When you think of squirrels, you usually come up with a mental image of these things happily gnawing on a nut or stealing some sunflower seeds out of your bird feeder. In reality, squirrels chew on a heck of more than nuts. Squirrels can destroy wooden bird feeders with their teeth and will gnaw through Plexiglas like it is butter.
But what about that hole in your aluminum screen or that damage up on your roof flashing? Could a squirrel have done that? Can squirrels chew through aluminum?? Let’s find out.
Yes, squirrels can easily chew through aluminum and other soft metals such as copper. A squirrel will gnaw through this metal if it locates a food source on the other side or is in trying to make a nest in your attic. Check out the damage done by a squirrel in the following videos:
Here’s another example of how squirrels chewed their way through industrial grade aluminum:
Why Do Squirrels Chew Through Aluminum?
Squirrels are pretty simple creatures and most of their behavior comes down to their pursuit of food, shelter and mating.
If a squirrel has chewed through your aluminum siding then chances are that it was either trying to get out of the cold or was looking for a safe place to nest and raise some babies. Squirrels have their first litter of babies in the spring around March. The babies are born hairless, blind and helpless so it is important that they have someplace warm to live where predators cannot reach them. Your attic is the perfect spot.
A secondary reason that the squirrels might be gnawing on your metal is due to dental maintenance. Squirrels, like all rodents, have two front teeth that are constantly growing. Squirrels need to gnaw on items to keep their teeth trimmed. Any structural damage from this type of activity would be minimal.
How to Get a Nesting Squirrel Out Of Your Attic
If a squirrel has chewed its way through your flashing and made a nest in your attic then you are in for a battle and time will be your biggest friend.
It takes about 10 weeks for a mother squirrel to raise a litter of babies. If you try trapping and relocating the mother squirrel before the 10 weeks are up then she will make one heck on an attempt to get back into the attic to take care of her babies. Expect significant damage to occur.
The use of repellents will not be effective. Ultrasonic noises, flashing lights, etc will scare and annoy the squirrel but that will not be enough to make a mother leave her babies.
Your best bet is going to be to let the squirrel finish raising her litter. In early May you will see the young squirrels venturing out and exploring the outside world. Once you spot the young squirrels you can put up a one way exclusion door that will let them leave the attic but not get back in. From that point you can repair the hole and potentially replace the aluminum with steel so the problem doesn’t happen again.
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?
One of the first things you are going to need to do is install heavy duty steel mesh over any openings in your exterior soffits, roof vents, etc. It will also be beneficial to trim the trees around your house so the squirrels do not have easy access to your roof.
Here is an interesting take on how to make your soffits squirrel proof by using plywood.
On a more fundamental level, the problem of squirrels nesting in attics is caused when there is enough food to sustain a squirrel population but not enough nesting locations. You could attack the problem by removing any artificial food sources (bowls of dog food, bird feeders, etc) or by putting up a few squirrel houses far away from your residence.
If you think you know where the squirrels will try to chew their way in then you can apply a pepper spray in the area as a localized deterrent.
Lastly you could start trapping the squirrels and, depending upon your local wildlife laws, either relocate or dispose of them.