Why Are There Squirrels in My Attic in Santa Barbara, CA?

Squirrels might be cute in the park, but they can cause a significant amount of damage in and around homes in the Santa Barbara, CA area. Like other rodents, squirrels are experts at gnawing, and when they get into your attic, they can destroy electrical wiring and insulation. This damage can cost you a lot of money, destroy lighting, and even create fire hazards in your home.

What kind of squirrels are in California?

Squirrels that live in California are usually one of a few breeds: the California ground squirrel, the western gray squirrel (also called the California gray squirrel), and the eastern fox squirrel.

Ground squirrels most often mate between February and April with a once-a-year season, unlike many types of squirrels that have offspring twice a year. Other breeds of squirrels will mate in both early spring and early autumn.

So, what do squirrels eat? These vigilant rodents are not especially picky. In nature, squirrels will search for nuts, seeds, fruits, berries, fungi, and even insects. However, squirrels will happily munch on human food when they can get their paws on it. If a squirrel can run off with leftovers from garbage, they will.

What attracts squirrels to my house?

Their biology, like any other animal, drives squirrels. If your home is an easy source of food for them, squirrels will make camp in your attic or around your property. If you have entry points into your attic, squirrels will use this as a shelter when building a nest.

If your garbage can often has leftover food in it and no lid to seal it away, this can attract all sorts of pests. Vegetable gardens, fruit trees, and other ornamental plants can also attract squirrels. Birdfeeders are also a favorite place for squirrels to find food if you have them in your yard.

There isn’t a lot you can do to eliminate all squirrels from ever stepping foot onto your property, but you can prevent entry into your home and reduce food sources like garbage or fallen fruit in your yard.

To a squirrel, attic openings can look like a perfect shelter for a nest away from predators like hawks and coyotes.

How do squirrels get into your home?

Squirrels can find lots of ways to sneak into your attic. Any opening in your roof or lose vent is a common way squirrels sneak in. Frequent points of entry these rodents take:

  • Chimneys
  • Gable vents
  • Roof edges
  • Broken or bent gutters
  • Builders gaps
  • Wall vents
  • Roof-soffit intersections

Once they enter, squirrels will defecate, urinate, and tear up insulation and electric wiring. They can even destroy treasured belongings that you have stored in your attic.

How can I tell if I have squirrels or mice in my attic?

The sound of squirrels and mice in an attic can sound similar, but if you know what to look for, you will usually be able to tell the difference.

Mice are nocturnal, so if you only hear scratching around after dark, it could be mice. They are much smaller than squirrels, so the noises they make sound more like light scratching cause my their toes. If you hear scratching or what sounds like an animal running around your attic during the day, it’s more likely to be a squirrel.

Mice are smaller and can often get into cabinets and pantries where squirrels might not be able to fit. If you have bags of food with small chewed-open spots in your pantry, it could be mice.

When squirrels nest in your attic, they will often venture outside to get food and bring it back indoors. Sometimes they even get stuck within wall voids when they accidentally get trapped while looking for an exit point.

Another sign of squirrel nesting is droppings. Mice leave droppings as they travel inside your home at night, searching for food in your cabinets or pantry. Mouse droppings look similar to tiny black grains of rice that pile up around your home. Squirrel droppings are larger, closer in size to a cylindrical bean. Because squirrels don’t run around in your home looking for food, the droppings will be concentrated where they nest in your attic.

How can I prevent squirrels from getting into my attic?

Preventing squirrels from nesting in your attic is the best way to avoid squirrel activity. Seal up any openings in vents, soffits, chimneys, and your roof. Repair broken or bent gutters, and clean them out on a regular basis. Don’t hang bird feeders and clean up fallen fruit around your yard. Always properly seal garbage cans that are left outdoors.

If you have a nest in your attic, it’s best to hire professionals to help alleviate the problem. Squirrel feces carry lots of bacteria that are harmful to humans, so getting all of the squirrels out and handling the situation safely and healthily is crucial.

We provide expert wildlife removal services at O’Connor Pest Control. If you’re unsure where squirrels are getting in, or you have noticed squirrels nesting in your roof or attic, contact us today at for an inspection!