Rock/Ground Squirrels - ELIMINATE?!?

pieper(9)April 21, 2007

New to Tucson, and have a problem with ground squirrels, who have made a giant sinkhole of my front yard. I tried mothballs in the burrows, sunflower seeds into a deep bucket (nothing!), allowing my dog out to "scare" 'em, and tonight resorted to rat bait cubes in the burrows. There is really no plant damage, since there really isn't much growing out there (imagine!)... But they are literally overruning the area and creating a dangerous situation for anyone trying to walk.

Any tips, short of guns, to get these buggers out of my yard? Or at least reduce their numbers?

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carolssis

I was thinking they usually make their burrows where there is a ready food supply. Seems to me that if you remove the food, they'll go elsewhere. Try contacting the pima co. co-op, or u of a agricultural dept. they may be able to help.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2007 at 9:48AM
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vagabondage55(SE AZ 7b-8a)

I relocated 17 tolal rock and short tailed squrrils last year with traps (boy if the park department knew)they were eatin' my peaches off the tree ect,ect/ Are they the long tailed bushey rock squirrels ,or the short tailed squirrels that look like little prairie dogs ?? P.s they come back ,but a couple nice cats keep em ' controled....................

    Bookmark   April 21, 2007 at 8:53PM
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pieper(9)

They're the buggers that look like scrawny prairie dogs... Harrisons, maybe?

Don't want to sacrifice a cat to the coyotes, and can't have a cat inside. So that's really not an option. May have to invest in a trap, but the quandry would be where to release 'em legally. Which I suppose is only a problem if you get caught. :-)

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 12:12AM
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turtleman49(AZ)

We had the same problem at the Nursery, the totally destroyed about 7000 Boojum seedlings, we finally had to trap them, We had to go to the local hardware store and buy several rat traps, set them with peanut butter and a nut

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 10:01AM
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desertaddie(Z9 Tucson AZ)

Seeds of the castor bean plant dropped into the holes they make have limited our nests to a minimum number.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 11:03AM
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pieper(9)

Where might I get castor bean pods? Or do you happen to grow castor plants?

I'm really getting aggravated with these critters!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 10:54PM
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desertaddie(Z9 Tucson AZ)

I do not grow the plant. I buy the seeds from Nature Hills Nursery (402)934-8116. They are highly poisonous when eaten so you have to use some care with the seeds and the plants around pets and children.
I happen to like watching the antics of the few families that survive. But I watch for new collonies and control them with the seeds. We also have king snakes hanging around. And they are certainly a welcome deterrent.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 2:41PM
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christylynh

After posting a new thread, I found this one, if anyone knows of any other things I would be happy for some input.
Thanks again.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 1:55AM
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turtleman49(AZ)

The most effective thing we used were Rat Traps baited with nuts or Peanut Butter.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 9:52AM
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jolmos(9/Sunset 13/AZ)

Chili pepper...all around where you "don't" want them. This keeps out many critters...found bottles of habenero sauce for 50 cents at Dollar Tree. Mix with the dollar baby oil (so it doesn't wash away in the next rain...whenever that day is...)

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 5:06PM
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anemlluvr(8)

I live in NE Mesa, the round tail ground squirrels were around when I moved here over 20 years ago and then seemed to disappear. Now they are back. I have a family living around the base of the mesquite tree in my front yard. I love watching them. I would feel bad getting rid of them. I don't have much for them to eat since I try to stick with a true desert vegetation yard, the front is pretty sparse,the back more lush but the cats and dog are back there,so I don't think they would venture back there. Will they cause harm to the tree? I Also had rock squirrels a few years ago in the back yard under my deck. My neighbor called me and was mad because they were eating her bird seed. When I said I wouldn't get rid of them she said they would ruin my house foundation. How? It's cement. I think she took care of them as they just disappeared.
So should I eleminate the round tail ground squirrels? Why and how? I think they are back due to all the housing and retail growth. Not much of the desert left around here.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2009 at 10:25PM
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mycowboy

If they aren't bothering anything I would leave them alone. We have several colonies and no problems. Trees are fine. I feed them left over fruit/veggies, strawberry tops, which they enjoy. They are rather fun to watch and family oriented. Why do so many people move to rural areas and think all of the native critters need to be killed when they've been there for years? Got a garden, fence it. Rat poison is so strong and bad that you may kill your own dog if it finds something that ingested the poison. I think more people should stay in the city.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 9:00PM
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jkochan(Z9b)

While I'm a live and let live kinda guy, when it comes to gophers destroying my yard, I take on a caddyshack kind of persona. I don't live out on the fringes where the gophers are part of the ecology. You can plant society garlic,gopher purge and other plants like castor to discourage them but when they get out of hand I have to take action. I have a lot of time and money invested in my garden and I certainly don't need any help killing plants. This is my method of last resort and something that works every time for me. Go to the store and get a large carrot. Cut about 1 inch off the leaf and and save it. Drill a 3/8" hole down the center of the carrot following the core as far as your drill bit will reach. Fill the hole with gopher bait and plug the hole in the carrot with a piece of the end you saved. Push the carrot down the hole and cover the hole with dirt. If you tie a piece of string to the carrot and tie it to a stake, you can pull it out in a day and check to see if they've taken the bait. A dead gopher in the tunnels will keep any others away for quite a while.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2009 at 1:41PM
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dianelaveen_gmail_com

They are so cute and so destructive they have eaten all my plants, ate holes in my walls, now they have got into my car engine and chewed the wiring, twice.
My front yard looks like Swiss cheese.
They are not so cute any more.
Should I try feeding them or poisoning them?

    Bookmark   July 4, 2010 at 7:15PM
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crista(Sunset 13)

Please don't poison them! While the poison will eliminate the ground squirrels, it will also eliminate cats, dogs, hawks, owls....any other creature that eats an ailing squirrel.

It may be rabbits chewing on your auto wiring -- it's a favorite of theirs.

Look at what you have that is the food source that is attracting them and then remove it, even if it means lifting a plant out of the ground and potting it until you get rid of the squirrels. The squirrels won't stay if there's nothing there for them to eat. Once they're gone you can replant.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 12:34AM
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greendesert

I vote for cats. If only they had wings to take care of the stupid birds that won't leave my figs and grapes alone and the pigeons that won't stop sh*ting on my house. And you can call me by any name you want, I hate the bastards. it's my house, my tree, my garden. They can plant their own and get up at 5 to water it if they want to eat fruit, otherwise they need to get lost.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2010 at 12:27PM
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zzini(Sunset 13)

Diane 9
I'll bet it's packrats that have eaten your engine wiring - we had over $1200 in damage done to our FJ by the little buggers - thank goodness we had rat damage coverage in our insurance (who knew??!) For THAT particular problem, the only thing that has worked to keep them out is to hang lights over the engine compartment at night. Or put the lights under the engine block at night. Also, don't park near pack-rat hot spots like areas with a lot of bushes or debris.

Other than that, I've been battling all the cute little rats, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels and gophers around here for a decade. I don't intend to eliminate every single one - I DO understand I live in the desert - but I also want to grow cacti, mesquite, agave, etc. All of which are super yummy to the little beasts when they are young and tender.

Lots and lots of chicken wire cages, and then occasionally rat traps, a gopher bomb every once in a while (they have a freakin' condominium complex dug under our shed) and a judicious application of pellet shot when my husband needs target practice. I still lose a number of new plants, and we haven't put a dent in the population by any means (nor do we intend to)

I try to be more defensive than offensive, but since they've clearly declared jihad on my desert rehabilitation efforts, it does get ugly sometimes.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 12:21PM
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pd_dept_hotmail_com

Noise in my house for a year! Five exterminators later, none knew what they were. They don't let everyone hear them,so the last pest guy suggested I get an EXORCIST! There were climbing marks on all the posts holding up the carport and the patio. When I first moved in I did see a brown fuzzy thing out by the back shed, thought ground squirrel then butfor different reasons thought: bats, ringtail cat, lizards because theres no "poop" trail except lizard poop. Saw a ROCK suirrel in the back today!!!They follow meeverywhere in the house, eventhough EVERYONE says there is no space for them in the ceiling.You have my vote for elimination, since the prvious owner said they'd been in the house at least five years that he lived there, then his renters had to put up with the critters. No wonder he let it go into forclosure, and won't talk to me about the house!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2011 at 3:05PM
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luvkuku

They will eat anything, and not even 1-inch chicken wire will keep them out. They can dig under or climb over nearly any kind of barrier, and are the reason my only garden is a big round stock tank with a rusted bottom. I set it well away from anything the squirels could climb up and drop into the garden from. Even then I put hardware cloth in the bottom of the tank so they couldnt dig through the thin rusty bottom. The sides are high enough that the squirrels cant jump up into it, and the sides are slippery metal. It makes a good raised bed but someday I will have a greenhouse and the hardest part of building it will be the ground squirrel proofing. So now I can grow only what I fit in the tank. We live in the middle of 20 acres between the mountains and the riverbed so critters are everywhere. The dogs do their best to keep an area of about 2 acres clear of rodents, of all kinds, but it cant be done.
We dont poison anything, including plants and insects, but will definitely shoot them if the opportunity arises.
By the way, there is a BIG difference between gophers and ground squirrels.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 6:12PM
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quinnsellars

Well, I am surprised because I have a rather non timid rock ground squirrel living in my backyard. I live in sunlakes and t b h i've never seen much of the "abundant wildlife" around this community. we did have a rather juvenile desert squirrel get into the garage once during the height of summer but he left. it would seem this one is burrowing underneath a potted bougainvillea stand. at this point im not going to do anything. God help it if my neighbors find him because as with anything else they'll have the exterminators; natl guard and homeland security here to get rid of it. I'm sorry but the over zealousness of some of my neighbors with their "pest control" is mind boggling. Im from NYC and I'm a landlord there so extermination is a must but this is a whole other "animal" (pun intended).

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 1:56PM
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GeeS 9b

I'm in Fountain Hills, which is just this side of a wildlife refuge. The only real threats to my plants are rabbits and wood rats. Javelinas also cause a fair amount of damage, but there's nothing to be done in that regard. In the end we can only plant what they'll allow. Other than that, it's live and let live. Our yard is riddled with holes from pocket mice and kangaroo rats, which attract diamondbacks like nobody's business. And Harris ground squirrels are also abundant, though they leave most of my stuff well alone. The one big potential problem that easy to deal with is wood rats. I trap as soon as i see damage in the Spring, else they'll breed and create woeful damage by Autumn.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 10:52AM
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GeeS 9b

I'm in Fountain Hills, which is just this side of a wildlife refuge. The only real threats to my plants are rabbits and wood rats. Javelinas also cause a fair amount of damage, but there's nothing to be done in that regard. In the end we can only plant what they'll allow. Other than that, it's live and let live. Our yard is riddled with holes from pocket mice and kangaroo rats, which attract diamondbacks like nobody's business. And Harris ground squirrels are also abundant, though they leave most of my stuff well alone. The one big potential problem that's easy to deal with is wood rats. I trap as soon as I see damage in the Spring, else they'll breed and create woeful damage by Autumn.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 10:57AM
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