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
5 to 6 feet vertically, and they can leap 8 to 10 feet
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
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
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
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. So
look at relocation as only a temporary solution. Careful
feeder placement is usually a better management