Squirrels prancing and scurrying about in your yard might be cute from time to time. Yet, left unchecked even a seemingly small squirrel population can become a very large nuisance. Even though squirrels don’t reproduce as fast as other members of the rodent family, like mice and rabbits, they tend to be more persistent. Especially, when they are looking for food or shelter.
Even a single determined squirrel can dominate your bird feeder, chasing away birds, as well as break into your attic to make himself a cozy home. Large squirrel populations also increase the chances of problems in your gutter, roof leaks, damage to natural wood siding, and draw in unwanted predators to your property.
Of course, getting rid of squirrels and preventing them from being a problem in the future, is a multi-step process. It starts with identifying why they are choosing your yard over your neighbors, or why they are a widespread problem in your area.
Step One: Remove Easy Food Sources For Squirrels
Food and shelter are prime motivators for squirrels. Especially in the fall through the winter when natural resources are sparse. While bird feeders are an obvious attraction, yet it’s not the only thing that can draw squirrels to your yard.
While you might not feel comfortable removing bird feeders, there are things you can do to keep squirrels from accessing them. Putting bird feeders on poles, greasing poles, and placing them out of a squirrel’s jumping range from a tree or fence will certainly help.
As the weather starts to turn cold, squirrels will often look for food sources to fatten upon, or to store away. This goes beyond raking up acorns. Even something like a decorative crab apple tree with fruit still clinging to it can be very enticing to a hungry squirrel. Once the find an easy food source, they’ll start looking for shelter nearby.
Garbage Cans & Easy Access To Refuse
Even though they are technically classified as herbivores, squirrels are indeed scavengers. A loose-fitting garbage can, an open lid, or simply food refuse left out on the picnic table after a weekend cookout can all encourage squirrels to set up shop in your backyard.
Step Two: Eliminate Squirrel Shelter Areas
While squirrels do prefer to build nests in trees and tree cavities, they are not above making a cozy little den for themselves in your attic, garage, or detached storage shed. Keep an eye out for things like holes in your soffits, vents, and eaves. Squirrels can fit through some surprisingly tight spaces. So, if you see something they might use as an access point to get into the lesser-used parts of your home you need to seal it up.
Step Three: Find The Best Squirrel Deterrent For You
Once you’ve taken away food and shelter, the number of squirrels in your yard, the number of squirrels should go down. Just bear in mind that there will probably still be a small population living in the surrounding trees. There’s nothing you can really do about that, and in many states and counties, there might be regulations against altering animals natural habitat.
There is no one size fits all deterrent for squirrels. The following are some options to consider installing or using in your yard.
First off, you’ll want to check what the trapping and live trapping laws are for your region. There are some parts of the United States where you can’t trap squirrels, as well as rules about what you can and can’t do with a squirrel you catch.
The downside of trapping squirrels and relocating them is that you are going to be doing it a lot. Especially, because squirrel populations tend to respond to pressure and availability of resources. So, you might trap 10 squirrels only to find 10 others moving in to fill the void. Ultimately, trapping is a solution better fit for removing one or two problematic squirrels that are doing something destructive, or for removing one that’s gotten into your garage or attic.
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It might sound strange on paper, but squirrels hate the smell of daffodils. Most likely because they have a chemical in them that is modestly toxic to squirrels. Planting them in beds near fruit trees and bird feeders can help augment your deterrent strategy.
Consider Getting A Dog Or A Cat
This is a little bit of an issue. A lot of dogs will indeed chase away squirrels, and some cats become expert squirrel assassins. The problem is that your dog may chase a squirrel off your property, which could annoy neighbors and stress you out. Then you also have the problem of what happens when your dog or cat finally catches a squirrel. Most likely they are going to eat it, which increases their chances of getting sick or accidentally ingesting worms that may be living in the squirrel’s digestive system. So any money you might save chasing squirrels away might just transfer over to increased veterinary bills.
Motion Activated Sprinklers
This is a relatively new innovation that can be successful at certain times of the year. You set up the sprinkler near a bird feeder or fruit tree. When the motion sensor is activated, it squirts water and scares the squirrel away.
Though there are a few problems here. For starters, the bird feeder or fruit tree needs to be isolated from other objects and trees. Otherwise, the squirrels will just take a vertical approach to the problem. You also have to consider that the sprinkler only works during the warm part of the year. Even a particularly cool fall night where the temperature drops below 32-degrees could cause frozen water lines and other damage.
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Chemical Squirrel Repellents
A decade or so ago, chemical animal repellents were still in their relative infancy. A lot of people swore by things like shaving scented soap or sprinkling cayenne pepper on everything in their yard. Today both spray concentrates and granules are safer, easier to use, and more affordable than ever before.
You can place them around things like fruit trees, flower beds, gardens, and bird feeders to help repel squirrels. Many of the best chemical squirrel repellents also tend to help repel other nuisance animals like deer, rabbits, and raccoons.
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