Evicting Squirrels From Your Home
Who hasn’t stopped at least once or twice to watch the adorable acrobatics of squirrels as they scamper from tree to tree or run full speed across a yard? Whether racing through our mid-Missouri yards or cameoing in the latest internet video, there is something innately amusing and engaging about these twitchy-tailed creatures. That is, until their mischief crosses the line and they cause property damage, or mess with your bird feeder.
Squirrels in Missouri
There are around 280 different species of squirrel, however only three types of squirrels are commonly found at the Lake of the Ozarks. Fox squirrels have the brownish red-orange color of their namesake. Gray squirrels are gray with white underparts and tail tips. The third species is the nocturnal Southern Flying Squirrel, which is found throughout Missouri, and is the hardest to deal with.
Physical Features and Habitat of Fox Squirrels
The brownish red-orange fox squirrel is the largest of the three squirrel species. They average 19-29 inches from nose to tail, and weigh between 1-3 pounds. Fox squirrels can be found in fairly open areas at the edge of woodland and in suburban and urban areas. They often forage on the ground, but need trees for escape, cover, and dens. Their home range is between 10-40 acres.
Physical Features and Habitat of Gray Squirrels
Gray squirrels are slightly smaller than their red cousins. They average 14-21 inches from nose to tail and weigh between 1-2 pounds. Wooded areas dominated by oaks and hickories are preferred by gray squirrels. They spend most of their time in trees, and do not forage on the ground as often as fox squirrels. Gray squirrels have 1-2 den trees, and seldom travel more than 200 yards from their homes.
Physical Features and Habitat of Southern Flying Squirrels
Southern flying squirrels are by far the smallest of Missouri’s squirrels, averaging 8-11 inches from nose to tail, and weighing a mere 1.5 to 2.5 pounds. They glide on broad flaps of loose skin that extend along each side from the front legs to the flanks. Flying squirrels are strictly nocturnal and prefer mature hardwood forests. However, they can also be found in abandoned orchards, parks, older suburban neighborhoods, and in the attic space and walls of homes (where we find them) in these same mature neighborhoods. Their home range is usually no more than an acre.
Fox squirrels and gray squirrels have similar eating habits. Wild tree fruits and nuts are typically eaten in fall and early winter. In late winter and early spring, they prefer to eat tree buds. By summer, they eat a variety of fruits, berries, and succulent plant materials. Fungi, corn, and cultivated fruits are eaten when available. When food is scarce, they may chew bark from a variety of trees.
Flying squirrels are omnivores, and southern flying squirrels are considered to be one of the most carnivorous types of squirrels. In addition to the diet their larger cousins enjoy, flying squirrels eat a variety of insects. They will also supplement their diet with eggs, birds, and carrion.
Breeding and Social Structure
Most fox and gray squirrels give birth in mid-March, and again in July. They are mostly solitary, and will only share a nest while raising young, or in extreme cold weather. Not much is known about the mating habits of flying squirrels, but they generally have two litters per year between the months of February and September. Populations in the northern part of their range tend to have young later than populations in the warmer southern part of the range.
Damage Associated with Squirrels
Squirrels that enter homes can chew wires and often make nests in attic areas, leaving behind a smelly, dangerous mess that can devalue a home and cause a fire risk. In residential areas, squirrels often travel along power lines, shorting out transformers in the process. They may greatly impact marketable yields in nut orchards, and can damage ornamental landscaping in residential areas by gnawing through twigs, chewing bark, and digging up lawns. Squirrels may also eat planted seeds, mature fruit, or grains such as corn in gardens. They are also known to carry Borrelia bacteria, which causes Lyme disease.
If you are having problems with squirrels on your Lake of the Ozarks area property, call the professionals at Adair’s Animal Nuisance Trapping. Our experienced team of trained trappers will provide efficient removal services and long-term solutions for recurring squirrel problems, to exclude them from re-entering your home and damaging your valuable property.