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in your attic?
love nesting in attics. It is
warm and has plenty of nesting
material. Unfortunately most attics
in the Tampa Bay area have construction
flaws that give squirrels easy
access to your attic.
first sign there is a squirrel
in your ceiling is noises of them
nesting and running about. You
may notice them going in and out
of your attic through the soffit,
vents, missing tiles or other
areas of flawed construction design.
off the hole is usually the first
thing people try to do to solve
the problem. Don't do it.
the squirrels are on the inside
and become disoriented they will
die and give your house a dead
animal odor. If the squirrels
are on the outside they will chew
their way back in and cause a
great deal of damage.
squirrels removed from your attic
or home is not a job for an amateur.
Give us a call and we
will refer a licensed professional
to get the squirrels out for good!
By KAREN TREMMEL
Article published on Thursday, March
On my return from the mail box at the
end of our driveway I sensed something
very small fall upon my shoulder. On
quick observation I discovered a flea!
Above me upon a large
live oak limb scampered a gray squirrel.
Although gray squirrels are amusing
to watch playing games in the trees,
they have often been the source of my
irritation. Until we discovered squirrel
proof bird feeders, we undoubtedly spent
more money on feeding the squirrels
than attracting birds.
The squirrel is a fat
rat with a fluffy tail the public, in
general, likes to love ... a rodent
with good PR. I blame them for most
things that go wrong in my garden. My
uprooted spring bulbs, the planters
that are dug and dismantled, the chewed
limbs and branches, but when most infuriated,
I refer to them as flea bitten rodents.
The goal of my column
this week was to expose these vermin
to the public letting everyone know
these cute little creatures with large,
brown eyes and bouncing, fluffy tails
are actually marauding villains in disguise.
To my surprise, research
revealed that they aren’t the demonic
creatures that one might identify them
as. The actual culprit responsible for
most of the damage to our gardens, roofs,
soffits, trees, fruit, flower beds,
wiring and so on, is the Roof Rat, referred
to in Florida as the fruit rat.
Although gray squirrels
are susceptible to fleas, mange, botfly
infestation and other diseases, scientific
surveys indicate that not all gray squirrels
have fleas nor do they all carry a host
of diseases. Some do, some don’t. However,
roof-fruit rats are notorious for spreading
fleas and diseases, and since they live
and share the same habitat with squirrels
it may be this contact that considerably
increases the incidence of squirrels
becoming infested with fleas and disease.
Roof rats (Rattus rattus)
are abundant in Florida. The Norway
rat (Rattus norvegicus) familiar to
most people is actually rare in Florida.
You can easily observe roof rats at
dawn or dusk running along power lines,
resting upon roofs and snacking upon
the fruit of citrus trees.
The University of Florida
relates that the secretive, nocturnal
nature of rats means that they often
go unnoticed in a neighborhood until
citrus and other fruit begin to ripen.
Roof rats then make their presence known
with a vengeance. In citrus, papaya,
cantaloupe and watermelon, the characteristic
damage is a circular hole about the
size of a quarter or half dollar and
the whole fruit is hollowed out.
The roof rat (rattus
rattus, a.k.a. citrus rat, fruit rat,
black rat, or gray rat) is non native
to Florida. It is an introduced species
of rat native to southern Asia. This
rat is the same species that carried
the bubonic plague around the world
and is also the reservoir host for murine
typhus. The UF Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences dubs the roof
rat as the worst rodent pest in the
state of Florida and most abundant.
They offer this criterion
for identification purposes: Adult roof
rats are 12- to 14-inches long and weigh
5 to 10 ounces. The tail of a roof rat
is longer than the head and body length:
hairless, scaly, and black color. The
body is sleek and graceful with prominent
ears and eyes. There are three color
phases seen in Florida: black back with
a slate gray belly, gray back with lighter
gray belly, and brownish gray above
with a white or cream colored belly.
Roof rats consume and
destroy stored animal and human food,
attack fruit crops, and take up residence
in attics, soffits, hollow walls, and
out-buildings. When they invade buildings
they chew through wires (potentially
starting fires), gnaw through plastic
and lead water pipes, make holes in
walls and cause other structural damage.
William H. Kern Jr. “Control of Roof
Rats in Fruit Trees.” University of
Florida: IFAS, 24 Feb. 2008.
Fleas and mites often
leave dead rat carcasses and may infest
the entire house if the carcass is not
removed promptly. Always wear a HEPA
approved breathing mask and gloves when
removing any roof rat droppings or nests
around your home.
Although the roof rat
is difficult to control, carefully preserving
your landscape as raptor and snake friendly
will positively assist in maintaining
a balance in the roof rat population.
Although there are a variety of traps
and poisons available on the market
for controlling rat infestations, take
heed and first contact your local extension
office before attempting to bait or
trap rats on your own. Improperly baiting
and poisoning can largely affect and
kill the innocent wild animal and bird
populations, as well your beloved pets.
Now, as for that squirrel
resistant feeder you’ll be inquiring
about: The only one that works for us
is a tall cylinder surrounded by an
ornate cage. When the squirrel tries
to access it the weight of the squirrel
moves the cage down thus closing the
feeder holes. The top of the feeder
is protected by a large metal baffle.
We found ours at our local home improvement
store. They seem to carry them as a
stock item. While maintaining balance
in your garden; you can reduce the rat
population, feed “only” the birds you
want to feed and continue to be amused
by squirrelly antics ... back to nature.
one of many ways a squirrel gains
access to your attic.
is where a squirrel chewed through
the soffit to get back to its
nest after the homeowner closed
up the entry hole.