A homeowner in Howell, NJ called me recently saying that he kept hearing loud noises in his attic at night. My Cowleys Expert Service Sense went off and immediately I sprang into action to help this citizen in need!
Upon arriving I was greeted by the homeowners who were informing me that they would consistently hear the noises near the front of the house. I began my inspection in that portion of the attic and after a thorough investigation, I discovered that they were the recipients of a flying squirrel invasion.
Now although their name has the word, “flying” in the title, they cannot fly at all. They more so “fall with style” with a furry, parachute-like membrane that stretches from wrist to ankle. Their long tail provides stability in flight (much like Toothless in How to Train Your Dragon) and are very similar to other squirrels but have a number of adaptations to suit their lifestyle; their limb bones are longer and their hand, foot bones, and distal vertebrae are shorter. Flying squirrels are able to steer and exert control over their glide path with their limbs and tail.
Why do we call them Flying Squirrels? Well, “Gliding Squirrels” doesn’t sound as cool!
What made this inspection a little difficult was the fact that the home was extremely well built. It was a built like the Fortress of Solitude — showing little signs of entry. Finally, after covering every inch of the roof and finding possible entry points, I inspected from the interior if the attic and discovered a particular piece of trim was allowing the flying squirrels access into the attic.
Flying squirrels don’t need much room to squeeze into an opening in an attic. They are small creatures — the Northern flying squirrel is only 6.3 inches tall. Also, flying squirrels are the easiest to identify, but the hardest to get rid of! If flying squirrels get into your home, they can chew on your electrical wires, gnaw on your wood, destroy your insulation and possibly even start a fire in your attic! Not to mention they carry diseases such as rabies and typhus, and their droppings and urine can cause respiratory problems.
Once I found the access point, I set up a one-way device and put a few traps on the outside near the access point. A one-way device is set up in front of an access point that allows critters to exit the building and prevents them from getting back in. I also placed a piece of tape on the end of the one-way device so that I know if the flying squirrel has left the attic through the device or not. I then fixed the trim to prevent any additional flying squirrels from gaining access.