Did squirrels chew on your holiday lights?

claireplymouth z6b coastal MAJanuary 2, 2011

Not quite off topic, but peripheral to the garden. This year for the first time the squirrels chewed through the wires on two of my LED light strands, thereby extinguishing the display.

I did a google search for squirrels chewing on Christmas lights and found that this is a fairly common occurrence, although new to me. Some solutions were proposed, such as:

1. Spray the wires with a pepper spray. I don't want to spray something that I will have to handle when I put it away until next year.

2. Someone claimed that squirrels chew all LED lights except red lights. If so, I'm not sure I want to have the whole yard glowing red.

3. Use the LED rope lights, which are encased in thick plastic and supposedly not fun to chew. I haven't really looked into these, but suspect they may be very commercial looking and not so good for a residential application.

4. My own thought for why I haven't had this problem before is because previously I used the "pre-lit" faux evergreen garlands. Last year the "pre-lights" finally failed and I dismantled them so I could reuse the garlands. I bought separate LED light strands and loosely wrapped the naked wires around the garlands. Worked fine for 2 or 3 weeks, but it eventually occurred to the squirrels to chew on the exposed wires. Maybe I could more carefully wrap the new light strands so the wires are hidden by the faux evergreens.

Does anybody have any thoughts or experience with this problem?

Claire

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corunum z6 CT(6)

Would it bother you to mist the whole thing with Listerine Mint or Citrus? Squirrels dislike it and you'd only be touching a'clean' garland. Just taking a shot here - never tried it.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2011 at 2:13PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Interesting idea, and if the squirrels did chew on it at least they wouldn't have bad breath. How do you know that squirrels dislike Listerine? Have you used it for something else?

Right now I have one and a half light strands still operating. I'm hoping they last until Epiphany (Thursday) when I take the lights down by old family tradition.

Claisre

    Bookmark   January 3, 2011 at 5:35PM
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spedigrees z4VT

This is a frightening thought .. squirrels chewing on xmas light strands and maybe starting a fire. We have very few squirrels in our rural location, which I attribute to hunting. (Most of the cities near here have squirrels aplenty.)

I leave my Christmas decor up 24/7 until just before Valentine's day when I remove Xmasy things like wreaths and tree and garlands around lamp posts, but leave up the red and white outdoor lights. After Valentine's day I take down the red lights and leave up the white ones until after St Patty's day. It brightens the dark days of winter. Wouldn't want any nibblers putting out my light show prematurely...or worse yet igniting the barn or house.

Hope you find a solution to the pesky critters.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2011 at 6:18PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

spedigrees: I do the opposite from you - I take the lights down early but leave the garlands, red ribbons etc. out - usually until the first bulbs bloom. I agree with anything that helps in the dark days of winter, particularly here on the coast when spring drags in very, very late.

All of my outdoor lights are on GFI or similar circuits so I hope that any sudden electrical surge would immediately switch off the power. I don't see any sign of scorching where the squirrels chewed the wires - just a neat cut, and the LED strings draw very little power anyway. I don't think there's much of a fire hazard here, but I'm no electrician.

I'm seeing somewhat of a pattern. They didn't touch the naked light strand on the wisteria, even though they do occasionally climb up there. What they did chomp on is naked light strands associated with faux evergreen garlands. Since they love to chomp on real evergreens, they may just not have distinguished between the wires and the "evergreens". They can't claim they're hungry, they get plenty of birdseed and peanuts.

I'm considering keeping light strands separate from the garlands next year. I'm certainly not going to do without lights, particularly in the gloom leading up to the solstice.

Claire

    Bookmark   January 8, 2011 at 7:51AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Well, now it's a year later and I'm trying rope lights where the squirrels ran rampant (as well as some standard lights on the wisteria which was OK).

It's a challenge trying to keep the rope lights looking residential, but worth it if the the lights last for several seasons. I really don't want to keep buying expensive light strings every year and only having them last a few weeks. All these photos were taken from inside the house.

The problem was on the deck and porch railings so on the deck I've wrapped the rope and the garland together, hoping to soften the rope light a bit.

These lights are really, really red.

On the porch I've wrapped the rope light around the railing separate from the garland.

In the background you can see the wisteria with a standard light string.

I prefer the wisteria lights, shown here early this morning as the sun was staggering up.

The wisteria lights shining through Miscanthus seed plumes.

I'll try living with these lights this year and then decide whether I want to use them again next year. I need to get used to the non-traditional look of Christmas lights. I'm already enjoying the lights at night, though.

Claire

    Bookmark   December 16, 2011 at 5:54PM
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