Insurers and pest control experts are warning the public to be vigilant about grey squirrels due to the damage they can cause to homes. Experts are raising awareness of how much chaos can be caused if just one squirrel enters a property.
This winter has been one of the busiest for squirrel infestations with call-outs nearly every day, one pest control expert told This is Money.
The impact of the grey squirrels has sparked a dramatic rise in home insurance claims.
Insurer LV reported a 51 percent rise in squirrel claims between 2021 and 2022 with some claims rising into the thousands. They added they have received 13 claims for squirrel damage since the start of 2023.
The rodents have been found chewing through wooden support beams and cables as well as destroying guttering.
One of the most extreme examples seen by LV involved a £30,000 claim after a homeowner in Bromley, south London, found a squirrel had chewed through their master bedroom’s ceiling.
The squirrel entered the loft through a hole in the roof and chewed through a ceiling covered in an Artex casing containing asbestos.
The damage was so extensive, the family had to move into alternative accommodation so the property could be repaired, a process which took eight months.
In another case, a claim was made for £2,600 after a squirrel chewed through the wiring of 17 solar panels, causing them to malfunction and stop working.
The rise in squirrel claims has been a boon for pest controllers. Area Pest Control’s Daniel Golding said: “This has been our busiest January and February ever for squirrel infestations. We think it’s because of an increase in new homes being built, which is displacing rodents.
“Weather patterns are also changing, with seasons crossing over, and rodents are adapting and changing their natural habits.”
Mr Golding added the company now receives around five squirrel-related calls a week. He warned: “Squirrels are mainly a problem between October and March. They can cause huge amounts of damage to a property if they chew through wires as this can lead to a house fire, or get into a water tank and flood the property.”
One of the main factors driving the rise in squirrel infestations is believed to be the changing weather.
LV claims director Martin Milliner said: “With an increase in the frequency and severity of storms, there is a higher chance of squirrel infestations in loft spaces, where animals can get in because of dislodged roof tiles.”
One of the best ways to stop squirrels from entering the property, said Mr Milliner, was to make sure all gaps in the roof are shut.
Mr Milliner said: “Making sure you check for any gaps which could let squirrels enter the home would help prevent the majority of damage we see.”
Experts advise filling those gaps with either strong wire mesh or metal plates to stop the squirrels from entering or re-entering the property.
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