Squirrels can inspire peanut generosity or thoughts of genocide.
These frisky little rodents can devastate a fruit tree crop, devour bulbs before they ever see daylight, and spread dangerous diseases. They are thieving, lying pests. And they are too cute for words.
Everyone knows that squirrels commonly eat nuts and acorns, but these pests have a far more extensive diet. A normal squirrel diet includes many garden favorites, such as citrus, pears, apples, avocados, and other tree fruit, mushrooms, crocus and other flower bulbs, and green vegetation. They also eat small birds, young snakes, insects, eggs, and smaller rodents.
In addition to damaging crops, squirrels also chew irrigation lines, electrical lines, PVC pipes, window frames, door frames, decks, and attic insulation. As squirrels move through an area, they mark their territory by urinating. (That’s the twitchy tail maneuver often seen on fences, trees, power poles and your roof.) Rodent urine can carry Leptospirosis and Tularemia, which can, in turn, lead to encephalitis, meningitis, kidney failure, or liver damage. The fleas and ticks that live on squirrels can also carry diseases, such as Bubonic plague and Lyme disease. Squirrels can carry leprosy and rabies.
Unless you live in an area where shooting squirrels is legal, you are going to have a difficult time controlling these pests. If poison baits are used, June is the most effective month to use them, but poisoning is cruel and it runs the risk of poisoning non-target wildlife and pets. Personally, I encourage my dogs to chase the squirrels away and I built tree cages around my fruit and nut trees. I also use a liquid squirrel repellant that seems relatively effective. Mostly, I resign myself to some crop loss. Some people use live traps and then relocate trapped squirrels. The problem with this method is that, as long as there is a food supply, squirrels will continue to find your garden.
Some gardeners have resigned themselves to providing the local squirrel population with a steady supply of peanuts to protect their crops. To me, this simply increases the squirrel population even more,
How do you protect your home and garden against squirrels?
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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