What to do if you have a squirrel nuisance


If you are dealing with an abundance of squirrels in your yard, trapping may seem like a quick and simple solution to the problem.  But, as with many wild animals, if you remove one, you often open up territory for another squirrel or even a different animal to move in.

The best way to approach this problem is to look at it from the squirrel’s point of view.  Your home is in his territory.  If he’s choosing your yard/home to stay in you are doing something right, at least for the squirrel!  If you don’t want them hanging out in your yard it is often best to remove what’s attracting these critters to your yard.  They are looking for three main things:  food, water, and shelter/denning sources.  Remove these 3 necessities and most likely the pesky animals will move on. 

So, let’s look at possible ways of removing these necessities:

  1. Remove/rake up food sources, such as nuts, berries, fruits, and acorns.
  2. Secure all trash cans with tight lids and bungee cords.  It helps to rinse them out occasionally to remove the attracting odors.
  3. If you have a bird feeder, buy a squirrel proof feeder or equip it with a baffle. 
  • Remove/rake up seed that has fallen to the ground
  • Feed safflower seed instead of sunflower seeds.  Birds like safflower seeds however, squirrels don’t find them tasty.
  • Do not hang bird feeders in trees.
  • Do not place the bird feeder within 10feet to your house or trees because the squirrels will jump to the bird feeder.

     4.  In the garden, you may need to use a wire mesh cage around your plants.

  • May also try setting out a pan of water.  Often squirrels go for the tomatoes to quench their thirst.

5.  If you don’t mind the squirrels, but want them to leave your garden alone, you may try putting a bird feeder filled with sunflower seeds and water on the opposite side of your yard to draw them away from your garden.

Deterrents work best when the 3 necessities, food, water, and shelter are removed. Some examples are:

  1. Squirrels do not like the smell of mint.  You can use cotton balls soaked in mint and put them in your gardens or try planting some peppermint plants in your garden.
  2. Cayenne pepper can be sprinkled around your flowers, bird feeder and yard. This will require reapplying after a rain or watering.
  3. You can purchase deterrents that have the urine scent of squirrel predators.
  4. Electronic devices such as high frequency sound emitters and/or motion activated sprinklers.
  5. If the squirrels are gnawing on your deck or wood furniture, try lightly rubbing a bar of soap on the exposed surfaces.
  6. If the squirrels are digging up your flower bulbs, you can research which ones they don’t like to eat.  For example, plant daffodils that squirrels find undesirable instead of tulips the squirrels find rather tasty.  Another option is to lay chicken wire over the planting bed.
  7. If the squirrels are damaging your trees, you can use a metal guard. Contact a tree nursery for proper information.

Squirrels will make their den in an old cavity in a tree, woodpecker hole or your house, if accessible.  To keep them out of your house, inspect the outside of your home for any possible entries, even small ones, and fix them immediately.  Squirrels can squeeze through very small holes and will chew a small hole to make it big enough to get through.  Some areas to check:     

1.  Roof flashing                                                     4.   Behind gutters
2.  Rotting fascia                                                    5.   Vents on roof

3. Check for secure chimney cap                         6.   Tears in vent screens

Additional measures: 

  • Keep tree limbs trimmed back from your house at least 10 feet
  • Trim low hanging bushes at least 12 inches off the ground
  • Another area that may be used for a den is the under the deck or porch.  Enclosing it with hardware wire or lattice would be beneficial

If you see a sick or injured squirrel or have a squirrel in your house, contact Animal Control at 816-690-3773 ext. 1006.  Sometimes wildlife pest control can/must be used.