Squirrels are sometimes considered pests because of their propensity to chew on various edible and inedible objects. This characteristic trait aids in maintaining sharp teeth, and because their teeth grow continuously, prevents over-growth. Homeowners in areas with a heavy squirrel population must keep attics and basements carefully sealed to prevent property damage caused by nesting squirrels. (A squirrel nest is known as a "drey", especially in Britain.) Fake owls and scarecrows are generally ignored by the animals, and the best way to prevent chewing on an object is to coat it with something to make it undesirable.
Squirrels can be trained to be hand-fed. Because they are able to cache surplus food, they will take as much food as is available. Squirrels living in parks and in cities have learned that humans are typically a ready source of food. Hand feeding is not recommended, however, because squirrels may carry animal-borne diseases. Even if they do not carry disease, they often have a hard time telling fingertips from food, and bites are painful. Squirrels are occasionally kept as household pets, provided they are selected young enough and are hand raised in a proper fashion.