Squirrels, although cute could be a large menace to your home and your garden. Believe it or not, something so small and fuzzy can leave you with no electricity, can eat all of your veggies and can leave you without a roof.
In the UK we have the “privilege” of having several kinds of squirrels lurking around our homes. We have the red squirrels, which are our natives, sort of speak, and we have the eastern grey squirrels. The grey ones are brought to us from America, thanks for the present…
They both inflict basically the same amounts of damage, but grey squirrels are far more adaptive. They will outlast the red squirrels and take over the habitat one day.
There are roughly 150 000 red squirrels in the UK and over 2.5 million greys. With such numbers and their unstoppable appetite, they can be extremely irritating and classify as a pest!
Squirrels inflict costly damage on roofs and attics, they chew through wood, rubber, plastic and everything else except steel, just like other rodents. They are capable of digging out flower bulbs, destroying young trees and emptying your bird feeders with ease. They have easy access to the powering wires thanks to their agility and climbing skills. Squirrels often munch on wires and cause power outages and severe power system damage.
You better keep an eye out for their presence and behaviour! And if ever having squirrel problems either deal with them yourself or book on professional squirrel control.
Considering their tendency to cause trouble and their large numbers, it comes to no surprise that there are many developed options to deal with squirrels.
No matter if you want to rid them from your house or your garden, there are a bunch of tricks and tips passing around, which you could benefit from. We decided to combine many different options, working for different cases and help you by providing tested solutions for your situation.
You have to keep in mind that squirrels are hard to deal with. If they have claimed your patio for a home, they don’t plan to leave anytime soon. In order to make them leave the premises, you must attack all of their senses. You will need to strike fear in every possible way and do it fast because squirrels are not easy to fool.
The first thing you need to do when dealing with squirrels living under your deck is to check if there is a nest. It is a common nesting place because there is a fair amount of moisture and heat underneath, there is lots of food around humans and there is plenty of wood material to destroy. Anyway, if you find a nest, it is best to leave it be, at least till the younglings go on their own. Otherwise, you will doom them, by making the adult squirrel leave them behind.
If you find a nest, but there are no younglings inside, you can point a light at it and leave it be. Squirrels are only active throughout the day and they enjoy there rest at night. By pointing a light source at their sleeping place they will soon leave it. If you leave a radio near the nest it might have the same result.
Fortifying Your Deck Against Squirrels
Pay a visit to your local hardware store and buy aluminium flashings, with which you can protect the edges of your patio from the gnawing teeth of rodents. This construction material is available in many sizes and colours so you will eventually find one suiting your patios paint and your personal preferences. Sheets of aluminium can also be used to protect trees, but we will pay attention to that a bit further down this article.
The next important thing is to secure the place underneath your deck. Carefully look for existing openings and weak points from which squirrels can enter below. If you find any openings, make sure you cover it with steel netting. Use a net with small cells, of course, so the squirrels can’t just pass right through it...
Wax around entry points with bar soap. You can also go around edges, just be careful not to put soap anywhere you may step in the future to avoid horrific accidents… The smell of the soap can keep the rodents at bay, they will know that this is not something they would like to chew on.
How To Repel Squirrels From Patio Furniture
The furniture on your patio might be at risk. Squirrels love to destroy wooden furniture. You can protect your beloved redwood, bamboo or rattan patio furniture by polishing the legs with chilli. You can also use soap to wax it in good. Squirrels are not fans of spicy food.
- Roof Soffit;
- Soffit Vents;
- Roof Vents;
- Nearby Trees.
Make a seasonal check of your roof and attic in order to prevent pest infestations in it. Look for any openings that could be used as an entrance. Pay close attention around any windows, the corners and the edges. If you find a hole, cover it with steel mesh and secure it in place. In the opening is from your roof, you will obviously need to fix that from the top, and prevent damp damage.
You will also need to perform a visual inspection from the outside. If you live in a two or three-story house, you might consider renting a scaffold.
What you are looking for is any hole or even cracks in the soffit of your roof. Those are easily turned into entry points by squirrels and birds. In some cases there are attic vents mounted on the soffit, check if they are secured in place and avoid using any plastic vents. The plastic vent will easily be overtaken by any rodent.
If your house has roof vents, check their state as well. You can cover them with steel mesh as well.
While you are on the roof check the state of your chimney. Look for cracks, missing bricks and so on. Animals often go through the chimneys, welcomed by the warmth they emit. If you don’t have a cap installed over your chimney, you might as well install one. Once again, cover the openings with a steel net. Birds love to nest on top of chimneys. With them, rodents like squirrels come to the scene.
Get rid of any branches that hang above your roof, those could be used as ladders from different pests. On top of that, the leave falling from those branches during the autumn are blocking your gutters.
Squirrels can be a serious menace in the garden. They need to chew on something constantly and they often find the stables of young trees and plants suitable for that. Also, squirrels are driven by instinct to dig holes in order to hide their winter supplies of food. In the process, those rodents often damage plants that you have planted yourself by revealing the roots and chewing on them or throwing the seed somewhere else.
Those and other bad habits of squirrels are making them a nightmare for gardeners, especially those that plant vegetables and fruits, not only flowers.
If your vegetable garden is under the attack of squirrels you will need to protect your plants. We have mentioned how squirrels are awfully good diggers, however, you can stop them by laying a steel mesh on top of your planting area. Secure the mesh in place around the edges with heavy stones. That will prevent squirrels from digging out your seeds and bulbs.
When your plants start to grow you will need to protect their fragile stems. The best way of doing so is by building a cage out of the very same steel mesh you used to lay on top of them. Put for pillars and surround your plants with the steel net. Remember to bury the edges of the mesh in order to prevent squirrels from digging a tunnel underneath, 3 to 5 inches will be enough.
You can also use a plastic net to surround your plants. By making your fence with a flimsy plastic net you will make it hard for squirrels to climb on in. This method on its own is not very effective because squirrels may still be able to climb on it, no matter how hard you think it will be. On top of that, plastic is a material that does not stand a chance against the teeth of squirrels, so they will easily chew through it. Worth a try if you are desperate and have no steel netting on your disposal.
In essence, building up a metal mesh cage proves most effective and is a good way to protect your pumpkins, tomatoes and whatever else you have plant for yourself! Not, for the squirrels.
Tip: It is a pro trick to leave a chewing bait somewhere around to draw attention off of your plants. Leave a nice log of wood around to draw the squirrels away from what matters to you.
Often people place bird feeders in their yards to help the feathered friends survive during the winter. Those bird treats fall in the greedy paws of squirrels on a regular basis. They both basically love the same things right. It is hard to keep your bird feeders rodent-free because rodents are great climbers.
There are ways to make a feeder uncharted territory for squirrels.
You can add cayenne pepper to the bird feeder. This does not seem to bother birds, but it definitely bothers squirrels.
You need to make your bird feeders as hard to reach as possible. Hang them by a thin strong wire and add all sorts of spinners and booby traps on the way. If your bird feeder is installed on a pole you can use a baffle to make it hard to climb. Don’t use slippery substances on the pole, they are rarely effective and they could be harmful not only to the squirrels.
If you can find feeders with weight-sensitive mechanism, it will be ideal.
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This feeder closes when a pigeon or a rodent gets on it. This is quite smart and seems like a good investment if you are keen on feeding birds and only birds. Such feeders might come with a higher price, so keep a lookout for a product that suits your budget.
Whether you have a pine or fruit trees, or both, the most reliable method of protecting those trees from squirrels is to mount a wide metal band around the trunk. This will prevent squirrels from climbing on those trees. Use springs as mounts for the band, this will allow the tree to grow freely.
You will need to mount bands to all nearby trees because squirrels can easily jump from one tree to another and you can mount an “anti-squirrel” baffle above the band to improve security. Combine this method with squirrel repellent substances to maximise the effect. You can use a couple of rags soaked in vinegar. The smells of vinegar and ammonia repel squirrels, note that you will have to “refresh” those contraptions from time to time. Now you know how to keep squirrels away from trees. But how to remove them from trees if they are already there?
Remove Squirrel Nests From Trees
Once again we must be sure that there are no baby squirrels in that nest. If there are babies in, it is best to leave the nest be. If there are only adults in the nest you can deal with them by placing an eviction notice in the form of a smelling contraption.
You will need:
- Empty plastic bottle - 2L or bigger;
- Couple of old rags;
- Piece of rope;
Stuff the rags in the bottle and fill it with vinegar. Let them soak good and refill if you can. Do this until the rags are well soaked in vinegar. Pierce some hole in the bottle and screw on the cap. Now you only need to hang the bottle somewhere near the nest and refresh the stench of vinegar from time to time, but your tenants will soon be on their way.
You already know that surrounding your plants with a mesh of steel is the best way to keep squirrels off. However, in some cases for whatever reasons, that is not possible. (esthetic reasons, more often) In such cases, there are still a couple of tricks that you can use to keep rodents off of your plants.
Try sprinkling some chilli flakes in the soil around the plants. Squirrels don’t like it spicy! Some cayenne pepper will have the same effect. Sprinkle some around the plants and even on them, it won't cause any harm. Well, to your plants that is.
There is one more option, although a bit creepy it proves effective. Take some hair clippings from you or your pets and sprinkle them around the plants. The smell of a predator will keep the squirrels away. Following this idea of faking predator activity, many commercial-grade squirrel deterrents rely on the smell of predator urine. Often using fox urine. Well, don’t pee on your plants. But if your dog is marking your plants, it might not be a bad thing, so don't yell at it.
Repel Squirrels From Potted Plants
You can use the above-mentioned solutions for potted plants as well. If you have some river stones around they might do the trick for you. Cover the dirt in your pots with those stones completely. This will still allow you to water your plants and give the potted one's great look. On top of it all, it will limit the access of squirrels to the soil in the pot. The furry rodents love to take showers in the fine soil you use for pots and in the process of rolling in it, they often destroy your plants.
Plants That Repel Squirrels Naturally
Not all plants need our protection. Just like the carnivorous plants fight pests, the following flowers fight off squirrels on their own.
All of those plants emit odours which keep squirrel away from them. They are not bad flowers, and you may even have planted some of them already. You can try and surround valuable fragile flowers with those plants as a natural shield.
Plants That Attract Squirrels
Squirrels love fruits and nuts, so any plant that bears them will attract lots of rodents. They also love berries and they use the shrubs as a hideout. If you have lots of trees and bushes around your property they will serve as a hideout for squirrels.
Our fluffy friends don’t like to sit for too long out in the open. They prefer to hide somewhere in logs of wood, small holes and thick vegetation. So if you provide them with food and a hiding place, don’t act surprised that they are claiming your yard.
With the war on grey squirrels now going on in the UK you can legally shoot a grey squirrel down. Just like some people are shooting rats away from their properties.
Of course, you have to be licenced to use an air rifle IF it has more than 12 ft/lb of power. For air rifles below and at a 12 ft/lb there is no licence needed. A pellet gun with such force is effective enough for squirrel hunting in the backyard so if you want to go on a hunt, you can.
However, the death must be quick and painless, otherwise, if somebody sees you, you could be fined under The Animal Welfare Act 2006. This law proclaims “unnecessary suffering” on animals.
So you are now free to trap and shoot grey squirrels, but you just have to be swift.