Squirrels are very cute little rodents, with very intelligent minds and a curiosity that often gets them into trouble. Unlike other rodents, they are very outgoing and not very shy or scared of humans, they are also excellent climbers, and can scurry up or down almost anything. This means that they often find themselves in sticky situations that need the help of a merciful human to get out of.
Chimneys and fireplaces are unlikely places to find squirrels, yet they do appear, from time to time, despite their best intentions to get in and out without you noticing. Squirrels thrive in urban environments due to their incredible ability to adapt; they can eat anything, climb anything and are not scared of anything – quite a combination.
This is why it’s common to see them scurrying along rooftops and up and down drain pipes; this also leads them to explore chimneys. If the chimney is made of brick or stone, then it will be easy for a squirrel to get in and out without getting stuck, because it’s little claws will have good grip. But some chimneys have a metal flu, meaning that the squirrel can slip to the bottom and not find a way in.
Under NO circumstance start a fire. If the squirrel is really stuck, you will only succeed in burning it alive, and if it’s not really stuck, the squirrel will just escape through the fireplace into your home. The best thing to do is to give the squirrel a way out. You can lower a rope through the top of the chimney, leaving it there for a few hours until the squirrel gathers up the confidence to climb up; or try to coax it out through the damper. This may be necessary if the squirrel is injured or too weak to climb up the rope.
To prevent this sort of thing happening in the first place, you can install a chimney cap that will prevent wildlife finding its way into your chimney. These caps are easy to install and a prevention method.
Go back to the How to Get Rid of Squirrels page or email us if you have any other questions about What to do about a squirrel in the fireplace
We are the Pest Education Network, a non-profit organization that focuses on wildlife and pest removal education. Our approach utilizes Integrated Pest Management, a strategy advocating prevention and humane methods.