• Squirrels spend a lot of time and energy eating. They eat more than their body weight in food each week.
• Two pairs of sharp incisors enable squirrels to gnaw through nuts. These incisors also allow them to gnaw through many feeders.
• Squirrels have been known to gnaw on electrical wires and have caused financial damage and power outages in some cases.
• Squirrels can jump up to 4 to 5 feet vertically, and they can leap 8 to 10 feet between objects.
• They have the ability to scale trees, houses and many other surfaces.
• They have the ability to cling from objects with their back foot toes (with support from their tail) which allows them to hang upside down and use their front paws to stuff their faces.
• Squirrels have a highly elevated olfactory sense; they can smell food from great distances. This, of course, makes it easy for squirrels to detect the food we put out for the birds. You may see squirrels "running" away with food from the feeders. Squirrel frequently hoard food for a later time. Finding the food they hoard is mostly dependent on squirrels smelling where it has been hidden.
People either seem to love squirrels, put up with them, or hate them. Many people complain that the squirrels are eating the birds’ food and destroying the bird feeders. We can suggest squirrel "proof" feeders (feeders that eliminate the squirrels), creating a squirrel "proof" set up (setups that baffle the feeders) or making existing feeders squirrel "proof." In all situations we can help people deal with squirrels and better enjoy the hobby of birdfeeding.
The methods used in squirrel resistant set ups can be applied to existing feeders. Existing feeders can be fitted with the On Guard™ wire mesh protector available at Wild Birds Unlimited. It is designed to keep squirrels from reaching the seed in tube feeders.
Safflower can also be used in feeders to discourage squirrels (and blackbirds) from eating from the feeders. Safflower is only effective if used exclusively in the feeder.
For some people, providing squirrel food may deter squirrels from bothering the bird feeders. For other people feeding squirrels is actually fun.
It is recommended that people who feed the squirrels place food away from window sills or door steps so as to discourage squirrels coming through screens or doors into houses. Feeding stations for squirrels should also be placed away from the regular bird feeding stations. There are many good feeders for feeding squirrels. Birds attracted to nuts and corn may also visit these feeders.
Squirrels will live in many backyards. In the wild, they have no trouble finding appropriate homes in which to live, but, in urban areas where there may be a lack of trees, it is more of a challenge for the squirrels and the humans, if squirrels choose to nest in human dwellings. Squirrels nesting in human structures can cause damage to wires and insulation, and can increase unwanted noise, smells and parasites.
Placing squirrel houses in urban areas can help reduce the possibility of squirrels nesting in unwanted locations. Squirrel houses should be placed away from human dwellings at least 15’above the ground. They should face south and away from prevailing winds. Boxes can be cleaned in mid to late summer if there are no babies present.
Many people decide that they just can’t live with the squirrels. The squirrels may be doing too much damage to electrical wiring, in the garden, or to human structures. Squirrels can be live trapped. Be sure to check with your state agencies for any regulations that may apply to trapping animals.
Squirrels have to be transported at least a few miles (five is considered safe) away, or they may find their way back home. One problem with relocating is that if the squirrel is relocated to an already populated area, the newcomer may create a disruption. The disruption could cause the relocated squirrel to be driven out of the area by more aggressive squirrels or be the cause of existing squirrels being driven out. This can result in either one being homeless and without adequate food source. Some squirrels have been known to be traumatized to the point of death during transportation. If squirrels are removed from an area, it usually creates a vacuum that is filled eventually by more squirrels.
Q: How do I keep the squirrels out of my feeders?
One of the most effective ways to keep squirrels from feeders is to place a baffle on the pole or above the feeder and situate the feeder so the squirrel cannot reach it. Squirrels can jump 4-5 feet high and across 5-10 feet. A baffle will make it harder for the squirrels to reach the seed. Visit one of our Wild Birds Unlimited stores and we will show you all the different ways to help keep squirrels from reaching your feeders.