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Does anyone know of a way to prevent squirrels from running on electric wires?

Squirrels are using the electric wire that brings electric into our home as a runway. I see them running both directions, both to our house and to the electric pole.

At least so far, I do not see them gaining access to the interior of my home. However, I don't want to wait until that happens to address the problem.

The electric comes into our home about 2' below the roofline and about 10' above the ground. We have metal siding and a metal roof. I have seen them getting to the wire by climbing the electric pole (not on our property). Once they get about a foot from where the electric comes into the house, they jump onto our roof. I have walked the roof and cannot figure out why our roof would interest them. Obviously, we don't throw food up there. I cannot find any nest or damage caused by the squirrels.

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    With squirrels about the only proven way is have the wires removed.
    – crip659
    Jul 16, 2021 at 9:07
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    @crip659 go off grid to avoid wildlife? How ironic!
    – jay613
    Jul 16, 2021 at 12:34
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    They make their way onto your roof because their instinct is to explore. My yard is full of mature oaks and they use our roof as the runway. They're across it every day, and I've never had damage beyond some nibbling on plastic rain gutter mesh. I wouldn't make it a problem until it's a problem.
    – isherwood
    Jul 16, 2021 at 12:50
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    Are the squirrels causing problems? What are you doing to keep birds off your roof? How about spiders, ants, dragon flies, moths, etc.? Your house exists in nature and until nature invades the house, I don't see a problem. Now, I had a momma racoon climb our tree, cross to the roof and go down the unused chimney to give birth. Listening to all the scratching in the chimney kept us awake at night. I chased them out with a chimney sweep brush, and once we had a couple of nights with no noise, I went back to the roof & capped the chimney, but I was solving a known problem, not a potential one.
    – FreeMan
    Jul 16, 2021 at 12:57
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    It's that sort of proactive interference with nature that has us where we are today, with a sterilized ecosystem and a shredded climate. Well, that and plain apathy. Our comeuppance is due. Yes, even squirrels are part of the equation. You likely have Cooper's hawks and owls in your neighborhood, too, which depend on the squirrels. Everything's connected. Our survival depends on theirs.
    – isherwood
    Jul 16, 2021 at 13:54

5 Answers 5

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There are many types of animal baffles that can prevent this like the one shown below. You would need the plastic/PVC version and install it where the power company wires attach to your wires. Check with your power company since many will install them at your house or at the pole.

Amazon webpage of Fox Valley brand of squirrel baffles for use on electrical lines

Here's one very similar to the ones we installed, not affiliated in any way

https://www.critterguard.org/products/line-guard

Critterguard webpage for electrical line baffles and spinners

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    That particular baffle is 16 inch diameter. It forms a cone and is meant to be installed on a pole to prevent squirrels from approaching from above or underneath. On a horizontal wire it would present only an 8 inch obstruction. Determined squirrels would jump over it! Although, if the roof is not a good food source they may not be that determined. It also has to be held in place, and comes with metal hardware. Not sure how I would safely mount it on a high voltage wire.
    – jay613
    Jul 16, 2021 at 12:26
  • @jay613 If it's fitted over the wires and attached together, the metal hardware wouldn't be needed... That's all we did with the ones at the power company.
    – JACK
    Jul 16, 2021 at 12:35
  • You installed these professionally? That is pretty cool. If they are not attached to the wire, couldn't the animal just push them along towards the house then jump over? Or the wind could blow them towards the pole where the animal could easily bypass them?
    – jay613
    Jul 16, 2021 at 12:55
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    @jay613 I didn't personally, I sent crews out to do it. The baffles had a rubber sleeve that fit over the cable and the baffle fit over that... a pretty snug fit.
    – JACK
    Jul 16, 2021 at 13:18
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    As it turns out, your comment was the solution. I called the electric company (First Energy), and they put an orange ball - about the size of a basketball, on the wire leading to my home. They also surrounded the base of the pole they were climbing with a skirt to make climbing the pole just about impossible. Now, if they get past the skirt (so far, they have not), the round ball stops them. Turns out that squirrels cause most power outages, so the company is very quick to respond to nuisance squirrel complaints. They actually found & removed a squirrel's nest on the pole.
    – Bookaholic
    Jul 25, 2021 at 15:44
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That wire belongs to the power company. And you can't put anything there without their permission.

That said, the key to preventing squirrel home invasions is not the power company line. That is positively in their territory. You can and should expect their activity there. If your weatherhead is terminated properly, this will only give them access to your roof (also their territory).

The key is to maintain the integrity of your home's walls. Don't be sloppy. Secure openings. Put filler in the hole for the A/C line-sets. Put gratings across the vents for bathroom, range hood and dryer, soffit vents, etc. . If you're not interested or able to do this type of home-crafting, bring in a handyman who can.

You really need to do this. If squirrels can get in, then so can much worse vermin, like rats or birds. Ever hear of the squirrel flu? Nope.

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some sort of rat guard perhaps

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Relocate the squirrels.

I had a problem with red squirrels chewing through the trash can outside, and eventually chewed through my screen and entered the house. I trapped them with a small animal trap, and would release them in a wooded area somewhere between home and work which was 40 miles away. I caught 4 and they never came back after relocating them. I also caught a skunk, which wasn't as bad as it sounds. A few people walked past it without even noticing it was there, it looked like it was sleeping when I opened the trap.

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squirrel trying to cross clothesline with plastic bottle "spinners"

I don't know if or how you could safely do this on a high voltage wire but the best way to keep squirrels from passing a horizontal wire is a string of 2 liter drink bottles drilled through the top and bottom. You need at least 5 or 6 of them or squirrels can just jump over. They don't need to be held in place. They drift towards the sagging part of the wire and they stay together there. Squirrels try to jump over but when they land on the bottles the bottles flip over and there's nowhere for the squirrels to grip.

Sometimes a squirrel can get a grip on the wire between bottles. You can prevent that by cutting off the bottoms of all the intermediate bottles so they ride over the conical part of the next bottle, and tape or staple them in place that way.

Again, I've never seen this done on high voltage wires and I cannot imagine how I would go about that myself.

I think the baffle idea from @JACK is more promising but for horizontal use I think you'd need to find one that is bigger than 8 inches in radius, it doesn't need to be conical, and you'd need to figure out a safe way to clamp them to the live wires, probably not with sharp metal hardware.

EDIT: the issue of safe installation of bottles is addressed by the fit-for-purpose product in the other answer. That product combines baffles and rollers that are assembled over existing wires and that product is more robust than drink bottles, hopefully will last longer.

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    if search "rat guard" you will see similar products but the rollers are split and clip over the wire,
    – Jasen
    Jul 16, 2021 at 13:07
  • I haven't seen those before. Nice. I think the way they use built-in plastic compression fittings to attach to the wire is clever and probably is a good way to attach to power lines. I'm still not convinced that a determined squirrel would be deterred by these. They are 15 to 17 inches. Easy for a squirrel to jump over an 8 inch radius. Also if clamped firmly to a high tension overhead cable, the squirrel could probably jump ONTO the top of it and have enough stability to then proceed happily onwards. My quick search of youtube for any proof of this found nothing.
    – jay613
    Jul 16, 2021 at 13:31
  • Also those rat guards are expensive. If they work, great solution for putting just one on your incoming power lines. My own interest is keeping them away from bird feeders, so I'm looking to make something similar from thin plexiglass for much less $.
    – jay613
    Jul 16, 2021 at 13:33

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