Tree Squirrel Damage Management

Wildlife Damage Management February 04, 2008|Print

Tree Squirrels | Tree Squirrel Overview | Tree Squirrel Damage Assessment | Tree Squirrel Damage Management | Tree Squirrel Resources | Tree Squirrel Acknowledgments | ICWDM | Wildlife Species Information

Contents

Damage Prevention and Control Methods

Exclusion

Fox squirrel, Sciurus niger
Fox squirrel, Sciurus niger

Prevent squirrels from climbing isolated trees and power poles by encircling them with a 2-foot-wide (61-cm) collar of metal 6 feet (1.8 m) off the ground. Attach metal using encircling wires held together with springs to allow for tree growth.

Prevent squirrels from traveling on wires by installing 2-foot (61-cm) sections of lightweight 2- to 3-inch diameter (5.1- to 7.6-cm) plastic pipe. Slit the pipe lengthwise, spread it open, and place it over the wire. The pipe will rotate on the wire and cause traveling squirrels to tumble.

Close openings to attics and other parts of buildings but make sure not to lock squirrels inside. They may cause a great deal of damage in their efforts to chew out. Place traps inside as a precaution after openings are closed. A squirrel excluder can be improvised by mounting an 18-inch (46-cm) section of 4-inch (10-cm) plastic pipe over an opening. The pipe should point down at a 45o angle. A one-way door can also be used over an opening to let squirrels out and prevent them from returning.

Close openings to buildings with heavy 1/2-inch (1.3-cm) wire mesh or make other suitable repairs.

Custom-designed wire mesh fences topped with electrified wires may effectively keep out squirrels out of gardens or small orchards.

Habitat Modification

Trim limbs and trees to 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 m) away from buildings to prevent squirrels from jumping onto roofs.

In backyards where squirrels are causing problems at bird feeders, consider providing an alternative food source. Wire or nail an ear of corn to a tree or wooden fence post away from where the squirrels are causing problems.

In high-value crop situations, it may pay to remove woods or other trees near orchards to block the “squirrel highway.”

Repellents

Naphthalene (moth balls) may temporarily discourage squirrels from entering attics and other enclosed spaces. Use of naphthalene in attics of occupied buildings is not recommended, however, because it can cause severe distress to people. Supplement this method with lights. A cat in the attic may discourage squirrels.

Ropel® is a taste repellent that can be applied to seeds, bulbs, and flowers; trees and shrubs; poles and fences; siding and outdoor furniture. Capsaicin is also a taste repellent, registered for use on maple sap collecting equipment and bird seed.

Polybutenes are sticky materials that can be applied to buildings, railings, downspouts, and other areas to keep squirrels from climbing. They can be messy. A preapplication of masking tape is recommended.

Toxicants

None are registered.

Fumigants

None are registered.

Trapping

A variety of traps will catch squirrels, including No. 0 or No. 1 leghold traps, the “Better Squirrel and Rat Trap,” box traps, and cage traps. Regular rat-sized snap traps will catch flying squirrels and small pine squirrels. Glue traps for rats will catch small squirrels.

Since squirrels are classified as game species in most states, trapping permits may be required from your local state wildlife agency or municipal Animal Control office. Wire cage traps and box traps can be used to capture squirrels alive. Tie trap doors open for 2 to 3 days to get squirrels accustomed to feeding in the traps. Then set the traps and check them twice daily. Inform your neighbors of your trapping activities. Translocation of tree squirrels is a questionable practice because of the stress placed on transported and resident squirrels and concerns regarding the transmission of diseases.

Good baits are slices of orange and apple, walnuts or pecans removed from the shell, and peanut butter. Other foods familiar to the squirrel may also work well, such as corn or sunflower seeds.

Shooting

Where firearms are permitted, shooting is effective. A shotgun with No. 6 shot or a .22-caliber rifle is suitable. Check with your state wildlife agency for regulations pertaining to the species in your area.

Other Methods

Often several control methods used simultaneously are more successful than a single method. For example, to remove a squirrel from an attic, watch squirrels to determine where they enter. Then use repellents and lights to drive them out. After squirrels appear to have left the building, use appropriate exclusion methods to keep them out. One or more baited traps will catch squirrels that are accidentally closed in. This last step is very important because locked-in squirrels may cause damage when they try to chew their way out.

Squirrel damage in yards, gardens, forests, and orchards is often very difficult to control. During population highs, new squirrels arrive quickly to replace those shot or trapped.


Tree Squirrels | Tree Squirrel Overview | Tree Squirrel Damage Assessment | Tree Squirrel Damage Management | Tree Squirrel Resources | Tree Squirrel Acknowledgments | ICWDM | Wildlife Species Information


Summary of Damage Prevention and Control Methods

Exclusion

Install sheet metal bands on isolated trees to prevent damage to developing nuts.

Close external openings to buildings to stop damage to building interiors. Place an 18-inch (46-cm) section of 4-inch (10-cm) diameter plastic pipe or a one-way door over openings to allow squirrels to leave and prevent them from returning.

Plastic tubes on wires may prevent access to buildings.

Cultural Methods

Remove selected trees or their branches to prevent access to structures.

Repellents

Naphthalene (moth balls), Ropel, capsaicin, and polybutenes are registered for controlling tree squirrels.

Toxicants

None are registered.

Fumigants

None are registered.

Trapping

Leghold traps. Box and cage traps. Rat snap traps. Box choker traps.

Shooting

Effective where firearms are permitted. Use a shotgun with No. 6 shot or a .22-caliber rifle.
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