Keeping squirrels out of your garden
Some people consider grey squirrels a problem and don't want them in their garden. The kindest way to keep them out is to make your garden an unsuitable habitat for them.
How to keep grey squirrels out of the garden
It's illegal to relocate grey squirrels under The Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019 and Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, as they're a non-native species.
Instead, you can discourage them. Grey squirrels are attracted to gardens that have access to food and shelter. If you want to discourage squirrels, try to reduce the food available to them.
Changes you can make in your garden
- Use squirrel-resistant bird feeders rather than putting out loose food.
- Cover bulbs with a wire mesh to allow the plants to grow and stop squirrels from digging them up.
If you're having problems with grey squirrels burying food in your lawn, don't put out nuts and other hard foods for birds or squirrels.
Removing a tree or branches containing squirrel nests
If the nest isn't being used then you can remove the tree. Check there aren't any baby squirrels in the nest before removing the tree or any branches that could affect the nest.
If the nest is being used, but the tree or branch is dangerous and must be removed, we'd recommend carefully removing any young and following our advice on how to reunite them with their mother.
How to stop squirrels nesting on your roof
- Repairing any roof damage - keep the eaves, soffits and the rest of the roof of your house in good repair to stop squirrels from accessing it. Cut back any branches that overhang the roof, as these could provide the squirrels with easy access to your home.
- Blocking access points - these should be blocked with strong wire mesh (like weldmesh or hexagonal mesh of 16 gauge and no more than 25-millimetre size mesh).
Garden centres or hardware stores may also sell an approved animal repellent for squirrels.
Squirrel sitting on the garden fence
What to do if you have squirrels living in your loft
If you have squirrels living in your loft, try to find out whether the squirrel has built a nest and is rearing young. Do this without disturbing them.
If you find baby squirrels
If there are baby squirrels in your loft, you should wait until they've left the nest (around 10-12 weeks old) and are safely able to survive outside before blocking access. Look for signs like seeing the young foraging for food outside for two to three weeks. Squirrels - The UK is home to two squirrel species: red squirrels and grey squirrels.
If there's no squirrel nest in your loft
If there's no nest, make sure the squirrel is outside before blocking access. The best times to do this are mid-morning and mid-afternoon when grey squirrels tend to be out foraging.
If you find a nest in your loft in autumn, it's best to get squirrels out as soon as possible to encourage them to prepare nests outside for the winter.
Killing grey squirrels for population control
Our wildlife policy is against killing or taking wildlife. In circumstances where there's a proven case for population control, we always suggest the use of non-harmful deterrents wherever possible.
Killing isn't an effective solution
Killing squirrels is unlikely to be a long-term solution, as other squirrels may quickly replace them - perhaps within as little as a month. Alternative approaches to address what's attracting them to the area, such as food and shelter, may be more effective.
Killing should only be considered if there's a serious problem and the alternative non-lethal means are ineffective or impractical. In this case, control should only be carried out legally by a professional, using methods that are precisely targeted and carried out in the most humane way possible.
It's not against the law for grey squirrels to be caught and killed, including live-catch cage traps or approved spring traps. If you're using a live-catch trap, check it several times a day and kill any captured grey squirrels humanely.
It is against the law under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to cause any unnecessary suffering to wild animals that are under human control, e.g. while caught in a trap. If you do decide to proceed with the lethal control of squirrels, we suggest you contact a reputable pest control contractor who's trained to carry out these measures legally and humanely.
Usually, squirrels will have two litters of young a year - one between February and March and the other between June and July.