Monday, March 06, 2006

What To Do About Squirrels

We don't have tree squirrels in the coastal regions of Southern California. But ground squirrels are abundant in the more rural areas. I've lived in my current home almost 4 years but it was only this past fall that a ground squirrel discovered one of my bird feeders. I guess I asked for it since it was a platform-style feeder designed to sit on the ground. It was set out for the many ground feeding birds that visit ... everything from White-crowned Sparrows, Quail and California Towhees to the neighborhood peacocks.

Surprisingly, all went well for several months because our local squirrel population has decreased somewhat. In fact, recently I've only noticed one squirrel. I'd know if there were more around because they tend to stay in groups when they are looking for food. So I'm assuming there is just one. Anyway, he finally found the feeder and the seed disappeared very quickly. Although this was a bit disturbing I didn't mind feeding him ... too much, anyway. Then he got enterprising, as squirrels do. He found one of the large hanging feeders and since it was located near a fence he made quick work of that food, too.

Okay, I have a choice. I can let him clean out my feeders everyday or two. But that will really make a dent in my budget and I'll have an extremely over-weight squirrel. Or I can give him his own food, like dried corn on the cob. That is the first thing I've decided to do. This may deter him somewhat, but I don't expect a miracle. So what else to do.

Recently, I found out about a squirrel deterrent that shouldn't cause him harm, but is supposed to strongly discourage him. Here is the idea:

Puree hot peppers and make a spray. I supposed that means straining the pureed hot peppers and then adding some water. Then add a few drops of Ivory liquid soap to the spray. Spray it on plants to keep squirrels away. I'm going a step farther. I'll spray my wooden feeders in addition to the small potted tree the squirrel uses to get on the fence. I've decided to try Habaneros peppers since they are very hot and easily found in the grocery store.

There are a couple of other ideas I learned about, which I'll do in addition to the pepper spray. One idea makes sense for me because I have a cat.

Evidently, if you place a very small amount of used cat litter around budding plants it will deter squirrels. Since my little "friend" isn't bothering my plants I thought I might try this idea at the base of the potted tree he climbs. Evidently, the cat smell makes a squirrel believe that the cat is nearby which sends him on his way to a safer location.

I understand that sprinkling blood meal around the borders of your garden is a good deterrant, too. I suppose that placing the meal around my ground feeder might add to the effectiveness of my squirrel-deterrent plan.

It will be interesting to see if these solutions work. I hope so, because I don't want to harm the squirrel (actually I really like watching him). I just don't want him devouring all the bird food. Maybe he should learn some table manners ... gluttany isn't attractive. Then he could dine with the rest of the critters.


Anonymous said...

I'm curious, did the home concocted pepper spray work? I have squirrels always digging in my potted plants driving me crazy. I might try it.

Martin Cooper said...

So simply does not happen