Prairie State Wildlife receives numerous calls each year from the Aurora, Naperville, Oswego, Joliet, Yorkville, Downers Grove, Bolingbrook and Woodridge Illinois area residents. Fox and gray squirrels are among the most commonly observed squirrels in northern Illinois. The fox squirrel is the larger of the two species and the coat color, although variable is generally red. The eastern gray squirrel is smaller of the two species and is most commonly gray in color. Rarely a third squirrel, the northern flying squirrel is observed. All three species can come in conflict with humans. The majority of our Aurora, Naperville and Joliet Illinois area service calls regarding damage and nuisance issues involves the fox or gray squirrel.
Fox and gray squirrels coexist together in the same habitat and range. They are often seen foraging about with one another. They feed on numerous varieties of foodstuffs including wild tree fruits and nuts, acorns, walnuts and hickory nuts. Often these food are used to control, trap and remove squirrels.
Fox and gray squirrels breed in December and January and again in June. Because of the breeding season, we often receive calls regarding squirrels continuously chasing one another in the attic as males are pursuing females. The gestation period is 42 to 45 days. Birthing usually takes place in March and April and an average litter is between three and five squirrels. The young squirrels are weaned at approximately 12 weeks of age and can often be seen exploring outside the entry point. They can be seen peaking their heads out of the hole and chasing one another on the roof. This is another peak time for calls to our office. The young mature and become more active and our Naperville, Aurora and Joliet area customers become aware they have some unwanted guests that have taken up residence in their home.
Damage can be considerable as they can be quite destructive. The squirrels gnawing habits and introduction of nesting material into a residence is of some concern. Often times squirrels will mechanically destroy, defecate and urinate on and build mound like nests in the insulation. Squirrels often gain entry into a residence by gnawing on exposed fascia boards, siding and small open holes. Squirrels often enter the residence via the attic power ventilator, attic vents, falling down a chimney or falling down a furnace stack. Occasionally squirrels may find their way into the living area of a residence and create havoc by knocking down furnishings, defecating throughout the residence and chewing the window casings as the squirrel attempts to escape.
Occasionally damage to lawns is observed from squirrels searching for and caching nuts. They can cause chewing damage to ornamental trees, destroy bird houses and raid bird feeders.
The best control and removal method is by trapping and relocating squirrels to suitable habitat.