Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Nuts About Squirrels--Squirrel Magnet

Is Your House A Squirrel Magnet? Learn Professional Squirrel-Prevention Techniques
A professional squirrel-removal technician tells us how to deal with furballs:

As a professional squirrel-removal technician, I evict squirrels from hundreds of homes each year. This allows me to see first hand how squirrels manage to enter homes/attics and also why they seek out certain types of houses. If you’ve had squirrels in the attic before there is probably a very specific reason as to why they chose your home. This article will illustrate why squirrels are attracted to certain homes and give you tips on removing the conditions that make your home attractive to these furry little rodents!
Are You Attracting Squirrels?
Are you unknowingly attracting squirrels to your backyard? You could be if you have any of the following.
Bird Feeders - Bird feeders will often attract squirrels to your yard. The more squirrels in your yard and near your home the more likely it is that they will damage your home. Squirrels are attracted to bird feeders due to the seeds that fall to the ground below. Use specialized feeders that don’t allow the seed to fall to the ground or place feeders far away from the house.
Trash Barrels – A little-known fact is that urban squirrels eat trash. Squirrels are opportunistic feeders and will eat just about anything. Un-secured garbage cans allow squirrels to dine on your trash whenever they choose. Keep the lids on your trashcans tight and use bungee cords to prevent the lids from being knocked off.
Gutters – The gutters on your home act as a catch basin for leaves and nuts. Homes that are surrounded by oak trees often have gutters full of acorns. This creates a fine-dining scenario for squirrels and will certainly lure them to your home. Clean your gutters twice a year to prevent this from happening.
The number one factor that makes a house prone to squirrel problems is open entry. The following conditions make it very easy for squirrels to access your roof.
Overhanging Tree Limbs – Squirrels can jump as far as 15 feet from a branch to land on your roof. Trim long branches back to prevent this from happening. Keep in mind that even the branches that are well above your roof should be trimmed.
Bushes – Large bushes that grow around the perimeter of one-story homes allow squirrels to climb the bushes and jump onto the roof. Keep these bushes trimmed to a height that is four feet below the roofline. This will prevent squirrels from jumping from the tops of the bushes onto your roof.
Preventive Maintenance
In order for a squirrel to chew its way into your attic it needs a vulnerable area or a weak spot to start with. These are usually slightly rotted areas on the corners of the house or older attic vents on the ends of your home. To prevent squirrels from using these areas you should replace rotted wood and screen your attic vents.
Squirrels cause hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage each year to homes. Usually, if you remove the features that make your home attractive to these intelligent and determined critters, you’ll find they quickly become less bothersome. Follow the professional tips listed above and you should be able to prevent a squirrel infestation in your home and attic!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Nuts About Squirrels--The Flying Kind

Bears, raccoons, coyotes, wild turkeys … it’s common in the mountains of Southeastern U.S. to eventually spy one of these creatures in your yard.
But for Cassandra DeJong, nothing beats the visits of her beloved flying squirrels.
"My darling sugar gliders (technically, flying squirrels) come every evening," she said. "They eat sunflower seeds from a flat tray I have. They let me come up and take their picture. I even got to scratch one on the back."
Flying squirrels aren’t an uncommon sight if one ventures out at night and looks closely.
"We have two species native to this area," said Bob Fay, animal curator at the WNC Nature Center in Asheville, N.C. "The Southern flying squirrel is most common in Asheville, but as you go to higher elevations, you’ll find Northern flying squirrels, which are protected."
While DeJong calls the flying squirrels "sugar gliders," they are in fact, two separate animals with some key differences. Her squirrels, Fay said, are the Southern variety.
The biggest distinction is how they reproduce and give birth. Flying squirrels are placental mammals, and sugar gliders are marsupials, like kangaroos, Fay said.
It doesn’t matter to DeJong, who’s fallen in love with the graceful squirrels she at first thought were leaves swirling to the ground.
"These guys are about the size of a chipmunk," she said. "They have big nocturnal eyes. They are so cute. I wish I could get one to sit up on my shoulder."
DeJong said she thinks the Southern flying squirrels are even cuter than the domesticated sugar gliders indigenous to Australia.
"Some people consider them pests. Can you believe it?"
Fay said that yes, pests they can be. They especially like to live in attics and can cause lots of damage.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Nuts About Squirrels--European Squirrel Fight

Celebrities have sharpened their pencils to "scribble a squirrel" in aid of a Welsh conservation project.
Bryn Terfel, Aled Jones, Neil Kinnock and guitarist Phil Campbell from rock band Motorhead are among those who have contributed signed drawings.
The event, organised by Anglesey's Red Squirrel project, hopes to further raise the public's awareness of the fight to save the species.
All the sketches and doodles will be auctioned on the internet in May.
Sportsmen, celebrities, TV stars and politicians have contributed autographed sketches of red squirrels to the 'scribble a squirrel' event.
Funds raised at the May auction will go a range of red squirrel conservation projects in Wales.
'Public awareness'
Becky Moss, co-ordinator of the Friends of the Anglesey Red Squirrels said she hoped the event would raise public awareness.
"Public support for red squirrels is fantastic, and through the scribble a squirrel campaign we hope that the red squirrel plight is further highlighted," she added.

Wildlife expert Iolo Williams did this drawing
Red squirrel expert Dr Craig Shuttleworth of Menter Môn said the Anglesey project was having some success.
He added: "Through our efforts, red squirrels are now a common sight in Pentraeth forest and they have been successfully reintroduced into Newborough forest."
This year the group are reintroducing red squirrels into the coastal woodlands bordering the Menai Strait, with the hope they will eventually colonise the whole of the island.
"There are currently fewer than 100 grey squirrels remaining on Anglesey and once these animals are removed we can firmly establish the island as a national red squirrel sanctuary," Dr Shuttleworth added.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Nothing in Life Is Guaranteed

Nothing in Life Is Guaranteed Except Squirrels Eating Birdseed
Squirrels are very talented members of the animal kingdom. If you’ve ever watched them, you’ve noticed they always try to keep something between them and you—and usually it’s your birdfeeder. Through the process of evolution, they have developed one of the most amazing eating stances in the world of nature.Squirrels sit at birdfeeders with their feet dug into the launch position and their bodies facing down range. They chew birdseed at a speed that cannot be accurately recorded and at the same time are able to keep one eye totally dedicated to watching the windows of the house.It doesn’t bother a squirrel one bit as long as he can see you, but once you go out of sight this little furball shifts into second gear. This is the anticipation stance.The leg muscles tense and adrenaline pumps through the whole body. When it hits the brain, the ears stiffen straight up. By the time you hit the front steps at a full gallop, that squirrel power-shifts into third.His tail curls into a tuck, blood’s pumping to peak launch-pressure levels, and nerve endings quiver from battling with the brain over the decision to stay and eat one more seed or launch now, lunch later. When you finally break around the corner of the house, the brain gives in to the nerves, and the squirrel jumps all the way to the neighbor’s feeder.It is totally amazing. Do not let these squirrels cause you mental stress. You may want to start a support group with other neighbors so you can let your frustrations out and discuss freely the feelings you are experiencing.There are hundreds of squirrel-preventative formulas and contraptions, most of which I’ve found are incredibly useless. Some squirrels are so defiant that they eat in a combat-readiness stance.You can forget window knocking and broom chasing as possible solutions. You will only end up with sore knuckles and cramps. There are two types of equipment used to combat squirrels— manned and unmanned. The drawback with manned squirrel equipment is that it is very labor-intensive. For instance, you can drive your squirrels away with a remote-controlled, battery-operated dune buggy. You control it from the kitchen. Just back it into the bushes and when a squirrel heads for the birdfeeder, you peel out. Chase him all the way to the neighbor’s yard, then back it into the bushes and wait.Another option is a baby monitor. The nice thing about a baby monitor is that a squirrel can’t talk back to you. It is a one-way listening device. You put the sound unit on the birdfeeder and watch from the house. When that little furball climbs up and starts eating—be patient. Let him relax a bit. When he first perches himself up on the feeder, he is real nervous. His jaws move very rapidly and so do his eyes. You should be able to see when he starts to relax. His chewing slows and his tail lowers to half-mast. That’s when you turn on the monitor and yell at him. He should go off like the Challenger spacecraft and hit the ground running. It’s not very nice, but you will have this warm glow about you.