Grey Squirrels – the Urban Menace

IS ANYONE EXPERIENCING A GREY SQUIRREL INFESTATION?

Our garden is experiencing unusual squirrel activity. Is it a problem and how do we solve it, read on…..?

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WHY WORRY ABOUT SQUIRRELS IN THE GARDEN?

With a fondness for fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers, the common grey squirrel has long spelled trouble for home gardeners. These wily creatures yank geraniums from window boxes, pluck cherry tomatoes from their vines, and strip apple trees like professional pickers. Though their foraging forays can happen at any time of year, a squirrel’s raid in autumn can drive a gardener nuts.

Squirrels are especially active in autumn as they stock up for winter. They do not hibernate (although they may “lie low” during cold spells), so their underground pantries are vitally important winter warehouses. They have a major instinct for hoarding food, which helps them to survive. Grey squirrels stash food by burying it in a scattered fashion around their territory.

The average squirrel gathers acorns, pinecones, nuts, bark, fruit, berries, fungi, and insects, but is not above stealing bird eggs and bulbs. Sometimes they will even ruin your flowers just for the fun of it! Keep an eye out for these pesky visitors and try some of our tips below for getting rid of them.

IDENTIFICATION

HOW TO IDENTIFY SQUIRRELS IN YOUR GARDEN

Weighing an average of 16 to 24 ounces, the type of squirrel that is probably causing damage in your garden is the common grey squirrel. Its color varies from grey, tan, or light brown to dark brown and black. Its belly is light, from white to grey. Its body is 8 to 11 inches in length, and its tail measures 8 to 10 inches. Its vocal call is a rapid CRRK CRRK or QUACK QUACK, similar to a duck. The famous feature of the grey squirrel is its bushy tail, a luxurious puff of fur used for warmth, communication, and balance.

Squirrels have a very keen sense of smell, which most gardeners blame for their bulb pilfering. The nose of these expert foragers is a tiny but powerful tool in the search for hidden nuts and berries. Gardeners aren’t sure whether the squirrels do actively seek out the spring bulbs or not, but the problem of bulb snatching is real and widespread.

CONTROL AND PREVENTION

HOW TO GET RID OF SQUIRRELS

Is your garden is covered in nuts, berries, and acorns from trees? If so, your place is squirrel heaven! Be sure to rake and remove their food so you’re not party central.

Also, make sure you have tight-fitting waste bins and never leave food sitting out.

SQUIRREL DAMAGE

  • Spring bulbs snacked on? Squirrels love to dig up spring bulbs during their autumn foraging—both to eat the bulbs and to use the ready-made holes to store their nuts.
  • Squirrels will not only attack your gardens, but your bird feeders as well. If you notice your bird food disappearing rather quickly, you may have a squirrel problem.

SUGGESTIONS

Here are a couple of squirrel repellent suggestions that readers sent in:

  • Try motion-activated sprinklers, primarily designed to keep cats and rabbits out of gardens, may help scare away squirrels, especially in small yards or at corners of front yards where damage is most likely to occur. However, the presence of numerous squirrels, stray animals, or children may result in overwatering and high water bills if they continually trigger this device.
  • Get some mousetraps. Anchor them solidly to the ground in the area where the squirrels have been digging. Cover them with newspaper, and sprinkle a little dirt on top. When a squirrel comes to dig, it will set off the traps. As the mechanism snaps, it will scare and throw dirt at the squirrel. Once it’s scared enough times, it will find another digging area. Be sure to anchor the traps just in case the wind blows the newspaper off of them. If the trap is anchored, the squirrel will not get hurt.

SQUIRRELS INSIDE THE HOME

In the autumn, many squirrels try to find shelter and may come inside your home. Avoid this by trimming branches that hang near your roof and place a mesh guard on your chimney. Close up all holes into your home. 

If a squirrel does become trapped in your chimney or attic, you don’t want it to die inside. Make sure it has a way to get out. Hang a rope down through your chimney so it can climb back up to the roof. Or, buy a live trap to get the squirrel out of your house. 

Call an animal control specialist if you’re desperate. Once a squirrel lives in your house for a few weeks, they and all their relatives will be attracted to your attic for at least a couple of years.

Do you have any tips for keeping squirrels away? Let us know below!

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