More than 200 species of squirrels live around the world with three major types – tree, ground, and flying squirrels. Their physical characteristics will vary. The length of squirrels will be 5 to 36 inches. The weight, on the other hand, will range from .5 ounces to 4 pounds. Their front feet have five toes while the back only has four toes. Meanwhile, their eyes are high on their head and widely apart from each other, which also gives them a wide vision. Often in groups called dray or scurry, squirrels are territorial by nature.
The habitat of a squirrel will also depend on their specific type. Tree squirrels, as the name implies, feed on trees. On the other hand, ground squirrels burrow on the ground. This is where they dig to create tunnels that will serve as their shelter. Lastly, flying squirrels will make tree holes and nests as their home.
One report from BBC notes that you can find squirrels almost anywhere in the world, except in Australia and Antarctica. In the wild, they are common in tropical rain-forests. Many of them can also live in the garden and can invade your plants.
Identifying Squirrel’s Damage
Especially for ground squirrels, they bury food under the ground so that they will have a supply when they overwinter. In other times of the year, they can eat a wide array of plants in the garden. They eat young plants, tree buds, leaves, flowers, nuts, and seeds. To be specific, some of the plants that they eat include tomatoes, geranium, apples, pears, grapes, kiwi, apricot, chard, spinach, kale, radish, corn, and beans, among others.
The following are some of the indications that squirrels are causing damage at home:
- One of the most commons symptoms of their presence would be the appearance of holes in plant beds or lawns. Some of these holes are the size of a golf ball.
- When it comes to the fruits, some of them will be completely missing because squirrels will eat them. In other instances, there are only bite marks.
- They will also nibble seed heads, especially for sunflowers. They will feed on the outside edges.
- There will also be signs of damages in flowers as they can partially eat them. In most instances, the center disk of the flower will be missing.
- If you have a bird feeder, it will also most likely end up always empty. If bird food disappears quicker than the normal, chances are, squirrels are the ones eating them and not the birds.
Results on Infestation
Squirrels can lead to a variety of cosmetic damages to the plants. While they mostly affect the aesthetics of the host, these damages can also restrict the flow of nutrients to the other parts, and hence, can cause negative impacts on growth. Many of them will eat the bark of trees and will strip it. They can also damage flowers and will affect crops, making them unmarketable. Ground squirrels, on the other hand, will make the lawn unattractive because of the holes that they dig.
How to Get Rid of Squirrels
Natural and Organic Solutions
Looking for the best solutions to control and eliminate squirrels in the garden? Below are some of the best solutions that you need to consider:
- One of the best things to do is habitat modification. This means that you should alter the surroundings, making sure that it will not attract squirrels. Keep it clean and make sure that trash cans have lids. If you have a bird feeder in the garden, make sure that it is squirrel-proof.
- A live trap is also a good way to catch squirrels and to get rid of them without resorting to inhumane options. Once a squirrel is trapped, release it in a place that is far from home, providing you with the assurance that it won’t come back in the garden.
- When it comes to squirrel repellents, you do not always have to resort to those that contain toxic chemicals. There are others that use natural materials, which will be non-toxic in any way. Cayenne and black pepper are some of the most popular, which will be effective in keeping the squirrels out. Sprinkling garlic pepper on the ground will also work. The strong scent of these repellents will drive the squirrels out of your garden.
- There are also electronic devices that can prove to be promising in terms of their effectiveness. Especially if the problem is indoors, you can use a device that emits high-pitch frequency sound. Humans will not be able to hear its sound, but for squirrels, this can be annoying. Electrical wire deterrents are also good.
- The right choice of plants can also help in controlling squirrels. Among others, some of the best to have in the garden include mustard, marigold, and nasturtium. These plants emit an unpleasant odor that squirrels dislike.
- Mulching is also a promising solution. Especially in plants in pots, you can use heavy mulches, such as decorative stone. This will cover up the soil, and hence, will make it difficult for squirrels to dig.
When it comes to squirrel deterrents, chemical control is one of the most popular options. These chemicals contain active ingredients that will kill squirrels upon making contact. While they are effective, a lot of people tend to stay away from such solution because they can be toxic. To avoid any problem, be sure to follow the instructions from the manufacturer. Among others, one of the best chemical products that you might want to give a shot is Critter Ridder. The latter makes use of an exclusive blend of ingredients to produce a taste and smell that squirrels will not like.