can help with this. Click here to find out more about pest control services in your area.