How to Get Rid of Squirrels

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Looking for ideas on how to keep rabbits and squirrels out of the garden? If these pesky guys are eating your bird feed, flowers, or possibly causing destruction around the property, it's important to find the best way to send them on their way, safely and humanely. See some tips below!

Common Issues with Squirrels and Rabbits

If you have had a large vegetable garden, one problem you may run into is the amount of squirrels it draws. Yes, they are fun to watch scamper around, but if they are constantly causing problems it’s time for them to move on!

Squirrels and rabbits can be surprisingly destructive. They love bird feeders and food sources such as your growing vegetables, for one. If they are stealing birdseed, they also chase away the wild birds you’re trying to attract to your outdoor space. If they are stealing food from the garden, all of your hard work growing those veggies will go to waste as vegetables disappear or are eaten down to where they are not salvageable.

When this first starts, it can be quite impressive and even entertaining to watch. Squirrels and rabbits have their creative ways to sneak up and steal that delicious birdseed. However, you will become quickly became frustrated as the birdseed starts to go FAST. While you can purchase birdseed in bulk to save money, after a while it can feel like you're just feeding the squirrels.

Those with larger properties or acreages have also mentioned squirrels cause a lot of damage whether it be chewing through wires or into an attic, or even getting into sheds and outbuildings. Hungry rabbits, likewise, can cause damage to garden beds. Small animals are known for chewing garden plants over a large area, and can cause damage that individual plants cannot recover from during that growing season.

Best Options to Get Rid of Squirrels

So, how do we get rid of these guys?? Well, we want to advocate a natural and humane option of course! We have several tips that will have them safely moving on to a new home.

First- Prevention is Easier:

If you are wanting to prevent a squirrel problem, think about will usually attract them and avoid that. If they have nothing to draw them in, chances are once they are gone, they won’t return in large numbers. Some good prevention tips for squirrels (and rodents in general) are:

  • Keep a secured bin for bird seed and pet foods.
  • Invest in bird netting to cover individual plants that attract them frequently
  • Chicken wire at the bottom of the fence can help non-climbing rodents from coming in to the garden area.
  • Try an enclosed planter or mini greenhouse for a smaller garden or potted garden area.
  • Keep your garden clean: fallen seeds, nuts, and fruit will attract more rodents.
  • Caulk holes and repair broken fencing, shingles, doors, or anything else that is allowing the squirrels into indoor spaces, like your attic or shed.
  • Get a chimney vent- for squirrels in the attic.

It’s not surprising the bird feeders are the big attraction for squirrels. It’s free food, all you can eat!! Unfortunately, most bird feeders will have to be replaced after squirrel damage. Unless you have a larger, heavy duty feeder, chances are the feeder won't stand up to having a hungry animal climb up or jump onto it day after day. However, you can opt for a squirrel proof feeder. There will be squirrels still checking it out, and some tenacious ones who still stop in for a chance at some scattered birdseed, but it should help cut down on the wastage of bird seed.

squirrel guard is another option if you want to to add it to your current feeder. Keep in mind your goal here won’t really eliminate the squirrels, but rather prevent them from learning that there is birdseed located there and hope they do not investigate it to begin with! This is a good choice if you already have feeders in place, but want to keep all that valuable birdseed from going straight to these hearty eaters.

Attract Owls:

Owls are natural predators for squirrels. If an owl family moves in to an area the squirrels will actually move out of the location. They hunt at night, so you won’t actually see them in action, but if you have an owl you can be sure the squirrel population will diminish over time.

Owls often live in pairs and have roosts high up in the trees. If you want to attract an owl family, be sure you are keeping any small pets inside, especially at night. A cat or very small dog can become prey as well.

You will need to look up common owl species in your area, and then invest in an owl box which needs to be mounted way up on a large tree trunk. Follow instructions to see where and which owl box would be best. You can find one -or a kit- on Amazon.

Motion-Activated Water Sprayers: This may not prevent all garden pests, but if you have sprinklers, certain animals may be deterred from your garden. As an added bonus, the water is something your garden needs anyway.

How to Get Rid of Squirrels- In the Garden:

As with all animals, there are certain plants they do NOT like! Strongly scented herbs will deter them, even if they don’t get rid of them entirely. Here are a few scent repellents animals such as squirrels and pesky rabbits dislike:

  • Herbs like peppermint or clove.
  • Lemongrass is a pretty -and easy to find- garden addition that squirrels don’t care for. You can add this in between or around garden veggie plants.
  • Plant onions and garlic- even their mild aroma may deter pests. You can also add garlic powder to a cotton ball and place near the base of the plant.
  • Peppers- these have a “hot” scent and are taste deterrents to smaller animals. You can also add extra pepper flakes onto the ground as a deterrent.
  • Black pepper- sprinkle this on the gorund around plants. It can be expensive, so it's ideal for small gardens or home gardeners.
  • Chili powder- the strong scent can deter pests including insects
  • White vinegar- use this with care, since vinegar can actually attract other animals due to it's similar scent to animal urine. However, it's strong scent can also work as an animal repellent.

Protecting Your Garden:

Sometimes it may be necessary to invest in some commercial products from your local garden centers to deter these furry pests. You can find row covers for your plants, or just buy hardware cloth to cover plants or flower beds. Bird netting or wire mesh is another option that can be used over garden rows. Support the mesh with fence posts to ensure it's sturdy and won't weigh down young plants. This may not solve a real squirrel or rabbit problem, but it may give you enough protection for your plants to avoid “Peter rabbit” taking over and ruining your entire harvest season.

Sprinkle Herbs or Make an Essential Oil Herbal Spray for Surfaces

Essential Oils are a popular to use around the home and garden. You can find out more HERE about Young Living Oils if you're not familiar with them.

To deter animals in the garden, you can make up your own Essential oil mix by adding about 10-20 drops to glass spray bottle of water. This is helpful to add around a garden fence instead of directly onto the plants, as a holistic approach.

Add (1) of any of the following oils you have on hand: Peppermint, Cinnamon, Clove, or Lemongrass. Optionally, add 1 T. of Unscented Castile Soap if you have it available. This will lend a little viscosity to your mix and allow it to stick to the plants and ground better. Spray on the ground between plants.

I hope you’ve found this post on How to Get Rid of Squirrels a helpful resource. Keep in mind, we are not experts and haven’t tried every single tip here ourselves. Let us know if one of these tips worked well for you!

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