Everyone should be familiar with squirrels. These furry creatures are cute to look at but for gardeners, they can be a menace. These tiny rodents can wreak havoc in your garden if left unchecked. It isn’t unusual for gardeners to wonder what they can do about the hoard of squirrels invading their gardens.
Luckily for you, this is what this article is about. We will be discussing squirrels and the problems with them and what you can do about it. Here’s our ultimate guide to get rid of squirrels:
What Are Squirrels?
Well, we are all aware largely what squirrels are. These furry creatures are a common sight in gardens, in woodlands and in parks all over the country but most of us have never really stopped to think exactly what this means.
Squirrels are part of the rodent family and come with all the problems that many rodents bring. When we talk about squirrels in this article we will be mostly referring to the grey variety rather than the red species.
This is because it is grey squirrels that cause problems in the UK. The red squirrel is not a pest at all and it would be rare for you to even see one because their numbers have been dwindling considerably for the last hundred years. If you do see an elusive red squirrel consider yourself one of the lucky few!
The grey squirrels that are now so common are not native to the UK at all. These originate in North America and were introduced in 1870 up until about 1930. After this, it became illegal to introduce this species because we became aware of the damage they were doing to our own indigenous wildlife.
The biggest problem grey squirrels have created is the loss of our own beautiful red squirrel. Red squirrels are highly susceptible to squirrel pox which is a disease that doesn’t affect the grey squirrel although they are carriers of it.
All squirrels are actually considered rodents and can carry all the diseases that are common with all rodents. That is just one of the problems with squirrels.
The Problems With Squirrels
From a distance, squirrels might not seem like they cause too much of a problem. With their fluffy tails and cute faces, they seem harmless enough.
It is fun to watch them scurry around the woodland while you are out on walks in the countryside but when these creatures start invading your garden it becomes a whole different ball game. This is because of the level of damage squirrels can cause in your garden.
So What Damage Can Squirrels Do?
You might be surprised at just how much there is. To start with they absolutely love to gnaw on wood. They will usually pick trees and gnaw at the bark and sometimes even strip it from the trunk. If there are no trees then they might start on your wooden garden furniture, your fences and even your shed.
While we are talking about your shed, these and other garden structures can be the perfect home for squirrels. They absolutely love to curl up in warm and cosy places and your garden shed, gazebo or sunrooms are the perfect places.
This may seem harmless enough but while they are camping out in your shed they are also destroying things and defecating everywhere. If you have electrical items in your outbuildings then you might find wires nibbled through. If that wasn’t enough, any insulated buildings might find that the insulation is stripped and nibbled and left strewn.
If you have branches overhanging your house or easy ways up that squirrels can use to climb up to your roof then you may also find these pesky creatures don’t just stay in the garden. They can find their way into your roof and cause lots of damage in your home too. Not to mention, keeping you awake at night.
If you take pride in your lawn then there is nothing more irritating than waking up to find lots of little holes in it where squirrels have dug to either bury their food or to try and find it again. This is unsightly and it can cause your lawn damage and end up being a constant battle to keep your lawn looking smart.
We already mentioned that squirrels like to chew on trees but this is an important one because of the damage it can cause to your trees. This bark is fairly important for the tree to protect it and by gnawing it off the squirrels are weakening your trees making them more susceptible to disease and damage.
Squirrels might love to munch on your favourite flowers and bulbs. Although they won’t like all of your bulbs they do have a particular like for tulips!
Squirrels are also scavengers which means that any nesting birds in your garden might find their nests raided and the eggs gone. This can deter birds and other wildlife from making your garden their home.
Do You Have a Squirrel Problem?
The most obvious sign you have a squirrel problem is that you are seeing more squirrels. If you are seeing more than the odd visit occasionally this is a sure sign that the squirrels like your garden and have decided to make it part of their territory.
Although, you may not see squirrels as often as you think. They tend to be most active in the very early hours of the morning an hour or two before dawn so unless you are up at night you may never notice them. If this is the case then your first clue might be some of the damage in the garden.
The seasons do play their part in your squirrel problem. You are far more likely to have a problem in either spring or autumn when squirrels are at their most active hunting for food or hiding food.
If you find that you are getting a lot of pinecones, nuts and seeds in your shed and garden outbuildings you could well have a problem. Squirrels hoard these foods for their hibernation time and love to put them in dry spots so they can come back to them later.
If squirrels are making your shed their home you might also notice the smell. A strong scent of urine indicates that you have had a problem for a while.
If your bird feeders are always empty but you don’t see any birds it could well be that the squirrels are stealing the food. These creatures are tricky when it comes to food and can find their way into even some of the squirrel proof bird feeder options available.
Other signs to watch out for are signs of gnawing on your trees and wooden garden furniture and general signs of disturbances in the garden. Squirrels are messy creatures and will leave things in a mess if given the chance.
You might spot their nests too. These are messy bundles of twigs and leaves high up in the trees often at a fork in the branches.
How To Get Rid Of Squirrels
This is the information you’ve been waiting for. When it comes to getting rid of squirrels you can deter the odd one or two but if you have a serious problem then there is little you can do and you may have to call in pest control.
If your problem is small then you can try planting flowers and bulbs that they dislike such as garlic and daffodils. If you still have a problem then you could sprinkle a few chilli flakes around the areas that the squirrels are inhabiting. They really don’t like the scent or flavour and might be put off hanging around in your garden too much.
If this doesn’t work then it might be time to call in the professionals.
Despite squirrels being considered a pest, there are a lot of rules and regulations to follow when it comes to getting rid of them. A professional pest control expert will be able to advise you on the best methods and assess your problem.
They may use live traps, poison or other approved types of traps to get rid of the squirrels. You shouldn’t attempt to use any of these methods yourself as you have to use traps and poisons approved for use with squirrels.
Preventing Squirrels From Your Garden
Unfortunately, trying to get rid of squirrels isn’t easy. Some garden pests can be dealt with after they have established themselves. However, as is often the case with pests in your garden, preventing them from getting a hold in the first place is far easier and better than attempting to cure an established problem.
Whereas there are not many things you can do to cure the problem without calling in professionals there are plenty of options to prevent squirrels from entering your garden in the first place.
Don’t Feed Them
The first prevention method is the most obvious and that is don’t encourage squirrels by feeding them. This might mean that you have to remove any food options you leave out for other wildlife and pets including your bird feeders.
You can get some options for feeders that are squirrel proof but squirrels are highly intelligent creatures and can often find their way into even the most difficult of bird feeders.
Add Tree Guards
You need to ensure these are high-quality tree guards made from metal so the squirrels can’t chew through them. These guards prevent chewing and also help to prevent squirrels from climbing up and down your trees.
If your garden is rich in fruit and nuts then you may need to spend some time every couple of days removing any squirrel friendly food from your garden. This includes any fallen fruit and nuts from your trees.
Use Motion Activated Sprinklers
Install motion sensor sprinkler systems to your lawn. Then, every time a squirrel runs across your lawn it will get a nasty shock but one that won’t hurt them. This should deter them from running around your garden and digging holes in your lawn.
Be warned, however, that this is not a suitable approach to take if you have pets or if you’re likely to forget about it and end up soaking yourself or your family.
Make it Difficult
You can make it difficult for squirrels to gain entry into your garden. Chop down any branches that are hanging over your fences that squirrels could use to gain entry by climbing over.
Make sure any entry points are blocked. You can even install some squirrel-proof additions to your fences that make it difficult for squirrels and other animals like cats to grip onto and walk on the fence.
Plant plenty of daffodils. This is a bulb and plant that squirrels hate. They contain toxins that make them inedible to squirrels. You can also choose other bulbs that squirrels dislike such as snowdrops, hyacinth and alliums.
This may not prevent squirrels completely but it will at least give them fewer food options in your garden and they may choose to look elsewhere for their food.
Create a Squirrel Repellent
If all else fails, then you can make some squirrel repellent.
Add some water into a spray bottle and add a few drops of either peppermint oil, pepper, garlic or apple cider vinegar. Spray these onto entry points and places the squirrels seem to spend time and this should deter them from those places.
To conclude, squirrels don’t have to be a problem in your garden.
There are plenty of options for preventing them. Many of these are natural options and are non-invasive to your plants or other wildlife in the garden.
If you do have a larger squirrel problem then, unfortunately, trying to get rid of those squirrels yourself might not be the best solution. You may need to call in a professional to help who will advise you and help to get rid of the squirrels so that you can start afresh with your squirrel prevention methods.
This is one type of pest where it is true that prevention is better than the cure.