CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- You may find squirrels to be harmless and maybe even cute, but for many Charlotte residents, the small rodents are driving them nuts!

Allen Eckman who owns A1 Wildlife Control says in the more than 30 years he’s been in business, he’s never received more calls in regards to squirrels.

“Last week alone we opened 50 accounts, it’s unprecedented,” says Eckman.

Eckman says during the winter months, the female squirrels tend to nest.

“They find that construction gap, they hop into a nice warm attic and what better place to spend the winter?” he says.

But he also warns that squirrels can cause serious damage.

“The urine can stink, they chew everything. They damage the outside of the house, soffits, fascia boards, rip up shingles, but the main concern by far is electrical damage because in two cases that I know about it has led to the home catching on fire,” says Eckman.

Eckman says so far this year, a majority of calls have come from the south Charlotte area.

“Typically south Charlotte zip code areas including 28277, 28270, 28210, 28226 and then in North Charlotte 28269, real hot areas for squirrels,” says Eckman.

When asked why, Eckman says it could have to do with the weather and the abundance of fruit and acorns trees have been producing. But he warns homeowners that if they do have a squirrel problem it’s best to call an expert.

“You can trap a squirrel in your attic as a homeowner and relocate it on your property. There’s no permit for that but the problem is... since they’re territorial they’re going to come right back,” he says.

And what may come as a surprise to many, is removing a squirrel from your property is actually illegal.

“Just like you have to have a license to fish, or have a tag to hunt bear, a squirrel is a state game animal and does require a permit to remove it off of your premises,” says Eckman.

Eckamn says once caught, his company then releases the squirrels back into the wild in non-residential areas.