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Critters in the News

  • "Wild Pigs are becoming
    larger and  more
    aggressive"-                   
    DISCOVERY CHANNEL
  • "House Fire in
    Altemonte Springs
    caused by squirrels"-
    ORLANDO SENTINEL
  • "Raccoons attack
    woman in Lakeland"-
    TAMPA SUN TIMES
  • "Rats overrun Orlando
    International Airport
    despite efforts to
    erradicate them"-   
    LAKE MARY REPORTER
  • "New Orleans 2 Year Old
    dies from blood loss
    caused by rat bites"-      
    PCT MAGAZINE
667498
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has been on the news
repeatedly... click a white rat
below to see us on your favorite
news station
news video of us trapping & removing wild pigs in Lake Nona, FL
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Squirrels

Solving an infestation problem involving squirrels is complicated at best and since the rodents have managed to adapt to and
overcome each and every new technology found to combat them, the control methods we use must reflect an
understanding of the squirrel's habitat requirements, reproductive capabilities, food habits, life history, behavior, senses,
movements, and the dynamics of its population structure. Without this knowledge, both time and money are wasted, and
the chances of failure are greatly increased.

The 2 arboreal (adept at living in trees) rodents most responsible for infestations and the accompanying damage found in
the Central Florida metropolitan areas are:

  1. The Eastern Gray Squirrel (sciurus carolinensis) measures 16 to 20 inches and weigh from 1 1/4 pounds (567 g) to 1
    3/4 pounds (794 g). They vary widely in color but here in Florida, they are a grayish brown with darker fur on the
    feet and muzzle and are a light brown to cream color on their underbellies. The Eastern Gray is the primary culprit
    at work in home damage in this area of Florida.
  2. The Southern Flying Squirrel (glaucomys volans) is 8 to 10 inches long and shades of gray or brown above and lighter
    below. A sharp line of demarcation separates the darker upper color from the lighter belly. The most distinctive
    characteristics of flying squirrels are the broad webs of skin connecting the fore and hind legs at the wrists, and the
    distinctly flattened tail.

Squirrels came over to the United States as stowaways on the ships of early English settlers and have since boomed across
the country due to their adaptive nature,and the varying terrain and climate. Today, squirrels are found in large number in
every corner of the country, causing such worries as overpopulation in the midwest to an estimated one power outage a
day minimum in New York City.

Habitat

Squirrels are comfortable occupying both leaf nests and voids in trees (including palms) and are amazingly adaptive to any
arboreal habitat that can provide sufficient harborage and food. Once squirrels find an entry point into homes, businesses,
or multi-unit buildings and become established, they readily breed and thrive.

Food Habits

Contrary to popular belief, squirrels are omnivorous and will feed on insects, bird eggs, lizard eggs, nesting birds, lizards and
other animal material (flying squirrels are voracious consumers of animal materials) as well as the usual acorns, nuts, seeds
and palm berries, oranges and other citrus that make up over 85% of their diets.

Reproduction and Development

Squirrels are rodents, and like their cousins rats and mice, are very successful reproducers. A squirrel becomes sexually
active and breeds in the first year. They will produce offspring in December/January and again in June/July. The young are
born about 45 days after mating and the female usually gives birth to an average of 3 babies. At birth they are hairless, blind,
and their ears are closed. Newborns weigh about 1/2 an ounce at birth and 3 to 4 ounces at 5 weeks. Young begin to
explore outside the nest at about the time they are weaned at 10 to 12 weeks. At weaning they are around half of their
adult weight.

Foraging Behavior

Squirrels usually start foraging shortly after sunrise. Food items that are too big to be eaten on the spot are carried to a
protected location for consumption and when food is plentiful some food is stored in caches near the squirrel's nest.

This hoarding behavior is why squirrels can survive in a sealed up home or business for a surprisingly long time. They have a
strong tendency to avoid new objects in their environment and this neophobia can influence control efforts, for it may take
a few days before they will approach a trap. Since they have access to hoarded food, traps with food bait are much less
attractive unless properly placed.

When necessary, squirrels will travel considerable distances. They may live in the landscaping of one residence and feed at
another. In times of dire need, squirrels can range up 50 miles in search of a good habitat.

They can often be seen in the mornings and evenings running along fences, roof lines, patio screens and running along
overhead utility lines. They may live in trees, such as palms, or in attics, and travel to a food source. Traditional baiting or
trapping on the ground may intercept very few squirrels unless bait and/or traps are placed at the very points that the
squirrels traverse from above to a food resource on the ground.

Squirrel Senses

All five of a squirrel's senses are in tune to enable a high chance of survival in a world where it resides very low on the food
chain.   

  • sight- the placement of a squirrel's eyes allows it a wide range of view without turning its head, so wide, in fact, that
    a squirrel can clearly see something directly behind it.
  • smell- the nose is used to determine a safe nesting area or territory, find a way back to the nest, distinguish other
    squirrels or possible mates, find suitable food sources, and return to food hoarded or hidden away, even when
    buried underground.
  • hearing- an excellent sense of hearing is used to quickly and safely elude would-be predators.
  • touch- general, a safe nesting area is going to be dark and secluded, tactile hairs on the face and paws are used to
    explore and travel safely in such areas.
  • taste- squirrels have a strong sense of taste and, although omnivorous, they normally seek out nuts, vegetables or
    berries.

The squirrel is well-equipped to survive in any location here in Central Florida, rural or urban. Although the dangers may be
different, the escape methods are similar and the food sources are just as plentiful.

Signs of Squirrel Infestation

  • scratching or chewing noise in areas of the attic.
  • smudge marks, the result of oil and dirt rubbing off of their fur as they brush up
  • against objects as they move from one place to another).
  • dogs or cats paying undue attention to the attic, wall voids and crawl spaces
  • droppings, urine, or tracks on the floor
  • chewed through food containers or water bottles
  • actual damage (i.e. water leaks from gnawed plumbing, loss of cooling in certain rooms
  • and/or insulation being found blowing out of air vents, lights & electrical sockets not
  • working etc.)
  • chewing on citrus and other fruit and vegetable plants
  • flu and/or allergy like symptoms including asthma, bronchitis & other respiratory
  • ailments.
  • recurring parasitic infestations of the home or business (primarily fleas and ticks).

There can be no doubt that rodents are one if not the most costly of pests that affect greater Orlando and Central Florida.
They cause damage into the tens of millions of dollars and as we grow as a state their commensal nature will allow them to
grow right along with us.

Diseases

Although squirrels are not considered a great threat as a vector for disease, there have been cases of squirrel droppings
transmitting leptospirosis and salmonella. There are also rare cases naming squirrels as carriers of rabies and the West Nile
Virus, although neither have ever been proven to have been transmitted to humans. Typhus, on rare occasion, has been
reported as being associated with flying squirrels in the United States.