Don’t think that a few “cute” squirrels can cause extensive property damage? Think again. Recently, I was sent to a horse stable in Somerset, NJ. Eastern grey squirrels were nesting above the stable’s drop ceiling. Although there are all different kinds of tree, ground, and even “flying” squirrels, grey squirrels (a tree squirrel) are, by far, the most common in the eastern half of the United States, including New Jersey. These squirrels have an amazing sense of smell, which they need to locate the buried seeds an nuts that they store in order to cary them through the winter. The females usually build their nests high in the trees to tend to their babies, but they also won’t hesitate to use attics and other man-made structures as nesting locations.
Here, squirrels were able to make their way past the drop ceiling by climbing up piles of cedar chips used for the hose bedding in the stalls. The owner of the horse facility already had her maintenance workers close off this area, but as the saying goes “the horse had already bolted” and the damage was done. These squirrels did a major ransacking. They made nests and contaminated the insulation with their hazardous disease-spreading droppings. Squirrels and other rodents can consume and contaminate feed, ruin tack and other equipment, and make both horses and people sick when particles of their droppings become airborne.
To deal with the aftermath of these squirrels, we had to remove the drop ceiling as well as all of the contaminated insulation right down to the bare studs. Without the insulation and drop ceiling, the squirrels had no place and no materials to rest and nest — and without a home, they’ll go elsewhere to look for a more hospitable nesting location. We also needed to make the stable safe once again by completely sanitizing and deodorizing the wildlife-infested areas. It is important to remove any lingering animal smells since squirrels are attracted to the smells of other squirrels as well as their toxic droppings.