Gray squirrels and fox squirrels are both species of tree squirrels common in the eastern United States and across Kentucky. In the suburban areas of Lexington KY and Central KY the gray squirrel species predominates. The suburban habitat actually proves ideal for gray squirrels supporting a squirrel abundance in town greater than in the neighboring countryside. Gray squirrels thrive in neighborhoods with mature trees adjacent to homes. These trees provide shelter an travel ways year round and are important food sources as well. In the fall and winter squirrels feast upon acorns, walnuts, and hickory nuts; if winter food becomes scarce squirrels will even strip and eat tree bark. Come the spring squirrels will eat tree buds and fruits and seeds through the summer. Another staple of the suburbs enjoyed by squirrels is the bird feeder. Bird seed provided year round by suburban residents is an enjoyable pastime, however, bird feeders truly provide a buffet for squirrels and numerous other animals including that enjoy seed from the source or as spillage on the ground.
Houses are the other significant component of the suburban habitat enjoyed by squirrels to the dismay of homeowners who realize “oh no, a squirrel is in my attic!” Squirrels are adept gnawers/chewers as their incisors never stop growing and must be constantly worn down. Squirrel chewing becomes a serious nuisance when it occurs on your house. Recall that trees serve as travel ways for squirrels, trimming limbs or branches overhanging your roof back 10′ or more if possible can serve to reduce (not eliminate unfortunately) your homes vulnerability to squirrel issues. Squirrels determined to enter your attic will chew a hole through areas constructed with wood, vinyl, or even aluminum flashing; squirrel removal is necessary at this point to prevent increasing and recurrent damage. Squirrels within an attic will continue their chewing, and as if chewing on wood beams of your home isn’t bad enough, chewing on electrical wires is disparagingly common and poses serious safety threats.
Why is a squirrel in my attic? Good question! When the alternative is a leaf nest or tree cavity an attic provides a relatively temperature stable, dry, and secure site for shelter or as a birthing den. From experience in removing squirrels from attics we know female squirrels seeking a birthing den are the primary offenders. Gray squirrels, especially in food and shelter rich suburban environments, may become pregnant and seek a birthing den during any month of the year, however, breeding peaks occur in late fall / winter (Dec – Feb) and again in late spring / summer (May – July). The young (2-8) will be born after a ~45 day gestation and will generally be weaned 8-10 weeks from then. But, all the while there is a squirrel circus in your attic!