Vancouver Island is known for its abundance of amazing and unique animals and wildlife – among them squirrels! Did you know that Vancouver Island is home to four different species of squirrels? At first glance, these furry rodents may appear cute and possibly even friendly. However, as many homeowners know they can also be quite the nuisance. Squirrels are often spotted stealing from bird feeders, digging up lawns and even nesting in attics. The most aggressive of our Vancouver Island squirrels is the Invasive Eastern Grey Squirrel, which is a pest that brings more problems than you may think. This blog post will present the unique problems this invasive species presents to Vancouver Island and its cities like Duncan, Victoria and Nanaimo. We’ll also get into how to spot an Eastern Grey Squirrel and what you should do if you encounter them on your property. 

Are Eastern Grey Squirrels Invasive to Victoria, BC?

Yes, it is believed that Eastern Grey Squirrels made their way over to Victoria, BC and the surrounding area of Vancouver Island in 1966. A truck was transporting Eastern Grey Squirrels from Ontario to a farm at the southern tip of Vancouver Island located in Metchosin. Upon arrival, the rodents escaped, slowly taking over British Columbia and disrupting its natural ecosystems in the process. Pest Profile: Eastern Grey Squirrel

Pest Profile: Eastern Grey Squirrel

  • Scientific Name: Sciurus Carolinensis
  • Appearance:
    • Large rodent (Twice the size of average BC squirrels at 23 cm – 30 cm tall) 
    • Fat bushy tail (19 cm to 25 cm in length)
    • Coat Color: Brown, Grey, Black or a mix of all
    • Underbelly Color: White or Red or a mix of both
    • Has a tendency to rest tail over the head while relaxing
  • Status: Invasive to British Columbia and thought by experts to be one of top 100 most invasive species in the world.
  • Habitat: British Columbia’s forests (both deciduous and mixed) and Urban Areas (Cities such as Duncan, Victoria, Nanaimo, Campbell River, Courtenay, Parksville, Etc.). There is still an active risk of the pest invading untouched regions of BC.
  • Reproduction: Unlike other BC wildlife, the Eastern Grey Squirrels is not a continuous breeder! Their species breed twice a year as they’re seasonal breeders; their breeding seasons fall in both Summer and Winter. The gradual takeover of these pests in our province is a testament to how effective their duel mating season is.
  • Diet: These squirrels like to munch on a variety of Vancouver Island’s hardwood trees with a preference for maple trees. They also have fruits, berries, nuts and seeds in their diet, depending on the season.
  • Health Concerns: Eastern Grey Squirrels are carriers of the Parapox Virus which can infect local wildlife and livestock. They also carry Dermatophyte which poses health risks to humans. Eastern Grey Squirrels have also been observed to spread Candida albicans, Coxiella burnetii, and Borrelia lusitaniae which affect both humans and animals.

What Threat Does The Invasion Of Eastern Gray Squirrels Pose To Vancouver Island?

Eastern Grey Squirrels disrupt Vancouver Island’s ecosystem in a variety of ways. They destroy the homes of many creatures living within our ecosystem due to their tendency to damage native trees and seedlings. They displace and compete with squirrels native to British Columbia such as the Red Squirrel. Their tendencies to loot local bird feeders and steal nesting spots disrupt the lives of native birds. They can cause the average property owner a variety of financial costs due to their attempts to nest within houses. Eastern Grey Squirrels will also destroy gardens and can carry a variety of diseases, causing health risks to local animals, pets, livestock and even humans.

Why do Eastern Grey Squirrels attempt to enter my house? What effects will this have?

Eastern Grey Squirrels aren’t looking for an invite to enter your home. These pesky squirrels will find many different access points including eaves, soffits, flashing, chimneys and roof shingles. They burrow through insulation which can lower your R value and be costly to remediate. Eastern Grey Squirrels can also chew electrical wiring which can create a serious fire hazard. They also use your home as a personal bathroom which can pose serious health risks. Lastly, squirrels tend to be active at night and can keep causing major sleep disruption as they run around in the attic above where you sleep. They do this with the intent of nesting in your home, often in your chimney, attic or roof, but they aren’t shy to explore other parts of your house. Nesting is most commonly observed in June/July and the time you’re most likely to encounter one.  The Eastern Grey Squirrel will also make themselves a nuisance by damaging the exterior of your property.  They dig up gardens, chew up flowers, damage trees and eat seeds from your bird feeders. This behaviour is due to the fact that squirrels are scavengers and are always on the hunt for food. All of this leaves the homeowner at risk for a messy property and often expensive repair bills. Examples of damage by squirrels

What Steps Can I Take to Prevent Eastern Grey Squirrels on my  Vancouver Island property?

There are many preventative measures you can take to avoid headaches from Vancouver Island’s Eastern Grey Squirrels.  

  • Create a protective barrier around your flowers and crops to prevent garden infestation. 
  • Be mindful of your bird feeder placement, it’s simple but will also go a long way. An ideal placement is at least 4 feet off the ground and 8 feet away from any points squirrels can jump from.
  • Never leave open food outside as it may attract Eastern Grey Squirrels as well as other pests.
  • Inspect your property frequently to ensure potential entry points are sealed. Getting in the habit of this can go a long way in stopping squirrels from entering your home in the first place. 
  • Contact Local Pest Control technicians like the ones here at Old Island Pest Control!  Eastern Grey Squirrels can be very pesky and persistent! Old Island Pest Control technicians will remove any infestation across Vancouver Island, including Duncan, Nanaimo, Parksville & Qualicum, Courtenay, Victoria and Campbell River.

How to prevent squirrel problems

How do I get rid of squirrels ASAP?

To get rid of squirrels quickly, humanely and safely it is best to contact a licensed pest control company with a good reputation. They have the expertise and resources to address the issue promptly and effectively, allowing you to enjoy a squirrel-free home.  Don’t hesitate to reach out to Old Island Pest Control today for all your squirrel control and squirrel removal needs. We offer pest management and exterminator services for both residential and commercial properties. We have local cockroach exterminators at locations across Vancouver Island, including Duncan, Nanaimo, Parksville & Qualicum, Courtenay, Victoria and Campbell River. Call us today to learn how we can help.