Common northwest pests: Squirrels

There are a variety of squirrel species in the greater Portland Oregon area. The common squirrels that cause the most conflicts with humans include the Western Grey Squirrel, the Eastern Grey Squirrel, the Douglas' Squirrel, the Northern Flying Squirrel, the California Ground Squirrel, and the Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel.

The Squirrel family isn't limited to just the tree, ground and flying squirrels, it also includes some chipmunks, woodchucks, marmots and prairie dogs.

Squirrels have 4 incisors in the front of their mouths that they use to gnaw, shred, and break into all sorts of things (wood, egg shells, nuts, berries, seeds, metals, etc). They have four toes on their front feet and five toes on their hind feet. All of the toes have well formed nails for digging and climbing.

Most squirrels are diurnal and active in the early day and late afternoon/evening, taking a siesta during the mid-day hours.

Species In and Around Portland, Oregon:

Tree Squirrels - Tree squirrels, the most familiar group to many, includes the gray squirrels, Douglas', and the flying squirrels. They have long bushy tails, athletic builds and a keen eye for predators. Tree squirrels make their nets high off the ground often in trees. They find attics to be well suited for living quarters: an attic is warm, dry, and safe from predators.

Flying Squirrels - The flying squirrel does not really fly but glides through the air from tree top to tree top using flaps of skin that extend from their wrists to their ankles. The flap enables them to get from place to place via air travel but does hinder their movement on the ground. It's bulky and prevents them from being able to run so they walk and hop when they are on the ground which doesn't happen often. Flying squirrels are nocturnal, so they may exist in the neighborhood and nobody may know.

Ground Squirrels - Often a bit bigger (weight wise) than the tree squirrels, they have less fur on their tails. They make their homes by tunneling into the ground. Each squirrel has their own entrance into a network of tunnels. Just because they are known as ground squirrels doesn't mean that they are incapable of climbing a tree which some do just as well as the tree squirrels.

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Common Squirrel Problems:

  • Squirrels living in the attic (gnawing and chewing sounds, scratching and scampering noises).

  • Destruction to property: wooden siding or trim, chewed wiring.

  • Squirrels getting into the bird feeder and eating the bird seed!

  • Ground squirrels digging dens on the landscaped property.

  • Squirrels are nesting in the chimney.

  • Squirrels on the roof.

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