Squirrel damage

ellen_portland(z8 OR)May 15, 2006


Our home boarders a trail, not that it would probably matter, but we have tons of squirrels climbing around. I usually don't mind them, but they have taken to chewing through our tree branches!! Yesterday my husband was in the tool shed and heard a loud crash on it's roof. Seems a squirrel had gnawed through a large branch of the tree above and fell with it.

When we first moved in these squirrels "topped" two of our little cherry plum trees- I mean we found the whole top of the tree crashed over in the morning with scrape/gnaw marks at the break.

I just bought a small tulip magnolia and a japanese maple cutting (nicknamed "The Twig"), I'm really nervous if they will get to these... any ideas??? This is our first house and we'd like to keep the trees, foilage we have!!


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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Fence the yard and get a dog that will never leave them alone. Barking might get old, but maybe you can find one that is already known to stare at and follow squirrels more than bark. A dog shadowing their every move, watching and waiting for a chance to kill will likely put a definite damper on their party--perhaps enough so that they will move the festivities elsewhere.

Eastern gray squirrels do not belong out here, anymore than wharf rats (another arboreal pest rodent). You might want to check with Oregon Department of Wildlife for more information.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2006 at 7:15PM
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ellen_portland(z8 OR)

Thanks bboy (grin)
The yard is already fenced, but you just gave me another good excuse to get a dog, something my 6 year old desperately wants (I must admit I do too, except I work full time).... I just get nervous about what it would do to my garden dreams!!!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2006 at 7:56PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Some dogs don't dig up or chew on plants. You have to take the time to find the right one, an adult dog that is already known to be murder on squirrels.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2006 at 8:01PM
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Poochella(7 WA)

I garden peacably with not only my dog (Golden Retriever mix) but 4 other neighboring large breed dogs. I want to get the camera out to capture the presence of a grey squirrel, they are so rarely seen here. More pesky are the pine squirrels that chatter away all day and devour our sunflower seeds. The dogs are constantly on alert for a possible squirrel catch. Good advice Bboy.

You could pull off a triple win Ellen: give a good dog a home, please the 6 yr old and give the squirrels a run for their money.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2006 at 10:46AM
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cfrizz(z7, WA)

When I saw this the other day I didn't realize it was you! I didn't want to respond with a negitive about the dog! I'll show you the damage our dog does in the garden when you come over Sat.!!!! She occasionally runs through beds but that's usually not an issue except when some real tender plants are emerging. My bigger issue with her is she digs "nests" for her to lay down in the soft dirt. I did find the way to stop it in most areas she liked (I bury a bit of her poop just under the surface, next time she digs there she'll stop cause she won't want to nest where poop is); but her current favorite spot is in the herb garden so that won't work. Think I'm going to lay chicken wire down and let the plants grow through it....

I digressed; I've always have had tons of squirrels in our yards but never noticed any larger limb damage from them. Usually jsut see them dropping small sticks. Not sure if they could be digging for bugs in the trees? I don't think they eat bugs but maybe?

See you Sat.!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2006 at 2:45PM
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nwkrys(z8 OR)

Ellen, We purchased a home in the west hills last spring to use as a rental. Where we currently live we are in a farming area and just don't have squirrels. I hired an arborist and he explained that the non native squirrels damage trees two ways. First they will debark limbs which weakens the branches (my problem) and their scat can accumulate where the limb meets the trunk and cause decay (my neighbor's problem).

But the biggest issue was the squirrel's incursion into the attic. The pitter patter of little feet isn't appreciated by my tenants. Nor are their attempts at chewing their way out through the ceiling. I have paid professionals hundreds of dollars to come in three times to live trap the creatures and block any access points. Unfortunatly the d*** things keep finding another way in and guess what "they're back". If their little heads can get in the hole, they'll squeeze in. Try to make your yard as unattractive as possible and make sure no neighbors are leaving food out for them. They can be extremely distructive to house and garden.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2006 at 3:58PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

We have Eastern Fox Squirrels here in Portland, non native like the Eastern Greys bboy mentioned. I haven't seen a Grey Squirrel here in many years but I see a dozen Fox Squirrels daily.

They have really put a damper on native squirrels by out competing them for food and territory. :(

But please, barking dogs can be murder on your neighbors. I work from home and do have multiple neighbors whose dogs sit out in the yards all day and bark at squirrels, people walking by, butterflies, cats, robins, airplanes, Me (when I go outside) noises, other dogs off in the distance....you get the picture. There are some that go on for hours.

They drive me nutz!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2006 at 5:45PM
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pianojuggler(z8b WA)

I have been replacing some sections of my lawn with planting beds and other groundcovers. The @#$#@%#@$ squirrels dig through the loose dirt or mulch. They aren't pulling the plants out per se, but they are knocking them loose and moving them around. Grrrrrr.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2006 at 6:27PM
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bboy(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Don't say nuts! The squirrels might hear you.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2006 at 12:03AM
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I have the same problem. I tried various ways to get rid of them or chase them off. Even beaning them with a sling shot, only to have them come to the end of the branch and laugh/chatter at my poor aiming skills (felt like Bill Murray in Caddieshack). I occasionally hear them in the walls and lately they come up on the porch and make a mess of most of my wifes new plantings, including my young veggies that are hardening off. My question is; is it legal to shoot them with a pellet rifle in Kitsap County?

    Bookmark   May 19, 2006 at 1:29PM
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ellen_portland(z8 OR)

Thanks everyone, your replies had me laughing. I must admit my husband has gone after them with a pellet rifle (we live in unincorporated Washington County)(and he just admitted this to me) but they just keep coming!!

Some of my friends have the same problem over in NE with the little buggars continually coming into their walls and chewing through whatever they use to fix the area of entry. I wonder if barbed wire would work? Wiring for electric shock? But then I guess you would then have the problem of having fried squirrel inside your walls- ewwww.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2006 at 2:44PM
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sammie070502(PNW z8)

I wouldn't really recommend getting a dog for the purpose of chasing squirrels. I have a lot of pesky squirrels and a big dog--she's great--rarely barks, very obedient, property trained, peaceful and non-demanding etc. But when she's chasing a squirrel, she stops at nothing! Branches break, new growth is trampled or broken off, hosta leaves ripped and torn, the eyes broken completely off. My dog would NEVER be the cause of damage in my yard through normal activity or digging, but, think about it, you're talking about deterring the squirrels by getting a dog to chase them around--through your beds and borders, too. The chase might well do more damage than the squirrels. And, then again, you might also have the bad luck to get a destructive dog. Anyway, that's just something to think about. My local squirrels dig holes in mulch and groundcovers, destroyed my garage door by gnawing and chipping away at the bottom of it, and "plant" lots of clumps of weed seeds. So far, they haven't damaged the trees, but I do notice a rain of small, soft branch ends in early Spring and I wonder if they are harvesting nest-making supplies.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2006 at 5:51PM
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I live about 60 miles north of Seattle in a very rural setting. Up until about 4 years ago, we did not have any grey squirrels around. We had some chipmunks, which the cats unfortunately dispatched rather quickly. Then the squirrels showed up. We think someone from the animal rescue place released a %!@#load of them in the area. I LOVE squirrels and was thrilled to see them, and they seem to be able to outsmart the cats. We began feeding them peanuts and enjoyed watching their antics. BUT..........the past two years, I have seen them chew huge strips of bark off my maples and just recently two large branches broke. The stripped bark is just laying all over the ground, so what are they doing? If they are trying to build nests, they sure waste alot of "lumber!" And if they are eating something from the bark or limb, what would it be and since I'm not going to shoot them, already have dogs who don't give a rat's rear end about the squirrels, the cat's can't catch them, then what can I put out there for them to eat instead of my beloved maples? It must be something they need that I could perhaps suppliment them with, even tho I'm going broke buying peanuts for the pigs. Help!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2006 at 5:57PM
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1) quit feeding them peanuts!!!
2) since you don't want to shot them, buy have-a-heart
trap and relocate them
3) I've got an Austrailian Terrier and she loves to chase
anything that moves. Get a terrier, they are hunting
dogs. They can be noisy though.
4) I believe that there is something you can buy to put on
the trucks of your trees that deter squirrels from
climbing them.

Good luck to you as I have a lot of squirrels in my back yard also.


    Bookmark   June 13, 2006 at 1:31PM
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did a quick search on google and found this for you.

Lawn and Garden Damage

Sprinkle perfumed soap chips around the problem area.

If they are chewing, paint stems with Thiram. Cayenne pepper can be sprinkled on the ground in the problem area.

Trees can be protected with a squirrel guard on the trunk or perfumed soap chips, baby shampoo soaked rags, or bags of human hair hung from the branches.


    Bookmark   June 13, 2006 at 2:52PM
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Okay, last one. Tree guards:

To prevent tree squirrels from climbing up a pole, tree, or other structure supporting a birdhouse, install a barrier (Fig. 5). To prevent squirrels from gnawing around the entry hole of a nest box intended for small birds, attach a pre-drilled metal plate (available from stores catering to the bird-feeding public). Alternatively, attach aluminum flashing or sheet metal to the front of the nest box, and drill an entry hole of the correct size through the flashing. Use a hole-saw bit that cuts through metal and wood, and file down all sharp edges.

Figure 5 (a) A squirrel guard can be secured around trees, pipes, posts, and other structures to keep squirrels from climbing. A barrier can be made from a piece of aluminum flashing or sheet metal, 24 inches wide and as long as the circumference of the support (allow plenty of material for the overlapping seam and tree growth). The barrier can be held together with wire, nails, or screws, and painted to blend in. The top of the barrier should be at least 5 feet off the ground. Figure 5 (b) Alternatively, a funnel shaped piece of aluminum flashing can be fitted around the tree or other vertical structure. The outside edge of the flared metal should be a minimum of 18 inches away from the support. Cut the material with tin snips and file down any sharp edges.

Here is a link that might be useful: tree guard link

    Bookmark   June 13, 2006 at 3:03PM
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