Cottage Q&A: Red squirrels under the cottage

A red squirrel against a grassy background By Pi-Lens/Shutterstock

Our cottage has no foundation. It sits on cement blocks. We have never had pests until squirrels moved in underneath us. We’ve seen them zipping in and out, but we can’t get under the cottage to see if they’re causing damage. Can we just leave them be?—Willa Stevenson, Fredericton, N.B.

That’s a kind-hearted notion, but heck no. You don’t want anything living under your cottage “as a general principle,” says Alan Vaudry of Professional Ecological Services in Victoria. (You also don’t want anything living in the wall, attic, cellar, barn, or sewer. Watch some horror movies.)

Just because the squirrels aren’t making noise or causing any obvious damage doesn’t mean that this isn’t happening. “Squirrels are some of the most destructive creatures out there,” says Brad Gates of Gates’ Wildlife Control in Scarborough, Ont. “They chew all the time. And they will chew on things that you really don’t want them chewing on.” This includes wires, waterlines, and support posts. They could start to nest in your insulation. “They could even penetrate the floorboards,” says Gates.

Wild Profile: Meet the red squirrel

Not cool. The standard banishing strategy is to—when the squirrels are out—block access to the underside of the cottage with galvanized steel hardware cloth. Dig a trench, extend the cloth down six inches and out six inches at 90 degrees, and backfill with dirt.

This article was originally published in the May 2017 issue of Cottage Life.

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