Serving Mercer, Ocean, Monmouth, Middlesex County
I was dispatched to a homeowner’s beautiful summer home in Mantoloking, part of the Jersey Shore’s “Gold Coast” situated on the Barnegat Peninsula in Ocean County. For about two weeks, since her arrival, the homeowner was hearing strange ”scurrying" sounds from up above in the attic. The sounds would come and go, and she thought she may be hearing things, so she did not immediately call for help. However, when the noises would not go away on their own, she decided that she better contact Little Rascals Wildlife Service by Cowleys so a wildlife technician could be sent out to identify and resolve the problem.
When I arrived the homeowner explained where she was hearing the "scurrying" from inside of the house. Afterward, I informed her that I would first inspect the outside the home to look for any actual access points or signs of access like paw tracks or animal droppings. Starting my my inspection with the area of the house where the homeowner was hearing the noises, I immediately saw the damage. Wildlife was gaining access to her attic through a plastic attic louver. Based on the size and location of this entry point, this was clearly a squirrel infestation. Squirrels, as tree-dwelling rodents, have the ability and agility to easily access rooftops. And once there, have a knack for finding any weak spots that will give them entry inside. Sometimes they exploit gaps that are large enough for them to enter, and other times, if the gaps are too small, they will expand them by chewing around the edges until they are usable.
Squirrels are gnawing rodents with strong razor-sharp incisors, and they know how to use them quite well. Considering that squirrels can grind through 2 x 4s and most other construction materials, a plastic or vinyl louver is “easy pickins” for a squirrel (see photo 1). While gable roof vents are necessary to vent the humidity and hot air that can build up in the attic, wildlife, especially squirrels and raccoons, are experts in exploiting these “soft spots” to gain access into your home. For homeowners that have ongoing wildlife problems or just want to take preventative measures to avoid attic wildlife infestations, we can install wildlife-proof screen covers over the vents (and a chimney cap placed over the chimney as well if needed) to block wildlife access.
As you can see from the photo of the attic vent louver on the north side of this house, squirrels were able to make their way inside. After informing the homeowner that she had unwanted, trespassing visitors, she immediately agreed I should set traps to capture the squirrels. Once the squirrels are captured and there is no more squirrel activity in the attic, the access points that then be repaired to prevent future wildlife infestations. Homeowners should never secure a hole or vent unless they are positive that there are no babies still inside. Doing so is not only inhumane, but the squirrels will aggressively attempt to make an opening to gain access causing even more damage. If the babies are not rescued, you’ll have to deal with the problem of rotting animal carcasses in your home and the insects and other wildlife they attract.
I strategically set four traps on the roof right above the attic vent louver access (see photo 2), and baited them with peanuts in a hanging basket. This wasn’t for aesthetic reasons. Baskets keep the peanuts up off the ground where they can get wet and soggy, and the smell also carries better. Also, to entice the squirrels, I placed a few "teaser” peanuts in and around the traps, and also created a scent trail for the squirrels to follow by placing a line of peanut oil from the edge of the roof to the louvers. Finally, I placed a "one way" exclusion over the entire attic vent (see photo 3). With a one-way exclusion, the invading wildlife are able to get out of the attic. But it’s a one-way trip. They are unable to gain access back in.
I’ll perform follow-up checks and have the homeowner contact me should any squirrels become trapped, and if so, I’ll immediately relocate them to a safe habitat. My goal with wildlife infestations is always the same: I want a happy ending for the homeowner and the wildlife. Everyone is better off when wildlife is separated from human habitats. Once there is no more squirrel activity in this attic, we can work on repairing the attic vents and preventing future infestations.