How To Get Rid of Ground Squirrels

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Ground squirrels might seem harmless at first, but wait until they decide to redecorate your garden. It’s all fun and games until these uninvited guests start digging up your favorite plants. But fear not! In this guide, I’m here to walk you through some tried-and-true tactics to bid these pests goodbye and regain your peaceful backyard.

Look, I get it. When ground squirrels first invaded my space, I was clueless and desperate. But then, I rolled up my sleeves, dived deep into understanding these critters, and tackled the challenge. Through research and some (well, a lot of) trial and error, I figured out what works and what doesn’t. And trust me, if I can do it, so can you.

Before we dive in, let me give you a sneak peek of what awaits. We will explore a combination of preventive measures and eviction strategies – all designed to address the ground squirrel dilemma in the most humane way possible. Whether you’re searching for immediate solutions or long-term preventive methods, I’ve got you covered. Stick around, and let’s navigate this together.

Key Takeaways

Seal potential entry points, secure your plants and trash, and remove hiding spots. Natural deterrents like strong-scented herbs and predator scents can make your property less inviting.
Tailor your approach based on your property size, urban or rural setting, and the severity of the infestation. Consider local regulations, community collaboration, and your unique property layout.
If prevention isn’t enough, humane live trapping, natural repellents, commercial solutions, and even natural predators like owls or snakes can help restore order.
If DIY methods aren’t working well, contact a professional to help out.

Identifying the Issue and Understanding Consequences

So, you’ve spotted a few furry critters frolicking around your garden and thought, “What harm can a few squirrels do?” Let’s break it down, shall we?

Why Ground Squirrels Love Your Yard

First off, understand that your yard is a paradise for these little diggers. The soft soil, abundance of plants, and safety from predators make it prime real estate for ground squirrels. They’re not just there for a casual visit; they’re setting up shop.

The abundance of insects in your garden can be an additional food source for ground squirrels. If your yard is frequently visited by birds dropping seeds or if you have bird feeders, it can become a feast for these critters, luring them even more.

Red Squirrel Eating Nut next to a Tree Branch on the Ground

The Burrowing Nightmare Begins

When ground squirrels move in, they start with what they do best: digging. Those intricate tunnel systems they create might be a marvel of nature, but they’re a homeowner’s worst nightmare. Here’s why:

  • Structural Stability at Risk: Those tunnels aren’t just random holes. They are extensive networks that can destabilize foundations, walkways, and even patios. Over time, the ground becomes uneven, causing potential hazards and compromising the integrity of any structures above.
  • Garden Woes: Ground squirrels have a special love for fresh greens. They won’t shy away from munching on your beloved plants, vegetables, and flowers. And if the nibbling wasn’t enough, their tunneling disrupts the roots, often killing plants from beneath.
  • Utility Line Disruptions: Believe it or not, these critters can sometimes burrow deep enough to damage utility lines, leading to outages or costly repairs. It’s not just an inconvenience; it’s a hit to your wallet.

The Domino Effect of Ignoring the Problem

You might think, “Well, it’s just a couple of squirrels now.” But here’s a reality check: ground squirrels breed rapidly. A few can quickly turn into a bustling community. More squirrels mean more caves, garden damage, and an amplified risk to your property.

As the ground squirrel population grows, the competition for food and resources increases. This can lead them to explore your home, sheds, or garages in search of sustenance, further increasing the chances of damage and potential encounters with these pests.

And if you think the damage is only external, think again. As ground squirrels proliferate, they attract predators. Soon enough, you might find your yard a hotspot for larger animals, adding another layer of complexity to your pest problem.

Implementing Preventive Measures

Prevention, as they say, is better than cure. Especially when it comes to ground squirrels. These critters are industrious, so why not outsmart them with preemptive action? Let’s dive into the steps you can take to make your property much less appealing to these persistent burrowers.

1. Seal Off Potential Entry Points

Ground squirrels need a way in before they can call your yard home. Here’s how to block their path:

  • Fencing: Consider installing a fence that extends a couple of feet underground. Ground squirrels are adept diggers so surface-level fences won’t cut it. Metal mesh or hardware cloth can be effective materials.
  • Fill Existing Holes: If you spot any caves or holes, fill them up. Compact the soil firmly to deter any new digging attempts.
Grey Squirrel on Wire Fence

2. The Great Food Hunt

Like us, ground squirrels are always looking for their next meal. Make sure it isn’t from your garden.

  • Protect Your Plants: Use mesh or wire cages around your garden beds, especially if you’re growing veggies or fruits. It’s like putting a lock on your refrigerator!
  • Secure Your Trash: Ground squirrels aren’t picky eaters. Ensure your garbage bins are sealed tightly. They’re less likely to stick around if they can’t find food.
  • Clean Up After Fruit Trees: Regularly clean up fallen fruits if you have fruit-bearing trees. It’s like candy to ground squirrels.

Also, if you have a compost pile, ensure it’s secured. Composting can attract various pests, including ground squirrels, if they can access the organic material you’re breaking down.

3. Remove Potential Shelter Spots

Ground squirrels aren’t just in your yard for food; they’re also looking for a cozy spot to settle.

  • Trim and Maintain: Overgrown bushes, tall grass, and wood piles can serve as hideouts. Keep your lawn mowed, trim shrubs, and clear out any debris.
  • Limit Water Access: Just like food, water attracts these critters. Ensure there’s no standing water or leaks in your yard. A dry environment is less appealing.

4. Natural Deterrents Can Work Wonders

Sometimes, nature offers the best solutions.

  • Plant Strong-Scented Herbs: Some plants, like mint, can act as natural repellents. The strong smell deters ground squirrels. Bonus? You get fresh herbs for your kitchen!
  • Predator Scents: Sprinkling fox or coyote urine, available at many garden centers, can simulate the presence of predators, making ground squirrels think twice before settling.

Another natural method to consider is introducing nematodes to your yard. These microscopic worms feed on the larvae of many pests, potentially reducing the food sources for ground squirrels. While they don’t directly deter the squirrels, decreasing food can make your yard less enticing.

5. Consider Adopting a Furry Friend

Cats and dogs, especially the more active breeds, can be excellent squirrel deterrents. Their mere presence can make ground squirrels think thrice before entering your property.

In a Nutshell

It’s all about making your property less attractive to ground squirrels. By taking these preventive measures, you’re not just solving a potential problem but avoiding it altogether. The effort you put in now will save you a lot of time, energy, and resources. So, roll up those sleeves and let’s squirrel-proof your property!

Also, keeping an eye on any new developments in your yard is vital. Even after implementing preventive measures, stay vigilant. Ground squirrels are adaptive and might find new ways to infiltrate your space. Regularly inspecting your yard can help you spot and address new vulnerabilities.

Choosing Effective Removal Methods

Dealing with a ground squirrel invasion? No worries. Let’s break down the most effective removal methods to help you restore peace to your property. From hands-on techniques to deterrents, we’ve got you covered. Remember, it’s all about balancing effectiveness and humane treatment.

1. Live Trapping: A Humane Way to Relocate

One of the most direct ways to tackle your squirrel problem:

  • Choose the Right Trap: Opt for a live cage trap for small rodents. These are available at most garden centers or hardware stores.
  • Baiting is Key: Use fruits, nuts, or grains to lure them in. Place the bait at the end of the trap to ensure the squirrel fully enters.
  • Regularly Check Your Traps: It’s essential to inspect your traps a couple of times a day. This ensures trapped squirrels aren’t left in distress, especially during extreme weather conditions.
  • Relocation: Once you’ve trapped a squirrel, relocate it several miles from your property. Choose a location with ample food sources and shelter. Release them in wooded areas or near fields, ensuring they have a fresh start.
  • Safety First: When handling traps, always wear gloves to protect yourself from potential diseases and to avoid leaving human scent, which can deter squirrels from approaching the trap. Ensure the trap’s location is away from direct sunlight to prevent captured animals from overheating.
Grey Squirrel Trapped in a Live Cage

It’s crucial to be gentle when handling these traps to minimize stress on the captured animals. Sudden movements or loud noises can frighten the squirrels, leading to potential self-injury as they attempt to escape.

2. Natural Repellents: Keeping It Organic

Mother Nature provides some effective, non-toxic solutions:

  • Spices and Peppers: Ground squirrels aren’t fans of spicy scents. Sprinkle crushed pepper, cayenne, or chili powder around areas they frequent. It’s an irritant, so they’ll likely stay away.
  • Plant Repellents: As mentioned earlier, some plants naturally repel ground squirrels. Consider planting peppermint, rosemary, or marigold around your property’s perimeter.

3. Commercial Repellents: When You Need the Big Guns

Sometimes, you need a little extra oomph. Enter commercial repellents:

  • Granular Repellents: These are sprinkled around your garden or yard. They release a scent objectionable to ground squirrels but barely noticeable to humans.
  • Liquid Sprays: Useful for spot treatments. Spray them directly onto plants or areas that squirrels frequent. Be sure to reapply after heavy rains.
  • Ultrasonic Devices: These gadgets emit a high-frequency sound, deterring squirrels from your property. Note that their effectiveness can vary and might need to be a complete solution independently.

Moreover, it’s essential to monitor the squirrels’ behavior. If you notice they’re avoiding one method over time, they might have adapted or gotten used to it. This can be particularly true with ultrasonic devices, as some animals can become accustomed to the noise or find areas where the sound doesn’t reach.

4. Natural Predators: Let Nature Do Its Thing

Allowing natural predators to roam your yard can act as a deterrent:

  • Owls and Hawks: Setting up perches or owl boxes can attract these birds of prey, which are natural predators of ground squirrels.
  • Dogs: If you have a dog, their presence can make ground squirrels reconsider shopping in your yard.
  • Snakes: Garter snakes and other non-venomous species can also help control the squirrel population. They are natural predators and can be encouraged to stay by maintaining areas with tall grass or brush piles.

Exploring Nuances and Special Cases

Let’s face it; one size doesn’t fit all when dealing with ground squirrels. You could have a small yard in an urban setting, or perhaps you’re managing acres of farmland. Your neighborhood might have specific animal relocation regulations, or you’re dealing with a particularly tricky squirrel gang. 

Here, we’re diving deep into those unique situations, offering insights to make your squirrel-busting tactics even more tailored.

1. Local Regulations and Guidelines

Before taking any action, be in the know:

Wildlife Protection Laws: Some regions have stringent laws protecting wildlife, including seemingly pesky ground squirrels. Trapping, harming, or relocating them without a permit might be illegal.

  • Relocation Restrictions: Even if you can trap them, there may be regulations about where and how far you can relocate these critters.
  • Pesticide and Repellent Use: Using certain chemicals might be restricted due to environmental concerns. Always check the local guidelines before purchasing.
  • Community Collaboration: It’s also worth discussing with neighbors or local community groups. Tackling the issue collectively can lead to better outcomes, as ground squirrels don’t recognize property boundaries. Collective efforts like synchronized trapping or repellent use can amplify results.
  • Tip: Your local wildlife agency or pest control authority can provide information tailored to your area.

2. Urban vs. Rural Infestations

The setting plays a massive role:

  • Urban Settings: Here, ground squirrels might have fewer natural predators. The use of repellents and ultrasonic devices can be more effective. However, you might also have more neighbors to consider, so always be mindful of methods that might disturb them.
  • Rural or Farmland: The infestation can be larger with more space and food sources. Here, combining methods like natural repellents with trapping can be more effective. You might also benefit from natural predators like hawks or owls.

3. Severity of the Infestation

Not all infestations are created equal:

Mild Infestation: Perhaps you’ve spotted just a couple of ground squirrels. Early preventive measures, like sealing off potential shelters and food sources, can nip the problem in the bud.

Major Outbreak: If you’re dealing with a real squirrel party, you’ll likely need a multi-pronged approach. Combining live trapping with repellents and seeking professional assistance is the way.

Remember, the goal is to reduce their numbers and deter them, not necessarily to eliminate every single squirrel. They are a part of the ecosystem and play a role in it. Strive for balance where both you and the wildlife can coexist peacefully, albeit with boundaries.

4. Unique Property Layouts

Every property has its quirks:

  • Large Gardens: If you’ve put heart and soul into your garden, seeing it destroyed by ground squirrels can be heart-wrenching. Using a mix of liquid repellents, granular barriers, and maybe even ultrasonic devices can protect your plants.
  • Hilly or Uneven Terrain: Trapping can be tricky on uneven ground. Instead, focus on repellents and introduce natural predators.
  • Properties with Water Bodies: If you have a pond or stream, be extra careful with any repellents or solutions that might contaminate the water and harm aquatic life.
  • Basements and Crawl Spaces: If your home has a basement or a crawl space, ensure it’s sealed off. Ground squirrels, seeking shelter or a new area to explore, might find these spaces inviting. Regularly check for any signs of entry or damage.

In Conclusion

Hey, we get it. Ground squirrels might look cute with their chubby cheeks and curious eyes, but the charm quickly fades when they’re causing mayhem in your outdoor space. The journey to a squirrel-free garden or yard is sometimes a cakewalk. 

It demands a bit of grit, a dash of strategy, and a lot of patience. But here’s the good news: armed with the right tools and knowledge, you can reclaim your space and bask in the squirrel-free serenity you deserve.

Time to Dive In and Make a Change!

Feeling pumped to show those ground squirrels who’s boss? Brilliant! Begin with a quick scan of your property. Spot those tiny entry points, remove tempting nibbles, and set up your squirrel-fighting arsenal. 

You’ve got a range of techniques at your fingertips, from natural repellents to humane traps. The road to a squirrel-free paradise might have a few bumps, but stay the course. Your pristine, undisturbed garden or yard is on the horizon. Let’s roll up those sleeves and get to it – your peaceful retreat is just a few steps away!

Photo of author
Sean is the founder of Conquer Critters. With more than 17 years of experience in dealing with various pests, he is passionate about spreading his knowledge to help everyone manage their pest problem in the fastest, most effective manor possible.