How To Stop Squirrels From Chewing Wood

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Chances are, if you’ve got trees in your yard or live near a wooded area, you’re no stranger to the adorable yet destructive natural habits of squirrels. These fluffy-tailed creatures can wreak havoc on wood surfaces by gnawing away at your decking, siding, or outdoor furniture – treating them like personal chew toys.

While it’s important to understand their motives and natural behaviors, finding practical ways to safeguard your wooden structures is crucial to avoid costly repairs. 

In this post, we’ll explore how to stop squirrels from chewing wood using various DIY methods like repellents and physical barriers, while providing helpful tips on repairing any pre-existing damage they may have already caused.

Key Takeaways

Squirrels chew on wood due to their natural instinct to gnaw, dental maintenance needs, and to search for food or shelter.
Common wooden structures that squirrels target include tree bark, outdoor furniture, decking and fencing, siding and trim, and wooden garden structures.
To stop squirrels from chewing wood, homeowners can implement physical barriers such as wire mesh and netting, use natural repellents like cayenne pepper or peppermint oil, and trim branches near wood surfaces to prevent easy access
Providing alternative chew toys or nesting boxes can help divert squirrels’ attention away from damaging actual property, and repairing any pre-existing squirrel damage quickly is important to prevent further structural compromise.

Why Do Squirrels Chew on Wood?

Squirrels chew on wood due to a number of biological imperatives – it fulfills their natural instinct to gnaw, can act as a source of shelter, and can help promote dental maintenance.

Natural Instinct to Chew

Squirrels, like other rodents, possess a natural instinct to gnaw and chew on various materials, including wood. This behavior is essential for their survival and overall well-being as it helps maintain proper dental health.

The incessant gnawing allows squirrels to keep their incisors sharp and at an appropriate length, enabling them to easily crack open nuts or dig out insects from tree bark for food.

In addition, this chewing habit also serves as a form of stress relief for these active critters.

Squirrel Laying on Wooden Fence Rail

Seeking Food or Shelter

Squirrels often find themselves seeking food or shelter around human habitats, particularly when natural sources become scarce. With their strong sense of smell and great adaptability, these rodents can easily detect the scent of wood and other materials that may satisfy their gnawing instincts.

In addition to satisfying their dental maintenance needs by chewing wood, squirrels may also use wooden structures as nesting sites. They might create a cozy den inside wooden siding on homes or hollow tree trunks where they can raise their young safely away from predators.

As garden pests with wildlife conflicts ensuing due to compromised food sources or absence of natural habitats nearby – it is essential for you to take measures in protecting the structural integrity of their exterior property (if you notice damage) while being kind towards these animals at the same time.

Dental Maintenance

Dental maintenance plays a crucial role in understanding why squirrels chew on wood. Similar to other rodents, squirrels have teeth that are continuously growing throughout their lives. They don’t stop growing. Naturally, this means they need to be worn down constantly. 

Wood is a common material used by squirrels for dental care due to its accessibility as well as the ease with which they can file down their ever-growing incisors. Chewing behavior helps prevent overgrowth of teeth and maintains healthy dentition in these animals.

It is not uncommon to spot signs of squirrel damage on tree bark, outdoor furniture or wooden garden structures – all victims of this natural animal behavior driven by dental maintenance needs.

Common Types of Wood Structures Squirrels Chew On

Squirrels will commonly chew on tree bark – when that isn’t accessible, or they invade your yard, they’ll move onto outdoor furniture, decking and fencing, siding and trim, as well as wooden garden structures.

Tree Bark

Squirrels have a natural instinct to gnaw, and often turn to tree bark as their primary chewing material. They strip away the outer layers of bark to expose the cambium layer beneath, which contains sugars and nutrients that they use in their nests or for food during times of scarcity.

However, this behavior can cause significant damage to young trees and forest regeneration efforts, leading to habitat destruction and ecological imbalances. Bark stripping by squirrels can also leave trees vulnerable to disease and insect infestations like bark beetles.

Red Squirrel Crawling Down Tree Trunk

Outdoor Furniture

Squirrels can cause significant damage to outdoor furniture if left unchecked. They are particularly fond of chewing on wooden patio sets, garden benches, and Adirondack chairs to gather materials for building their nests.

To prevent squirrels from doing this kind of damage to your outdoor furniture, it is essential to take specific measures.

Another effective method is utilizing natural repellents such as cayenne pepper or peppermint oil solutions sprayed onto exposed areas regularly. Squirrels dislike their strong smell and taste and will stay away after a few tries.

Decking and Fencing

Squirrels are notorious for their love of chewing on wood, and wooden decks and fences are no exception. Softwoods like cedar are particularly susceptible to squirrel damage, which can cause significant harm over time.

Enclose the area with porcupine wires or other physical mesh/wire barriers that make it difficult for squirrels to access.

Squirrel on Top of Fence Looking Behind Him

Siding and Trim

Squirrels can cause significant damage to siding and trim. They are attracted to these wooden structures because of their natural instinct to gnaw, seek food or shelter, and maintain dental hygiene.

Siding and trim on a house may be particularly vulnerable since they provide easy access for squirrels to enter a home.

To prevent squirrels from damaging your home’s siding and trim, it is crucial first to identify the areas where they tend to target. This includes any lower-level wood surfaces that are easily accessible from tree branches or nearby shrubs.

Additionally, trimming trees near sidings and rooflines will keep squirrels at bay by limiting their ability to jump onto roofs and clipping away their access routes. Offering alternative options like nesting boxes or downed branches can also help divert squirrel’s attention away from susceptible wooden decks.

Wooden Garden Structures

Squirrels are known to chew on a variety of wooden garden structures, including sheds, trellises, and raised garden beds. Unfortunately, the damage caused by their gnawing can be extensive and often costly to repair.

To prevent squirrels from causing damage to wooden garden structures, several protective measures can be taken. One option is to apply repellant sprays or granules around the perimeter of the structure or use physical barriers such as wire mesh netting or PVC piping around vulnerable areas.

Prevent Squirrel Damage to Your Home and Backyard

Implement physical barriers like wire mesh, netting, or PVC piping to prevent squirrels from accessing and chewing on wood; try using deterrents such as cayenne pepper, peppermint oil, or vinegar solution; trim branches near wood surfaces to discourage squirrels from climbing onto them. 

Lastly, providing alternative chew toys or nesting boxes for squirrels can help draw them away from damaging your actual property. 

Physical Barriers 

Physical barriers such as wire mesh, netting, and PVC piping are effective methods for preventing squirrels from chewing on wood structures. These obstacles create a physical barrier that prevents squirrels from accessing the wood surface.

Three-quarter-inch plastic mesh netting is an ideal deterrent for small animals, while wire mesh can be used to cover larger areas like fencing or decking.

Repellents

Another effective method for preventing squirrels from chewing on wood is through the use of natural repellents such as cayenne pepper, peppermint oil, and vinegar solutions.

These scents are known to be unpleasant to squirrels and can deter them from entering or damaging specific areas. For example, a DIY squirrel deterrent spray can be made by mixing water with crushed jalapeno peppers or cayenne pepper sauce.

Peppermint oil is also an excellent natural squirrel repellent that can be used both indoors and outdoors. It has a strong scent that repels squirrels but is not harmful to humans or pets.

Cayenne Pepper in Wooden Bowl with Wooden Spoon

Trimming Branches

Trimming tree branches and plants near wooden structures is an effective way to prevent squirrels from accessing them. Squirrels use tree limbs as a bridge, allowing them to jump onto roofs or other wood surfaces.

By trimming all trees that have limbs within eight feet of a building, you can reduce the risk of squirrels jumping onto nearby wood structures or wooden material surrounding your home.

Nesting Boxes

Another effective method for preventing squirrel damage to wood is providing alternative chew toys or nesting boxes. Squirrels have a natural instinct to gnaw, and they need to keep their teeth sharp and trimmed constantly.

Consider placing some squirrel-friendly “chew toys” farther away from the deck or other areas where you’ve noticed squirrels chewing. This could include items like pine cones, untreated blocks of wood, or even hanging cobs of corn.

It’s important to note that these alternatives won’t necessarily stop squirrels completely but rather provide an enticing distraction.

Repair Squirrel Damage

If you’ve already experienced squirrel damage to exterior structures, it’s essential to repair the affected areas as soon as possible. Squirrels can weaken and compromise the structural integrity of wood, leading to further damage or even collapse.

One way to repair squirrel damage is by using wood filler or epoxy putty. These materials can help fill in gaps and holes created by chewing while providing a smooth surface for painting or staining.

Another option is hiring a professional wildlife removal service that specializes in repairing animal-related property damage – they can also help provide a more permanent solution to your squirrel problem. 

Conclusion

Squirrels chew on wood due to their natural instinct to gnaw, the need for food or shelter, and as part of their natural dental maintenance. 

Common types of wooden structures that squirrels often target include tree bark, outdoor furniture, decking and fencing, siding and trim, as well as wooden garden structures – to prevent damage to your exterior wood surfaces, you can use barrier methods such as wire mesh or netting; repellents like cayenne pepper or peppermint oil, and provide alternative chew toys or nesting boxes for squirrels.

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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.

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