Unfortunately, while many people enjoy feeding squirrels and putting out food for them, some consider them nothing but a nuisance. It is often a topic of debate whether squirrels are vermin or not?
Vermin is when an animal is considered as being mischievous and a nuisance. And the answer is, yes, squirrels are vermin.
The fact that squirrels are vermin comes as a surprise to people who love them. Unfortunately, there have been too many complaints and incidents involving squirrels so they are categorised as vermin.
This is one of the reasons why in the UK, it is not legal to feed squirrels openly in some areas. However, there are parks dedicated to feeding squirrels.
Why Are Squirrels Classed as Vermin?
The UK was home to the native red squirrel, which is becoming outnumbered by grey squirrels. Grey squirrels were native to North America and were only brought to the UK in the 19th and 20th centuries. And since then, grey squirrels have become a problem for the locals in the UK.
According to the 1981 law, grey squirrels were declared as vermin. The reason why grey squirrels were declared as vermin is their contribution to destruction.
Grey squirrels are notorious for meddling into nests, eating bird eggs, and even small birds.
For people with gardens, grey squirrels have become a recurring problem. The grey squirrels destroy plants and rip off tree barks and destroy tree saplings.
Are Squirrels Rodents?
Rodents make the largest part of the mammal family. These include animals that give birth to live babies and breathe air.
Many people do not know, but squirrels belong to the Rodentia family. Not all rodents appear like rats, and they have evolved over the years.
All rodents, including squirrels, have long teeth that have great strength. The rodents use their strong teeth to gnaw through things. For example, squirrels can gnaw through walnut shells easily. Squirrels stand out from other rodents because of their fluffy tails and big, round eyes.
Are Squirrels Related to Rats?
Squirrels belong to the same family as rats which is the Rodentia family. Hence, squirrels are related to rats. Squirrels are cousins close to rats and other animals such as mice and chipmunks. However, despite being close cousins to rats, squirrels are different from them.
Squirrels have fluffy tails (find out why here) and big eyes. Moreover, squirrels have larger hind legs and smaller paws. In addition, these mammals have fur in different colours, which is softer to touch.
How Are Squirrels Different from Rats?
Many people often confuse squirrels and rats because they have trouble identifying wildlife. While these two mammals belong to the same family, there are still some stark differences that you must keep in mind to differentiate them.
Squirrels are usually bigger than rats. Moreover, squirrels have bushy tails that separate them from rats. Rates have thin and hairless tails. While rats have long bodies, squirrels have fuller bodies with many hairs that are soft to touch. Also, squirrels have big black eyes and pointed ears.
Squirrels are great at searching for food and prefer to munch on nuts such as peanuts, hazelnuts, and acorns. A big difference between squirrels and rats is their sleeping pattern.
Rats are nocturnal animals, while squirrels are diurnal. Therefore, you will never see a squirrel during the nighttime unless there is a problem. Squirrels prefer to return to their nests in the evening after foraging for food all day.
While squirrels cause mostly external damage, including trees and birdhouses, and a bit of house damage, rats cause damage inside homes. Rats will contaminate water, pantries and spread diseases like rat-bite fever.
Are Squirrels Pests?
Although squirrels are not as dangerous as rats and mice, they still cause a lot of trouble.
These small mammals are notorious for climbing in attics and walls of houses. Squirrels chew through walls and enter homes in kitchens looking for food. Squirrels have strong teeth and can gnaw hard shells like walnuts, and there is no problem for them to chew through walls.
Squirrels also chew their way into homes if they are looking for a place to build nests. If squirrels get inside homes, they begin to give birth inside walls and attics. The squirrels will stay until they raise their young. This problem causes damage to homes as the squirrels make holes in walls.
Vermin are animals that are mischievous and obnoxious. Squirrels are vermin, and it comes as a surprise to many people. Squirrels cause more harm than good, and although many people like to feed them, they are a nuisance and hard to deal with.
The UK was home to red squirrels, but they were replaced by grey squirrels in the 19th century when their population grew. Grey squirrels quickly overtook the country, and in 1981, grey squirrels were declared vermin because of their contribution to destruction.
Squirrels are rodents as they belong to the Rodentia family along with rats, mice, and chipmunks. However, despite being close cousins to rats, there are great differences between them both.
Squirrels have bushy tails and big eyes, while rats have long, hairless tails. Squirrels cause most destruction externally, while rats damage properties, contaminate water and pantries, and are responsible for spreading diseases like rat fever.
Ryan is a keen gardener from the UK who’s spent years dealing with countless, common pests over the years so knows the ins and outs of how to deal with pests in the garden