Do squirrels eat insulation? Not usually. Squirrels typically feed on seeds, nuts, plant material, and insects.
Squirrels do sometimes eat insulation and some other types of materials in homes. Some argue that squirrels chewing through insulation is generally due to an itchy or sensitive tummy while others argue that squirrels simply like the taste of insulation and will chew on it for fun. Also, numerous folks claim that such damage can be caused by a family of squirrels (typically consisting of a mama squirrel and her young) looking to nest.
These claims may very well be true; however, these cases could also involve squirrels who are starving due to a lack of food in their immediate environment. Whatever the case may be, squirrels are generally quite harmless and tend to avoid human contact as much as possible. They're also quite intelligent creatures that tend to adapt well to civilization by finding easy access points into our homes via trees or other means. Thus it is important to take precautionary measures such as checking over your exterior walls for any holes that would allow a squirrel easy entry into your home.
Why do squirrels often chew through insulation in attics & walls?
Typically when a homeowner sees chewed holes in their insulation in an attic or around electrical wires there is a good chance at least one of their furry neighbors has made them for shelter and to keep warm during the cold months. Many times though people have seen squirrels come in or out of these holes during the summer months. This is often because there are access points to structures within about 15 feet of an active squirrel nest, which allows them easy entry into your attic.
How to prevent squirrels from eating insulation
Waterproofing your exterior walls will help prevent future squirrels from gaining entry into your home and eating insulation; however, this may not always solve the problem if squirrels have already made their way inside of your home and started chewing wires, etc... It's best practice to keep all food items secured in tightly closed containers and ensure that you have completely sealed off any potential entry points and if possible place some type of repellent (peppermint oil, ammonia etc...) in areas where squirrels may be entering your home.
What to do if you have squirrels eating your insulation
It depends on what type of damage is being done by the squirrels. If they are just moving in and doing no damage then the best solution may be to try to deter them by blocking entryways or using rodent repellents. If they're chewing wires or tearing up your insulation then trapping and removal may be required. Sealing your exterior walls may prevent future chewers from gaining entry into your home.
Also ensuring that you clean up any droppings or urine stains will help to alleviate the problem of scent marking; however, if a male squirrel wishes to claim territory he may mark over such odors even when they're fresh. It's also advisable not to use poison as this is typically not an effective measure.
If you suspect that you have a squirrel infestation then it would be best to contact a licensed wildlife professional who can identify the species(s) present and recommend a course of action depending on their findings. For example, you may have a squirrel issue and a raccoon problem; thus it would be best to contact a professional who can perform an exclusion and seal off any potential entry points.
Do squirrels eat insulation summary
All in all, the answer is no squirrels do not commonly eat insulation, however, they will chew through it if starving or nesting. Depending on where your home is located (rural vs urban) there's always a chance that you'll have squirrel species as well as several other wildlife species making their homes within close proximity to your home. In such cases, it's important to deter these nuisance animals from entering your living space as often as possible as they're typically just looking for shelter and/or food. Also trapping and removal is typically an option best left to the professionals. It's incredibly difficult to capture squirrels and may prove far more hazardous for both you and the animal.
Learn more about what to feed squirrels on our site, bigyardfun.com.