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squirrel strategies

Posted by harvestman 6 (My Page) on
Tue, Oct 9, 12 at 9:09

Below is a summation of my current understanding of how to keep squirrels from climbing aboard fruit trees. I'm very interested in any input regarding non-lethal squirrel control from other fruit growers.

As far as I know, there are no studies that have carefully evaluated various strategies to stop squirrels from climbing up the trunks of trees so I’ve had to rely on random experimentation to try to discover a method that takes the least possible time to install that effectively deters these pests from climbing fruit trees and taking fruit.

I’ve tried aluminum flashing which commonly comes as 2’ rolls from which I cut wide enough pieces to completely wrap around the trunk of trees to be protected. At least four and preferably five feet of distance is required from the ground to first branches to exclude squirrels from jumping up to a branch to get aboard. I believe it takes about 3’ of trunk wrap starting one or two feet above the ground as squirrels I’ve watched have cleared 2’ from prone position jumping from where they are holding onto the trunk. I’ve always included something- either tangle trap to annoy them, just outside the metal or axle grease on the metal to stop traction.

This has been fairly affective and most years protects trees at most orchards I manage. I’m confident that squirrels have been deterred because some fruit often has already been removed by the time I get installations done and the removal usually stops immediately after installation. However this year my failure rate has been unacceptably high.

I stopped using the tangle trap because too many birds were getting killed by contacting the stuff and it was horrible stuff to work with- it didn’t always work anyway. Someone suggested on an internet thread that straight metal works better than greased metal because squirrels can actually get more traction from grease, but this year I used grease at most sites. I now believe the suggestion may be valid as scratch marks on the grease and grease on the trees indicates that greased metal was not always reliable. On my site, squirrels were climbing greased metal and removing apples from two trees but now seem to have stopped once grease was removed.

I believe now that while 4’ of branchless trunk is often adequate, squirrels are capable of jumping higher- at least some squirrels, some sites and 5’ may sometimes be necessary.

What I’m not quite sure of is the reliability of aluminum flashing compared to metal duct pipe. This is important because stapling aluminum is quicker and cheaper than dealing with duct pipe. Also the flashing comes in painted rolls making it more attractive. The staples on the flashing may create enough traction for squirrels to climb but on the two apple trees on my property I’ve got flashing on one and duct pipe on the other and the squirrels stopped removing apples from both once I removed the grease.

The duct pipe can't be attached too close to the trunks when using the self closure and so it must start at ground level or something metal like chicken wire must be wedged in to stop squirrels from squeezing in between metal and trunk.

I have found netting to be somewhat useful- I use double strand woven netting available from 7 Springs, and with trees too low for baffling it worked at a couple of sites this year although hungry squirrels will often chew through them- you just can’t be sure. Where the netting did work best was in combination with flashing on trees with inadequate length of trunk to work with flashing alone.

I should also note that mylar failed me this season because it is so thin that squirrels can press it against the tree to get traction. Also, in the past I've tried hot pepper and predator urine without any affect at all.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: squirrel strategies

  • Posted by bart1 6/7 Northern VA (My Page) on
    Tue, Oct 9, 12 at 9:37

All of my trees are short with the first branches 2 feet off the ground and the entire tree around 6 feet tall, so the 4 or 5 foot of bare trunk won't work for me. Luckily I don't have too many squirrels to deal with. Racoons and bears are my main 4 legged pests.


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My open centered trees are branches at 3' and below. Squirrels can easily jump on and off any branches as they wish. I just have my cat patrols the yard who does pretty decent job, although, sometimes, he patrons neighbor's yard as well, not watch his own yard...


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Bird netting and trapping have been the most successful for me. The squirrels usually get wise to the traps, but
the bird netting confounds them. They really like my Gold Rush apples, and I've had to use 3 nets on my one GR tree, but it stopped them from raiding the tree, and I got almost a full harvest.


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I netted both my aprium and plums this year. The netting seemed to work on the aprium, which is to say I didn't lose fruit to pests. The plums, however, the few left by the PCs, were totally stripped by the squirrels. They eat the fruit right through the netting.

I note that when the apriums [apria] were ripe, we weren't yet in hard drought, but it was worse by plum time. The squirrels might have been more thirsty.

I'm another who doesn't have 5 clear feet of trunk to work with. Also, the branches on most of the trees hang down, particularly when heavy with fruit, so the squirrels have a shorter jump.


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When you have a central leader tree you can tie sagging branches more upright by tying to the center. Unfortunately with peaches it is sometimes not possible to retrain. If the scaffolds are vertical enough they can be treated like individual trunks, however. A strong pole (or sapling) taped to the trunk can also be used to hold up sagging branches.

I believe those of you with really bad squirrel problems may need to consider changing your training methods. Also for coons and possums you need about 3' of trunk and the flashing works just great. I've tested it for years at many sites without any failures against them. As hard as it may be to believe, woodchucks can sometimes jump as high as 4'.

What makes all this so hard is that the squirrels react to methods differently at different sites and on different years, even when facing the same lack of food.


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That ship has sailed as my peaches branch low......I will take the advice for subsequent trees and train them higher. The squirrel population here is horrible and I just know they will give me fits.


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Another thing...its a constant problem. Even if you get rid of them (i've taken out a lot of squirrels), they just move right back in.... I think one method is to trap/kill early in the season (spring?) and get a head start BEFORE the fruits start sizing up.


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I shoot the squirrels on my property, but when there is no food for them in nearby woods they just keep coming and get sneakier and sneakier (or the sneaky ones live). This is the first year in at least 15 years where I just couldn't consistently protect my fruit- the crop was drastically reduced by late frost anyway.


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I have nothing helpful to add, I just feel the need to unburden myself: I HATE THEM.


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I should also mention that on my property this year I gave One Bite a shot and the squirrels here would not go for the poison bait. I used gloved hands to put the bait in sandwich zip bags and tied to trees squirrels were already going into. It surprised me because the stuff looks extremely tasty to me. I almost wanted to try it. The bags apparently stopped the birds from feeding on it.

I have also tried mixing peanut butter and sunflower seeds with poison bait which they also ignored.


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Harvestman, try sunflower seeds by themselves.
My squirrels can't resist them.


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The problem I had this year was the massive population boom from the warm snowless winter. I stopped trapping a few weeks ago when they switched to nuts, and in that short period I have gained a yardful of fresh migrants. Heres hoping for a long snowy winter to thin the massive herd :-)

Scott


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The new squirrels will be young and stupid, as well as unfamiliar with the territory.


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Regarding non lethal approaches, I have a variety of sizes of green tulle drawstring bags which i will use to double bag certain apples, pears, peaches, grapes, etc. I use a smaller bag around the fruit which should be large enough not to constrict the fruit when full size and then an outside larger bag. The draw strings are sinched around the fruit stem and then tied to the branch. It seems the green colored tulle keeps the animals from seeing the fruit as when i just used a single bag, maybe 1 in 50 would be destroyed by an animal going after the fruit while double bagging has ( for now) eliminated the problem. Installation is a lot of work, so i only do about 40 fruit on each tree.

I have used the motion activated scare crow sprinkler with some success against squirrels, and noticed when the neighbors cats are out and about the squirrels stay away.


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RE: squirrel strategies

  • Posted by glib 5.5 (My Page) on
    Wed, Oct 10, 12 at 10:09

One thing that baffles me is why a couple electrical wires, 3 and 6 inches off the ground, and surrounding the orchard, would not be able to eliminate the squirrel problem. Perhaps with initial peanut butter baiting of the wire. Squirrels do not dare come into my vegetable garden, even with sunflowers present. But before I put down the fence, the sunflowers would be utterly destroyed. Yes, you need a barren strip, and a ground wire underneath, but nothing else except perhaps a solar deer electric fence if you are away from power.


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I believe hungry squirrels will jump such a barrier and will eventually learn to leave the PB alone, but a 4' fence can work- especially if you use a constant charger instead of a pulsating one. My clients never want to use an electric fence.


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  • Posted by glib 5.5 (My Page) on
    Wed, Oct 10, 12 at 12:50

Surely the squirrels will mellow the clients some, after they lose a few crops, and the fence can be sold to them as "temporary", something that can be removed in hours when they sell their estate (do not underestimate the power of the word "temporary"). The best and simplest is any sort of conducting fence (chicken wire or chainlink), perhaps as low as 1ft, grounded of course, and a single wire on top. They can not get over it without getting zapped.

Barring that, you want to have a permanent ground wire underground (2 inches under the lawn is fine), PVC pipes in the ground to accept the fence posts (possibly with a cap to limit dirt entering the pipes), and the fence consists of posts and numerous wires, alternatively hot and ground, the lowest and highest being hot. You may have to fine tune, for example there will be sites where you can place a no-grass strip, and other sites where you may have to mow before installing.

You can quickly remove it by wrapping the wires around the posts and dumping the whole ball of yarn in some shed. Absolutely use the continuous. I have 850 V continuous at one garden, and 2700V intermittent at the other, and 850V is the winner by a large margin. The PB is useful only initially, and it educates deer also to long term avoidance of the area. For an apple orchard, we are probably talking about having the fence on for two months a year, right?


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I'm wondering if squirrels can be bribed to leave gardens or fruit alone. If a copious supply of sunflower seeds is provided, will the squirrels ignore other food sources or will this simply attract more squirrels?


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From my observations, more squirrels. Clients with generous bird feeders have at least as bad predation as those without. I think more.


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Luckily, my closest neighbor already shoots squirrels to protect his bird feeder and send a message to the other squirrels. I also shoot squirrels.

With wild animals, and especially wasteful ones like squirrels, they go the path of least risk and resistance unless times are desperate.

We usually shoot them and leave them out a day or two.
If a fox or owl hasnt taken it, we usually pitch them out in the forest.

My other neighbor has a strong opinion of not shooting animals at all. She especially like squirrels and rabbits the biggest thread to crop and bark.

I should show her how squirrels bite and drop fruit.
Often stripping a tree in a day, what a waste.

I honestly dont care what she thinks, I had red squirrels gnaw their way thru my siding and trim and bunk up in my attic for a winter. I dont screw around anymore after that.

-Eric
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Haha Glib, the squirrels won't "mellow" the clients, they'll infuriate them! It's all very well and good to find them cute until you've watched them take every single last apple....

As for feeding them other things so they'll ignore your fruit, no dice. We have nut trees, wild grapes and berries, a nearby stream, etc., but still the little buggers go for our apples.

I've actually been wondering why there are so few snakes this year. We have so many chipmunks and squirrels.

In fact, maybe a few large pythons resting in the upper branches of the apple trees would do the trick?


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  • Posted by glib 5.5 (My Page) on
    Wed, Oct 10, 12 at 19:19

Yes, and after they infuriate every Fall for a few years, they will have a positive outlook on an electric fence.


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Do you suppose a 2ft pc of al would do any good at all? Maybe the squirrels would sometimes look for something easier?

Or is this just wishfully thinking?


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My trees all branch at about the two foot level. But I'm still thinking about giving the aluminum flashing idea a try. Maybe rather than securing the flashing to the trunk, the diameter of the flashing could be extended outward such that flashing is beyond the five foot height of all branches. Specail attention would have to be paid to securing the flashing since it would not be attached to the trunk.


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I've seen thin sheet metal (the kind used for sheds) used to create a ring around an open center tree with branches that start close to the ground and, of course, it does work- just takes a lot more metal.


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  • Posted by jbclem z9b Topanga, Ca (My Page) on
    Thu, Oct 11, 12 at 22:14

Harvestman, why is the constant charger better(and more necessary) than a pulsating one? I was planning on doing just what you mentioned, a 4ft chicken wire fence with electric wire on top around each tree, but I need to use battery operated chargers, and they seem to all be the pulsating type. I was going to try a Zareba B10L1 battery operated 10 mile low impedance charger.

And about abbreviations used here, I'm guessing PB is peanut butter, but what is PC as in a 2 ft pc of al?

John


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2 foot piece of aluminum?


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If the squirrels are hungry enough and there are enough of them the pulsating current is likely to miss a few as there is more than a second between charges. I had a system that failed me until I replaced the solar powered pulsating unit with a plug in constant charger. I did not keep PB (peanut butter) on the wire, however.

You can run a charge line a very long ways from an outlet using grey electric wire (the heavy duty stuff) lying on the ground. The charge from the charge box shouldn't pose too much a safety risk although I don't know if it's legal to do this.


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  • Posted by glib 5.5 (My Page) on
    Fri, Oct 12, 12 at 8:38

Concur that 1Hz electric fences are not 100% efficient (I have one of each, one per garden, and can compare). But in my experience continuous is 100% efficient if it seals the garden hermetically.

Manufacturers will generally sell pulsating ones as good for cattle, horses, etc., whereas other chargers are sold explicitly as wildlife control and are continuous. IIRC, I have seen continuous solar chargers on amazon about a month ago. I have seen a squirrel getting zapped (on my continuous fence), and clearly it was a huge shock. for them it must be harder than for me or a deer since the current density through their bodies is much larger (total current is the same, and limited by charger).


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Hi Milehighgirl, many of my fruit trees branch at 2 ft off the ground. So unless I do a major hatchet job on them, I only have room for 2 ft of aluminum flashing on the trunk of the tree. Perhaps this would deter the squirrels part of the time, unless they're really playfull/hungry?

The other option is nc's idea, an aluminum circular wall not touching the trunk


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I planted bareroot strawberries on Wednesday morning. Today, I come around to check on the bed and there's a big fat squirrel eating one of my baby plants! It dug the whole plant up and was busily chewing on the crown. He took off running when he saw me coming (which was smart because I would have stomped him if I could have reached him). Thankfully, he only had time to destroy one plant. I covered the bed with some plastic garden fence I had laying around, but I know that won't be a good enough deterrent if it decides it really likes eating my plants. The electric fence idea won't work for me because the bed is next to a screened in pool. Horrible creatures disguised as cute, cuddly forest friends. I hate them all.


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I'm wondering if anyone has tried making capsaicin extract as in the link, dissolving it into an oil-based carrier (capsaicin isn't water soluble?) like an oil spray or neem oil, and spraying it on the plants you want squirrels away from? I would be very very very careful about that - I used a pepper/blood deer deterrent and was very miserable from the effect of wind borne powder that got into my eyes. It was awful. And the deer did quit chewing those plum trees. Don't know about squirrels.

Using some super super hot peppers, like habaneros, to make the extract, might work?

On the other hand, you might wind up with some spicy peaches.

Just a thought, I think I'll try it but as a klutz I really am a bit concerned I'll get it into my eyes or mouth downwind of spraying.

I watched some you tube videos about eating some commercial food-quality capsaicin extracts - they look painful!

Here is a link that might be useful: Capsaicin extract


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I've sprayed peaches with ground habenero seeds boiled in water and oil and the squirrels gleefully thought, spicey, as they continued to grind through an entire crop of green peaches. I like hot food but the peaches were too hot for me. They don't mind coyote urine either, judging from my experience.


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Harvestman, thanks for the input. Although now it seems hopeless. Well, I'm more concerned about deer than squirrels. Deer completely denuded 2 plum trees, which this year I'll have in cages.

"My" squirrels concentrate on my hazelnuts, taking every nut, leaving not even one for me. Two years of good crops, and I haven't tasted one nut. I dug up the hazelnut trees and moved them to the family place in the countryside, where they can give some privacy if not nuts. There IS a hawk that likes to perch in a nearby tree. Maybe...

When my grandfather was in his 80s, and feeling lonely, he would sit on the porch and feed squirrels. They were so tame they would eat out of his hand. Then they ate his peaches. He felt betrayed. So he sat on the porch with a beebee gun shooting at the squirrels that got into the peaches. Then after peach season he would feed them again, his little friends. Those heartless rodents.

Too bad your squirrels are into spicy food. Peach salsa is good but not as squirrel special treats. Disappointing. I can't imagine the coyote urine made the peaches taste good to you, either.

This is like Bill Murray going after the gophers in Caddyshack.


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No, not exactly as futile as Bill's character and at least the squirrels on my property aren't laughing as their ranks are always thinned by my shotgun. I'm more like Elmer Fud with a gun in my hands but I do manage to pick off a fair amount.

The metal is reasonably affective as long as trees are trained right.


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  • Posted by jbclem z9b Topanga, Ca (My Page) on
    Mon, Dec 17, 12 at 6:09

eukofios...I recently saw a message from someone who had protected her fruit trees(from deer) by using a mix of cayenne powder and garden lime powder(not pelleted). She used a flour sifter to spread it on the fruit. She describes how she and her husband would wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of deer sneezing and gagging on the fruit. That's such a great image that I'm going to try it as soon as I can find the powder form of garden lime...the big box stores seem to carry only a pelleted version.

A few years ago I tried spreading cayenne powder on some peaches that were almost ripe. It didn't stop a squirrel from pulling a peach (and it's young branch) off the tree. I never found the peach so he must have taken it home to share with the family ("Honey, I'm home...I picked up some mexican take-out for the kids!").


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How high should a grape wire trellis be with the hanging fruit to discourage racoons? I was planning on 5 foot high wires.

H-man, was the 3' flashing you found for the racoons from ground height? I plan on trying the flashing you described above on the grapes.

Thanks!


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Coons are pretty easy, although with grapes would be a challenge because you'd need to make the trellis unclimbable. Usually 2' of flashing starting a foot above the ground is enough for coons and possums although a really big tom can probably get around that much and at least another 6" would be necessary. As far as I know, coons don't jump.


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Thanks. The posts should be easier than the vines for 6 foot high wires 20 feet apart. Has anyone had coons climbing vines?


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Wonder how good a squirrel launcher would work. They may invite their friends to the ammusement park. This is the best launcher yet.

Here is a link that might be useful: squirrel launcher


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AB,

That was funny. I wonder if that squirrel ever got launched a second time?

Tony


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The Squirrel launcher takes the prize. I want two of them now! Still laughing and thanks, Mrs. G


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And that, O Best Beloved, is how the squirrel learned to fly.


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Just a wild thought that might work for a select few of you poor folks with tree rat problems, feed the little buggers far from where your trees are, say for instance, the wooded areas they reside in when not traveling to your orchard. Maybe they would prefer to stay home if they could get there food supply there; on the other hand, you might just creating more squirrels to ravage your trees. Anyway, I'm no squirrel psychologist.

It surprises me the little buggers have never yet bothered a single fruit on any of my apple or peach trees, not that I'm complaining.

Cats and/or dogs sound like the best bet so far.


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I must have had a thousand pears on a really mature tree last year. It needed to be thinned, so when the squirrel showed up, I thought cool, it needs to be thinned and I'm more than happy to share in exchange for work. But SHARE was the operative word.

The squirrel never touched the ground. He jumped from a neighboring oak tree right into the top of the pear tree. Before long the top third of the tree did not have a single pear. And he kept going. By the time he finished, there was not a single pear left on the tree. Not even ONE.

There is going to be some serious prunning this winter to both the pear tree and the oak tree. And if I even SEE that squirrel this spring, I'll start with a hand sling shot. If that does not work, he just may get the full relocator treatment.
Carol


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You sound as if you think it's only one squirrel. Good luck with that. At some sites I need both flashing and nets for adequate pear protection.


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The only relocating that works is to Valhalla.

But sometimes it really is just the one squirrel. Until it passes on its evil ways to its spawn. Unless you get it first.


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Neighborhoods around here always have lots of squirrels and I think they tend to couple up anyway. I often see duos playing together and they seem very social animals. Not that a single squirrel is impossible, but I don't see how you could know that was the only one around unless maybe you killed it and saw no more.

I often hope I've killed the last one around only to be dissappointed to find another taking its place (wackamole).


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You guys are undoubtedly right about more than one squirrel, I just have not seen two at the same time. And while the relocator looks like fun, a more permanent solution will surely be required.

The snare looks easier than most of the other options. Annie Oakley, I am not. I've always tried to make it a rule to eat what is killed, so it looks like more lessons after this one.

Here is a link that might be useful: squirrel snare


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  • Posted by olpea zone 6 KS (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 12, 13 at 21:58

Carol,

There is a large squirrel population in my area. I am located in a semi-rural area, just outside the city. People drive out here and release the squirrels they catch in town.

I wouldn't mess with the snares. Someone mentioned here that a strong wind will blow them around.

I've caught literally hundreds of squirrels at my site over the years with traps. More than 60 tree rodents since last fall and 3 in one day. I've tried numerous traps and by far the best one I've tried is made by Tomahawk. It's their single door extra long skunk trap (measures 24" X 7" X 7" (model 105) Tomahawk's regular squirrel trap is too short. Most of the squirrels I've caught have been with the model 105 trap. It's a well designed trap and worth the extra money vs. cheaper traps like Havahart. This trap has paid for itself over and over in harvested fruit.

Place the trap beside a tall tree (preferably an oak) and bait the trap with either acorns or unshelled pecans. To make a dent in the squirrel population you have to trap all year long. They won't visit the trap much when they have your fruit to eat, so you have to thin them during the off season. Keep the grass low around the trap. Squirrels don't like tall grass.


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THank you VERY much olpea, that sounds so much better than killing the squirrels in a snare. I'll definately check it out and get one. I have a pretty large farm with woods at the very far side. I could easily relocate squirrels the way I had to do with black snakes eating my eggs.

In case I do have to kill a squirrel, there is an excellent video on cleaning them below.

Here is a link that might be useful: how to clean a squirrel


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  • Posted by olpea zone 6 KS (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 13, 13 at 11:55

Carol,

I'm glad I could help you, but unfortunately you misunderstood part of my post. Other people trap and release the squirrels near me. I trap and destroy the squirrels.

Make no mistake, killing squirrels is not something I enjoy, but having all those squirrels dumped near me is not a frustration I want to visit on someone else.

Many states have laws restricting the relocation of wildlife. In Missouri, it is legal to relocate squirrels, but most wildlife professionals advise against relocating wildlife for numerous reasons (See link below). Of course this is still your decision.

I've destroyed squirrels in live traps by shooting with a pellet gun, or drowning in a small barrel of water. I've found drowning (as bad as it sounds) is more humane. Squirrels don't stand still in a trap, so it's difficult to kill them with one shot. However, squirrels have such a high metabolism, they drown very quickly (less than one minute). They pass out even quicker. Drowning is also probably more humane than snares. I suspect snares do not completely cut off the squirrel's air, so that the squirrel probably struggles longer in a snare than under water. Both methods are more humane than starvation, which is nature's way of reducing the population.

Here is a link that might be useful: Relocating Wildlife


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Olpea: What is your strategy for drowning squirrels? Do you put the entire trap in a tub of water?


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The whole trap goes into the water, unless you want to grab and dunk.


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  • Posted by olpea zone 6 KS (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 13, 13 at 16:04

NorthGa,

I have a 15 gal barrel with a lid that I keep full of water. It's taller than the trap and I drop the trap in (squirrel and all). Euthanization comes very quickly. Some people on the forum keep a plastic trash can full of water. Just make sure you take precautions that no small children could gain access to it and drown themselves.

In the fall I collect acorns under an oak tree. I put them in the deep freeze and use them for bait throughout the year.


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I like your idea of collecting and storing acorns to use in the traps. Amazon had the trap you recommended and I ordered one along with two different slingshots to play with. The article about relocating animals was quite practical. We'll have to see if I can handle the drowning part of the process.......

Here in the Ozarks, we typically put logs in all water troughs to allow squirrels to escape drowning. Now I'm contemplating intentionally drowning one. In the long run, we do need to live in harmony with nature and that means the animals may have to adapt as well as us. They can't have my fruit, its not for them.


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Yea..a couple or so is fine, here we don't have that problem,.. yet.

They sure can explode in population growth in no time and become a pest,...your neighbor might feed them, [irresponsibly] year round, that can include birds etc. ...then the neighbor next has to get rid of if he want's to grow something for himself.


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Last year, I tried the bird net method to protect my peach tree. I got the largest size net I could find, covered the entire tree, and zip-tied the ends to the trunk.

Every day, I would check the tree, watching promising looking peaches that were almost ripe, only to have them disappear the next day. I checked my net for holes, and everything seemed to be fine.

One day, around the end of the season, I bumped the net, and a ripe peach fell off of the branch, hit the net, slid down the net to the trunk, and fell out onto the ground. I had missed one loop of netting when I zip-tied the net to the trunk. Clearly, the squirrels were just climbing on the netting, and when a peach fell, they would pick it up and eat it.

So, it turns out that all I accomplished was making a peach vending machine for the squirrels.


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I see nobody has mentioned Kania traps yet on this thread. They are my favorite squirrel trap. They are a lethal trap, hammering the squirrel on the head, the squirrel is completely dead in about five seconds. My dogs were turning over my live-catch traps and the Kania traps are nailed to a tree or pole so the dogs can't mess with them. They also seem to be easier to trap with, squirrels are more willing to put their heads in something foreign than their whole bodies. I am just starting my trapping at this point, if the mothers are trapped now the first wave of baby squirrels in the spring will be avoided.

The only downside of the Kania is you need to be careful around it, the spring is very powerful. Always be aware of what is spring-loaded and where it could go. And, make sure everybody in the family knows how dangerous it is.

Scott


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  • Posted by olpea zone 6 KS (My Page) on
    Fri, Feb 1, 13 at 11:14

"My dogs were turning over my live-catch traps"

That's interesting Scott. We have dogs roaming our neighborhood and they don't mess w/ my traps. Maybe it's the difference in bait. I use acorns mostly. The dogs may come by and sniff the trap, but that's about it.

Sometimes a single door trap will be sprung and moved around. It doesn't happen very often and it took me a long time to figure out what caused it. I've witnessed the culprit here, which is the squirrel itself.

Sometimes they can't figure out which end of the trap to enter. They see the bait in the trap and try to get the bait from the wrong end (the end opposite the door) They scoot the trap around to try to get the bait and the trap will spring. As I said it doesn't happen that often for me.

I know you've have good luck w/ Kania. The baiting seems like it would be harder though. You have to bait with peanut butter don't you?


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RE: squirrel strategies

These days I use pecans as bait, peanut butter is messy and pecans worked just as well. I push them into the metal grate to release the oils for more smell. Overall I find the traps extremely easy to use. My main problem is birds eating the mast which means I have to refresh it daily once the birds are on to it. You can still catch squirrels without mast outside the trap, but its more hit and miss.

Using acorns is a good idea, it was the nuts and PB that the dogs wanted and I'm sure they would not be interested in acorns.

Scott


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RE: squirrel strategies

Scott, that's a very generous last meal.

I've seen people use whole ears of dry corn for trapping in cage traps.


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RE: squirrel strategies

The only thing I have caught in my new trap is a cat so far. Apparently she liked the smell of peanut butter. I've got a black walnut and half a pecan in there now. The squirrels were doing aerobatics in the tree tops last week. And there were TWO of them. Must be mating season now, which means I need to catch them within the next month or there will be baby squirrels to worry about.

I like the idea of corn. Will have to store some this year just for bait. THe idea of a hawk perch is out. With my luck, they would eat all my free range chickens and my great Pyreneese dogs would have a nervous breakdown. Too bad the dogs do not consider rabbits and squirrels a hazard to the chickens and take care of the problems for me.


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RE: squirrel strategies

  • Posted by olpea zone 6 KS (My Page) on
    Thu, Feb 7, 13 at 11:16

Buffalo,

Assuming you've bought the 24" Tomahawk trap, you've got a good trap, that works very well me. I'm surprised you are seeing squirrels and haven't caught any yet. Let's cover a few other basics to make sure we aren't leaving anything out.

Make sure the trap is next to a squirrel run, or a tall tree (preferably one you see squirrels in sometimes).

You'll want to clear all tall weeds/flowers/plants away from the trap. Squirrels don't like to enter a trap with weeds around it. I throw down an old rug or a piece of carpet and put the trap on top. It keeps the weeds down and the squirrels don't seem to mind entering the trap when it's on a rug. Once you catch a squirrel, rug will also hold the squirrel scent, which I think helps to entice the next squirrel to enter the trap.

If you are having a hard time getting squirrels in your trap, try a more higher visibility bait. Squirrels have keen eyesight and can spot highly visible bait. I've not had that good of luck baiting with peanut butter. Squirrels just never seemed to eat it for me. Acorns, pecans, or an ear of corn have all worked well though. If you have a hedge tree around, throw some hedge apples around the trap. Squirrels love those and they are highly visible. Once they get next to the trap, they will go after the tastier nuts/acorns in the trap.

I do catch some birds in my traps. In the spring, Bluejays will eat acorns (but not pecans). Lots of birds will eat corn still on the cob. But birds are easy to release and I've rarely caught a bird with whole unshelled pecans as bait. They are too big for birds to swallow.


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RE: squirrel strategies

Hi Everyone,

I'm late to this discussion but share your frustrations with squirrels and wanted to add my solution to those already mentioned. I have a peach tree, now several years old, which I've haven't been able to harvest from as the squirrels never leave anything to ripen. I determined that the only foolproof protection was to enclose it in a cage made of chicken wire. I'd considered plastic netting which would've been so much easier but assumed they would chew through it eventually. I'm happy to report that my peaches are fattening up and turning reddish. The tree is in a sheltered spot next to a fence which in years past made it very easy for the squirrels who could literally sit on the fence and reach out to pluck the green peaches from the tree. By now I expected them to be climbing all over my cage as if it were some kind of jungle gym, but instead they avoid it as if intimidated by it. I dug down several inches around the bottom of the cage and used stones and spare slate roofing tiles to discourage digging underneath. So far so good! It was a lot of work and my tree's branches are a bit cramped so am not sure this will work in succeeding years unless I do a drastic pruning. If I can get fruit this year it will definitely have been worth it.


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RE: squirrel strategies

I think a big flaked windless snow might kill that setup if you don't dissemble before that season. If that happens it will destroy the tree too.


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RE: squirrel strategies

Have you considered a 410 or a 22lr?


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RE: squirrel strategies

  • Posted by olpea zone 6 KS (My Page) on
    Sun, Jun 16, 13 at 22:39

VT gardener,

That's a creative solution. I bet it will work for you as long as you don't leave it up all year.

If you are going to do a cage, it's entirely possible to keep the peach pruned to fit the enclosure.


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RE: squirrel strategies

I decided this year to try to get rid of some squirrels before my peaches are ripe. They don't bother my apples or Asian pears but they steal most of peaches after the first set are ripe. I got a havahart trap and set it up with bird seed. We have a in-window bird feeder from Birds Unlimited that the squirrels are always stealing food from. In 2 days, I had trapped (and then drowned) 3 squirrels. There are more around but we have seen only one in our yard in the past week or two. I'm surprised how easy it was to catch them but maybe it was because they were so used to the bird food.


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RE: squirrel strategies

I use 1" chicken wire for my blueberry house. That's how I found out how a wet snow falling without wind can build up and send the structure crashing down, snapping plants below.

I don't remove my chicken wire in he winter, but I bring in numerous poles to stregnthen the structure before first snow- pushing them up against the chicken wire. Much quicker than dissembling, but I can make poles out of saplings that are very close by. 2X4's would work well.


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