6 Signs of a Squirrel Infestation in Your Oregon Home

squirrel infestation oregon

Don’t be fooled by their bushy tails and endearing appearance—squirrels may be amusing to watch in their natural environment but can leave so much damage when they get into your Oregon home. A squirrel infestation can turn into a nightmare considering they will eat vegetation, destroy your garden, damage structures and even carry disease.

A squirrel infestation needs your quick attention. Squirrel removal and other pest control measures can keep squirrels from invading your Oregon home.

You must never turn a blind eye to a squirrel problem on your property. Squirrels are among the most destructive nuisance pests in Beaverton and other cities in Oregon and can cause structural damage to your roof, attic, eaves, pipes, and electrical wires. If you don’t get rid of squirrels in the house quickly, you may have costly repairs to deal with in the long run.

Common Types of Squirrels in Oregon

Did you know that there are up to seven squirrel species found in Oregon? Five of these are native to the state while two are non-native.

Native squirrels

  • Western Gray Squirrel
  • Douglas Squirrel
  • California Ground Squirrel
  • Townsend’s Chipmunk
  • Northern Flying Squirrel

Non-native squirrels

  • Eastern Gray Squirrel
  • Fox Squirrel

Ironically, the non-native squirrel species are currently more prolific in urban and suburban settings. Westerns Grays were once the most common in Beaverton and Portland but have been overtaken by the more invasive Eastern Gray and Fox squirrels.

squirrels of oregon

Basic Facts about Squirrels in Oregon

Squirrels are territorial, defending an average cover of not less than five acres. They look and store food the whole year-round to ensure sufficiency. Using accurate spatial memory, landmarks, and smell, squirrels can find the exact locations of their stored food within their territory.

A lot of squirrels hide or nest in large holes in trees, abandoned woodpecker nests, or naturally occurring hollows. If there are no available tree holes, squirrels will make nests out of leaves and sticks called “dreys,” which are evident in winter. These animals also make nests underground during cold months, or they seek warmth, water, and food in homes in urban settings.

(Read more about other common winter pests you should watch for.)

When squirrels find their way into your home, they’re likely to take advantage of accessible areas such as chimneys, attics, basements, and crawlspaces. You can avoid squirrel problems in the house by sealing these entryways with half-inch wire mesh. If a squirrel has already taken up residence, however, it is vital to find out if it is raising its young before attempting to remove it from your home. In most cases, it’s better to wait until the litter is able to fend on their own or you’ll end up with dead squirrels and a foul odor reeking in your house. Otherwise, contact a wildlife removal expert if you think you need to get rid of squirrels sooner.

In Oregon, squirrel breeding season can start as early as the end of winter (around the month of February) and extend all the way up to mid-November.

squirrel life cycle

How to tell if you have a squirrel infestation

No homeowner in Oregon will want to share their home with squirrels so be on the lookout for telltale signs that you may be having a squirrel problem in your property.

1. Increased squirrel activity in the vicinity of your home

The Pacific Northwest boasts of great natural resources that are ideal for squirrels to live long, happy lives. Squirrels on trees, posts, and fences around your home can mean a growing squirrel population near your property. Frequent squirrel fights around your neighborhood are also a clear indication that the squirrel population has gone too large. Squirrels are territorial and will fight to defend resources for their survival.

2. Unusual noises in and around the home

Strange noises that indicate the presence of squirrels in your home and property can range from scampering and scurrying to chewing and scratching. In most cases, you’ll hear these noises even before you actually have any visual evidence of squirrels in the house. Ceilings are attics are their favorite spots where they’ll most likely build their nests, but do check out basements and crawlspaces as well especially during the rainy or winter season.

3. Interior and exterior damage to property

It can be difficult to find evidence of squirrel damage inside homes as the majority of interior issues remain hidden in ceilings, attics, and walls. These include scattered wood chips, teeth marks on wooden materials, drywalls and air vents, electrical wires that had been chewed on, and even squirrel nests in insulation.

Exterior damage is easier to spot in shingles, rooflines, and the outer panels of your home. Chew marks on outdoor furniture, gnawed-away barks on young trees, damaged bird feeders, ripped trash bags and garbage scattered all over your yard are also telltale signs of a squirrel problem.

4. Stains on ceilings and walls

It may look like you have a leaky roof but discolored spots on your walls and ceiling might not be water damage at all. Rather, they can indicate that a squirrel population has established a home in your attic or loft. The longer squirrels have been there, the more feces and urine they have accumulated. Eventually, these will seep through insulation and wood and result in stains, bubbling, and peeling.

5. Squirrel droppings

If you see droppings in your attic, basement, garage, or crawlspaces, this could mean squirrels have infested your home. Take note, however, that squirrel poop can be difficult to identify correctly as they look very similar to that of rats, raccoons, and bats. Exercise extreme caution when you find any type of wildlife droppings on your property as they’re known to carry harmful bacteria, viruses, and disease.

6. Foul odors

Not all squirrels that make their way into your homes will make it out alive. Some might get stuck while others will eventually die because they’re too young to fend for food on their own. If you suddenly notice a disgusting and offensive smell reeking in your home, this could be a sign of a dead squirrel stuck somewhere in your ceiling or beneath your walls. You’ll need to find the decaying carcass to get rid of the unpleasant smell and the process can be extremely difficult.

get rid of squirrels in bird feeder

Squirrel Pest Control and Prevention

As you can now see, squirrels are nuisance pests that can cause extensive damage to your Oregon home. Here are a few basic tips you can follow to reduce or even eliminate squirrel populations on your property:

  • Inspect your attic and crawl spaces for cracks, gaps and holes and seal off any potential entry points with durable ¼ to ½ inch wire mesh. Best to do this in broad daylight so you don’t miss out on anything.
  • Use light and noise. Squirrels without young can be driven off easily with anything that resembles human presence. You can turn the lights on and leave a radio in your attic or any place in the home where squirrels may be hiding.
  • Check baseboards and sidings and repair or replace those that are loose, decomposing or damaged.
  • Regularly check your roof vent caps. Replace damaged ones and install those designed to shut out squirrels and other rodents.
  • Trim tree branches and hanging limbs, making sure they’re at least 8-10 feet away from the side structures of your home.
  • Wrap tree trunks with a 2-foot wide flat metal sheet about six feet from the ground to discourage squirrels from inhabiting trees in your yard.
  • Take note of utility cables and clothes lines that may be giving squirrels access to your home. Move them to a safe distance if you have to.
  • If you have bird feeders in your yard, remove them as soon as you spot squirrels in your property.
  • Don’t feed any squirrels – doing so can get them accustomed to humans. They can even turn aggressive if you suddenly stop the feeding.
  • Use humane, live-trapping methods as a last resort. There are laws regarding wildlife removal so contact your local ODFW office for advice.

Protect your home and family by addressing any squirrel problem right away with preventive and eco-friendly pest control methods