squirrel problem

April 27, 2013

During the week the squirrel has been causing havoc in my garden. My seeds are starting to germinate and he's digging them up while trying to hide food. I was going to kill him, but I just can't do it to the poor plan is to just cage in everything that's not in cages, here's a good start to my my plan...Also stained some stuff and added flowers baskets

Comments (89)

  • howelbama

    Regarding the catnip note above.. I find that most cats dont pay any attnetion to my catnip plants until I cut and dry some.. they seem to not care for it at all when it's fresh, only dried...

  • AiliDeSpain

    What's it eating?

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    I feel your pain! I had the same problem when we first bought our house. It was January when we moved in and the squirrels had nested in our trees, used our fence as their playground, our potted plants for digging practice, and our house as food. They even hissed at my dogs from high up on the trunks of trees. The previous owners had installed wire mesh under the eaves of the detached garage to keep them out. It was so bad my husband bought me a slingshot, though I never had the heart to use it. I did try various mixtures of cayenne pepper sprays but they wash off when it rains. Interestingly, the squirrels have now mostly moved on to someplace else in the neighborhood. My best guess is that we removed their source of nesting material by picking up all the leaves last fall, which the previous owners had not done. Our next door neighbors had a play set installed in their yard last year in the area near our fence, so they got all their leaves up, too. If you find a solution let us know! We had woodpeckers too Curt, and you are correct that they are eating bugs in the wood.
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  • ChicagoDeli37

    She's eating a French fry out of the garbage can

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8a, HZ10, Cent TX, Sunset z30)

    With my fresh catnip, my indoor cats go crazy. But the catnip leaves should be "abused" (as in, rolled in the fingers) to release the scent. That's why, I presume, my outside plant is getting abused. Because someone loves the scent. I guess I've never even tried drying it. Maybe they'll like it better?

    At another location, I had an outdoor catnip plant in a pot that got regularly destroyed by local cats. I think they were trying to roll around on it.

    The controversy about attractiveness of mint to squirrels is multiplied by what seems to be similar disagreement about mice and rats. Some say they love it. Others say that hate it. Legend has it that catnip was planted around crops by early Britons to repel rats.

    Some earlier discussion here.

  • Lucille

    Well, that sort of makes sense. If catnip attracts cats, in a way, it is repelling rats.

  • tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

    I am sure it is of little comfort but I certainly feel your pain. A squirrel has been trying every last ounce of patience I have. Honestly, the only thing keeping me from mixing gopher bait (strychinine) with peanut butter and putting it under its tree is I am worried about the red-tailed hawks that live here. I also wound not mind if some of the jack rabbits and bunnies ate it too.

  • wolverine1012

    A humane way to dispatch your squirrel(s):

    Here is a link that might be useful: Humane & Effective Squirrel Control

  • Lucille

    An interesting machine. But I wonder how much research they've done? Just because humans can't hear the ultrasound, doesn't mean they are not affected. Don't they use ultrasound to break up kidney stones?
    But if it is safe, it is an interesting idea.

  • Lucille

    I went to and checked out the published reviews of similar machines (I did not see any for this particular brand). Many people say that the machines do not repel squirrels as advertised.

  • ltilton

    I tried some of the ones advertised to repel mice. The mice never read the ads.

  • Lucille

    I had almost decided to build an enclosure, when I found that the 1/4" hardware cloth cast more shade than I wanted. However, I also have 1/2".
    I'm going to wait and see. It would be a lot of work but I don't want to give up my tomatoes.
    Some people say they just grow enough for the bugs and critters and that is sort of they way I've gardened. But I moved here a year and a half ago and there is a huge squirrel population.

  • wolverine1012

    I, too, was skeptical of the machine. There are, however, two resons that I would consider it.

    First, we had some mice get into the house last fall and they seemed to be active in the walls at night. After a night or two with little sleep, my daughter came up with a similar device that we pugged into an electrical outlet on the wall. The mice seemed not to like it and moved into the basement where I had traps baited. End of mice.

    Secondly, the product advertised offers a 45 day money back guarantee. By that time the seeds would be sprouted (or not) and you'd know how well it worked.

    By the way, I have no financial interest in this product. It matters not to me whether one buys it or not.

  • Lucille

    I have not prejudged this machine at all. I fervently hope that such a machine 1) would work as advertised and 2) not damage me.
    A very interesting concept and I'm glad you posted about it, wolverine.
    There are mixed beliefs, I'll try to do more research later.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Electronic pest control

  • ChicagoDeli37

    Just need to solve the problem the only way I know how, out smart a squirrel
    Starting more cages tonight 1 down 7 to go

  • yardenman

    I've been fighting the squirrels for several years. For 20 years here, I did not have a problem with squirrels in the garden. Apparently, it is just a gang in a newly matured but low-food supply grove of trash trees that 2 neighbors have allowed to grow at our common property lines. At first it was just my newly planted crocus bulbs in the lawn. Then it was unripe apples. Then it was unripe tomatoes. Then they were pulling up all the newly-planted cuke, corn and bean seedlings to get at the seed remnants. These are desperate squirrels; no repellents or water sprays are going to stop them.

    Last year I got only 2 tomatoes from 6 plants. When they started pulling up new seedlings of corn and beans, and I considered my tomatoes this year, I had to declare war.

    I don't use poisons or kill traps (there are innocent animals around) and I don't wish to cause pain even to the worst pests. So I pulled out my small have-a-hart trap, dabbed the trip lever inside with peanut butter, and tied it to the top of the fence (their highway) so it wouldn't fall into the absentee neighbor's equally fenced-in yard. After they beat the trap off the fence in their struggles and sprung the doors a few times (escaping) and I finally learned to bungee-cord the cage solidly.

    I've caught 5 of them in a month and have sent them to swim with the fishies in my pond. Don't cringe, it's quick and they don't know what happening. *Blurp* and 5 seconds, they are gone...

    I think that's the last of that gang in the foodless grove for this year, though the cage will remain baited all this season at least in case others move in and learn the same nasty tricks.

    I had to built a tent of 1" mesh chicken wire over the cukes and beans (gave up on replanting corn at this late date).

    My plan is to rebuild my framed raised beds a bit larger (since they are rotting and need rebuilding anyway), make the spaces between them narrower (to save space), and construct an enclosure. Basically 10' upright pipe set 2' deep and chicken wire or 2"x3" welded wire around and atop it, with a screen door. There are various ways to make a sturdy frame to put chicken wire around.

    But my question is this. The mesh has to be small enough to keep squirrels out, but let pollinators in. I can't seem to find solid information about either. Squirrels can fit through tight spots and I suspect they can get through 2"x3" welded wire fencing or 2" mesh chicken wire. The 1" chicken wire mesh seems to defeat them. But will bees and other garden pollinators go through a 1" chicken wire mesh?

    I just can't seem to find to information anywhere. Does anyone know, or can suggest where to ask?

  • ltilton

    Sure they will.

  • arwen2

    I was listening to a phone-in CBC radio gardening show yesterday and heard a solution to completely eliminate the vermin problem. A couple in Ontario build a large raft out of plywood and styrofoam and planted their garden in their pond! The raft is on pulleys so they pull it to shore to harvest, weed, etc. Of course flying insects are not deterred, but the 4-legged varmints are.

    I was having a big problem with chipmunks in my garden and finally managed to eliminate or at least deter them from my veggies. First I filled all of my bird feeders with sunflower seeds a distance from my garden. Secondly, I sprinkled flaked red chili pepper around my plants. Finally, in my garden I half filled a 10 gallon bucket with water, tossed some sunflower seeds in and propped a broomstick on the bucket, a chipmunk diving board. I dispatched 4 of them in a couple of days. There are still some chipmunks around, but they are staying out of my garden. I don't like killing the critters, so I have de-commissioned my swimming pool of death, but I am actually harvesting ground cherries now.

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8a, HZ10, Cent TX, Sunset z30)

    Around here, squirrels can swim. They don't like to, but they can. I suspect they feel less secure in the water, as escape from a predator is harder, but it just takes a couple of seconds to dog-paddle a few feet. It is possible that they consider a small island less secure as well, and they might look at such an island garden as a dangerous place.

  • ltilton

    Chipmunks can swim, I attest to it.

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8a, HZ10, Cent TX, Sunset z30)

    Like squirrels, they can swim from a shoreline to an "island" a few feet away, and they can swim in a bucket, and swim, and swim, and swim, until they realize there is no shoreline to grab onto. Then, blooop!

    Same with squirrels. One of the silly squirrel traps is to suspend bait over a trash can half filled with water. The idea is that they are dumb enough to jump out to the bait, and end up falling into the water, wherein, with no shoreline, they tread water until they expire.

    My squirrels aren't that dumb.

    The chipmunk diving board is an interesting option, for either very desperate rodents or ones with negative IQ.

  • yardenman

    You can't drown squiirrels in a trash barrel. The water resistence is enough to allow them to jump 4 feet up. I watched it happen when I dumped the cage into the barrel and a door on the cage opened.

    I also watched a squirrel afar (with binoculars) casually hop at a small piece of styrofoam covered with sunflower seeds in a half water-filled barrel and then equally casually, hop out. All it did is curse at me in squirrel talk as it took a green apple away with him.

    But my question is about what mesh insect pollinators will casually go through but squirrels can't.

    Does anyone have information on that?

  • harveyhorses

    I had someone tell me yesterday squirrels are just looking for water. This is the wettest July I can remember, and I have a pond less than 100 yards away. How about they just like tomatoes and others veggies.
    My fence this year is working better than previous years, chicken wire 2 ft up with electric very 2 inches above that. A few still get in, but not as many.

  • weedlady

    Yeah, I have heard the same "looking for water" excuse offered and have the same answer as yours, harveyhorses. MY pond is even closer, plus our yard where the oak and black walnut trees are that attract these critters was flooded twice this summer. No, the little monsters just have a taste for tomatoes. And evidently mine also like theirs seasoned with cayenne pepper since I have sprinkled pepper liberally on every cluster of toms--green & red, and both ripe & unripe ones still are getting eaten. Also sprinkling blood meal around as well as a product called Critter Ridder. Useless.

  • yardenman

    Given that there is a small pond at the same distance as the tomatoes and apples, I seriously doubt that the squirrels are desperate for water. If my cats love the pond water (and they do), I'm pretty sure it is sufficiently good for squirrels.

    But my question is still "If I use 1" mesh chicken wire to keep the squirrels out, will that allow major pollinators like bees to get through"?

    Does anyone actually know?

  • weedlady

    Yardenman, I am absolutely certain 1" mesh is plenty wide enough to allow pollinators in. And anyway, you must remember that, in addition to bees (and the American continent has many small native bees that were here long before the honeybee was introduced from Europe), wasps, moths, butterflies, flies, beetles and other invertebrates also pollinate flowers. Out of all those multi-legged critters, rest assured pollination will occur!

    Now of course, it is a given that to ensure pollinators one must NEVER use insecticides like Sevin and countless others in the vegetable garden!

    Interplant various herbs among your vegetable plants to attract these tiny pollinators. Thymes, basils, cilantro, dill will do this, and I also allow a few various salad crops to flower-- like lettuce, mustard, bok choi, radishes, etc. Their little flowers attract numerous pollinators who will take advantage of the whole buffet while in the neighborhood, plus you will have the bonus of free seed for next year's garden.

  • yardenman

    Weedlady, rest assured I am almost entirely organic and never use herbicides around the garden (OK, I do use careful shots on the poison ivy in the far back yard).

    And I not only support wildflowers like queen annes lace by spreading the seedheads around (half the back yard is allowed to grow wild with native plants), I also make sure to let a few carrots grow a second season in the raised garden beds, etc. I have a yard full of butterflies and even honeybees around the cloverflowers in the lawn.

    I just wasn't sure what size chicken wire opening the larger pollinators would fly through. Thank you.

  • dianetg

    I'm from Ontario and I have the squirrel problem too. I've tried the critter ridder and the get-off-my-garden spray and mothballs (yes, mothballs). It hasn't worked.

    They are digging up all my seedlings! They ate all my unripe peaches last year.

    I have a chicken wire fence all around my garden. It hasn't worked either.

    So, next I'm going to try putting pee-soaked clumping kitty litter and perhaps some hair (apparently they don't like human hair?) around my plants. I'm also going to blend up peppers, garlic and maybe a little oil with water and will try that out too. Wish me luck.

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8a, HZ10, Cent TX, Sunset z30)

    Clumping kitty litter is BAD stuff in the garden. I've sworn off that stuff. The bentonite that ti's made of will not break down and disperse. You'll be digging it up years later, still in clumps. That's because it's whole purpose is to soak up water and clump!

    I've used pee-soaked regular kitty litter as well, and it simply doesn't work on at least urban squirrels. Cat pee is a smell they're completely used to. They'll smell it, smile, look both ways, and tiptoe around it. I've tried the other stuff too (well, not hair) and it has no effect.

    I trap and relocate. This is the humane time of year to do that. Sorry, but unless you put your garden in a cage, or maybe set up a device that senses them, and actively scares them off, there really isn't any other way.

  • zzackey

    I miss seeing Chicagodeli's posts on here.

  • ltilton

    Me, too. I hope the squirrels didn't win.

  • HonoriaLucasta

    I think I have tried EVERYTHING against our urban squirrels, who are afraid of nothing. The only thing that worked at my last house (which had trees next to the garden) was to enclose my ENTIRE tomato bed in a cage made of 2x4s and chicken wire, allowing no spaces for them to get through (I accidentally left the top open maybe two inches once and they got in). Before I did that, they were taking bites out of every single green tomato on the vine. Cayenne, sprays, netting, cat fur, leaving out dishes of water, and sitting outside throwing rocks at them did nothing.

    In my current house I have a clear space for my garden so I was able to put an electric wire around the fence. (The tree placement in the last place was such that the squirrels could have just climbed over it on a tree.) That seems to be doing the trick; they COULD jump over it onto the fence behind, but so far, they don't. I think they can sense the electricity and don't like it.

    So in my experience with urban grey squirrels, the only things that will work once they've gotten a taste for tomatoes are 1) COMPLETE enclosure with chicken wire or something similarly metal and unchewable - they'll go through bird netting in a hot second - or 2) electricity.

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8a, HZ10, Cent TX, Sunset z30)

    As I said. I gave up on trying to discourage them, and now trap and relocate. It was just me or them. I can cage or relocate my garden, or cage and relocate them. The Havahart 1030 works terrifically for gray squirrels. That being said (and there is a LOOONG recent thread on the Texas Gardening forum recently on the "ethics" of this, see below), I do it just in May and June which, in the food hoarding and parenting cycles of gray squirrels is, I believe, the most humane time to relocate, AND I relocate to an area that is environmentally very similar. But get used to the fact that these urban squirrels are NOT wild animals. In fact, I relocate them on the same urban creek we live on, but a few miles up or downstream. The law here is that you must not relocate on other peoples property without permission, but I release on public park and greenbelt land.

    I don't want to go into it here, but many people call these guys tree rats. If I didn't relocate, I'd be out there with poison or a gun.

    Here is a link that might be useful: squirrels in the urban ecosystem?

  • dianetg

    The clumping cat litter I use is made of wheat. It doesn't clump as well, but it breaks down nicely. I got some deer repellant spray at Lee Valley - which turns out to be dried blood. Somewhat macabre when made into liquid again.

    So, my seedlings are surrounded by dog hair, cat pee, reconstituted blood and pepper. Oh, and there are moth ball packets interspersed amongst them as well. It looks very strange, but it seems to be working.

    I took down my chicken wire fence because it deterred me far more than other creatures.

    So I've sorted out the seedling issue (maybe?) and next will have to tackle the issue when the plants are grown. I won't have peaches this year because the terrible winter killed all the blooms.

    My strawberries are totally meshed in and so far nobody has invaded - mind you, they are still in bloom. No problem after I meshed them in last year, so we will see.

    I have no issues with trap/relocate, but I don't have the time after work and kids to be checking every day and would hate to see one of them left in a trap too long. And I can't bring myself to kill them - again, not judging, just something I can't do myself. Odd, I've been veggie gardening about five years at this location and this is the first year I've had a squirrel problem. Maybe because of the nasty winter?

    I'll advise if my multi-repellant approach works or fails.

  • manda99

    Oh, squirrels... Until I had a garden, I actually thought the little things were kind of endearing. Now? Not so much.

    We also have the urban squirrels who fear nothing. Noise makers, moving things, dog hair, actual dog, nothing deters them. I actually had them eat through the plastic sides of my composter and trash cans. They pick my tomatoes, eat one bite, and then stack them on my fence posts just to mock me and chew out the middle of the cucumbers while they hang on the vine. And these are FAT squirrels. They aren't hurting for food. They are picking my vegetables for sport, the little jerks.

    I just wish I could leave my dog out all day to keep them away. I think they know his schedule now.

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8a, HZ10, Cent TX, Sunset z30)

    Diane, ah, wheat-based clumping kitty litter. Never heard of that, but a great idea for a garden. Where do you get it?

    But I'd still be skeptical that it would make much of a difference to at least my squirrels.

    Manda, your perspective on squirrels is EXACTLY mine. Oops. I just caught another one ... off to give it a new home.

  • lkzz

    If you don't want to kill it - how about an outdoor cat?
    They keep the squirrels away for me.
    We have 4 cats...10 large veggie squirrel issues in the garden.

  • dianetg

    The litter is called Swheatscoop and I get it at Pet Valu in Ontario. Don't know if it sells in the States. It's a nice product and very flushable as well. None of those horrible clay clumps. Ugh.

    Oh, it seems that my disgusting method is working so far. But I think the blood damaged some of the new leaves. They still dig holes, but elsewhere. I think it might be the litter, but not sure.

    NOW, how about those terrible red beetles that are attacking my lilies? Vile, vile things, and their larva are even more disgusting. Any thoughts?

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8a, HZ10, Cent TX, Sunset z30)

    Swheatscoop is sold at Petco, but it sure ain't cheap! About five times more pricey than the non-clumping stuff. I'll think about it. 40# of it would buy you a trap.

    I guess I could just put a sheet of paper towel in the tray and could use it similarly.

    Now, I've just started intensive trapping, and my wife is telling me that maybe I'm bailing the ocean. I've clearly displaced the squirrels in my yard, and I guess I'm gradually clearing out the neighborhood! Nabbed #8 this morning. I have a bird feeder that was regularly raided, and it's now been left alone for days at a time. Getting better.

  • dianetg

    So one of us turns our garden into a cesspit and the other cleans out the neighbourhood. It's pretty funny the things we do!

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8a, HZ10, Cent TX, Sunset z30)

    My gardening neighbors want to give me a medal! I'll stop trapping in June, as late summer displacement is more inhumane. But it will be interesting to see how fast the area gets repopulated. My bird feeder is a wonderful test for who is around. I'm just starting to get veggies that squirrels like (eggplant, tomatoes -- they don't give whit about peppers), though I think they were occasionally raiding my snap peas a month or two ago.

  • jenhp

    Around here, there are more squirrels than we could ever trap. Although I do think the local hawks are reducing the number. Anyway, I use 2 cheap shower radios tuned to am talk radio on 2 separate stations, in the garden. At least our squirrels don't come around when people are near. So they hear the radio and stay out. I leave the volume pretty low so that my neighbors don't hear it.

    Here is a link that might be useful: shower radios I use

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8a, HZ10, Cent TX, Sunset z30)

    Well, trapping is easy. I've trapped seven in two weeks. The crappy part of trapping is that you need to displace them several miles away. So every one I trap takes 20 minutes out of my schedule, depending on whether they get trapped during rush hour.

    Now, the number of squirrels you have to trap depends on what is called their "displacement rate", which is how fast squirrels move from one locale to the next. Squirrels live in a locale on the scale of a couple of acres, and if there are just a few squirrels per acre, you can clean out your locale pretty fast. Having trapped seven squirrels, I haven't seen any for several days. The experiment I'm doing is to see how long that lasts. If it works for a growing season, it's probably worth it.

  • fotoman

    If the pellet gun doesn't get them....I just put out some vinegar soaked rags on a small pole about 1' tall. We'll see if that deters them, someone else said it worked really well.

    rats with good PR, little bastards!

  • dianetg

    OK, it appears that it is the pee-soaked cat litter that did the trick for me. We've had a stray cat in the area but he didn't dig in it either. My plants are growing fine. I haven't had to replenish it for the last while either.

    But those are my rural squirrels who are perhaps more sensitive than their urban buddies.

    I don't recommend the blood stuff. It was bad for those leaves the spray hit. It appears to be a winter deer thing.

  • slowjane CA/ Sunset 21

    Oh my.... this thread has made me laugh but also made me feel very bleak about the grey squirrels that are eating my unripe oranges. I might try hanging a CD in the middle of the tree just for novelty's sake I guess but have a bad feeling this mean Los Angeles squirrel won't be impressed...I am so glad I have an outdoor cat that sleeps in the garden all day so at least the squirrels haven't gotten into the veggies yet.....but he doesn't climb the tree unfortunately and they jump from the neighbors fence to the canopy....

    You know it is dire when you come across a line like this....

    "So, my seedlings are surrounded by dog hair, cat pee, reconstituted blood and pepper." !!!!!! LOL The lengths we go to.... ;)

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8a, HZ10, Cent TX, Sunset z30)

    OK, end of summer. Here's what I learned about trapping urban squirrels and relocating them. Takes some trouble initially, but it works. This is my first summer in several that I have had NO, as in ZERO problems with urban squirrels. Mainly because there aren't any in my yard anymore.

    The trick is that the "dispersion rate" of urban squirrels is pretty low, so in trapping and relocating, you aren't "bailing the ocean".

    Here is a link that might be useful: relocating urban squirrel pests ; what I learned

  • Charlie

    I negotiated a deal with the squirrels to only take their fair share of my fruit. At first they kept their promise and life was good; I ate persimmons, peaches, tomatoes, cherries, strawberries and pears. Then they got greedy and broke their agreement, taking most of the fruit. I told my wife, "I'll show these squirrels who is boss here." She smirked! I bought a live trap and caught and relocated 13 squirrels in one year. The squirrels snitched on me and the local police told me it was unlawful to relocate squirrels even to a new beautiful woods. My wife smirked! I caught 7 more and drowned them in a garbage can; I smirked at the ones that got away. The squirrels obviously negotiated a deal with the crows and ground squirrels because they started taking more fruit. I bought a pellet rifle. I told my wife, "I'll show these squirrels who is the smarter!" My wife said, "That ship has sailed." What did she mean by that?

  • angelahiebert

    I'm a newbie at all this anticipated squirrel mayhem-in both directions. but I have protected 600 tulip bulbs under chicken wire, which will have to come off soon, or the big leaves will shred themselves. So there will be a time of terror. I'll use urine and blood meal and crossed fingers. Oh yes and pepper flakes, not caring about being cruel ..It would be cruel not to see those tulips, wouldn't it? They have brought me through the winter. I am worried about the possibility the rats might nip the blooms off. What about THAT????

  • dianetg

    It's another fine spring and as the snow draws back, I am sprinkling wheat-based pee-soaked cat litter on the sprouts from my bulbs. The squirrels were digging many holes and had munched the tops off some of my crocuses and tulips until I began this. Now it has stopped wherever the cat litter is placed. Luckily, if you have a cat and buy the more costly wheat litter, the supply of squirrel repellant is constant. It also worked for my sprouting seeds last year after much experimentation with various disgusting methods (see earlier in discussion). I hope it continues to work with my town squirrels. Dunno about the tough urban types.

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8a, HZ10, Cent TX, Sunset z30)

    We have indoor cats, and spreading their pee-soaked litter around my garden did NOTHING. Neither did pepper flakes. That was disappointing. Yes, it may be that urban squirrels are just tougher and more fearless.

    As to chicken wire, be aware that squirrels will push themselves under the wire (yep, tried that), so the wire has to be very carefully anchored to the ground.

    As to relocation regulations, yes, they vary. In my locale, relocation of squirrels to private property (without permission) is prohibited. But not being specified, relocation to public property has to be presumed legal.

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