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Squirrel Plague...

 
pollinator
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I've mentioned at various points around here our problem with squirrels. We are a semi-rural area with plenty food and no meaningful predators for squirrels. I've seen as many as 20 in a five minute walk around our garden. I'm usually pretty happy to let things be, but they eat everything - fruit and nuts before they ripen, eggs of nesting songbirds, bark of our trees, bulbs from the ground.

We have had traps at various times with varying effectiveness. They kill effectively, but our routines are such that we can't check and reset them frequently enough to make a dent on the population.

Yesterday I was sent a link to the A18 Squirrel Trap from Goodnature. It uses a CO2 canister to drive a self-resetting bolt that kills the squirrels. Similar to a restrained-bolt used in killing livestock. As it resets itself the killed squirrel drops to the floor and the trap is immediately ready to go again, up to 18 times before the canister is depleted. They look idea for our purposes, if a bit expensive up front.

 
Posts: 509
Location: St. George, UT. Zone 8a Dry/arid. 8" of rain in a good year.
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Here's another review of it with actual footage (nothing too graphic) of it working.

For anyone interested in trapping/removing small critters, Mousetrap Monday on Youtube is the place to go.

The guy who runs it is not only a very good video reviewer, he is quite the craftsman.  Very cool how he makes some traps using old school techniques.

 
Joshua Bertram
Posts: 509
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and here's a simple trap with fewer moving parts, more sustainable, costs less, and has no consumables that need replacing.  Still quite effective.

same guy does the review.  



 
pollinator
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I eradicated squirrels by creating cover and hiding places for the local cats in strategic locations along with routes the cats can use to get to these locations without being seen. They're ambush predators that kill for fun and I essentially built a feline version of Disney world.

I pick up the dead squirrels and toss them into the compost or under the raspberry bushes.
 
Michael Cox
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Here in the UK the drop trap above would be illegal, because drowning is not considered sufficiently humane.
 
pollinator
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Obtain a yield:  https://practicalselfreliance.com/squirrel-recipes/
 
pollinator
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S Tenorman wrote:Here's another review of it with actual footage (nothing too graphic) of it working.

For anyone interested in trapping/removing small critters, Mousetrap Monday on Youtube is the place to go.

The guy who runs it is not only a very good video reviewer, he is quite the craftsman.  Very cool how he makes some traps using old school techniques.





That's all I've got to say.

-CK
 
Joshua Bertram
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Michael Cox wrote:Here in the UK the drop trap above would be illegal, because drowning is not considered sufficiently humane.



That makes sense, it does seem like a cruel way for them to have to go.

From other videos I've seen him make, not that I know this would work, a very shallow amount of peanut oil on the bottom of the bucket might sufficiently coat the critter to prevent it from jumping out, yet not drown them to death.  They could be released, or dispatched of humanely at that point.

 
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We also have a serious squirrel problem, but being in a dense urban environment with plenty of food sources, trying to trap them would probably be futile.

We avoid the problem by careful selection of plants. For instance, squirrel devastate regular tomatoes, but leave very small currant-sized ones alone (too small to maneuver with their hands? Who knows). Same for bulbs: they adore tulips, but daffodils are poisonous to them so they leave them alone. Most berries are left alone (even blueberries, which I thought would be an issue), but they used to eat all my cherries (that tree died, and we won't plant another one).

For strawberries and cucumbers (two sensitive plants), we use chicken wire to restrict access.

In short, we've learned to deal with it otherwise.
 
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Squirrels were the bane of my existence in 2018 - even the extension office in NH refers to it as the Great Squirrel Apocalypse of 2018. I had one working live trap and they decimated my pumpkins and corn (they were in cahoots with the wild turkeys) . I don't plan on a lot of mercy this year if they plan to return. My mom had great success with chipmunks and the dunk method.  
 
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Get your Redneck friends to come over. Tell them that you have a squirrel problem. You will probably have to deal with gunfire but it's quick and effective 😁
 
Michael Cox
pollinator
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Silvanus Rempel wrote:Get your Redneck friends to come over. Tell them that you have a squirrel problem. You will probably have to deal with gunfire but it's quick and effective 😁



Not really an option here in the UK, particularly not in a populated area.
 
gardener
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hau Michael, Squirrels are a good source of lean protein, that's all I'll offer up about what to do with them once taken care of.

The method I've used in the past works a treat and you have the option of simply educating the squirrels that coming to your place is not what they want to do.
I found a transformer for a neon sign and wired it to a piece of steel mesh that I insulated from a table top the table top was the ground, the mesh was the live side.
In the center of the mesh I placed a bowl filled with dried corn and sunflower seeds (two of the critters go to human sourced foods) then I sat back and watched.
The squirrels could not resist, but when they went for the goodies they got the shock of their life (my transformer is 50,000 volts at 1 amp).
Now some of the smaller ones died instantly, the larger ones vibrated for a while then broke and ran, those guys did not come back for a long time.
Where you live, this might be the best answer or it might not be viable for you, trial is the only way to tell.

Redhawk

On Buzzard's Roost we have a growing fox squirrel population and we have a few black squirrels, currently we don't kill them since we view these guys as a ready food source for emergency use.
We had a neighbor that wiped out the squirrel population 4 years ago and finally they are coming back into our area and they do love our fruit trees but don't care to tempt our dogs, who love to chase, catch and kill the squirrels.

 
Michael Cox
pollinator
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Thanks Bryant,

I'm well aware of the value of squirrels as food, and have skinned and eaten a fair few over the years. The problem we have is that we are incredibly time poor for dealing with these issues; adding an extra time step of processing them makes it effectively a non-starter at the moment (kids, crazy full time jobs, work hours that mean we aren't around in daylight). A trap - and one that resets itself - seems the only reasonable way forward at the moment. That may change in the future.
 
pioneer
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I second Nick Kitchener about cats. Also creating Fox habitat would be good, maybe also put a tall wooden pole or big dead branch in your yard to simulate a snag for birds of prey. IMO, the squirrels are an asset because they are food for local predators who then won’t want to steal your chickens. You just need to create some predator habitat so that there will be a dangerous presence in the area and they can’t just waltz over to your fruit trees or tomatoes and strip them. You’ll hopefully still have squirrels, but the damage will go way down, and more energy will go back into the system through the predators.
 
pollinator
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Michael Cox wrote:

Silvanus Rempel wrote:Get your Redneck friends to come over. Tell them that you have a squirrel problem. You will probably have to deal with gunfire but it's quick and effective 😁



Not really an option here in the UK, particularly not in a populated area.



Check out this guy. He is a master.
https://youtu.be/FGUlE-UYBcE
 
gardener
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What types of squirrels are y'all dealing with? I'm embarrassed to admit that I learned only a few years ago that not all squirrels climb trees and some stay on the ground.
Here, I have to deal with the tree squirrels that typically swarm the big, old pecan trees all over the property. While most years there's plenty to go around for everyone, it seems like the squirrels have become gluttonous and wasteful by breaking a nut for a bite, then tossing it and repeating the process over & over.
I have a ton of cats, but the trees are so big that the squirrels can get around half the property without touching the ground.
Couple of years back I bought a "Squirrelinator" trap since the reviews were great on it, but I never caught a single squirrel with it, despite trying various baits of chicken scratch, corn, birdseed, etc. I'm wondering if it's made for ground squirrels, though, or at least squirrels that touch the ground sometimes.
Has anyone heard of/tried the "Squirrelinator" trap? Maybe I'm just doing it wrong, but I'd sure like to use it since I paid for it.
 
Myron Platte
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@KC you need to create weasel habitat on your property. Weasels are great climbers, so the squirrels hiding in trees won’t be a problem at all. Even better, if the squirrels jump to the ground to escape the weasels, your cats will get ‘em.
Some snakes also climb, and you might as well give them some habitat too.
 
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Wouldn't a rat trap do the same thing but cost way less?
 
pollinator
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My answer is that I will be building a enclosed garden (with SS hardware cloth and posts) to keep both squirrels and birds out. I can't abide with killing or harming my squirrels, and unfortunately they have figured out all my cat wants to do is have a good chase; she won't take 'em down.
 
Kc Simmons
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Myron Platte wrote:@KC you need to create weasel habitat on your property. Weasels are great climbers, so the squirrels hiding in trees won’t be a problem at all. Even better, if the squirrels jump to the ground to escape the weasels, your cats will get ‘em.
Some snakes also climb, and you might as well give them some habitat too.



I wasn't sure if there were weasels in this part of Texas, but apparently there are (and tons of other wildlife I had no idea they were Texas natives https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/tcm03 )

But, I've heard enough about weasels that I'm pretty sure I would prefer to keep the squirrels versus inviting weasels in. With my luck they'd just ignore the squirrels and go for the easy meals of my poultry, birds, and rabbits
 
pollinator
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To create a long term solution for any wildlife negatively impacting a home or property you need to address the issue of available food, water, shelter and lack of wild predators. Unfortunately, no amount of trapping, relocating or killing is likely to solve a problem wildlife situation, long term - nature HATES a vacuum.

Be wary of the cat suggestion - not all cats are willing to work, or go after the pest you desire. There is a high chance the squirrels will continue to florish while the beneficial birds and insects are the ones exterminated.

Check into what would naturally predate on squirrels in your area, that would also not be detrimental to your other animals. If ducks, chickens etc. are not at risk, offer your land as a release site for rehabilitated birds of prey who dine on squirrels. If there are certain mammals, native to your area, contact local mammal rehabbers and offer your land for (fox, weasel or other) predatory mammal release.

The second natural solution is water - IF your climate/area is conducive... squirrels aren't much for swimming. A moat, redirected creek, or channel at least 4 feet wide would likely stymie the squirrels and make a lovely habitat for trout, catfish or whatever is natural in your area. Use of a plank/drawbrige would provide access to your "island(s)" or squirrel safe zones.

If resident flocks or livestock cannot bear this natural approach then barrier methods would be best utilized.

Without knowing the exact situation, I can only speak to generic solutions. Either blocking access with metal or electrified fencing.

Fruit/Nut trees: if small enough, snap lengths of stove pipe around the trunks when fruit/nut reaches the stage the squirrels like to harvest. Clearing surrounding/overhanging trees that provide tree to tree access is crucial. The stove pipe prevents trunk access, and need only be in place for the critical ripening phase.

Orchard, ground or garden plantings: removal of any "bridging" plant, fence or building access is crucial. Enclose the plot with metal roofing, 6 foot high. This also creates somewhat of a micro climate as it shields wind and traps heat. Often this can be obtained for free when farm buildings are torn down, or residential roofs are being replaced.

Both orchards or garden areas can be fenced with electric mesh, also known as rabbit fencing. Hack existing electric mesh fencing (Kencove) or buy from a supplier who has it all figured out, $150 for 150 feet - BUT a single course of the available rabbit mesh may not be high enough (depends on your squirrels leaping ability). A double height install may be required, or combine with metal roofing panel on bottom, mesh on top.

I get that these options involve time and potentially expense, but it will provide a permanent solution with the added bonus of protecting the areas from other animals that can prove challenging: raccoon, weasel, deer, etc. Learning to co-exist by removing access rather than killing will be your best long term and permanent solution - as long as the food remains accessible, those killed will, eventually, simply be replaced with new residents.

 
Myron Platte
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Kc Simmons wrote:

Myron Platte wrote:@KC you need to create weasel habitat on your property. Weasels are great climbers, so the squirrels hiding in trees won’t be a problem at all. Even better, if the squirrels jump to the ground to escape the weasels, your cats will get ‘em.
Some snakes also climb, and you might as well give them some habitat too.



I wasn't sure if there were weasels in this part of Texas, but apparently there are (and tons of other wildlife I had no idea they were Texas natives https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/tcm03 )

But, I've heard enough about weasels that I'm pretty sure I would prefer to keep the squirrels versus inviting weasels in. With my luck they'd just ignore the squirrels and go for the easy meals of my poultry, birds, and rabbits


    In general, wildlife goes for wild prey. They tend to go for domestic animals when there aren’t enough wild animals to fill their bellies, especially if you have some kind of guard animal. The reason that it’s so hard to keep predators out is that —no matter what obstacles you put in their way— they have to eat, and if your animals are the only ones around, the protection you give has to be literally an impregnable fortress, preferably poured concrete.
 
Tj Jefferson
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Myron Platte wrote:

Kc Simmons wrote:

Myron Platte wrote:@KC you need to create weasel habitat on your property. Weasels are great climbers, so the squirrels hiding in trees won’t be a problem at all. Even better, if the squirrels jump to the ground to escape the weasels, your cats will get ‘em.
Some snakes also climb, and you might as well give them some habitat too.



I wasn't sure if there were weasels in this part of Texas, but apparently there are (and tons of other wildlife I had no idea they were Texas natives https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/tcm03 )

But, I've heard enough about weasels that I'm pretty sure I would prefer to keep the squirrels versus inviting weasels in. With my luck they'd just ignore the squirrels and go for the easy meals of my poultry, birds, and rabbits


    In general, wildlife goes for wild prey. They tend to go for domestic animals when there aren’t enough wild animals to fill their bellies, especially if you have some kind of guard animal. The reason that it’s so hard to keep predators out is that —no matter what obstacles you put in their way— they have to eat, and if your animals are the only ones around, the protection you give has to be literally an impregnable fortress, preferably poured concrete.



Myron, this is an interesting concept. I have not had that experience, since maybe my domestic animals resemble a weak version of the wild ones, which tend to provoke predation.

I am a fan of squirrels since I have a neighbor who is very happy to consume them, and they plant oaks and hickories for me. I harvest about a hundred a year which is enough for about 20 meals. They also provide hawk food, and I love seeing the hawks. I have tried to manage the two species by providing hawk poles in the fields. These are just cedar posts about 7' high, often where I decided to cut down a cedar anyway. Its nice to have a short pole because it doesnt give the hawks enough dive to get over the chicken net, but enough to grab a squirrel or vole.

I would not want weasels if you have domestic birds, they are sport killers and I lost a whole coop to one. My vote is for the hawks!
 
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This is my solution to the problem
Maggie-picture.jpg
[Thumbnail for Maggie-picture.jpg]
Cozy to people, ferocious to squirrels
 
Myron Platte
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    If attracting weasels seems too risky, you might want to try hunting with ferrets. I have absolutely no idea how to do this, but they have been used as rodent control for ages.
 
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:

The second natural solution is water - IF your climate/area is conducive... squirrels aren't much for swimming. A moat, redirected creek, or channel at least 4 feet wide would likely stymie the squirrels and make a lovely habitat for trout, catfish or whatever is natural in your area. Use of a plank/drawbrige would provide access to your "island(s)" or squirrel safe zones.



I came across this thread researching my squirrel problem, and a moat with a drawbridge just sounds like a win/win for everyone. For as wild as it sounds, it's rather brilliant and could lead to a whole slew of beneficial lifeforms and habitat. Any examples of this for inspiration?
 
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for what it's worth, i've seen squirrels swim about a quarter mile to and from an island in lake fontana in north carolina several times. it's possible that other populations aren't so used to it, but i don't know how much construction i'd do banking on squirrels not being willing to swim.
 
Myron Platte
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In the topic “I think permaculture insect control has failed me”, towards the end of the replies (for now, anyway) is the suggestion of owls. If you can set up owl habitat, (the suggestion was for particularly for great horned owls, but just about any should do the trick. Barn owls are supposed to be easy to attract) and owls come, your problems are solved, and the squirrels are toast.
 
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On this side of the pond there are only a few of these in use and sales have been limited partly by the high cost and unreliability. It's a great design concept and it is appreciated why they emerged from NZ with all its remote mountain areas where alien predator species have been decimating native wildlife.

In the UK the dominant trap for use on grey squirrels is the Fenn Mark4

https://www.trapbarn.com/sss4afinal/ -

Utterly  reliable and cost-effective

he Mark6 is a bigger version (6") that tackles mink and rabbits.
squirrel-in-trap.jpg
Grey squirrel in Fenn Mark4
Grey squirrel in Fenn Mark4
 
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Okay, I'm going to use this forum to ask for help with my apple problem. I have three semi-dwarf apple trees as well as two pears, a cherry and a couple peaches. All have borne at least a little bit, in the case of the apples quite a bit. But two years ago we had a population boom among the squirrels, always abundant here on Hickory Ridge (and oaks and persimmons). I saw that in the spring; that summer we had a drought which may have been part of why squirrels took to stealing my apples, under ripe. I tried spraying them with hot pepper/garlic spray; I tried hiding them inside socks. Neither seemed very effective. Then this year they came and took EVERY SINGLE apple and pear, months before they were ripe--I couldn't compete by harvesting early, as they were hard and green and inedible, good only for making pectin which I'm not interested in. I'm sure the root problem is too many squirrels but I don't think my vision is good enough for shooting them. I've offered a $5 bounty to squirrel hunters but no takers so far. I'm afraid the (non-human) people whose job is to keep the squirrel population in balance are more interested in my free range chickens, tho they seem to be a problem only when I have chicks. Cutting down the small trees the squirrels are using as a highway to my fruit trees is not feasible as the chicken coop roof is part of that traverse, and I would have to cut more trees than I'm willing to. Anybody have success with this problem?
 
Mary Cook
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Thanks, Steve. I read through all the suggestions but don't know as I saw a practical one--like I say, I'm not willing to clearcut the copse around my chicken coop and orchard, and even if I did they might still run across the ground to get to the trees. We already have owls, foxes, raccoons, two dogs who occasionally chase a squirrel but caught maybe one apiece in the past 7 years...we used to have cats, who caught hundreds of mice and scores of chipmunks but I don't think ever a squirrel...oh, and weasels, do we have those? Never saw one but last spring we lost two batches of chicks, both times INSIDE the coop in enclosures with half-inch-mesh hardware cloth--doesn't seem possible but both times the hen was dead and the chicks gone. I refer to this as our locked room murder mystery. And everybody says--musta been a weasel. So I think we have predators, they just aren't keeping up with the squirrels. Thing is, I had apples for perhaps six years before the squirrels discovered them.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Electric chicken mesh placed so it encompasses the trees you want to protect might be the best method for you.

Redhawk
 
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      Howdy Mary,


        I had problem with squirrels and I used something called a squirrelinator. I found it to be a pretty potent live trap which can capture multiple squirrels. Usually, I bait it with peanuts in the shell. I think a few words should be said about the best times to trap too. Right now in most places, or at least where I am Squirrels are mating, therefore now is a good time to begin to trap and relocate or if your of another mind... to do that. I have a friend who usually doesn't release, his squirrel problem is bigger, and who during the Fall, Winter and Spring waits until night when it's cold and dumps a 5 gallon bucket of water on the Squirrel. They get get wet to the skin and become hypothermic. Hope this perspective helps and good luck protecting your apples!


   Thomas    Mitama Farm
 
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Location: Lehigh Valley, PA zone 6b
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This year, we have had deer eat most of our tulips, and then after they consumed buds and foliage, squirrels would come along and dig up the bulbs. We were pretty consistently losing 5-8/day for a while. I went to the restaurant supply store and picked up 5 pounds of cheap cayenne powder, and I’ve been sprinkling that on our vulnerable plants every few days, or after a rain. We haven’t lost a single plant since then. As lettuces and kales get going, I’m going to include them in my deterrence regiment.

Over time, I hope to not have to sprinkle more than weekly or after a rain, as the animals will have learned that things in this garden BURN.  
Costwise, though, it doesn’t seem like it would be terrible worthwhile if I didn’t have access to the bulk purchase.

D
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