I. Keeping Squirrels out of your garden


Squirrel Control Try these tips compiled by BBG's Gardeners Resource Center. They might even work!

Practice good sanitation and maintenance: As is so often the case in the garden, prevention is the best solution. Don't leave pet foods out in the open. Cover garbage cans and barbecues. Prune branches six feet away from the ground and from the roof of your property. Repair construction gaps (with wood or sheet metal) to keep squirrels from making a nest in your attic. 

Squirrel proof your trees and shrubs: Trees that are sufficiently far apart from each other can be squirrel-proofed by fastening a 12-inch-wide band of sheet metal around the trunks six feet from the ground. Some folks completely cage-off their bushes and small trees before the fruit ripen. Others suspend aluminum pie plates from their woody plants, and dare squirrels to run the gauntlet. They often do. 

Cage your bulbs: Before planting bulbs, set homemade or store-bought metal cages into planting holes. Alternatively, place a wire mesh over the entire bed once you've finished planting. To avoid interference with new growth, ensure that the mesh holes are 2 1/2 inches in diameter, or simply remove mesh in spring. Bulbs can also be dipped in RO-PEL®, a commercial repellent, prior to planting.  

Use barriers for your flowers and vegetables: Various barriers—chicken wire, hardware cloth, 1- to 2-inch metal mesh—can be spread over the ground and cut to fit around plant stems. Or completely cover over newly planted vegetables with a chicken wire fence. 

II. Keeping squirrels out of your house


First and foremost, don't feed the birds. Don't feed any kind of animal outside. Even pets should be fed inside, never leave their food outside. Squirrels are very mobile, and a pet dish or bird feeding station is "open" territory, so any and every animal will be attracted to that area to eat the food or to eat the animals that eat the food! 

Not only that, but these animals will almost certainly vector diseases between each other and may also do the same for you. Americans are inveterate bird-feeders, and industries have grown up, catering to those that like to feed the birds. Restrain yourself. 

True naturalists will confirm that feeding wildlife is not a good idea. So will any exterminator. The animals will find their food well enough without our help and be better for it. So will we. Enjoy them, sure, but leave them alone. 

Make a complete circuit around your house, spring and fall, check all the corners closely. The corners are usually the first areas that fail. 

Check all the high spots, binoculars can help you see those spots up close. If you see a suspicious area, look for the dark "rub marks" around or near the hole, caused by the animal's fur. You can see the black rub marks all up and down the downspout in the soffit picture. 

If you don't already have one, have a chimney cap and spark arrester installed. 

Look for any damaged or missing trim, have it repaired right away. During repairs, if the damaged area has been chewed, stuff the hole with newspaper for a day or two to see if it is being used. If it isn't, repair it.

Rooftop ventilation fans are also suspect. Most are manufactured with aluminum screening - short work for a squirrel. If they discover it is accessible, and breach it, the fan must be re-screened with the proper material. The only proper material is galvanized steel wire, in the form of hardware cloth, available at any hardware store. Anything less, and they will be able to chew through. Also remove any bird or wasp nests after the first hard freeze. 

Exclusion of the squirrels is the best possible method. Vents not built to code, or building anomalies are often the blame for rogue squirrel invasions. Squirrels are very persistent and often reenter by exploiting the flaws in your exclusion work. Replace insect screening with hardware cloth and inspect all susceptible areas frequently. 

Old Wives' Tales 


Also forget bay leaves, ammonia, moth balls, bleach, loud rock music, sonic or magnetic devices. Or any of the other things you may have heard about - they don't work either - not consistently, anyway.

There's just no substitute for good old hard work. Plain and simple, find out where they're getting in and then patch the hole where they enter. The only REAL cure is "exclusion". You must EXCLUDE them from the building. This can be tricky, may take several weeks to accomplish, and will require constant patrols to see if they are gaining access somewhere else. Persistence is the key: You must have more than your adversary.

(I don't suggest trapping unless you're trapping them in your house, garage, attic and releasing them outside. Trapping outside squirrels is ineffective. For each one you trap, two more will show up trying to claim it's territory.)

Your Final Repairs 

Do the best you can to make sure that final repairs are done correctly or the squirrels will rediscover the area and return at some other time. Make sure to check all these same areas a couple of times a year - the same spots will be subject to failure again. 
If YOU can't make the required repairs.....get a good carpenter! 

Check for trim failures elsewhere, and don't forget to check at ground level too. Squirrels can enter a crawlspace and work their way, up through the walls and throughout the rest of your home.

If air conditioning or other utilities are routed through aluminum gutterspouting to reach the upper floors, be sure that squirrels (and chipmunks) are not able to use these for transportation into your house. We have had many calls from chipmunks entering attics by using gutterspouts to get to the roof level.

So when the air conditioning man has used this technique to get his refrigerant lines upstairs, make sure the bottoms and tops are pinched off. It's a good idea to caulk both ends also, that way you can tell when it's been compromised. 

If you employ a carpenter for squirrel repairs, he should have plenty of "trim" experience. His repairs must be a first quality trim restoration, even though the repair may be thirty feet in the air. Other squirrels will continue to explore the upper reaches of the structure and will discover and exploit any area that isn't repaired correctly. Make sure those repairs are of the same quality as you would make to your front door. Always remember to specify pressure treated wood and galvanized nails for ANY outside repairs. (See our information panel on Decks!) 

EMERGENCY SITUATIONS - Squirrel in the house!

Emergency, meaning a squirrel shows up inside! In your bedroom, your basement, fireplace or living room. First thing to remember: DON'T PANIC! No big deal, happens all the time.

There is really only one successful procedure, and YOU can do it! Try to close him off to one area by closing doors, etc. If there is no door, a hanging sheet or blanket will do. Once he is closed off, go in, open all the windows and screens in that room and leave him alone for a few hours. He'll go out on his own. DON'T try to chase him out. He will only hide and it will take longer for him to go out on his own.

Don't be afraid to enter the room he is in to open up windows - he is in a strange environment and will hide from you. Squirrels are diurnal, and won't leave at night, so if you discover one in your basement, say, at night, just leave a basement window open that night, and he will leave first thing in the morning. Close the window in the mid-morning, then leave a cracker, smeared with a little peanut butter, in your basement, on the floor, for a day or so, to be sure he's really out.

If your basement window has a ledge, put another cracker up there too. If a squirrel is still in that room, he will be attracted to a window and will soon discover the cracker. Squirrels trapped in an area of no escape will also be looking for water pretty quickly. Squirrels will be in dire need of water after about three days. They usually won't last (without water) much longer than about four days and will find a water source if they can, using sinks, open drains, toilets or condensing pipes.

IMPORTANT: Find out how he got in. He'll be back. 

III. Other suggestions

Motion activated sprinklers, harmless but will scare away wildlife and stray cats. 

One way doors so squirrels can get out of your attic and not come back in. As soon as they are out, repair the holes immediately. Make sure there are no babies trapped in there or mom will rip your house apart to get them.

Ground squirrel burrows bothering you? Till the soil to 18" and trickle a tiny bit of water down the hole. Continue to do this until they get the idea that it'd be easier to build an entrance or exit elsewhere. You can also drop a piece of dog poop into their hole and trickle a little bit of water. Don't flood the hole because they may have babies which will drown. 

IV. Poison doesn't solve problems, it just creates bigger problems

NEVER use poison. You will end up poisoning your dog, cat, wildlife and yourself. If you poison, you will have to poison forever because the animals will adjust their breeding to fill the void of animals. It is physically impossible to poison all animals. Some will always survive. It's illegal to poison tree squirrels. If you poison a ground squirrel, it will get thirsty and weak, venture out of its hole and your cat or dog will eat it and die. A hawk will also eat it and die. It is illegal to expose the poison to wildlife, pets, anywhere children might be or bodies of water. You must use bait boxes in these situations which is practically all the time. The rotting corpses attract flies which will lay maggots and attract other insects. Rotting corpses in the burrows and in your yard is a ripe breeding ground for deadly diseases. That's how Anthrax is made naturally, mold spores growing on rotting bodies left in the dirt. If you walk outside you can also get the poison in your system through dermal contact with the dirt or inhalation. The poison has a long half life and you could be sick for a long time. It can kill you.