Why Do Squirrels Nip Off Branches?

If you have a garden, you’ve probably noticed that some of the branches of your trees don’t look the same as the last time you saw them and looked like they’ve gone through a storm. The culprit could be squirrels, but why do squirrels nip off branches?

Squirrels nip off branches for teeth maintenance. Tree branches clean and sharpen their teeth. They also nip them off to get the nutrients inside, to relieve stress and for nesting materials.

As squirrel teeth get dull with time and don’t stop growing, a squirrel needs to nip off branches to make them sharper and cleaner.

Though this isn’t the only reason, a squirrel may nip off branches to get nutrients out of the tree. Pregnant squirrels find nipping off branches as a good stress reliever. They also nip off branches to make nests. They nip off branches to fulfil their sodium requirements. The sap underneath the bark is rich in sodium. 

Why Do Squirrels Chew Branches Off?

Squirrels chew off branches for several varying reasons. We’ve covered the 5 main reasons they might be doing this to the trees in and around your garden:

Teeth Maintenance

If you’ve noticed the branches of your trees in horrid condition, it is most likely that it is a squirrel nipping the branches with its long teeth. Squirrels nip branches to keep their teeth sharp, clean, and tidy.

Certain animals, like squirrels, have to take care of their teeth. As a squirrel’s teeth constantly grow throughout life, it needs to come up with different ways to trim them down daily. Trimming their teeth keeps them at a comfortable length. 

One of their teeth trimmers is branches of trees through which they can nip and gnaw the branches off.

Trimming their teeth isn’t the only reason squirrels nip off branches. They also want their teeth to be clean and razor-sharp. Doing this is important to squirrels as it makes their teeth more effective.

Stress Relief

Pregnant squirrels about to give birth find comfort in nipping off branches. They use nipping on branches as a stress reliever during their pregnancy. A pregnant squirrel becomes stressed in the same way any other pregnant animal or human gets stressed as birthing approaches.


Squirrel nests are called dreys, and these dreys are of varying sizes. Squirrels use different materials to make dreys, such as leaves, moss, bark, nipped-off branches, and twigs. They will use whatever is available to them.

Nipped-off branches are useful as they help to insulate nests from cold winds in winters.

The leaves, twigs, and branches make up a basket for the nest which is the main structural element. Squirrels then use softer materials on the surface of the nest, so their young have something soft to sleep on. 


There are times when food becomes scarce for squirrels, especially in winter and the start of spring. When squirrels don’t have access to their favourite foods in these times, they resort to nipping on branches and chewing tree bark.

The unavailability of berries, fruits, and veggies makes the squirrels chew on bark and remove the branches of trees to access the cambium layer which contains the cells of plant growth and is filled with many useful nutrients and sugars. 


Squirrels also pull off the bark from trees and nip branches to access the sap rich in sodium which helps with their sodium requirement. Squirrels often do this at the start of spring and autumn. 

Can Squirrels Kill Trees?

Although it’s unlikely, there is a chance that a squirrel could kill a tree if they continually pull the bark from it and nip branches off of it. This is particularly problematic if more than one squirrel decides to attack a tree.

Why Do Squirrels Pull Bark from Trees?

Squirrels pull the bark from trees to access the sap underneath. The sap is nutrient-rich and full of sodium. Some squirrels will also eat the bark that they remove. Squirrels Damage Bark

How Do You Stop Squirrels From Eating Branches?

You can stop squirrels from eating your tree’s branches in several different ways. 

One of the ways you can prevent squirrels from coming into your garden is by removing water and food sources. As squirrels are opportunistic omnivores, they like to eat anything they can get their paws on, and your garden can be a place for a squirrel to find lots of free food and easily accessible water.

If there isn’t any food and water, squirrels will stop coming and nipping on the branches of your trees.

There are some flowers that squirrels hate to be around due to their strong odours. Such flowers are daffodils, fritillaries, and lily-of-the-valley. 

Using deterrents can deter squirrels from entering your yard and nipping on tree branches. Deterrents are the urine of predators that squirrels are scared of, such as foxes and coyotes. 

How Do You Stop Squirrels From Climbing Trees?

You can do certain things with your trees that’ll help protect them from being nipped off by squirrels. 

Wrapping tin foil or aluminium around trees will help prevent them from being nipped off, as squirrels won’t be able to climb the trees.  

If you have a dog and the trees are in a fenced-in area, letting the dog lose will easily scare off any squirrels from the trees. However, it can cause squirrels to climb even higher on the trees causing more damage to the tree, which is also out of your reach. 

Using hot pepper as a deterrent is another way to shoo away squirrels from your trees. Spread it around your tree, and all the squirrels will avoid going near it. 


Squirrels nip off branches for several reasons, one main reason being to maintain their constantly growing teeth and making them sharper, cleaner, and tidier.

They also nip on them to feed on the sap that’s inside them or use the broken pieces of branches to be used in their nests. The pregnant squirrels nip off them as it acts as a stress reliever for them. 

Leave a Comment

Latest Reads

Are Black Cats Bad Luck

Are Black Cats Bad Luck?

Does Cinnamon Deter Cats

Does Cinnamon Deter Cats?

Do Slugs Eat Chives

Do Slugs Eat Chives