HOW TO KEEP SQUIRRELS AWAY FROM YOUR GARDEN?
Habits of the Gray Squirrel
The gray squirrel, with its dense and curved tail, is easily recognizable. Sometimes its fur may have a black hue, but it is still the same species: Sciurus carolinensis.
Mainly found in southwestern Quebec, the gray squirrel makes deciduous forests and urban green spaces its habitat. Its close relative, the red squirrel, which is smaller in size, prefers coniferous forests further north and east.
The Summer and Winter Life of Gray Squirrels
In summer, gray squirrels usually build nests of leaves and twigs high up in trees. As winter approaches, they store food since they do not hibernate. They have a varied diet, including seeds, nuts, samaras, bulbs, flowers, fruits, insects, eggs, etc. To survive the winter, they move to a more sheltered location, often in the hollow of a tree trunk.
The Gray Squirrel: Friend or Foe of the Environment?
The gray squirrel plays an important role in forest regeneration thanks to the many seeds it buries and forgets to consume. Active and visible during the day, it brings life to parks and woods. However, it is sometimes accused of nuisance behavior such as:
– Entering attics and sheds to nest.
– Gnawing on electrical wires, which can pose a fire risk.
– Taking bird food and destroying bird feeders.
– Rummaging through garbage cans.
– Digging up and eating seeds, bulbs, flowers, and fruits from gardens.
– Gnawing on the bark of various shrubs and nibbling on their buds.
Strategies to Keep Squirrels Away from Your Property
If you have a dog or a cat, you can rely on them to scare away gray squirrels. Otherwise, some preventive and repellent measures can help.
How to Keep Squirrels Away from Your Garden and Flowerbeds?
– Use dried blood meal (available at gardening centers) when planting bulbs.
– Spread squirrel repellents around your plants: Cayenne pepper, human hair, cat or dog fur. Renew the application after each rainfall.
– Disperse fertilizer made from chicken manure. Squirrels do not appreciate it!
– Choose bulb plants that do not attract squirrels (daffodils, snowdrops, hyacinths, etc.).
– Grow fragrant plants around the bulbs: geranium, mint, rosemary…
– Place chicken wire over seeds and bulbs, covered with a few centimeters of soil.
How to Keep Squirrels Away from Your Shrubs and Fruit Trees?
– Wrap plastic sheaths around the trunks of shrubs.
– Place PVC strips of sufficient height (for fencing) around the trunks of fruit trees to prevent squirrels from climbing.
– If the squirrel leaps from another “perch,” deploy a net attached to thin poles instead.
How to Keep Squirrels Away from Your Bird Feeders?
– Install the feeder at a minimum height of 1 ½ meters from the ground and 3 meters away from any spot where squirrels could leap from.
– Attach the feeders to long metal wires or poles. To make access more difficult, a dome or cone designed for this purpose can even be installed.
– Sprinkle Cayenne pepper on the seeds. Birds are unaffected, but squirrels are not!
How to Keep Squirrels Away from Your House or Shed?
– Strengthen and repair the edges of the roof and block access under the garden shed.
– Trim tree branches located within 3 meters of buildings.
– Seal openings with mesh with a hole size of 1 cm or less. First, make sure the nest is empty and the squirrels are outside; otherwise, they could cause serious damage while trying to get out.
Solutions to Get Rid of Gray Squirrels
If a squirrel has taken up residence in your shed or attic:
– Keep the area constantly lit or play a radio. This should encourage them to leave.
– Sprinkle flour near the exit to see if they have left, as their footprints will be visible.
– As a last resort, capture the squirrel using a cage and bait, then release it outside. If you are not comfortable with this approach, seek assistance from a professional pest management service like Exterminatek.