Do you have a problem with pesky squirrels raiding your bird feeder or chewing through your wiring? If so, you’re not alone. Squirrels are notorious for causing all sorts of problems for homeowners.
We’d all like to think of squirrels as cute and acrobatic animals that are enjoyable to watch in nature. The way they leap and bound through the canopy is impressive. The way they nibble on little fruits and nuts is absolutely adorable.
However, while they can provide entertainment and a sense of nature while outside, squirrels are notorious for causing property damage if they manage to make it inside. Besides that, some squirrels can carry dangerous diseases (like the bubonic plague) and serve as hosts for parasites.
Cute and fuzzy squirrels in nature are one thing. However, rambunctious squirrels in the attic, roof, garage, or garden is a different scenario that requires swift and humane intervention. So keep on reading to learn about the best tactics to get rid of squirrels in the most effective and humane manner.
Don’t worry, there are ways to get rid of squirrels naturally. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the most effective methods for dealing with squirrels and getting them out of your yard for good. Stay tuned!
What Exactly Are Squirrels?
Squirrels are fuzzy little rodents from the animal family Sciuridae. Their name comes from the Greek word skiouros, which translates to “shade tail,” which describes one of the most recognizable traits of the animal. Their tails, which is their defining characteristic, help them maintain a healthy body temperature balance while jumping, climbing, and crawling, parachute during a jump, and communicate with other squirrels.
The squirrel family technically includes other animals like chipmunks and marmots, but for most people, when they think of squirrels, they think of tree squirrels.
Tree squirrels have increasingly become more of a problem because of urban sprawl. As a result, the natural environments that were once the homes of squirrels are under threat. Now, as squirrels look for shelter, food, water, and warmth, they routinely find themselves out of place, in homes, and in trouble.
Squirrels are resilient animals. In the wild, they can survive for up to 10 years. In captivity, squirrels can survive for 20 years. They mate once or twice a year. The babies, which are born hairless, toothless, and blind, are weened for ten weeks. They are then considered sexually mature after 12 months.
Squirrels roughly eat one pound of food per week and have an omnivorous diet. They have more prominent rodent-like teeth called incisors up front, and a tiny set of teeth called diastema in the backs of their mouths that help them grind food. While squirrels scavenge for food, they rely on their large, wide-set eyes to avoid predators. Some species of squirrel can run upwards of 20 miles per hour.
What Attracts Squirrels?
Urban sprawl and the development of new neighborhoods have brought humans closer to squirrels than ever before. It’s not only the shrinking distance responsible for bringing squirrels onto our properties. Squirrels are also attracted to our homes, gardens, and garages because they are looking for:
- Food- the plants we grow in the garden and around the yard may serve as valuable food sources for squirrels.
- Water – when water is challenging to find in the wild, squirrels may rely on the pools, birdbaths, ponds, and puddles around your home for hydration.
- Shelter – squirrels love to use the plants in our yards and the nooks and crannies of our homes for safe and warm shelter, especially during pregnancy and gestation.
Tips to Get Rid of Squirrels Outside
Squirrels are a cute, fluffy, and playful part of nature. Not when they get into our gardens, dig up plants, eat our fruits and veggies and terrorize the backyard birds, though!
Apply Squirrel Repellent
Regular usage of smelly squirrel repellents is one of the most effective ways to stop squirrels from digging in planters and keep them away. You can spray repellent on plants and spread it around trees. Squirrels hate the intense aroma and spicy flavor.
If you like using repellents, make sure to reapply after rainfall. We also recommend switching up the repellent recipe you use not to let the squirrels adapt to the flavors and smells.
Install Ultrasonic Squirrel Deterrents
Ultrasonic deterrents are motion-activated gadgets that emit a high-frequency sound that squirrels and other rodents hate. When they trigger the device, the unbearable noise will encourage them to get away (and stay away) as soon as possible.
Try Motion-Activated Sprinklers
One of our favorite ways to keep squirrels out of vegetable gardens and eat certain plants is motion-activated sprinklers. When the pesky squirrels come into range, the sprinkler gets activated and sprays water. The sudden noise, movement, and burst of water scare the squirrel away every time. Plus, your plants get extra water.
Scare Them With Decoy Predators
Squirrels are the prey of larger animals like hawks, owls, and bobcats. You can take advantage of this predator and prey relationship by keeping decoy predators around your yard to scare squirrels.
You can position the decoys in your garden, on the back patio, or the roof. The squirrels will see the predator, believe it’s real, and choose to cause trouble elsewhere. Remember, when using decoy predators, it’s crucial to change the position of the decoy periodically so the squirrels don’t catch on to the fact that it’s not a real threat.
Squirrels in the Attic
Sometimes, squirrels will invade your home in search of shelter if the opportunity presents itself. They often gain access to the attic through a hole in the roof. If you hear critters running around and have noticed squirrel feces, it may be time to take action.
And because we’re dealing with the inside of your home, we recommend you call a professional. A specialist in pest control will first close off any entrances and exits and then set traps and use squirrel bait to catch all the squirrels. Afterward, you’ll need to renovate the areas through which the squirrels entered so that it won’t happen again.
Squirrels in Trees
Squirrels are natural climbers. They use trees for shelter, foraging food, mating, and playing. So it may be unrealistic to get rid of them completely. You can try to keep them out of certain trees.
Wrap Your Trees
Squirrels often climb up trees from their trunks. So if you need to keep squirrels from climbing up a certain tree, you can install a baffle on your tree. Baffles are plastic or metal pieces designed to stop squirrels from climbing. You can buy some baffles at the store. There are also plenty of DIY ideas out there.
Use Squirrel Repellent
Another way to keep squirrels away from fruit trees and other trees is to apply squirrel repellent. These are solutions or granulated products that you can spray or spread to get rid of squirrels.
Squirrel repellents rely on intense aromas that create odor barriers against squirrels and other animals. Repellents use cayenne pepper, garlic, chili pepper, vinegar, and peppermint to fend off squirrels from frequenting certain areas or eating particular plants. IF you do apply squirrel repellents, always make sure to reapply after rainfall and watering.
Squirrels in Roof
Squirrels often use our roofs to and from the trees surrounding our homes. Over time, the roofs themselves may become the center of attention, especially if the squirrels find out they can find a way inside.
Regularly Maintain Your Roof
Regular maintenance of your roof is a critical task. It helps you stay on top of leaks and other damages. Plus, you will be able to identify where holes in the roof are forming and potentially giving entrance to squirrels.
Hire a Professional to Set Traps
Getting squirrels out of the roof is a difficult task. Not to mention potentially dangerous. That is why we recommend hiring a professional who has experience working at height and dealing with wild animals.
Frequently, the squirrels are scared and do not want to leave. Unfortunately, this poses problems because they will starve if the squirrels remain inside and eventually die. That can lead to a smelly mess that you probably don’t want to have to deal with!
Pest control experts will encourage the squirrels to leave with bait and then trap them. The squirrels will then be relocated, and you can fix the hole in your roof.
Squirrels in Garage
Getting squirrels out of the garage is all about giving the squirrels already inside a way out while also barring entrance to future squirrels.
Leave the Garage Door Open
If a squirrel has made their way into the garage and become trapped or lost, chances are, they also want to leave. Simply leave the garage door open and give the animal time to find the exit. You can also coax it in the direction of the door with a broom.
Check for Secret Entrances
If you notice a persistent problem with squirrels using your garage as shelter, then there is probably an entrance you don’t know about. Once you find the passageway through which the squirrels have been coming and going, repair it and block it.
Remove Attractants From Your Garage
Squirrels are attracted to your garage for one reason or another. Most often, it has to do with food. If you store dry goods, pet food, or animal feed in the garage, you may inadvertently attract squirrels. We recommend removing the food or keeping it more secure, eliminating the enticing odor and easy access.
Squirrels on Your Deck
Squirrels love our backyards. They come looking for food in our gardens and play chase in the shade trees that decorate the yard. Sometimes, they come too close for comfort on the deck.
Keep Your Deck Tidy
If you eat or cook outside often, always clean up. Never leave food scraps or trash behind that may attract squirrels. If you have a tree that drops seeds on the deck, make sure to sweep the deck regularly.
Prevent Squirrels from Making Shelter
Sometimes squirrels take advantage of the spaces beneath our decks and patios to create shelter. This is especially true for pregnant squirrels who need a place to have their babies. You can use chicken wire or wooden lattice to board up entrances under the deck.
Repelling Squirrels, But Not Birds
Squirrels have learned that they can get a free meal from bird lovers. As a result, squirrels may be frequenting your yard to gain access to the bird feeders you use to attract birds. Here are a few tips you can use to use bird feeders and still attract birds while also getting rid of squirrels.
Outsmart the Squirrels
We recommend adding a baffle on the bottom so the squirrel cannot climb up for bird birders on posts, stakes, or poles in the ground. Or simply buy a bird feeder pole manufactured to prevent squirrels.
Squirrels Don’t Eat Everything
Include bird feed that squirrels don’t like, for example, safflower seed, nyjer seed, and white proso millet. If you include these ingredients in your feeders, squirrels will stop coming around.
Upgrade Your Feeders
Only use squirrel-proof bird feeders. These are feeders enclosed in a cage that gives access to small birds but not squirrels. You can also suspend hanging bird feeders from trees where squirrels cannot gain access by leaping or climbing.
How to Get Rid of Squirrels Humanely
Squirrels can be a nuisance. That doesn’t mean you have to poison them or hurt them to get rid of the problem. There are plenty of humane ways to deal with squirrels, many of which were talked about above.
Of course, always check the laws in the area where you live (both at the federal, state, and local level). Certain areas have laws and restrictions in place about what you can and cannot do to control squirrels on your property.
When dealing with squirrels humanely, the crucial component is that you are attempting to discourage them, if not teach them, to stop coming around or that they would rather be elsewhere. Humane ways to deal with squirrels rely on:
- Intense aromas and flavors that create an odor barrier
- Physical barriers that block areas or protect plants
- Squirrel repellent sound
- Squirrel repellent spray
- Removing the opportunities for food, water, and shelter
If you can create a squirrel prevention plan that focuses on any of those three critical points (or more than one), you’ll get control of the squirrel problem in due time.
*image by 1000Words/depositphotos