Anyone who has ever spent any time watching squirrels knows that behind that cute fluffy façade of innocence is pure contemptuous evil. No matter how darling they seem, every little chitter they make and hop they take is part of their ultimate design for the destruction of you, your home and all of your possessions. And why not? There’s a vast squirrel army out there, and vast squirrel armies set up vast squirrel empires. What the squirrels don’t realize, however, is that most of us are indeed smarter than they are. Smarter and more determined. These are the two traits that will ultimately win the war.
We’ll walk you some ideas on doing just that. It will not, however, cover the use of squirrel poison. Poisons have a tendency to leave rotting smelly squirrel carcasses in your attic and yard. Worse yet, live animals frequently eat dead ones. The last thing we want is the family pet getting sick or even dying because it ate a poisoned squirrel.
Squirrel Control at the Feeder
Squirrel proof bird feeders.Usually, a good squirrel proof bird feeder is weight sensitive. Something as light as a few birds will have no effect. But once the weight of a squirrel hits it, the feeding ports are either closed or blocked off. Some are even designed to send the squirrel flying or give it a slight electric shock. Many come with a lifetime guarantee. Do yourself a favor and spend a little extra on a decent squirrel proof feeder. Anything by Droll Yankees, Brome Bird Care or Wild Bill’s is good. It doesn’t take very long for a squirrel to eat a hundred bucks worth of seed. These feeders pay for themselves in no time.
Use a squirrel baffle. Squirrel Baffles are wonderful if used correctly. If on a pole, place the top of the baffle at least five feet from the ground or the squirrels will simply jump on top of them. Also be careful not to let your feeders hang below the top of the baffle. If your looking to hang your feeder from a baffle, make sure it is hung at least 10 feet away from the nearest squirrel launching pad (e.g. tree, tree trunk, bush, house, fence, shed, chair, post). Look for baffles by Erva, Arundale (Mandarin), Aspects and Droll Yankees.
Placement of feeder/feeder pole. Squirrels are amazing jumpers. Place the feeder in a relatively open space. As mentioned above, put it at least ten feet from launching pads. If the squirrel is jumping from high to low, as from a tree, they can easily jump fifteen feet. So keep your eye on the sky and your feeder in the open. As long as there is shelter relatively nearby, the birds will still feel safe enough to come and visit.
Sanitation. Keeping the joint clean is important. If there’s nothing for the squirrel to eat, there’s no reason for him to be there. Be diligent about raking up seeds and hulls from under feeders or use some sort of catch tray for underneath. Don’t leave any sort of food out. Squirrels will happily dine on pet chow, bread, fruits, drippings and scrapings from your grill, basically anything, which is also why it’s important to have a good tight fitting lid on your garbage can.
Live trapping. Nothing works for squirrel removal like live trapping. Get yourself a good old Havahart Live Trap and get those squirrels outta town. As a little tike I helped my grandpa trap and relocate countless squirrels. We used many things for squirrel bait but never found anything quite as reliable as peanut butter. To keep the mess to a minimum, spread the peanut butter on a cracker or a small hunk of bread before placing it in the trap. For good instructions on live trapping check out the bottom section of Jonathan’s How to Get Rid of Rodents. If you need to get a solid live trap, you can choose from a variety of them at Amazon.
Keep squirrels out of your attic.
Squirrels stink. They have zero shame when it comes to relieving themselves in your attic. I think they might even like it. They also have a good time chewing on wiring. It’s no fun sharing a home with these pests, and it’s even worse trying to get rid of them. So let’s start with avoiding them. Squirrels usually enter your home through the roof. So. Cut off access to the roof. Trim back tree branches to at least 15 feet from the house so it’s too far to jump. For any cables running to your home, very carefully, with the power disconnected, place long loose fitting plastic tubes with a length-wise slit over them. This way, if a squirrel tries to run across it, the tube will spin and the squirrel becomes a flying squirrel.
It’s hard to keep squirrels from digging up your bulbs and flowers and from eating up your veggies without using a fence. And as long as you bury it a good 8-12 inches below ground (they can burrow), fencing works pretty well. Just make sure to use something with a small mesh such as hardware cloth.
While this method works great for your veggies, it does make it a little harder to admire your flowers when you’re looking at them through a protective barrier. For this reason, many products have been developed to help deter the little devils. Many squirrel repellents such as Squirrel Away and Scoot Squirrel rely on hot peppers such as cayenne, red and chili peppers. Ground white and black pepper are also common. These are frequently advertised as both additives for your bird food and as deterrents from forbidden spots.
Many other products such as Shake Away and Squirrel B Gone rely on concentrated predator urine. The idea is simple: hungry killer fox = stay the heck away. These products are meant to be sprinkled, sprayed or hung around flower beds and other squirrel free zones. For instance, Amazon sells Shake-Off Coyote/Fox granules. This may help.
If you’re not a gardener and just want the tree rats to quit chewing on your stuff, find a bitter tasting gel or spray like Ro-pel. For any squirrel repellent make sure to read the directions carefully as it is sometimes necessary to reapply after a certain amount of time or after a rain.
Results from products like these can be quite varied. I make my living at a wild bird feeding store where people complain to me about squirrels at least 872 times a day. So needless to say, I hear many war stories from customers on squirrel pest control. Some people swear up and down about these deterrents and buy them over and over again while others tell me how “it didn’t work worth a darn!” So while I think many of them are definitely worth a try, don’t be terribly surprised if you don’t get the results you were expecting.
Best Natural Squirrel Control
Feed safflower. Safflower seed is very common for backyard bird feeding. It is found in many blends and is a favorite of the cardinals. Chickadees, mourning doves and various finches are also glad to eat it. It does, however, have a somewhat bitter taste than many squirrels find unfavorable.
If you can’t beat them, feed them. Invest in some squirrel food. Squirrels love corn, peanuts or whatever else they can find. Whatever you get, go out in the yard and scatter it around. The squirrels will then spend most of the day rummaging in the grass searching for morsels instead of chilling on your feeder. You might also consider a squirrel feeder. Squirrel feeders should be placed lower to the ground (at least at first) so that the squirrels can find them easily. The Birdola Squirrel Kob Bungee is very popular and entertaining. A cob of corn is connected to a chain and a little bungee chord. This gives the squirrel his dinner and you a good chuckle.
Motion activated sprinklers. This is a good method for chasing off not only squirrels, but also deer, raccoons, cats, dogs and peeping toms. It does no real damage to any sort of critter and your grass and garden plants appreciate the water.
Strobe lights. Using strobe lights like the Squirrel Evictor in your attic or crawl space is safe, environment friendly, and just plain bugs the crap out of squirrels. It’s irritating, disorienting and makes squirrels want to get the heck out.
Bring out the big guns. As long as it’s legal to do so where you live, grab a gun and pop a cap in his bushy ass. Game over. And the best part is… squirrel tastes like chicken. Seriously, it does. Just remember that you may have to get a few of ’em to make a good meal.