Red squirrels may seem cute, but they are not something you necessarily want around. You may have seen these furry little friends running along your fence or hopping through the trees. If you have seen a few too many, you have options.
If you are experiencing a red squirrel infestation, turn to the professionals at Environmental Pest Management. We are committed to the safe and humane removal of all pests.
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What are Red Squirrels?
In terms of coloring, red squirrels are, you guessed it, red. More specifically, they are often rust-colored. Thiers tails are usually very bushy, and their bodies are typically thin and long.
Depending on the time of year, though, their coloring can change slightly. They can often be mistaken for other species of squirrel because they can appear brown or gray at various points throughout the seasons.
Red squirrels are curious. They appear to live exploring their surroundings and can seem quite playful. In addition to their curiosity, red squirrels are known to be fast. They are also easily startled and will quickly dart away when frightened.
What do they look like?
Red squirrels have long faces that end in a pointed nose. Because of their long ears, they have excellent hearing. As previously mentioned, they are typically rusty in color with white bellies.
They walk and run on all four legs, but they are able to stand on their hind legs alone. You will find them in this position when they need to hold something in their front paws.
Their long tails are used to help these nimble creatures steer their way through the trees. Most red squirrels weigh anywhere from 8 to 12 ounces and are 7 to 9 inches in length.
Where do they come from?
Red squirrels originated in the United Kingdom, and they have been around for over 10,000 years. They are a protected species in their native land.
The invasive species of gray squirrels have begun to take over locations previously populated by red squirrels. Gray and red squirrels cannot co-habitat, and the gray squirrels have slowly pushed the red squirrels to the point of endangerment.
Where do they typically live?
Because red squirrels are tree-living animals, you can generally find them nestling high in the treetops. Most of their time is spent in trees. Fortunately, red squirrels are excellent jumpers, so they can make their way from tree to tree with relative ease.
The largest red squirrel populations can be found in Great Britain and Ireland, but they are also often found in Scotland and Northern Asia.
In Northern American, red squirrels can be found in parts of Alaska and Canada. You can also find them in many of the Rocky Mountain states and some Eastern states, such as Virginia and Illinois.
What do they eat?
Most of the red squirrel’s diet consists of nuts, acorns, pinecones, and mushrooms. They are nothing if not opportunistic, though. They have been known to feed on the bark of trees and even some forms of fungi. They will also eat insects or small frogs if their natural food source is scarce.
Red squirrels are hoarders. When food is plentiful, they will store the excess in trees for later feedings. They are cautious and prepared for anything.
Red squirrels never put all their nuts in one basket, so to speak. They have many food storage caches spread out in several different locations. If one storage spot is taken by another animal or destroyed, they have other stores from which to pull.
How long do they live?
In the wild, red squirrels can live up to six or seven years. In captivity, though, they can live even longer. The steady diet and lack of predators allow these animals to live up to ten years.
What are their behaviors?
Red squirrels are most active during the day, especially in the spring and summer months. They are active in the evenings, but slightly less so. They begin gathering food for the following winter during the preceding fall months.
During these gathering months, red squirrels are at their most active. You will see them hard at work all day.
In the cold winter months, you will only see the red squirrel in the middle of the day, and only if it is warm enough for them to come out. They do not hibernate, but they do burrow and hide.
Are they social?
Red squirrels are very communicative with each other. They also use body language to communicate. Typical forms of this include foot-stamping and tail-jerking.
Each different sound or motion has a distinct meaning. The red squirrel could be a warning to other squirrels of danger or could be used to defend his territory.
Are they dangerous?
While not particularly dangerous to humans, red squirrels can be a nuisance. They can cause damage to your home and property. The destruction left in their wake can be avoided, though.
- Keep trees and branches trimmed close to your house. A leeway of five feet would be ideal.
- Inspect your home for holes or open seams. Seal up any potential entry points to prevent entry.
- Squirrel repellents, in the form of irritants or the smell of predators, have some success.
- Do not use poison; you don’t want to kill the animals.
We recommend calling a professional, though, as red squirrels are often protected and should be handled gently to ensure their continued survival.
What kind of damage can they do to my home?
Red squirrel infestations are marked by the animals creating nests inside your home. The problems come when the squirrels chew on wires or woodworks. The result can be short-circuiting of appliances or costly repairs.
Additionally, if they build their nests in your chimney, a fire hazard may result. Squirrels may try to get inside when the weather turns colder. See our tips for dealing squirrels inside in the winter here.
On a slightly less destructive note, the loud and often annoying noises they make can be quite a disturbance. You and your family will have much less peace and quiet when squirrels are around.