Wildlife Education - Information, Advice, and Techniques for the Safe Removal of Squirrels from Chimneys

Squirrels in the Chimney - Guide to Safe Removal


In this photo I've actually lowered a rope down the chimney flu to "fish out" this juvenile squirrel stuck at the bottom.

Squirrels live in chimneys as well as attics. Your chimney is just like a big, hollow tree to some animals. Squirrels are great climbers, and they need a safe, dry place in which to live, so if your chimney has no chimney cap, get ready for some visitors! Female squirrels instinctively seek out high areas in which to create a nest. Because squirrels are so common in urban areas, they often climb on houses and other buildings looking for a good place to set up a nest. If they see an open chimney, that's a great place to pick. They can easily climb down the flue, and they usually set up a nest and have a litter of baby squirrels at the bottom.

If you are hearing sounds and noises in the chimney, and you think you have an animal in the chimney or fireplace (it's not too hard to tell) it's most likely either squirrels or raccoons. Squirrels make more noise in the daytime. If a squirrel fell down a slick metal flu like in the above photo, it'll make a lot of frantic scratching noise.

DO NOT START A FIRE if you have squirrels in the chimney - you’d have to open the damper to let the smoke out, and they will enter the fireplace instead of climbing out. Even if they don’t get into the your house or fireplace, you will cook animals alive and get a horrendous odor that will last a long time.

If you have squirrels in the chimney there's several things you can do. Odor deterrents such as predator urine might work, because it's a very concentrated area, as opposed to a large and well-ventilated chimney. The best is to set a special chimney trap at the top of the flu, which catches the squirrel as it exits. If there's babies inside, they can then be safely removed by hand. You can also set a ground trap at the base of the chimney and do the same thing, though the capture rate may not be 100%, like with the chimney trap. You can scare the mama out and remove the young, then use the young as live bait. Or, you can use a long chimney snare pole to grab and remove them all. Many professional wildlife removal experts have special squirrel in chimney removal systems if odor deterrents don’t work. Just remember to get the babies as well as the mother!

Once all the squirrels are out, install a sturdy steel chimney cap to prevent this from happening again. Oh, and if you don't have a cap right now, make sure the fireplace damper is closed, or else critters may wind up inside your home and not just the chimney.

If you have a slick metal flu, such as the one in the above photo, the only solution is to lower a thick rope, with weight tied to the end, all the way down.  The squirrel will then be able to climb up.

The rope trick can also work with squirrels in the wall, provided you have access to the open top of the wall from the chimney above. Due to requests from readers for competent and honest wildlife professionals to assist with squirrel problems, I have been doing research on the matter, and can confidently recommend companies in these USA cities and towns: - AZ Phoenix, CA Los Angeles, CA Oakland, CA San Diego, CA San Francisco, CA San Jose, CO Denver, DC Washington DC, FL Boca Raton, FL Fort Lauderdale, FL Jacksonville, FL Miami, FL Orlando, FL Tampa, GA Atlanta, IL Chicago, IN Indianapolis, MA Boston, MD Baltimore, MI Detroit, MI Grand Rapids, MN Minneapolis, NC Charlotte, NC Raleigh, NJ Newark, NY Long Island, NY New York City, OH Cleveland, OH Columbus, OH Cincinnati, OR Portland, PA Philadelphia, PA Pittsburgh, SC Columbia, TN Knoxville, TN Nashville, TX Austin, TX Dallas, TX Fort Worth, TX San Antonio, VA Arlington, WA Seattle, WI Milwaukee or you can just click my complete squirrel trapper directory for someone in your area.

Here are some emails that I've received about squirrels in the chimney:

Hello David, After hearing scratching sounds up and down our chimney for a few days, we realize we have squirrels in our old unused chimney that used to vent a potbelly stove. The squirrels have pushed out the grate that is inside the house and now we have nesting material and droppings falling out inside the room. We are going to try some of the methods you suggested but my concern is over handling the squirrel waste. Does the waste carry disease that we should be concerned about? What is the best way to remove the nesting leaves and waste? It is accessible through a small hole in the inside(grate hole) but my concern is mostly about the possibility of disease. Thank you, Joanne
David, We have squirrels in the attic. They are coming through chimney, and we are hearing animal noises in the chimney flu. Can you give us some advise for getting rid of these squirrels. Please also give us your charges for this service. How do we make sure that they don't return. Regards Sanjay
David, Great web site. Question: you say squirrels never enter traps in the chimney, I've set two different size traps in the chimney. In the larger the bait is gone but the trap has not tripped , in the smaller(a double door) the bait is gone, the trap is tripped and no animal. Do I have some thing other than squirrels ( I live in northern Michigan). I live in a brick ranch style house. I've been around my house twice and I've found no holes in the soffit, soffit vents, or fascia. I have a hip roof so there are no gable ends. There are holes on the roof around the chimney, No roof vents (ridge vent). There was one hole at one hip end where a roof for a car port was added but it is blocked off, we hear scratching noises in the day and night. I've been trying to trap what ever is up there for weeks with absolutely no success. Other than hiring someone, any advice? Paul
I think I have a squirrel in my chimney i heard loud banging noises it sounded like it was coming from the walls and when i was sitting by my fireplace it sounded like something dropped theres pictures covering the fireplace but i was wondering can they get into the house through thee chimney
Hi David, Thanks for sending me your website to look at. I went one better and sent it to a group of licensed wildlife rehabilitators that specialize in squirrel rehabilitation and asked them to look at it also and to get back in touch with you with their ideas too. I will look over your website in the morning when my brain is more awake ;-) I do have some information in an autoresponder on the website to give people ideas on how to get the squirrels to move out on their own so they don't trap the mom's and leave the babies behind. As to when squirrels have babies... it use to be the case that they had them in February and again in late summer, but not anymore... they forgot to read the book! I usually start getting emails about babies the first of January from Florida. I know that we have them here in NC in January also. So basically we just tell everyone to assume the squirrels to have babies when they are in the attic. I saw your link about the Fireplace squirrel and it made me remember the rehabber that trained me went to a ladies house one day. She had babies in her chimney. This rehabber weighed all of 120 pounds and as soon as she heard those babies crying in that chimney she yanked the ladies fireplace insert out of the fireplace and got them out. To this day she says she has no idea where she got the strength from to do it, but all it took was hearing those babies crying to give her the strength to do it. Will get back with you tomorrow. Pam

Please be kind to squirrels! They are intelligent animals, and believe it or not, they definitely have emotions!
If you have any questions about squirrels in attics, just email me at david@squirrel-attic.com