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Squirrel in the Chimney - What to Do

A chimney is a great place for a squirrel to live. Like a big, hollow tree! Most commonly, a squirrel in a chimney is a female, who wants a safe place to have a nest of baby squirrels. Squirrels are amazing climbers. In some instances though, a squirrel will actually fall down a slick metal chimney flu, and get stuck. Here is what to do:

  • If a squirrel fell down a chimney and can't climb out, you need to either open the flu and let it out in your house, or drop a heavy rope down the chimney, all the way to the bottom, so that the animal can climb out.
  • If the squirrel(s) are living in the chimney and can climb in and out, you need to remove them. Remember, do not start a fire! That could roast young squirrels alive.
  • Set traps at the top of the flu, or install a screen with a one-way exclusion door, which will allow them to exit the chimney, but not get back in.
  • If there are baby squirrels above the fireplace that can't climb out, open the damper and remove them by hand, with a thick glove, and bring them outside to mother squirrel.
  • Once they are all out, install a steel chimney cap on top of the flu to prevent it from happening again.

DIY Tips for Squirrels in Chimneys While squirrels may seem cute and fun to watch when you’re sitting on a park bench on a nice summer day, they are not so cute when they invade your chimney. Squirrels have many different species that live both above ground and underneath it. However, the most common squirrel that may be terrorizing you and destroying your property is the common gray squirrel. Just like their name implies, they are usually gray with a white underbelly, puffy cheeks and a huge bushy tail. Squirrels can be seen at all times of the year, but they usually stay inside their nests during the colder winter months once they have acquired a large cache of food. Squirrels are usually not harmful when they are living in your trees, but they can be very destructive and be a health hazard once they invade your chimney or any other part of your home. Squirrels can squeeze through even the smallest of cracks and will commonly set up their nests in your walls and attics. These critters are attracted to secure and warm places to build their nests and have their young. Squirrels build their nests out of material such as dried twigs and leaves, scraps of cloth and hair which makes them extremely flammable when they are in your walls. This is especially true considering that squirrels will also chew through your electrical wiring which can set your entire house on fire. Squirrels can also die in hard to reach a place which is unsanitary and leaves a smell that will permeate everything in your house. If you are experiencing problems with squirrels, here are some do-it-yourself tips to get rid of them.

How Are They Getting in the Chimney:
Identify where the squirrels are gaining entry into your chimney. This is usually obvious - the top of the chimney, aka the flu! If it's not capped, it's an easy entry hole! But sometimes they can get in other ways. Squirrels will often make the existing holes in your walls and roof bigger until they can get in. They will also get in your house through ventilation systems. Once you have found the places that the squirrels are getting in, you will need to set the traps.

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Trapping:
Trapping squirrels is not an easy task and it is not even legal in some areas. To ensure that you are not breaking the law, simply call down to the local humane society or the fish and game office and ask if you are allowed to trap squirrels on your property. If you are allowed to trap squirrels you can get both lethal and live traps at a hardware store or rent one from the humane society. Bait the trap with something squirrels like such as peanut butter or fruits. However, traps do not work very well with squirrels because they are hesitation critters and are not likely to fall for the trap.

Install Chimney Cap:
Once you have trapped the squirrels you will need to relocate them no less than 10 to 15 miles away from your house, otherwise they will just come back. Once you have relocated all the squirrels you will then need to go through your home with a keen eye and repair all the holes and vents that they used to get in. When it comes to the chimney, the simplest and most obvious thing to do is to install a steel chimney cap over the flu.

Clean Chimney:
You will also need to clean the areas that the squirrels invaded which is not easy with a chimney, and it can be hazardous. Squirrel urine and droppings smell horribly and will seep into the wood in your home if it is not cleaned properly. Also, squirrels will rip up insulation and you will most likely have to repair it. Squirrels are not easy to catch and it is even more difficult to clean up their bodies and the mess they leave behind. If you even have the smallest amount of doubt, call a professional.

Go back to the main Squirrel Removal page for more information about what to do if you have squirrels in your chimney. Do you hear scratching sounds in the chimney or fireplace? Is there a dead squirrel stuck in the chimney cavity creating a smell or odor? Or maybe a nest of baby squirrel in the chimney. Can they cause damage, and how do you get squirrel out of the chimney?
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