You may have heard scratching, fighting and chattering in your chimney or smelled the pungent odour of squirrel droppings. Squirrel in the chimney in Toronto is actually fairly common. The chimney looks a lot like a hollow tree so the critter will naturally want to nest in it. Some fall in by accident and can’t climb out especially if the tube flue is made from slick metal. Whatever the case, you need to remove the squirrels as soon as possible.
How do I get squirrels out of my chimney?
A squirrel can be in a chimney for two different reasons: it may have been stuck in it or it may have nested. But how can you get rid of it? What you absolutely must not do is light a fire in the fireplace. This will not only not chase the squirrel away, but, if trapped in the fireplace, it will burn it alive.
And you must also be very careful to send a squirrel away from the chimney, climbing on the roof is not a simple thing. In case you are not practical, the best thing to do is to contact a professional squirrel removal service.
However, to remove a squirrel from a chimney there are several methods you can try:
- Eviction Fluid: Since the chimney is a small and restricted area, you can try to flush out a squirrel using predator urine or eviction fluid. These liquids can push the squirrel to move voluntarily. Using the Raccoon eviction fluid, for example, the squirrel female will think that there is a male raccoon around and will go away fearing for her family.
- Rope: Squirrels can also get stuck in a chimney, perhaps they have slipped and cannot climb up the chimney. This is the simplest case: you can help the squirrel to escape and get him out of your chimney easily. Just drop a knotted rope or similar material into the chimney so that the squirrel can climb and exit the chimney. To get the squirrel out you have to get away, so that he feels safe, alone, and can go out.
- Traps: You can use the squirrel traps to block the mother when she goes out to look for food and then go to manually retrieve the little squirrel from the chimney. It is a fairly complex and dangerous method. In case you can’t, it’s best to contact a professional squirrel removal service.
Do squirrels nest in chimneys?
Yes. Squirrels can nest in chimneys.
For a squirrel, or for a family of squirrels, a chimney is just like a tree: it is high enough and full of holes so that it can hide and remain protected and away from predators. It is not only an instinct that affects predators but also parenting. Being hollow, but covered, the chimney is a suitable environment to protect squirrels from bad weather.
In short, it offers the same shelter like a tree to be safe and to live peacefully, an ideal place for squirrels. It is an ideal environment for a squirrel. Being also great climbers they would be able to reach it very easily, to come and go without problems.
Usually, as soon as they see a chimney and need a place to nest, they choose it. If they don’t get stuck because the chimney is too smooth, they go down to the bottom and begin to create the nest for the little squirrels at the bottom of the chimney.
The main problem with squirrel nests in flues, like all nests in these places, is the fact that smoke cannot pass and the chimney cannot vent. This means not only a risk of CO2 intoxication, as smoke will enter the house and will not be sucked into the fireplace, but also a risk of fire.
The squirrels’ nests are built in a very compact way, becoming very difficult to remove. Some, even very large ones, could occupy a large part of the chimney and even take hours to remove. In this case, you will need to call a professional squirrel removal service.
How to Remove Squirrels from the Chimney
Do not light a fire to chase the squirrel out. You might roast the animals alive, especially baby squirrels that are unable to climb up the chimney and out of danger. A frightened squirrel may also try to escape down the chimney and into your house. Lighting a fire or using smoke is inhumane. Keep in mind that it is illegal to kill or harm wildlife in Tonto; squirrels are protected wildlife.
A great alternative is to drop a heavy rope down the chimney to allow trapped squirrels to get out. The animals may want to get out in the first place but the surface is too slick to climb out. Inspect the chimney periodically and remove the rope once you are sure they have left.
If you are sure that the squirrels are nesting in the chimney, bock all holes that they can use to get in and leave only the top of the flue open. Install a one-way door that will let the animals out but will block them from entering.
Inspect your chimney with a flashlight to make sure there are no babies left inside. If there are, wear a thick glove and remove them by hand.
What other animals can nest in chimneys?
But what are the animals that nest in a chimney? In addition to the squirrels, of which we have already spoken, there are three other types of animals that usually nest in a chimney:
- Birds: Even in the case of birds, nesting in the chimneys is due to the protection from predators that the chimneys offer and because they keep them warm. Almost all birds nest above the chimney, but there are some that nest alongside, still obtaining protection from predators and heat. Often birds also nest directly inside the chimney, and in these cases, there will be a blockage of the escape of smoke from the chimney with all the related problems.
- Bats: Bats love darkness, therefore, in addition to protection from predators and heat, they also nest in the chimneys for this reason. In the mating season, bats use flues as a safe area. Bats, like raccoons, are dangerous, not least because they carry diseases, so it’s best to call a professional removal service.
- Raccoons: Raccoons are definitely the most dangerous animals to “have” in a chimney. They are very aggressive, can scratch and bite, as well as transport diseases such as rabies or roundworm. Once professionals have taken care of it, the best thing to do is to install stainless steel covers on your chimney. Raccoons, in fact, are perfectly capable of destroying protection in black steel or aluminum.
What to do if an animal is in your chimney?
A bird, a raccoon, a bat, a squirrel or any other animal have become stuck or nested in your chimney. What to do in these cases? This is not the only question to ask, because besides knowing what to do you also need to know what not to do absolutely.
Here’s what to do if an animal is in your chimney:
- Don’t Panic: Usually, if left alone, animals stuck or nesting in a chimney are not dangerous (apart from raccoons). Even if, if they are stuck, they are much more frightened than you, while if they have nested, they just want to be left in peace.
- Cover the fireplace: Open the fireplace damper and close it in front with a cover (whether in glass or metal, like a net). If the animal is a bird or needs to climb, I will need the damper open. In this way, there is a possibility that the animal will go away on its own.
- Call an expert: If the animal cannot go out because it is blocked or simply does not want to go out, the best and safest thing for you is to call a professional animal removal.
Here’s what not to do if an animal is in your chimney:
- Using smoke: lighting a fire to drive away an animal stuck in your chimney pot could not only kill it and get it stuck but if the chimney pot is clogged you could also smoke your home or risk a fire.
- Keep the dumper open: animals could fall into and out of the fireplace at any time, so you would risk finding it at home.
- Try to remove it yourself: trying to remove an animal with your own hands could be dangerous because it could attack you while using a net could break the limbs of the animals and prevent it from going out.
A squirrel trapped in a fireplace – how to get it out
Having a squirrel in the fireplace can be worrying because it is one step away from entering the house and you could easily find it in the attic.
A squirrel trapped in a fireplace will be afraid, very afraid, so you must be very careful if you try to get rid of it. It may attack you, scratch and bite you, but only because it is frightened.
To prevent it from entering the house, as a countermeasure, when you have the fireplace off, keep it closed with a grate or glass doors.
Here’s what you can do if the squirrel is trapped in the fireplace:
- Clear the way for the squirrel: Open the doors to the outside closest to the fireplace and close all access to the other areas of the house. Clear the way from the chimney to the door from any impediment and if possible create a path with furniture, tables, chairs etc. in order to help the squirrel to follow the road outwards. Now free the squirrel from the fireplace and help them, calmly and without fussing, to get out. If the squirrel was trapped and not injured, it is a solution that could work. Although almost nobody thinks about it.
- Trap the squirrel: Keep the fireplace locked, buy a squirrel trap and put it in the fireplace. Now you just have to wait for the squirrel to be trapped and then you can free it outside the house.
- Call an expert: If you are not sure, call a professional squirrel removal services and let them do the work.
Why You Should Hire a Wildlife Removal Expert
Although removing squirrels from the chimney is not exactly difficult, baby squirrels are of particular concern. If you separate the mother from the babies, the latter will die from dehydration and starvation. The excluded mother will literally tear your roof apart if she realizes she cannot get back to her litter after a night of foraging.
You also need to clean and disinfect the chimney and any other areas where the squirrels have been. Squirrel droppings and urine give off a pungent odour which soaks into your furniture, walls, upholstery and other places. There is also the risk of contracting airborne diseases present in the animal’s droppings and urine. Cleaning the inside of a chimney is not easy.
Hire a wildlife removal expert in Ontario to get rid of the squirrels and babies safely and humanely. The expert will also clean up the mess left behind and fix any damage the animals might have caused. He will also help to sell your home so you don’t have to deal with this kind of problem again in the future. Ensure you get a warranty of at least two years for the removal service.
Article Updated: January 16, 2020.