We have also been seeing an increasing number of questions about bigger pests, ones that can cause real structural damage to buildings and about animals that make your yard a near no-go-zone. These concerns cover racoons, lizards, birds, deer, and the one we’re going to look at in depth here: Squirrels.
It is surprising how much damage these guys can do to a home, your garden ornaments -- even outside furniture can be a target. Squirrels seem to love a bit of mischief. If you’ve put hours, days, weeks and more into making your yard a place that you’re proud of, somewhere that offers a little piece of sanctuary from busy days and the stresses of life, the last thing you want is for squirrels to tear through it and leave it a mess. Who wants to come home one day and see vegetables eaten, flowers wreaked and fun loving squirrels living it up at your expense? Exactly!
Know Your Foe
That’s why we need to know what to do when they come and set up camp in and around our property’s yard. First and foremost -- if you don’t want these fellas in your yard never ever feed them. Ever. Squirrels love food -- who doesn’t -- especially when they don’t have to forage for it.
Free, easy to get food is an absolute yes for any squirrel; they’ll love you and hang around your yard for it. Remove all and every tasty temptation and be vigilante. Don’t let any visitors, family members, or neighbours leave free meals out in the yard! Now it is time to up the stakes by installing predator decoys, owls, eagles, foxes, anything squirrels will want to stay well away from. Then, as a real touch to what you are setting up -- A Squirrel Free Zone (ASFZ) -- get some red pepper flakes (The hotter the better) and spread them about, generously. Check the weather over the next few days and pick a time when it’s calm and there’s no chance of rainfall. Be sure to keep pets out of the yard when it’s full of red-hot chilli pepper.
To be honest when you check out squirrels doing what squirrels do it may well seem a task too far for anyone to actually think they can keep them away. They can jump, run, bound, and leap over any fence, and other than enclosing your entire yard in glass, there’s no way we can keep them out. It’s mission impossible! Well, that’s not true. We can keep them away and I’m going to show you how.
Squirrels: Reasons to Keep up Away
These-fun-loving-furry-tree-dwellers can unfortunately become an annoying presence -- especially to proud yard owners, and families with young children, toddlers and babies. Squirrels can be quite aggressive when cornered, annoyed, threatened or challenged for their space and/or food. They don’t mind having a fight if they need to and a squirrel scratch or bite can be really nasty, and will require a visit to a medical center for a tetanus shot. Along with the possibility of being bitten or scratched many of us simply do not realize the amount of damage that squirrels can cause! Once you start spotting squirrels in your yard it won’t be too long until you see them in sheds, garages, or even -- believe it or not -- your home!
Always work to keep these fur balls out of your yard before they get the chance to get into your home. Once a squirrel has come into your home, they can cause extensive and thus expensive damage. Plus, well, if a female squirrel chooses your home as her home for her family, then things just went multi-fold! It can soon get completely out of control, causing lots of stress to both you and the squirrels, but it won’t be them that have to pick up the repair check!
Come on, they aren’t that bad… Are They? Read on:
Squirrels have strong teeth, strong enough to easily make a meal of both pipes and wires. Chewing through wires can cause a short, which in turn can spark a fire, and chewing through pipes… well, we’ve all heard of flooding. Do you need it in your home? These are just two reasons to keep these chewing fiends out of your house, garage, and other buildings. The closer squirrels get to your property, the more likely they are to chew something that will cost you a lot of money in repairs.
If a squirrel gets into your attic, they can get into your insulation. Squirrels are well known for the amount of damage they can cause to attic insulation. They will also make nests in your insulation and may have babies in there, which will only lead to more squirrels in your home.
Squirrels love a bit of a challenge and drywall, wood, sidings of any kind, and more all fit the bill. This can be severely damaging to both the inside and outside of your home.
Wooden outdoor furniture is likely to be chewed by squirrels. They love to get down and chew on those valuable chairs, tables, and anything that you like to lounge around on.
When squirrels are able to crawl onto your roof, they will also be able to cause damage to your shingles that will cost a lot to repair.
Squirrels can an absolute job on your garden; they will dig up plants, chew on things, and then even consume any and all edibles, including prized vegetables. Squirrels can also be very destructive to any trees and shrubs in and around your property.
A squirrel invasion often results in things going missing from around your home, yard, and garden. Squirrels are very discreet at collecting things and will take anything they like back to their nests; they behave like crows in this way, collecting stuff that interests them.
If you have bulbs in your flowerbeds, watch out! Squirrels frequently like dig them up out of the ground and either eat them, store them away or leave them lying about. With a squad of squirrels patrolling your property, you can pretty much say goodbye to a beautiful flowerbed.
Squirrels can attack, injure or even kill other pets such as cats, dogs, rabbits, or any other pet you may regularly let outside, they can also fearlessly attack us. They can be known to be aggressive at times, and a squirrel attack can leave you scratched, bitten, and needing immediate medical attention.
As a wild animal they of course carry parasites and diseases. This means they can pass them on to you, your family, or your pets. Animals or children who may get into squirrel droppings are also at risk for picking up parasites or bacteria.
Squirrels being relatively small can easily attract larger animals that are on the look out for a squirrel snack. This can see unfamiliar cats, dogs and other predators using your yard as a place to get a bite to eat.
So there we have it, plenty of reasons to think about seriously keeping squirrels away from your home. Perhaps it comes as some surprise that they are not simply annoying, but they can also be harmful to you, your family, your pets, and even your home as well.
Squirrels: Act Now
Dependent on where you are there’s a chance they’ll be several species of squirrel native to the region in which you live. If you live in North America, for example, you could see yourself up against any one of these guys:
A. American Red Squirrel
B. Douglas Squirrel.
C. Northern Flying Squirrel
D. California Ground Squirrel
E. Western Gray Squirrel
F. Eastern Gray squirrel
It really helps to know which type of squirrel you’re up against as it will give you a better idea of how to plan your approach as some methods of keeping squirrel A away may not work as well with squirrel B, D or F.
Yet, as with most things, the following sensible common sense approaches will do a lot to keep any furry fiend at bay, and out of your yard and home.
Deter. Deter. Deter.
As with anything concerning any one of the numerous pests we come across, prevention is always better than cure. Not only will this approach cause you less stress, it will also be much cheaper in the long run and may even save your house from burning down. So, follow these steps and don’t make your property a squirrel refuge that comes up on their map as one of the best places to hang out, eat or set up their own home!
Again: Never, Ever, Feed Squirrels. Ever!
This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Once any animal doesn’t have to work to get a meal, what will they do? Exactly! They will stick around waiting for more easy feeds. When you feed squirrels, you are guaranteeing that they will come back time after time. This is because they know they can rely on you for a free meal. After all, squirrels are very motivated by food, and it only takes a few feedings to keep them coming back forever.
Keep it Clean and Put it Away
Keep all eating areas clean and put away all appliances after use. BBQs can be a great way to enjoy a day with family and friends, but they can also be a full course food source for squirrels. Keep grills, picnic tables, and decks, spick-and-span. You may also have to think about forgoing a season or two without the joy of watching birds at your feeder, because with no bird feed around, squirrels will be much more likely to move on to gardens that offer tasty treats to our feathered friends. Either that or make the feeder totally squirrel proof, and that can be difficult to say the least!
Remember: Remove all food sources!
Fantastic Plastic: Birds of Prey
Plastic owls and other fake predator decoys put around your yard can be really helpful for keeping your yard and surrounding grounds free of squirrels. Put them on the fence, in any trees and even on tables, on the ground, anywhere they can be seen, heard or “sensed”. It will truly put the heebie-jeebies into the local squireel community, no matter how tough they are, they will be terrified.
You can also buy “predator scents”, which usually contain the urine of animals that eat squirrels for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Perhaps even for elevenses. Once spray around, or perhaps left in a small jar or pot, the wafting strains of “Killer smells” will deter even the most determined of squirrels.
If you have pets like cats or dogs get together as much of their hair as possible and make them into balls. Bury the balls in the soil around your garden. Even place them in small nets, such as used for lavender bags in the home, and hang the up in trees. The smells will again trick the squirrels into thinking they are outnumbered, surrounded and better off setting up camp somewhere else – far away!
If you do decide to go for predator decoys, check out the ones that actually screech, move, light up and can even scare the kids. They are kind of fun and when a squirrel comes face-to-face with one, well, that’s it: they are gone! Designed with a built in motion detector they will send any critter running for its life as fast as its legs can carry it.
Squirrels, as with many pests, hate the smells that many of us love so much. One of these is, believe it or not, coffee grounds! Spread around a light covering of coffee grounds on top of the soil around your garden, and it will effectively repel squirrels away from your plants.
Ask your local coffee shop if you can get a bag of their used coffee grounds, or collect a few weeks worth of coffee grounds from your own home. Do be aware of how much coffee you throw around as it can turn the pH of your soil and obviously some plants will not like that, at all.
Sprays That Help
Fortunately, there are many companies out there that make specialized sprays and other products that you can use to repel squirrels from your yard and garden. And many of these products are also natural if you do not want to use synthetic chemicals. If the plants in your garden are meant to be eaten, then you should consider only using natural products such as lemon or even those, as mentioned above, pepper spays..
When getting a pest-control spray, make sure you research how effective it is for repelling squirrels. And make sure you don’t use anything that may possibly kill or harm the plants in your garden. Research each individual ingredient in a spray if you have any doubts. You should also be careful if you have a well on your property, as you don’t want to contaminate your water supply.
You should also check whether or not the spray you choose is toxic to pets or children. If you’re looking to repel squirrels without killing them, check to make sure whatever product you’re buying is humane and non-toxic.
Trap Them. Ship them out.
Even when you’ve exhausted absolutely every single trick in the book and scoured the internet for days looking for solutions you can always end up with that one singular exceptional squirrel that simply will not give up on using your yard and home as a place to chill, enjoy and make a mess of. On occasions such as these you may well need to consider resorting to using a trap. Although obviously an expense, they can be a good investment, as you can use them again and gain, even hire them out to the neighbours! After safely trapping the bravest squirrel in town release it far away from your own and other people’s properties, but so far as it’s in a totally different environment, such as the top of a mountain or in another region. With any luck, the squirrel will not return to your property.
It is suggested that if possible you should think about driving between thirty-minutes to an hour y from your home to release the little critter. Keeping a towel over the cage will help keep the squirrel calm and thus reduce its stress levels; after all we don’t want to freak them out too much! Remember that letting a squirrel go too close to your home may mean that it will return to your property in next to no time. They know when they’re onto a good thing and will make every effort to stick around.
We hope to encourage people to stay away from using sticky traps, poisons and other lethal means of getting rid of any mammals or birds. OK, a squirrel or squirrels may be driving you up the wall with their antics, but a slow agonising death hardly seems right when they are just doing what squirrels do with no intention other than survival.
Again: Bird feeder Paradise
Although mentioned above it’s important to know that if you have a bird feeder in your garden -- in a region that has squirrels -- you will also have squirrels in your garden. It’s as inevitable as having cold feet in the winter when you wear sandals. This is because the bird feeder acts as a food source that draws them in. It can be difficult to keep squirrels away from your bird feeders if you are not willing or able to remove the feeder from your yard. Fortunately, there are some ways to squirrel-proof your bird feeders but it can be a time consuming and expensive retrofit!
If you have a squirrel problem it can always be a good idea to get online and do some serious research into what is on offer to those of us suffering an invasion of these nut eating fur balls, and a lot of products are based on what we have mentioned before: Chilli. Squirrels really don’t like the hot spicy smells of a strong chilli. They will stay well clear if they come across an area that has been peppered with one of their least favourite things. I’ve never actually purchased a “prepared product” but simply got to work with my own chilli solutions, it’s easy to buy, easy to make and easy to spread around. Simply mix Tabasco sauce or its equivalent with water and spray away. Any animal that then comes into contact with a spicy hot leave, flower or other tasty morsel is going to be very unimpressed and not come back.
We hope you’ve really got a good idea of how to keep squirrels out of your immediate environment, and remember, prevention is always better than cure. Never letting squirrels set up shop and get comfortable is far better than acting after they’ve chewed through a wire, started a fire, or set water flooding through your attic or loft. Keep them at bay and they will stay away! Good luck!
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