Rodents are well known for causing either nuisance or economic issues for homeowners, but usually both. This is especially the case in Philadelphia, as the city was ranked as the number one most rodent-infested city by the American Housing Survey in 2017. In an effort to determine which US metropolitan area sees the greatest number of urban rodent infestations, researchers polled homeowners all over the country, and much to their surprise, Philadelphia beat New York City and Boston for having the highest rate of reported rodent infestations within homes. According to the survey, 17.7 percent of Philadelphia residents experienced at least one rodent infestation during 2017, which was down slightly from 18 percent two years prior. While mice and rats were the two most commonly reported rodent pests within Philadelphia homes, residents are no strangers to squirrel shenanigans either. In fact, it is not uncommon for mischievous squirrels to find their way into homes and buildings where they sometimes inflict damage to plaster walls, electronic wires, insulation, furniture and window screens.
The most common squirrel species found in urban, rural and residential areas of Pennsylvania include fox squirrels, eastern gray squirrels, red squirrels, southern flying squirrels and northern flying squirrels. While any of these five species could possibly wind up inside your home, the most common indoor squirrel pest species in the state are southern and northern flying squirrels and eastern grey squirrels. Fox squirrels are not commonly encountered in populated regions of the state, and red squirrels typically remain within their preferred forested habitat.
The eastern grey squirrel has not always been a common sight in populated regions, but now the species is largely considered an urban dweller across the state, particularly in the east. These rambunctions squirrels draw attention to themselves while noisily chasing members of the opposite sex through residential yards during mating season, which occurrs in December, January and June. The eastern grey squirrel is most abundant in neighborhoods and urban parks where a sufficient amount of nuts and seeds are available to maintain large populations, and these 16 to 24 inch long rodents will not hesitate to bury their future meals within backyards only to dig them up later on. This species’ exterior varies from black to silvery-grey and they can be recognized by their white bellies.
Both northern and southern flying squirrels are small in size when compared to their ground-dwelling counterparts described above, as they rarely grow beyond ten to twelve inches in length. Of course, these squirrels are easy to recognize for the webbed skin that allows them to glide from tree to tree, and sometimes onto houses. Unlike the eastern grey squirrel, the northern and southern grey squirrel species are most active during the nighttime hours. These two species are difficult to discern, but the southern variety can be found throughout the state while the northern squirrel maintains a habitat that is largely limited to the northern and central areas of the state where nut-producing trees are abundant.
All three of these squirrel species are sometimes labeled as pests due to their habit of chewing on residential structures, such as wood siding and below eaves in an effort to create a nest. Flying squirrels have been known to glide onto roofs where their small size allows them to access and nest within attic spaces where they may cause structural wood and insulation damage. These three species often nest within wall voids where they are likely to inflict damage to electrical cables and wires.
Have you ever spotted a squirrel digging a hole in your backyard?