Large trees are ideal places for tree squirrels to nest. When squirrels settle in, considerable damage can occur to your property and home. You might start to notice squirrels building homes in trees in the form of nests. Homeowners may wonder if they can remove the nest safely to get rid of this pest.
You can remove a squirrel nest if local laws and regulations permit it. Generally, it is acceptable to do so if the nest is abandoned and there are no offspring. However, there is a risk of serious injury when trying to access a squirrel nest. A tree removal company or pest management can address this.
Alternate options, such as making a long pole to knock it down or using repellents and deterrents, can make nesting sites undesirable.
Read on to learn more about how to identify a squirrel’s nest and what you can do about it.
Squirrel Nest in Tree Identification
All sorts of arboreal wildlife can build nests in trees. Except for ground squirrels that live in burrows, tree squirrel nests are easily confused with birds’ nests. This is because they are built in hollow tree cavities or nestled in forked branches, much like birds.
Squirrel nests are called “dreys” and are constructed of clumps of twigs, leaves, bark, and moss. They often build 2 or 3 nests used for offspring, building practice, and evading predators.
Nest building takes place twice a year. First, in June and July, when juveniles practice building and pregnant squirrels prepare for offspring. The second time occurs in mid-fall in preparation for the winter.
To determine if a nest belongs to squirrels, look for the following evidence:
- Visual confirmation of squirrel activity in nests
- Offspring (2 to 4 babies per 1 or 2 litters per year)
- Scratches in the bark (from frequent climbing)
- Chewed bark on the tree
- Chewed damage to patio furniture
- Multiple nests
- High nests (typically 20 to 30 feet high)
- Nests are in tree cavities or appear as bowl-like structures in forked branches
- Squirrel poop at the base of the tree
- Holes or food caches in the yard or potted plants
- Nibbled plants and flowers and missing garden vegetables
Many squirrel species will repair and reuse nests from year to year. This frustrates homeowners with persistent damage from squirrels on their property or even in their attics.
If you are unsure whether there are squirrel nests in a tree, an animal control expert, tree removal service, or pest control company can help you.
Can I Remove a Squirrel Nest from a Tree?
As mentioned above, it is essential to know if the nest is from a bird or squirrel. Many birds are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which prohibits capturing, selling, transporting, and killing them. It is illegal to remove or relocate an active bird’s nest.
Squirrels are also protected in many states. However, some species are considered game animals, which means that they can be hunted during certain times of the year with a permit. Depending on where you live, removing an active squirrel’s nest may also be illegal.
Contact your local wildlife control to find out local laws and regulations.
How to Remove a Squirrel Nest in a Tree (6 Methods)
It is best to wait to remove nests only once the parents and offspring abandon them. Offspring tend to stay in nests for 10 to 12 weeks before they start an independent life.
Nests are also used for warmth and protection in the winter, with the ability to hold 2 to 9 squirrels. This means multiple squirrels will be actively present for a long time.
Therefore, you will have to implement strategies to get them to flee from the nests after the offspring have left. Making the nest area an uncomfortable or unsafe spot will tell them to move on. You should remove all squirrel nests from your property.
Generally, it is not recommended that you remove the nests yourself. For example, physically removing a squirrel’s nest can pose fall risks, including lethal harm or injury due to the height of the nest in a tree.
Squirrels also can carry many diseases that pose risks to human health. Therefore, it is best to use a professional service to remove the nest and implement deterrents to keep them from returning.
The following methods involve professional and DIY removal options.
1. Use a Tree Removal Service
Tree removal services have the equipment to inspect and remove squirrels’ nests at significant heights safely.
If the nest is in a cavity, the company can also fill it in, so it is not used again. They can easily remove multiple nests, including those from neighboring trees.
Implement the prevention strategies mentioned in this article to keep squirrels from building in the tree again.
2. Call Wildlife Control or Exterminator
Wildlife control and pest exterminator professionals can assess the situation and offer suggestions or implement solutions for getting squirrels off of your property.
They will know the laws and regulations for your area to ensure the process is done correctly.
3. Build a Long Pole Nest Remover
If you are sure that a squirrel nest is abandoned, you can build a pole that knocks the squirrel nest down. A pole contraption removes the risk of falling off a ladder because you use it from the ground level.
Attach four 2-inch diameter, 8-foot long pieces of PVC pipes. Attach a 3-pronged cultivator or hook-like implement to the end of it. Use the pole to poke at the drey until it falls.
This video gives further information on how to build and use it:
4. Use Squirrel Repellents
Many spray repellents can repel squirrels from your property, making them abandon a nest.
Spray these at the tree’s base and up along the trunk as high as possible. Reapply at least once a week and after rainfall.
Consider using one or more of the following:
- Commercial products labeled for use as squirrel repellent
- Predator urine (wolf, coyote, tiger)
- Cayenne pepper, garlic, white pepper, coffee ground, or peppermint oil sprays (mixed with water)
- Ammonia- or apple cider vinegar-soaked rags (hang on branches instead of spraying)
5. Install Deterrents
Deterrents can make a tree a less-than-ideal spot for nesting. Many non-toxic and humane methods can effectively keep squirrels away.
Try the following:
- Hang multiple windchimes from the lower branches.
- Install ultrasonic staked devices in the ground.
- Aim motion-activated lights at the nests.
- Install water-activated water sprinklers near the base of the tree (opt for adjustable ones that can spray higher).
- Put up owl decoys. (Make sure to move them around regularly.)
- Let your family dog (or cat) run around the yard every hour or two.
- Install baffles (or metal sheeting) on bird feeder poles and around tree trunks.
- Trim branches that are 5 feet or closer to the ground. (They can use these branches to jump over baffles to access points higher up the tree)
6. Use Bait and Traps
This option should be a last resort. Lethal traps and rodenticides often are illegal or have restricted use. However, there may be different regulations if a squirrel is raising offspring.
Trap and release may be an option as well. Make sure you know local area laws before using this method.
Prevention of Future Squirrel Infestations
Once you’ve eliminated a squirrel’s nest or made your property less than ideal for them, you should take some prevention steps. This will keep away any new squirrels that want to live in your tree.
Prevention tips include the following:
- Eliminate bird feeders, or use squirrel-proof ones such as one with a baffle. (Put a chicken-wire-covered basket underneath it to catch any stray seeds.)
- Grow odiferous plants such as marigolds, alums, and mint.
- Install fencing around and over vegetable gardens.
- Get rid of outdoor food sources such as uncovered trash or pet food.
- Repair or block entry points to structures by sealing all cracks or holes.
- Keep a tidy yard without leaf or wood piles or grass clippings.
When one or more squirrel nests in your tree are present, you may endure property damage from these pests.
If local laws permit the removal of squirrel nests, you can do so with a long pole from the ground to knock them down.
Or, use sprays, physical barriers, and motion-activated deterrents to make the tree an undesirable place to live.
Tree removal and pest management companies can offer solutions and assistance with squirrel nest removal. Baits and traps are typically reserved as a last resort if permitted.
Once squirrels have moved off your property, take preventive steps to keep them away. These include removing food sources, blocking entry points to structures, and keeping a tidy yard.