Squirrels in the garden
Living close to the pinewoods, squirrels are part of everyday life. Tree squirrels are really cute – in fact some of their antics can be downright adorable. That said however, these pesky critters can rip bark off trees, dig up plants and bulbs, and ransack outdoor bird feeders.
The thing about squirrels is that they are terribly curious, and always on the lookout for food – they think our newly planted beds and pots might well contain something they like to eat (like seeds, and bulbs), and that is what they are checking out.
So how do you keep them out of your garden and planter beds? Now there are many things you can do, but there are only a few that consistently work.
Let us go over the best ways to keep squirrels out of your planter beds, pots, bird feeders and to stop them from shredding your tree bark.
Keep squirrels away from tree bark
It is easy to shape and work with and can be purchased in most hardware or DIY shops.
Use aluminum or stainless steel nails or screws to attach the metal to the trunk. Do not worry about using a nail, because something the size of a nail hammered into a tree will not hurt it.
The nail would most likely be inserted about 1 inch (2.5 cm) into the bark. The tree should compartmentalize and heal the wound around it just fine.
3 best tricks to keep squirrels out of garden beds and pots
- Wire mesh – This is the best method. Use strong, tightly woven wire mesh weighted down with bricks, till the new planting has settled down – especially if you have planted bulbs. Remove the mesh when the seeds or bulbs start to grow.
- Squirrels only seem to be interested in newly planted things – once they have been there a while and settled, they lose interest.
- Give squirels water – This works really well too. Keep in mind that squirrels eat things in the garden many times because they are Keep a couple of bird baths full of water for them.
- Make a decoy – You can also set up a feeder away from the area you want left alone and fill it with nuts and seeds. They will eat that, and stay away from your planter beds, pots and trees.
Tricks that do not work as well
- Chicken wire or plastic mesh does not work as well because if the squirrels really want to get at the pots and beds, they will move it or gnaw through it.
- Mothballs do not seem to make much difference. They may work for a day or two, but then they need to be replenished.
- Motion detection sprinklers give off a sudden burst of water and will frighten them, but only temporarily.
- Ground chili peppers, black or cayenne pepper – some squirrels can get used to this and will eat through it. So it is a temporary measure.
- Fake snakes/hoses, marigolds, hair, predator urine, cats, pin wheels, coffee grounds, and soap are all things that usually do not work or work only on a very temporary basis.
Keep squirrels out of your bird feeder
There are also many feeders that spin and throw the squirrels off.
Use a lubricant – If your birdfeeder is on a pole, use grease on the pole – the squirrels cannot climb up it.
Fun squirrel facts:
- There are more than 365 species of squirrels in the world and 40% of all the mammals in the world are in the squirrel family.
- The smallest squirrel is the African Pygmy. They are 5 inches (12,5 cm) long from their heads to the tip of their tails. They are found in Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon.
- The largest squirrel is the Ratufa. It can be as long as 3 feet (90 cm) in length. This beauty is found in Asia and Nepal.
- Squirrels have been known to live as long as 20 years in captivity. In the wild however, many squirrels do not make it up to the ten year mark due to traffic and natural predators.
- Squirrels are smart! The squirrel has a brain about the size of a walnut, which is pretty big considered its overall size.
- The oldest known squirrel skeleton is over 50 million years old.
- President Ronald Reagan loved the squirrels at the White House so much that he commissioned an artist to paint a squirrel running across the White House lawn for the Presidential Christmas Card.
- It is one of very few wild animals that have adapted to humans and learned to coexist with man. It can live on both natural foods and hand outs.
- Squirrel’s can become quite tame and are known to steal fruit and nuts from homes if they find if a window or door open.
As you can see, these little creatures have been a part of our world for a long time and being the adaptable animals they are, will surely survive well into the future. So, we must learn to live with them, laugh at them and love them for what they are!
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