Getting rid of ground squirrels is the goal of many homeowners because they dig holes in the ground and gnaw on wires, hoses, and deck furniture. They also tear up flower beds and gardens. While they’re cute out in a city park, they’re not so cute when they’re making a mess of your yard.
Like all rodents, ground squirrels are constantly gnawing on things. They do this because their front teeth never stop growing. The gnawing behavior wears their teeth down so they don’t get too long and keeps them sharp.
Squirrels gnaw on plastic, wood, insulation, electrical wiring, trees, and shrubs. They can kill young trees if they strip enough bark off them. They’ll also raid bird feeders, eat your prize flowers and tear up the cushions of your deck furniture.
In this guide you'll learn:
- What attracts ground squirrels?
- How can you get rid of ground squirrels?
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What Attracts Ground Squirrels to Your Property in the First Place?
Food and water.
Food and water are prime attractants that draw squirrels to your property. They eat seeds, nuts, buds, and grains of all kinds, including corn and wheat. They also eat bird eggs, frogs, insects, and some fungi.
If your yard has an abundance of acorn or walnut trees, if you put out birdseed for the pigeons, if you’ve got bulbs planted in your flower garden, if there are little frogs living in your fish pond, or if you’ve got a lot of delicate shrubberies, you’re probably going to have a squirrel problem.
Fish ponds, birdbaths, puddles, ditches, and streams also provide them with the other necessity of life – water. If your yard has food and water on it that squirrels like, you’ll likely have the little critters running around in it.
Read More: How to Keep Squirrels Away
3 Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels From Your Property
Get A Rake
An ordinary yard rake is a good place to start. Rake up all the fallen nuts, leaves, twigs, and leaves. A bare yard with nothing but grass is a signal to squirrels that the area has already been picked clean and there’s nothing left for them to eat.
This is an ongoing job, obviously. Keep a good supply of leaf bags on hand and rake your yard at least twice a week in autumn when the leaves are falling, once a week the rest of the year. This ensures there is nothing for them to find if they do explore it.
Bag everything you rake up and keep the bags in the garage or somewhere they squirrels can’t get to them, then take them out to the curb on trash day.
Be sure to rake the flower beds and between the rows if you have a garden. Do this all the way around the house. If there is nothing for them to eat they won’t have any choice but to go somewhere else before they starve.
If you want to have flower beds or gardens and you don’t want to kill the squirrels, you only have two choices:
Build a Chick Wire Frame
Squirrels are excellent climbers so building a fence is pointless. You have to completely enclose your flowers and/or gardens in order to keep them out. This is called exclusion.
They are also good at digging so the bottom of your enclosure will have to extend several inches into the ground so they can’t tunnel under it.
The best material to keep squirrels out while still letting in the sun, air, and rain is a fine mesh chicken wire. Never use anything with a mesh larger than 1/2 an inch or they’ll be able to squirm through it.
Bury the bottom of the mesh 4-6 inches deep. Build a wooden frame around your flower beds or garden. Be sure to leave a place for a screen door so you can go in and out. Stretch the wire over the frame and secure it with nails or a staple gun.
Don’t leave any openings or gaps. Squirrels aren’t very smart but they are incredibly curious. They’ll explore every inch of the barrier and if you leave any opening, they’ll find it.
Accept a Measure of Ongoing Damage
If building a wood-and-wire frame over and around your flower beds and garden is more work than you want to tackle, or you don’t like the aesthetics of it, then you’ll have to learn to live with a certain amount of ongoing damage from squirrels.
Squirrels are the prey for many predators including owls, hawks, eagles, foxes, coyotes, and felines of all types. Whenever squirrels see one of these predators they try to escape. Using decoys to scare them away from your property works if you’re willing to follow a few simple rules.
- Put the decoys in positions where real predators would try to hide
- Put the predators in different parts of the yard
- Change the location of every decoy everyday
- Use different decoys everyday
Get three to four different decoys such as an owl decoy, a hawk or eagle decoy, a fox or coyote decoy, or a cat decoy. Find places around your yard where such predators would naturally wait in ambush for their prey. Find multiple spots for each decoy.
Predators are constantly on the move. If a decoy sits in the same position day in and day out, it won’t take long for the squirrels to realize it’s a fake and lose their fear of it. Early each morning, go out and move your decoys to a different position.
Predators are fiercely territorial. Positioning two different decoys close to each other will be unnatural and the squirrels will soon realize something is amiss. Keep the decoys widely scattered.
Finally, switch out different decoys on a daily basis so the squirrels won’t get used to them. The whole plan of attack is to keep them guessing.
Check out the video below for more ideas about how to get rid of ground squirrels.
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2 Additional Remedies to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels From Inside Your Property
Lethal traps will slowly but surely get rid of squirrels on your property. Live capture traps require you to drive the squirrel 10-15 miles away from your property to keep them from finding their way back. Kill traps eliminate that time-consuming step.
Traps that are all-metal or tube-shaped (or both) are becoming popular for killing squirrels because they avoid trapping non-target animals such as pets. You can place the traps in a tree, on the roof, the attic, or anywhere else squirrels can gain access to.
One trap that comes mounted on a wooden base, has a built-in lever that allows you to remove dead squirrels without having to touch them. A popular all-metal trap has a latch on the side that allows it to be opened so you can dump out the dead animal.
Any kind of nuts, bread, or even pretzels will do as a bait to lure squirrels into the tube-shaped traps. Once inside, the trap snaps down on them and they die.
Since squirrels are fond of poking their noses into tight, confined spaces, these traps feel very natural to them. It may take them a few days to approach the traps after you put them out, but sooner or later their natural curiosity will lure them in.
Another lethal method of getting rid of squirrels is using poison bait. Squirrels are rodents so any good mouse or rat bait will kill them just as readily as it will kill the rats and mice. The difficulty is, it doesn’t attract them as strongly as it attracts other rodents.
The safest way to use this bait is in specially designed rodent bait stations made for rats. Rats and squirrels are similar in size so it will work equally well for both. The heavy-duty plastic boxes are tamper-resistant, not tamper-proof, so be aware of that.
Put the bait inside the box. There are metal rods inside that will slip through the preformed holes in the bait blocks. This keeps the animals from taking the blocks back to their dens or nests. They take a few nibbles of the bait and a few hours later they’re dead.
The bait is weather resistant so it will last a couple of months outside in the box before it has to be changed.
Read More: Best Squirrel-Proof Feeders
Best Product Suggestion for Getting Rid of Ground Squirrels
The best non-lethal method of getting rid of squirrels is to use decoys. Remember, you have to move them every day and swap one type of decoy for another. Make it unpredictable and the squirrels won’t figure realize they’re decoys.
The best lethal method of getting rid of squirrels is to use tube snap traps. Poison bait doesn’t always attract them but the squirrel’s own inquisitiveness will draw them in to examine the traps.
Read More: Best Squirrel Repellents
Wrapping It Up
Squirrels are cute and fun to watch but they can become real pests if they start overrunning your yard or trying to come inside. Using a combination of decoys and traps – never relying on any one method – is the preferred method of long-term control.
If you use both, the way we’ve recommended, you’ll be well on your way to a squirrel-free yard. Enjoy!
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