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Squirrels eating saplings?

 
Jacob Solt
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I planted a half-dozen of Serviceberry and Chokecherry varieties of saplings, as well as some Autumn-Olive, Seabuckthorn, Silver Buffaloberry and Persimmon (I was trying to start a front-yard fedge) and I believe that squirrels have been killing my Serviceberries and Chokecherries. I'm kinda disappointed about that. I've got traps and I've tangled with squirrels before but has anyone ever had this experience? I suspect the squirrels because I did see one squirrel go up a mature tree with what I'm pretty sure, was one of my saplings (about 6-10 inches tall) in his mouth. Are the squirrels eating them? Are they using them for nests? Do I need to make bone-sauce to keep away the squirrels? Any thoughts/suggestions?
 
Renate Howard
pollinator
Posts: 755
Location: zone 6b
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I caught deer defoliating my new saplings one night. In an area where I didn't think they would go. I pounded a stake next to each tree and took some cheap chicken wire I was going to use for something else (months ago and never got around to it) and made a ring to go around each tree, tying the chicken wire to the post. I don't know if a squirrel would actually chew a sapling off then carry it away like that or if it found one on the ground that a deer was done with (or dropped), but the fence rings will protect them from rabbits, deer, escaped goats, etc. and maybe even dogs trying to pee on them, somewhat. The chewed up saplings grew new leaves and they're all still alive now. Unless your saplings were grafted, there's a good chance they can still re-sprout from a lower bud, but that tender new growth will need protection.
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 3662
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Howdy Jacob, For the first time, this year, we have seen our local squrrels stripping the bark off of our aspen trees. They climb up about 7 feet and ring the trees. Stripping the bark up about another 5 ft. Not sure why they have just started this year and not sure why just the aspen trees. They seem to be collecting the bark and leaves to make nests.
 
Jacob Solt
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Thanks to Renate and Miles. I also am under the presumption that the squirrel was cutting the saplings for nest-making but that's just a guess. My problem may have an unfortunate resolution... the department-of-making-you-sad in the local township is un happy with the weeds (my saplings) in my front yard... It looks like I might not be able to grow a fedge after all..... (Sadness)

Miles: maybe your squirrels are helping you pollard your aspens?
 
Fred Morgan
steward
Posts: 979
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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A lot of animals eat young wood to get minerals and salt. Perhaps try putting down a salt like and see if the problem goes away.
 
Renate Howard
pollinator
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Location: zone 6b
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Wow, Jacob, that's really unfortunate! Maybe you could try mulching and cleaning it up some, putting in a few flowers so it can look tidy. There was a house I used to drive by that looked like it had a gorgeous garden - always had something blooming and just lush green growth. Turns out the person who lived there had ill health and was neglecting it! The flowering plants disguised the weeds unless you looked closely! People who don't know any better will see "other" plants among a flower bed and assume they're just not big enough to bloom yet, LOL! Well, as long as you keep down the recognizable weeds like thistles.

However, if you had the misfortune of planting in the "right of way" that could be trouble - some communities have rules against planting trees or shrubs in the 5 feet or so from the street because that's where utility companies are allowed to bury cables, lines, pipes, etc. and they don't want tree roots messing up their stuff.
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
Posts: 488
Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
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I've definitely seen squirrels eat the growing tips of young saplings.
 
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