Home » Squirrels in the Attic: How to Get Them Out and Keep Them Out

Squirrels in the Attic: How to Get Them Out and Keep Them Out

If you have squirrels in the attic, you probably know about it. If you don’t, you might find it hard to believe just how much noise the small creatures can make.

But anyone who’s been through it knows that having a squirrel – or worse, a whole family of squirrels – living in your attic can make it sound as though you live underneath an elephant tap dancing studio. 

And because squirrels tend to be at their most active right before the sun comes up, they can quickly become an unwanted and unwelcome alarm clock.

Noise isn’t the only issue, either. Squirrels in the attic can cause an unbelievable amount of damage – both to your house and the health and hygiene of your family.

So if you’re unlucky enough to be dealing with this situation, you’ll want to know how to get rid of squirrels in the attic immediately. Luckily, there are a couple of good options available to you – as well as some bad ones. Let’s take a look at what works and what doesn’t.

Why Do I Have Squirrels in the Attic?

You keep a clean home. You keep your yard in tip-top shape. So why do you have squirrels in the attic? It just doesn’t make sense that you have rodents in your home after all your hard work.

Don’t worry – it’s not you. It’s just your house.

The truth is that your house is nice for squirrels for much the same reasons it’s nice for you. It gives you warm, cozy relief from cold temperatures. Squirrels appreciate that too, especially in the cold winter months.

Your house also provides a secure, safe place to raise your family. Ditto for squirrels – houses represent safety from predators and a secure place for squirrels to raise their babies.

Attics are particularly preferred for soon-to-be squirrel mamas because they’re not just warm and dry – they are also typically uninhabited, which means they have a quiet space to build nests and have babies.

Are Squirrels in the Attic Dangerous?

It sounds fairly harmless, right? Squirrels just want a warm, cozy home to be safe from predators and raise their bushy-tailed families. What harm could they do?

The amount of damage squirrels in the attic can cause is no laughing matter. Here’s why squirrels in the attic can be dangerous:

  • Damage to your home. Squirrels can cause damage to everything from house insulation, water pipes, electrical wires, and personal belongings.
  • Potential fire hazard. Squirrels are reported to cause thousands of home fires each year. The chewing of electrical wires can cause a spark and squirrel nests tend to be made up of flammable materials.
  • Spread disease. Squirrel feces can spread diseases like salmonella and leptospirosis. They can even carry rabies.
  • Carriers of pests. Squirrels can carry fleas, ticks, and mites – other pests you definitely don’t want in the home.

As you can see, squirrels may seem cute and fluffy but they quickly transform into dangerous pests once they take up residence under your roof. So what are your options?

How to Kill Squirrels in the Attic…Is It Wise?

After a few sleepless nights thanks to your new rodent housemates, it’s understandable that you might be tempted to put out a hit on them. Squirrels aren’t nearly as adorable at five in the morning as they are the rest of the day.

But before you start plotting their downfall, you should know that in many municipalities, killing squirrels is illegal. And even in those where it’s allowed, it’s not necessarily the best idea. Here’s why.

Let’s imagine you decide to poison squirrels inside your attic. Squirrel poison can be very effective but it doesn’t take effect immediately and can take anywhere from hours up to days before it kills the squirrel.

In that time, you have no way of knowing where the squirrel will go. And poison makes any animal act strangely. If the squirrel dies hidden somewhere in your attic or falls down inside a wall where you can’t reach it and then dies, you’re going to have a big problem on your hands. And I’m not talking about the inevitable rodent haunting that will ensue.

I’m talking about decomposition. A dead squirrel in a wall or attic is going to stink. And if you don’t know where it died, you may not be able to get its body removed. You could be dealing with an unholy stench for weeks while you wait for the squirrel’s carcass to break down.

Nobody wants to live like that. So what am I supposed to do? Politely ask them to leave?

Kind of. Or more correctly, strategically and humanely force them to leave. Here’s how to get rid of squirrels in the attic – and make sure they never return.

How to Get Rid of Squirrels in the Attic

Getting rid of squirrels in the attic involves two parts:

  • Squirrel removal from attic: This is the part where you evict all the squirrels calling your attic home by physically removing them from your attic.
  • Keeping squirrels out of attic: You don’t want to remove squirrels only to have them move back in, do you? This is the part where you make sure your attic never houses squirrels again.

You have a range of options when it comes to both parts. Let’s dive in.

How to Get Squirrels Out of the Attic

If you have squirrels in your attic, you need to get rid of them. Stat. So how do you go about removing squirrels from your attic? Here are your best options.

#1. Set Squirrel Traps for Attic Use

If you have squirrels in your attic, trapping them is a great option for removal. There are many types of squirrel traps – live traps and lethal traps, single use and multiple animal traps.

You can use all of them indoors but here are the best squirrel traps we recommend for attics:

BEST LIVE TRAP: Kensizer Animal Trap

BEST LETHAL TRAP: Forestry Suppliers Trap


Once you’ve gotten the trap of your choice, you just need to learn how to bait it and use it.

How to Trap a Squirrel in the Attic

Your attic may provide warmth and shelter but it’s lacking a crucial squirrel need: food. For this reason, you are at an advantage when it comes to trapping squirrels in the attic.

trapping squirrels

Live squirrel traps like the one above can be baited with peanut butter or with one of the many squirrel bait options to entice squirrels to actually get inside.

Once the squirrel’s caught, you can remove it and get rid of it outside. However, you don’t want a squirrel to die in a trap. Squirrels are very susceptible to stress, and can die quite quickly if held in a trap too long. Also, the intense heat that builds up in an attic during the summer can be lethal. You’ll want to check the traps multiple times per day.

To make sure the squirrel you trap doesn’t find its way back to your home, you’ll need to release it at least 10 miles away from your house.

As you can see, squirrel traps are not effortless solutions. They may be simple enough to use, but it does require a lot of work to check and remove the squirrels.

#2. One Way Door for Squirrels

Since you’re going to go to the trouble of blocking up holes anyway to keep squirrels out, it can be a good idea to install a one-way door at the same time and solve your problem that way. That way, there’s no need to check traps and much less risk to the squirrel.

It also means you never have to come into contact with the rodent itself. Given that they can carry fleas and mites and in rare cases even rabies, the less contact you have with the squirrel, the better.

That doesn’t mean traps aren’t useful. Sometimes, if you can’t get your hands on a one-way door, traps can be a useful alternative. But in most situations, a one-way door is an easier and more effective way to get the squirrels out of your attic.

How Do One-Way Squirrel Doors Work?

The attic of your house makes an excellent place for a squirrel to build a nest. It’s warm, sheltered from the elements, and safe from predators. Attics make perfect places to raise squirrel babies.

But again, what they don’t make is an ideal place for the squirrel to find food. For that, the furry freeloaders are going to have to go outside. Which they will do, more or less every day.

So this is where you get clever.

Once you’ve found the main entrance that the squirrel is using to come and go from your attic, you can close it off with a one-way door.

You can get a one-way door like the rectangular one above or even a circular tube design, whichever best suits your house.

If you’re very handy, you can even DIY a one-way door for squirrels. Here is an example of a low-tech but brilliant technique:

If that seems like too much, go for the pre-made one-way door. These devices function like a trapdoor that only opens one way. If the squirrel is inside the attic when you install the one-way door, it will be able to push the door aside and leave.

But when it tries to come back inside, it will find that the door won’t open from the outside. Just make sure you don’t install it the wrong way round.


Before you go rushing out to buy a one-way door, there is one important factor you need to remember about their use.

Baby squirrels in their first couple of weeks of life are too small to use a one-way door.

If there are baby squirrels in your attic and you install a one way door, the mother will leave to get food and then be unable to come back in to get her babies. Trust me: you don’t want an enraged mama squirrel tearing your roof apart from the outside. Nor do you want to kill a litter of babies through starvation.

For this reason, you shouldn’t use a one-way door during squirrel baby season. This time period varies according to where you live, but typically there is one season in the spring and another in the fall. Make sure there are no babies present in the attic before you start using a one-way door.

#3. Squirrel Repellents for the Attic

Another option to get squirrels out of the attic is to make it an inhospitable place for them. How do you use this? Enter squirrel repellents.

Squirrel repellents are things that squirrels hate. There are a lot of options out there but you want to choose the ones that will work best for indoor spaces.

So what is the best squirrel repellent for attic use? Here are your best options.

Loraffe Ultrasonic 4-in-1 Pest Repeller

The reason squirrels have chosen your attic is because it’s warm, quiet, and safe from predators. Well, you can quickly change all that with this 4-in-1 pest repeller.

It emits high-frequency ultrasound that squirrels will find deeply irritating as well as audio recordings of natural predators. It also comes equipped with 12 LED strobe lights that will quickly make peaceful nesting a thing of the past for squirrels in the attic.

Peppermint Oil Squirrel Repellent

The strong, almost spicy scent of peppermint oil can be very unpleasant for squirrels. Compared with other smelly squirrel repellents like predator urine or dried blood, peppermint oil also has the advantage of smelling quite pleasant for us.

Which is why it’s the only squirrel repellent spray we recommend for attic use. Because you’re already dealing with a squirrel problem, you don’t need the scent of bobcat urine in your home as well.

#4. Professional Squirrel Removal from Attic

If your squirrel infestation is at the point that you don’t think you can handle it on your own, there’s no shame in calling in the professionals to do the squirrel removal.

But how much does squirrels in attic removal cost, you wonder? The cost of squirrel removal can vary a lot depending on factors like how big your house is, how many squirrel entry points there are, and where you live.

Still, professional squirrel removal can be worth it since many pest control companies don’t just remove the squirrels living in the attic – they also seal up entryways and make sure they don’t come back.

How to Keep Squirrels Out of the Attic

There’s not much point removing squirrels from your attic if they’re just going to get back inside. No matter how the squirrels got inside in the first place, you need to find the hole they were using and block it up so that you don’t end up in this position ever again.

There are a few other steps you can take to make your home less likely to be invaded. Steps like…

Seal Up Squirrel Holes

Trapping and removing a squirrel won’t do any good if you aren’t also sealing up the holes in your attic. The squirrel will just find its way back inside.. And even then, other squirrels could just do what that first squirrel did and invade your attic. 

The best way to get squirrels out of your attic and make sure the problem never returns is to make it impossible for a squirrel to get inside your house. Duh, you say. But how do you do this?

You can do this by using chicken wire or hardware cloth to close off any holes the squirrels are using to get inside.

This is best done from the outside of your home. Get out a ladder and get up on your roof. Carefully inspect the entire roof of your home, paying special attention to the roofline, the air vents, chimneys, and any junctions where two different portions of the roof meet.

Often, this is where you’ll find the squirrel’s point of entry. Closing the holes with hardware cloth creates a barrier that squirrels won’t be able to chew through. The galvanized steel mesh will last for years and make an effective barrier against not just squirrels but also rats, birds, and other pests that can potentially move into your home.

Of course, you don’t want to trap a squirrel inside the attic when you do this. If you thought the damage squirrels cause while building a nest was bad, you don’t want to see what they do when trying with everything they have to escape.

So leave at least one hold open with a one-way door and then once you’re sure the squirrel has left for good, you can replace the one-way door with more chicken wire or any other more permanent barrier.

This way, you will have gotten the squirrel out of your attic without harming it in any way, without using any kind of poison, and without having the death of a cute little animal on your hands.

Trim Back Tree Branches

Tree branches act like highways for squirrels. While they are quite capable of crossing open ground and climbing up the wall of the house, squirrels prefer to move around in trees.

Any trees that come close to your home should be trimmed back. Remember that squirrels can leap up to 10 feet, so ideally, you’ll want to trim branches back at least that far to make it harder for squirrels to reach your roof and get inside.

Get Rid of Nuts

The more squirrels you attract to your lawn and garden, the more squirrels you have likely to be hatching plans to get in your home.

One easy way to prevent making your home the neighborhood squirrel hangout is to get rid of nuts.

Squirrels love nuts. So if you have nut trees on your property, you’re basically asking to have squirrel problems. Oak trees shed acorns, and pine trees shed pinecones. These are major food sources for squirrels.

If you can’t get rid of the trees themselves, do your best to get rid of the nuts. Rake your garden often and dispose of any nuts that have fallen to the ground. This won’t get rid of squirrels completely, but the less food there is around, the lower their population will be.

Invest in Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders

If you feed birds in your yard, chances are high that you also feed squirrels. Many bird species are partial to the exact same types of food that squirrels love – seeds and nuts.

If you don’t want to punish the birds just because squirrels are jerks, you can still feed your feathered friends. Just make sure that squirrels can’t get access to your birdfeeder.

You can do this by using a baffle like this one to stop squirrels from reaching the birdseed. Or, you could treat the birdseed with a spicy sauce the birds won’t taste, but squirrels will hate.

Squirrels have approximately the same tolerance for spicy food as a Midwestern grandmother, so spicy seeds will repel them.

Use Squirrel Repellents

Just like you can use squirrel repellents to get squirrels out of your attic, you can also use them to keep them out of your entire premises.

You can use a squirrels hatred of hot food to keep it away from your house. With common household ingredients, you can make a spray that will turn squirrels away. Here’s how:

  • Bring 1/2 quart of water to a boil on your stove.
  • Add a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, two chopped onions, and a single chopped jalapeno pepper.
  • Allow this mixture to boil for 30 minutes, then let it cool and pour the water into a spray bottle.

Spray this concoction around your home, especially where squirrels are likely to enter around the roofline, at the corners of the house, and on bushes and trees.

Clear the Air

You’ve finally done it – the squirrels are gone. Before you pop the champagne, you’ll want to do one last thing: get rid of any and all squirrel odor.

A deep clean after a squirrel infestation is necessary because squirrel feces can spread bacteria and disease. But it goes beyond that – the lingering odor of squirrels can attract new ones. So give the attic a good clean.

7 Tell Tale Signs of Squirrels in the Attic

You now know what to do if you have squirrels in your attic. But is it actually squirrels you’re dealing with?

Here’s a fun fact: You can have an active squirrel problem without ever seeing one because squirrels use ultrasonic sounds to warn each other of dangers. That includes an approaching human.

Luckily, there are plenty of clues squirrels leave behind. Here are the tell tale signs of squirrels in the attic.

Noises in the attic

It’s not just noises in the attic – it’s when the noise occurs.

As they say, the early squirrel gets the nut. They don’t say that but squirrels practice it anyway. Yup, squirrels are early risers. As such, they are most active in the early mornings, typically right before the sun comes up.

They may quiet down during the warmest parts of the day and then resume their squirrely activity in the late afternoons.

Other rodents like mice or rats, on the other hand, tend to be nocturnal so they’re far more likely to be making similar sounds in the evening hours and late at night.

So if you’re hearing strange noises – skittering, banging, rustling, scratching, and general busying around – during these times of day, it’s likely you have squirrels in the attic.

Something smells bad

Once a squirrel has set up shop in your attic, it will now have a new place to do its business. And by that, we mean pee, poop, and raise babies.

Squirrels can pee to mark their territory, to spread pheromones for communication and mating, as well as to simply relieve themselves.

The combination of squirrel feces, urine and the musty odor of squirrel nests gives off a potent smell that will be hard to miss.

Squirrel droppings

On a similar vein, finding squirrel droppings around your attic and roof is a surefire sign of squirrels in the attic. Squirrels aren’t shy about where they poop and they do very little to hide it.

Be on the lookout for scattered droppings and clean them up with care.

Squirrel nests

Typically, squirrels have babies twice a year. The first time is in the spring, between February and April. The second time is at the tail end of summer, think: August and September.

And when they’re ready to have babies, squirrels mamas will get busy preparing a nest for their young.

To do so, squirrels will use anything they can, from the insulation ripped out out of your home, destroyed padding from cushions, clothes, blankets, and books, as well outside materials like leaves, twigs, and debris.

If you spot one of these nests, especially during squirrel baby season, it’s a good sign you have squirrels in the attic.

Water damage

If a squirrel infestation gets bad, you may start seeing what looks like water spots on the ceiling. But it may not be a busted pipe or a leaky roof – it can be a buildup of squirrel urine that’s gotten so bad, it’s leaked through to your ceiling.

Signs of chewing

Squirrels love to chew and gnaw. And they don’t just do it for fun – squirrels have front teeth that never stop growing and in order to prevent them from getting too long, squirrels need to do a lot of chewing.

In your attic, squirrels may chew on storage boxes, planks, wooden posts, and even electrical wires. If you find signs of chewing, it’s a good sign you have squirrels in the attic.


It’s not just a squirrel stereotype – squirrels really do like acorns. They like them so much that they will gather acorns in the summer and autumn so they can have a stash on hand for the lean winter months.

If you come across acorns in your attic, chances are that you just came across a squirrel’s winter meal plan.

How Do Squirrels Get Into Attics?

If you’ve ever observed a squirrel scaling trees and jumping from branch to branch, it’s not hard to see how they get into attics. They may not have a lock and crowbar, but squirrels are naturally endowed with many tools that help them gain entry into your attic.

For starters, squirrels have strong claws that help them grip and a long tail to aid balance as they maneuver their way onto and around your roof. Once they locate even the tiniest of holes, squirrels flatten their dextrous bodies to get inside. Squirrels don’t need much space – a hole of just 1.5 inches is enough for squirrels to squeeze into.

And you can’t forget about their powerful front teeth. If the hole they’re trying to get inside just isn’t big enough, squirrels will even gnaw and chew to create the perfect squirrel-sized entry space.

As you can see, getting into the attic isn’t a difficult job for most squirrels. But exactly how do they do it? Here are the most common ways squirrels get into attics.

Trees that Reach the Roof

In order for a squirrel to get in your attic, it must find its way to your roof first. Considering squirrels don’t fly – how do they do it?

Squirrels are incredibly skilled climbers but typically, they won’t climb up a house. It’s a lot more likely for squirrels to jump from a nearby tree or branches to gain access to your roof.

This is why the first point of call is to trim back any trees and branches that are within squirrel jumping distance to your house.

Because once they get on the roof, there are a number of entryways that are inviting for a squirrel, like…


Roof vents, gable vents, wall vents can all be welcoming places for a squirrel to enter through. The warm air coming from the vents signal to squirrels that here is a cozy place to nestle down in. And if your vents are made of wood, plastic or aluminum, squirrels will make easy work of gnawing through them.

Roof Edge

The roof edge makes a great entryway for squirrels. Because this is the part of your roof where rain and melted snow combine with vegetation and other debris to keep the area wet for long periods of time, the materials are more prone to deterioration.

Add to that the fact that the roof edge also provides the perfect angle for squirrels’ teeth to chew. Result? It’s easy work for a squirrel’s tough teeth to gnaw through.

Gaps in the Roof

Any part of the roof where two parts meet, there could be slight openings or gaps that can be inviting entryways for squirrels. Corner joints or knot holes make particularly weak points that are vulnerable to squirrels. Roof fascia boards or soffits can


If you want to quickly find out how squirrels are getting into your attic, try this tip.

On a bright, sunny day, go inside the attic and turn all the lights off. Look around for noticeable patches of sunlight getting in. It’s likely that there are holes large enough for squirrels to enter there.


Got an uncapped chimney? That is pretty much an open invitation for squirrels to enter. If your chimney is lined with steel or clay, squirrels may simply fall in and get stuck with no way to climb back up. But if your chimney is lined with brick, it allows a great climbing surface for squirrels to enter and leave.


If you have cylindrical pipes extending through your ceiling, the holes around the pipes are a particularly vulnerable entryway. Especially because these holes tend to be bigger than the pipe itself and are then covered with rubber matting, which is easy work for a squirrel to chew through.

More FAQs

Squirrels in the attic is a big topic. Here are a couple more common questions.

Do Squirrels Leave the Attic During the Day?

Attics don’t provide much in the way of sustenance so squirrels will typically leave the attic during the day in search of food and water.

If your squirrel problem has been going on for awhile, however, squirrels may have already stashed away enough for the winter in the attic and may not have to leave during the day.

Will Squirrels Leave the Attic in the Summer?

If you’ve ever spent time in an attic during the hot summer months, you know how unbearably hot it can get. Especially with no ventilation and no air conditioning, attics can get too hot for squirrels as well.

Which is why squirrels will often leave attics during the hottest part of summer. This can be the best time to block all squirrel entryways into the house.

Will Squirrels Leave the Attic on their Own?

For the most part, there is simply no reason for a squirrel to leave a warm, cozy, and safe attic. They don’t have to worry about rain, snow, or predators. And if there is an easy way for them to get in and out, they don’t have to worry about a food supply either.

Why would any squirrel in its right mind ever leave such a welcoming, cozy place?

This is why, unfortunately, squirrels are very unlikely to leave the attic on their own. They’ll have to be forcibly evicted and blocked off from ever returning.

Having squirrels in your attic can be a nightmare. But like all nightmares, it will eventually end. It can take some hard work to convince these stubborn rodents to move on. But if you want to live the squirrel free life of the rich and famous, the above guide will get you there.

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