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Squirrel Troubles

 
Kirk Hutchison
Posts: 418
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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  Squirrels have been eating the unripe peaches on my peach tree lately. How do I stop them? (without poison, of course)
 
Jennifer Smith
Posts: 714
Location: Zone 5
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Paul talks of trapping and eatting them in another thread.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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net might work, maybe not net the entire tree but net some clumps of peaches or branches that are loaded? maybe a little stringe of elec wire  atop a ring of fencing around the tree?

or maybe feed the squirrels something else away from the tree, like sunflower seeds?
 
                                
Posts: 55
Location: Savannah, GA
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I would think that decoying them with something else to eat would be the way to go. They can jump around just about any kind of electric fence that I've seen and they're very clever. I have a squirrel proof bird feeder and every few months one of them figures out how to jump on it and jam the mechanism so they can pig out on sunflower seeds. Luckily (for me) they have to get it just right.

Does this happen every year or is this year maybe harder on the squirrels than usual? If it's a yearly thing then maybe you should plant something that they will prefer to eat instead of the peaches.
 
Emerson White
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
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It's hard to net out squirrels (you need weldwire or at the very least hardware cloth) and you cannot satisfy them with a decoy because one squirrel can actually hide away more food than a man needs for a year. Trapping is really the answer, that or clearing all trees around an area and building a vermin proof fence.
 
                                
Posts: 55
Location: Savannah, GA
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I don't have a problem with squirrels right now, but I probably will in the future since I plan on planting fruit and nut trees. I'm in an urban area so I can't trap them, and I can't remove the trees from the neighbor's yard. Any other suggestions? Are there any squirrel repelling plants?
 
Emerson White
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Location: Alaska
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You can't trap squirrels in Savannah? Why not? Are you allowed to trap rats and mice?
 
                                
Posts: 55
Location: Savannah, GA
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OK, I admit I made an assumption. I'm not sure if there are any laws against it. Trapping them and releasing them elsewhere is not a solution in my mind. I don't particularly want to eat them, so I don't feel right about killing them. Anyway, won't more just move in?
 
Kirk Hutchison
Posts: 418
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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I was thinking of teaching them an unpleasant lesson with some paintballs. Are there any plants that repel squirrels?
 
Emerson White
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
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Yes, more squirrels will move in, it's a constant battle. I think paintballs in practice would just make them suffer, but not actually stop them. If you know anyone who keeps falcons (or find your local falconry club) I'm sure that they would love to take live squirrels off your hands (though moving live squirrels around might actually be illegal).

Edited to add: If your trees are well away from any building, fence, tree, or other climbable you can wrap the trunk in sheet metal for 2 feet or so starting 2 feet off the ground. That will help stop them from climbing, until a branch breaks, or one dips low enough for a squirrel to jump to it, fruit is heavy.

 
Nina Jay
Posts: 85
Location: Southern Finland, mean annual temp +4 C, rainfall 700 mm, growing season 180 days, clay soil.
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I know I'm going to have the same problem with my hazelnuts if and when they start producing something.

The best way to protect your crop against squirrels is no doubt planting the trees about 100 meters or further away from any other trees or shrubs. Squirrels do not like to cross open ground. But if this is not possible things get more difficult...

One solution (so I've read) is to fan train your fruit/ nut tree against a wall and then net them with galvanized wire. But if you want to grow a "normal" shape tree or already have a big tree this of course is not an option.

I've been thinking of all kinds of "mad scientist" solutions. What if I built a stand around the tree and then put dense electric fencing on top of it so that the fencing surrounds the entire top of the tree... This would look awful but would it work...?
 
Emil Spoerri
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if you don't want to eat them, feed them to the cats, dogs and chickens! Turkeys?
 
                              
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This cat is one of three.  He's killed (and eaten!) five squirrels so far this year.  The other two cats are useless for squirrels.  Not sure how you make sure to get a cat that loves to hunt squirrels but this guy is our answer... he's awesome.
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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Pellet guns are the easiest way that I have found to keep squirrels from getting more than their fair share.  the spring action (single pump/break) ones are plenty powerful enough to stop all flavor of squirrel.

If you don't want to eat them or feed them to anything else, just remove the pellet and bury them in a spot where you will plant a new tree or bush. 

Squirrels are the most "dynamic" accumulators of nutrients around 
 
                        
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I have found two ways to deter them, and the second is in process so I'm not sure it works. The first is blood. They stay out of beds that have blood meal or human blood in them. Since I am nursing now, no human blood at ready supply.  The other is this: our neighbor has an apple tree that the squirrels eat green apples off of. We have one, too, in its first year of fruiting. The squirrels so far haven't touched them. They eat everything in our yard - I've given up growing gourds and melons because of them. So I wondered why they haven't gone near the apples. Then I read that daffodils excrete toxins that pests don't like - I have them planted in a circle around my apple tree. It seems too good to be true that lots of daffodils would deter the little turds, and like I said, this is our first year with apples. But maybe plant some daffodils and spray blood on the trunk of the tree? The only other thing I've done to my apple tree is coffee grounds underneath and sprayed with ag oil. Maybe one of those works too?
 
                        
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Okay, they got one apple. Since we have seven I'm sad, but I expected it. I sprayed the tree with ag oil and sprinkled ag vinegar on the weeds around the tree hoping one or both might deter the squirrels. Maybe they ignore our tree because the neighbor's tree has so many apples!
 
                                  
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Location: Alberta, Canada
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Hey Kirk, I have little to offer except to confirm that catch and release is not the best solution. This is standard operating procedure in my home city. A friend does this on a regular basis.Home owners are rented live traps and are given an education about how far the squirrels will travel and therefore how far away one must release them.  Can't remember the miles, but it's highly recommended that there is a decent body of water between you and the drop-spot. Despite my many jokes about how the good citizens on the other side of our city's river catch and release [i]their[i] pesky squirrels on her side of the river, she continues to do it this way in hopes that the new squirrels won't take the same path into her attic. In her case, I think it's a lost cause, as rodents are known to leave a path of urine for others to follow. In your case, I think where there's food, they will all find it. I'm particularly interested in the sheet metal solution.
Other things that come to mind are 1)videos of squirrels drunk on fermenting fruit ...could one purposely cause some sort of disorientation? and on a lighter note: 2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5-d3rZZ-_M
Good luck.
 
Patrick Freeburger
Posts: 73
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Many friends have given up on fruit trees in the SF Bay Area due to squirrels.  Without exception, the squirrels eat the fruit the day before they plan to pick it.

Has anyone looked at/had success with attracting squirrel predators such as Red Tail Hawk, Kestrels, or other wild animals to a suburban setting to keep the squirrels in check?  I read Barn Owls don't work since they are nocturnal and squirrels are day time critters.

A website suggests a 20'+ pole with a next box on top and a perch below to attract them.  I wonder how successful that would be in luring them in and how to keep them from going after my 3 chickens during their evening garden stroll (they are protected by the portable run during the day).
 
A little info I've found:
http://www.50birds.com/BPRedTailedHawk.htm
http://tommy51.tripod.com/perch.html

Thanks,
Patrick
 
Rick Freeman
Posts: 103
Location: NW Montana, Hardiness Zone 4b
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Emerson, can you describe a vermin-proof fence? I've been hearing that Columbia ground squirrels will burrow under... but I wonder how deep.


Emerson White wrote:It's hard to net out squirrels (you need weldwire or at the very least hardware cloth) and you cannot satisfy them with a decoy because one squirrel can actually hide away more food than a man needs for a year. Trapping is really the answer, that or clearing all trees around an area and building a vermin proof fence.
 
Saybian Morgan
gardener
Posts: 582
Location: Lower Mainland British Columbia Canada Zone 8a/ Manchester Jamaica
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That squirrel video is just upsetting me, according to those abilities I would have to live on a farm in the sky to beat them. I found a gopher trap in the grass and put it out with some peanut butter after a squirrel went into my greenhouse and stole all 80 of my peanuts out of my soil blocks. The squirrel came by and stood next to me the other day and chirped up a storm basically telling me I should of dropped the trap down my pants. He then laughed and told me he ate all my sunflower plantings which where covered in cayanne pepper and true to his word I haven't seen 1 sprout out of the 200 i put in the ground.
 
Rick Freeman
Posts: 103
Location: NW Montana, Hardiness Zone 4b
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I woke up this morning with the strong sense that eradication just isn't the right approach. It's tempting - and Saybian, I imagine you know what I mean - but I'm not sure it's either practical or in line with permaculture principles. In fact, I rather think that it's contrary to those principles. So, I'm going to take my chances and go with exclusion - burying a 3-foot-deep wire - either hardware cloth or 1-inch chicken-wire - around the installation. then, I'll connect that with chicken-wire and go up the fence maybe 3 feet. we'll see how that works...
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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if they are "climbing" not jumping..then you could probably put a cyliindar of flashing around the tree until the ripe peaches have been harvested..or a band of something sticky on top of some paper put around the tree...vasaline or tanglefoot generally works well..as long as it is wide enough that they can't jump over it..i prefer the flashing myself..as a temp measure while needed.
 
Heath Gilbert
Posts: 19
Location: Missouri
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Good luck, Rick.

If that option doesn't work perhaps you could allow someone to shoot them who is willing to eat them? Or find someone who will take the ones you shoot?


With that said, each state has their own hunting and trapping seasons you'll want to look into before going one of those routes. Most states do allow nuisance animals to be taken out of season. Those are typically a completely different set of rules than those for hunting or trapping.
 
Heath Gilbert
Posts: 19
Location: Missouri
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One more thing, have you tried one of those plastic owls sold at the big box stores and garden centers?


 
Rick Freeman
Posts: 103
Location: NW Montana, Hardiness Zone 4b
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From a legal perspective, shooting isn't a problem. I don't know anyone who would eat them though. Most of the folks around here have plenty of venison and elk for wild game... and a few bear-eaters, also. ("Gopher, Evrett?") I'll start with buried fence and see what happens.
 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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Squirrel meat is very good - not gamey and far better than venison. We stew it up with tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, onions and celery. Brunswick stew was originally invented as a squirrel meat recipe:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brunswick_stew

The permaculture thing to do is to eat squirrel, thereby harvesting your effort.

 
John Polk
master steward
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Most of the folks around here have plenty of venison and elk for wild game...


I love good elk meat. How about I send you my surplus squirrels, you send me your surplus elk? LOL

 
Nick Garbarino
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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We'll be eating our squirrels and our fruit.
 
Varina Lakewood
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Location: Colorado
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I use pea netting (bird netting works too) to discourage squirrels.

Or you can sneak up on the little boogers and then jump at them, yelling loudly. Scare the stuffing out of them.
Pfft! I did that earlier this week. You should have seen the expression on his little face! He almost fell over the other side of the 6ft fence he scrambled up, and was 3/4ths the way up a telephone pole before it occurred to him to scold. Wasn't a very long-lived scold. I normally won't do that, but I figured it was payback for eating my strawberries and forcing me to put netting over them to keep him out.

Of course, I don't have a real squirrel problem. The cats keep them to a reasonable population (one year the kitten amused himself by bringing home squirrel tails, yes, just the tails, all summer), and usually all they do is pull stuff out of the ground to look at it and then toss it aside or put it back in upside down (like my onion sets). Once they learn that something is supposed to be there, they usually leave it alone.
 
David Miller
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Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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I'm in the "can't live with them camp", after losing all of my peaches last year and most of my onion sets that I had to replant. This year my mother bought me a plastic owl and it has deterred the squirrels from digging up my artichoke seeds (as they did prior to Percy the owl's arrival). I plan on 'perching' Percy by the fruit trees this year but still expect to have to get the ole pellet gun out. Compost here they come
 
Brian Shepherd
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Location: Lakeland Florida zone 9
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I am on the side of eating the squirrels, but I have had some success keeping birds and squirrels out of my fruit by hanging a few big rubber snakes in the limbs. I like to let them dangle a little bit so they move in the breeze. I will usual move them around occasionally just to keep them nervous. Remove the snakes after the fruit is gone so the birds will come back and eat the bugs.

Brian
www.40acrewoods.com
 
Heath Gilbert
Posts: 19
Location: Missouri
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Nick Garbarino wrote:
The permaculture thing to do is to eat squirrel, thereby harvesting your effort.



That's how I see it, too.


Any luck keeping the squirrels away?
 
David Miller
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Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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My plastic owl 'Percy' has kept the squirrels out of my seedlings, thats progress. I think I will have to upgrade my stew though, I intend to each peaches this year.
 
Rick Freeman
Posts: 103
Location: NW Montana, Hardiness Zone 4b
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Heath and others, I'm trying the plastic owl trick. I need to keep the thing moving around more, since I"ve found a couple of fresh holes in my hugelculture beds. Ack.

I'm also going to try some New Brunswick stew. Might as well. Hence, steel shot and traps will be part of the integrated strategy.
 
Tim Crowhurst
Posts: 45
Location: Bedford, England: zone 8/AHS 2
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For anyone in Europe, if you're in an area occupied by grey squirrels then the best thing to do is to shoot and eat. Grey squirrels cause problems with European ecosystems because, while they have largely displaced red squirrels (especially in Britain, Ireland and areas surrounding the Alps) they don't fill the exact same ecological role. Greys also carry parapoxvirus, which is harmless to them but fatal to reds. The first step to returning the reds to dominance (and so restoring balance to forest ecosystems) is getting rid of the greys.

Fortunately they're a good source of lean meat that can be used in much the same way as rabbit, and are especially good in a raised game pie, similar to a pork pie. Delia has a good recipe here - it looks far more complicated than it actually is. I recommend using a springform tin rather than a loose-based one. If you only have a loose-based tin, put a roasting tin on the shelf below to catch the fat that will drain out.

If there are enough squirrels it may be worth learning how to tan the skins. Over 250 million years of evolution have ensured that fur is one of the best insulators available, and it would be foolish to waste a valuable resource like that. The method traditionally used by native Americans doesn't use any strong, polluting chemicals - just the brains of the animal to soften the skin, and woodsmoke to cure and preserve it.
 
Craig Dobbelyu
pollinator
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forest garden hugelkultur
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I strap a rat trap to the tree trunk with a little peanut butter as bait. consume or compost as you see fit.
 
Peter Hartman
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Our little terrier loves when I get the pellet gun out. He knows it's dinner time. The squirrel has a choice, either peaches feed us or squirrels feed us.
 
Craig Dobbelyu
pollinator
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I just put together a maggot bucket in which I've been adding squirrels, chipmunks, rats and meat scraps along with hay to absorb stink. Flies lay eggs inside and maggots fall out of holes drilled inside the bottom edge of the bucket sides. Now I have a solid use for all those little critters that have been chewing things they shouldn't be chewing on.
 
David Miller
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Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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How do you keep ecoli and what not from passing to your chickens from the maggots?
 
Craig Dobbelyu
pollinator
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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forest garden hugelkultur
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David Miller wrote:How do you keep ecoli and what not from passing to your chickens from the maggots?


I make sure the maggots wash their hands before they eat. LOL Just kidding

I just figure that chickens eat anything they can find out there in the pasture, so there really isn't any way to prevent illness in a free range bird unless you're loading them with antibiotics ( I don't) no matter what they are eating. They eat bugs and poop and all kinds of nasty stuff daily so simply encouraging the flies and maggots to congregate in one area really won't make a difference I guess. I always make sure that what goes in the bucket is "fresh" so the flies get to it quick before it sours. Maggots make quick work of flesh. Usually a small rat is gone in just 3 days or so. Seems nowadays they have a higher chance of getting sick from store bought veggies than from country born flies and maggots.

Paul's video about the Maggot Bucket
 
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