Have Tree Squirrels Won?

valentinetbear(z6 PA)July 9, 2008

I've read really long, and a variety of posts on getting rid of squirrels. I've spent the last four years trying to beat them, or, at least, not lose so much. I've invested more money then we could afford with "brilliant" new ideas. They've chewed my 1 foot fig tree out by the roots/trunk, have simply dug up half my herbs, and produce, (didn't bother eating most even) and I created a fairly large section of my yard (about 5-6 sq. feet in a 16 sq. ft. concrete yard) to set up netting over my tomato plants (over bamboo poles, and with weights to make sure it goes all the way to the ground), just to find the SOBs sitting casually in one of the tomato containers eating something.

This is not a cute little post asking for squirrel recipes. I live in the city, so shooting the SOBs is too dangerous, as well as illegal. Poisoning the SOBs sounds like a good idea right now, but I'd feel terrible, if I found out a neighbor's cat or dog was killed by eating a poisoned squirrel or eating the poison itself (which is incredibly generous of me, considering all the neighbors with cats and dogs think nothing of letting their dogs bark/howl/yap all night and day, or cats let out at night to enjoy cat fights or mating rituals at 3 a.m.) It's also illegal in most, if not all states.

I'm disabled, so can barely keep up with the garden as is. No more large construction projects, can't do them physically or financially anymore.

The last three days it's been raining so much, mushrooms actually grew in my lilac container. You'd think the squirrels would try to stay out of the rain, or, at least, find no particularly good reason to dig out one-third of my muddy containers, especially since there is plenty of real ground 17 feet down the alley, and a small "park" on the other side of that house, but they spent the time destroying one-third of my produce, herbs, and flowers.

Like I said, I've read other posts, and have spent a good three weeks in the last four years reading up on different methods to stop the miserable tree rats. City squirrels think nothing of fox urine, and apparently like hot sauce, garlic juice - and part of my garlic crop too - basil, mint, and/or rosemary on their tomatoes and/or soil. Drenching them as they try to find their way out of that netting hasn't stopped them from returning. Giving them their own squirrel food, only gave me a pumpkin plant last year. Giving them water did nothing at all. Not giving them food or water, hasn't stopped them from returning. Water pistols barely make them move. We don't want cats, dogs, or even a really big boa constrictor. The only thing traps do is move one creature out of the way, so a new one can take its place. (The tree rat moved will also probably be killed by the ones in the area where you move them to, if you still have any grain of sympathy for the little creeps.)

With that, I've pretty well have given up thinking of ever growing produce or annuals of any kind. I've run out of ideas, and we do love sitting out in the garden in the summer time. Practically the only place either of us go, since we're both disabled. Unless there is some new method to get rid of them, they've won! Last chance -- anyone know how to get rid of the SOBs?

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Id be ready to give up also.

grow some datura and let the sob's eat that.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 2:16PM
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valentinetbear(z6 PA)

Dorisl, GOOD idea! Where can I buy a lot?!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 3:41PM
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try the seed exchange forum!


I planted all of my seeds already.....


    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 8:19PM
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Why not plant a lot of poisonous plants? Datura and castor bean can be started from seed each spring and will grow in containers, if necessary. Some others are oleander (winter over indoors in a pot), brugmansia (winter over indoors in a pot), yews, foxglove and monkshood. I'm sure there are others.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 11:32PM
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jbclem(z9b Topanga, Ca)

I don't know how many squirrels you have but three years ago I started using my hav-a-heart to catch them. The first year I caught 9 (spring early summer) in 2 waves, then no more squirrels. Next spring more squirrels but much less action than the first year, caught about 7 then they stopped coming. This year I've caught about that many, but much younger ones. Only caught one in the last month. These are California ground squirrels so I don't usually see them until I catch one...but I know when one's around because the swiss chard leaves start disappearing. Usually the hav-a-heart will catch a squirrel within 1-3 days if they're active, and I use carrots as bait.

I've also just read in a number of places that cayenne pepper in powder form is very effective with squirrels, so I have sprinkled it on a lot of leaves in my vegetable gardens.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 6:56AM
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valentinetbear(z6 PA)

There is a problem with all the poisonous plant ideas -- squirrels don't eat flowers around here (but birds do.) They are also picky on which kinds of nuts and produce they like -- they love my tomatoes (my original squirrel problem), brussel sprout stems, and roots of fig trees and my sweet potato plant, but have no interest in the cukes, peppers, malabar spinach or Swiss Chard. They didn't even go after my scarlet beans or moonflower seeds last winter.

As for Hav-a-heart traps, are you aware there is no heart in relocating a squirrel? Squirrels are very territorial, so the only thing accomplished by relocating them, is one of the two squirrels now in that area will survive -- probably not the one you added to it. It does, on the other hand, free your space for the next squirrel, who needs a territory, to take over.

I am going with Datura, not only in hopes the little SOBs will enjoy a nice thorn apple, but because the flowers are pretty, too. Might be back again next year, asking for more ideas, if they don't like thorn apples either.

In the mean time, I've taken comfort in knowing that two squirrels on two different days, got caught inside the area of netting reserved for tomatoes with the idea of avoiding visiting squirrels. Both times, the squirrels got caught and were soaked by a hose or a squirt gun. Lots of fun to watch! Squirrels run up when running away, and the only way in was underneath the netting. They were bouncing along the secured netting as quickly as a pinball bounces. By the time they squeezed through a thin opening, they looked exactly like what they are -- tree rats! LOL

    Bookmark   August 7, 2008 at 2:48PM
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I once had to deal with red squirrels for my grandmother. Tried trapping, didn't work, more came. Tried running at them, which only made them run up the tree and made me look like an idiot. Even tried shooting them, which resulted in more coming to replace the dead ones, and ultimately, them learning the noise of the door is something to hide from, plus it frightens away all the birds(which may or may not matter).

Now, what does that leave us with?

Annoyances. Yes, the hot powders might work, provided the animal eats it. But, I have an idea, based on something that worked with cats. People were dumping them in our neighborhood, and they were making a mess. I had a slingshot and some paintballs, and no, I didn't shoot the cats. I shot the tree NEAR the cat, and the lovely goo splattered all over them. Most didn't like the feeling of it in their fur, and left.

Now, don't run, buy a paintball set and shoot the squirrels. But, do make a similar annoyance, perhaps with some vegetable oil, with a little bit of chili oil in it? Quick little spray/toss on trapped squirrel, and then he has to clean the wonderful mess out of his fur. Might be enough to make it think twice about returning. Though, you'd give yourself a little bit of work after, cleaning and all.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 5:16AM
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valentinetbear(z6 PA)

I realize that my first post was long, but it was long to avoid the need to repeat what I've already tried, and to explain my limitations - given my location and abilities. Long posts back, weren't even necessary, if the first post had been read. As stated in the very beginning, I've read lots of posts and info about how to fight the SOBs. Repetition isn't necessary, especially when it's simply repeating something I've already explained in the first post.

So far datura is my best bet. The thorn apples are something the squirrels might try to eat, and the effect is hallucinations or death, so if other pets eat the squirrel, hopefully the poison is deluted enough to avoid killing them. Finances dictate that it will have to wait until next year though.

I'd rather not keep coming back to this post for ideas I already know - tried, or cannot be tried. (I'd also rather not read them when they come to my e-mail, too, but, only way I know I already knew that is reading the message.) With that, I won't be as polite, and keep responding to people giving me ideas I've already mentioned.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 11:27AM
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Yes, the Tree Squirrels have won. They have made you bitter towards people kindly trying to help.

I see these options for you.
1) Plant the poison plants that are pretty and enjoy either the plant or the death of the squirrel. (If you raise them from seed, it will cut the expense).
2) Kill the squirrels. (mean)
3) Live with the situation and continue to complain to anyone who will listen.
4) Plant grass over the garden and install a squirrel bungie and obsticle course for entertainment.

I hope you find some solution to your problem.

Squirrel Girl

    Bookmark   August 22, 2008 at 4:57PM
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I've actually read quite a few of those, when I came across them. Most of which, I found rather amusing, and lacking one detail. The result. I shared my expireneces, and offered an idea, something not the same as the rest.

The plants, most likely a very good idea, until the figure to avoid it, or the plants die. Other half of that is when seeds fail to sprout.

When I say something like shooting them doesn't work, it's not meant as an idea to try it, it's to save the money on further desperation.

Now, you're "not being as polite", I found it still polite, but if you really didn't want to seek out more answers, you wouldn't have felt the need to respond, as you have no obligation to me, or anyone else to do so.

I agree with squirrel girl's list up til #4. A small pond for a squirrel water ski park would be more entertaining.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 4:00AM
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jbclem(z9b Topanga, Ca)

Hope this suggestion doesn't annoy you by being repetitious...but since you've mentioned using netting as being partially successful, why not build cages around your tomato plants. I've used abandoned bird cages that can be picked up and moved around, and you could also make a larger cage using a wood frame and hardware cloth. Depending on the size, it could be light enough to drag around if you needed to change it's position, or lift off to get to the plants. It won't be pretty, but will guarantee you tomatoes, assuming all the other pests don't come running.

I've also used stiff plastic netting and made cylinders around plants with it. If you anchor it, and close off the top, squirrels will had a hard time getting in.

In my case, I've caught and transported all my squirrels for this year at least, but I have mosquito netting draped over many plants because of other pests. That seems to work for all above ground pests.

BTW, I've read that squirrels live in colonies of up to 30 individuals, but I'm not sure if that's ground or tree squirrels.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2008 at 9:01PM
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valentinetbear(z6 PA)

Nope, your suggestion isn't repetitious. Matter of fact, it was the plan hubby was going to try, but we also have two other problems that I knew or thought might stop us from doing it, too.

Knew - not enough room to build the structure. We're gardening in 16' x 16' concrete yard, so between the containers and containers of vegetation, plus the picnic table and chairs, there's only about 4' X 3' of free space anymore. LOL

Thought - we're also both disabled, and in freaky ways. With that, hammering would probably so do us in, and all that leaning over and then figuring out how to get the structure in place, would pretty much guarantee to keep us out of the garden for at least a week. I can see that if we did that before gardening season even hit, that wouldn't be beyond reason, but going back to not enough room, I went with the fake bamboo stakes and netting.

Good news though -- even though the squirrels are still digging up every available inch, this late in the season, there aren't that many inches to dig in. And, if they are eating our tomatoes, we see no sign of it. I suspect they aren't, since I had to pull out a couple of dead tomato plants, and, in my endeavor, a few unripe tomatoes escaped into the netting. (The rest are pickling.) They're red now, yet the squirrels haven't eaten them. Maybe our neighbor's tomatoes are just easier to get into -- or, maybe this generation of squirrels hasn't been raised on tomatoes, so they don't recognize them as a food source. Bummer! LOL

Thanks for the suggestion. I have all winter to figure out, if there is any way around the two problems.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 11:45AM
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I, too, have gotten quite tired of the TR's getting into everything, digging up everything, and generally chasing the birds from my feeders. So, I came up with a little idea that I found quite entertaining and takes advantage of their learning ability. Some may have different opinions, I'm sure, but I had a grand time playing with my invention.

I took a board for the first one and hammered small nails lined up all over the board. Then I got 2 strands electrical wire, stripped off all the insulation and proceeded to string the wire, wrapping around the nails to hold it in place (never alowing two strands to overlap or touch each other) and connected each loose end to a long extention cord with alligator clips, sprinkled bird seed and peanut butter in the center ....... and sat back on my deck and waited. Didn't take too long and I had the first curious TR. He climbed on, sat in the middle all fat and happy eating away. I hit the switch. Three feet straight up, hit the ground running heading for the nearest tree. Lesson learned. LMAO !!! Next! Didn't take very long. Quite an entertaining evening.

For the next few days I repeated this entertainment till there were very few TR's willing to venture on the "hot seat". Guess they learned.

Next was to keep them from climbing the pole to the feeder. PVC pipe and bare wire again. Didn't know squirrels could jump so high from a standing start. LMAO again.

After a week or so they seem to be content with eating from the ground. I left the board on the ground and the PVC around the pole - no cord attached. They won't come within a foot of the pole or the board. Guess I need to build another one they aren't so familiar with. Gotta get my entertainment where I can. Doesn't kill them. Just gets their attention ..... real quick. Not as bad as BB guns, either, just much more entertaining.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 6:37PM
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Wrapping the trunks of trees, or painting them with a diluted mix of water and indoor acrylic white paint, or placing a plastic spiral tree wrap around the trunk - all work. I have an edible landscape project going and also have a good size pecan grove over 50 years old with many generations of squirrels... I sympathize... they do multiple like rats. I love them, but I do have to keep the numbers under control. Because you are disabled, if you need to poison them, you can get a box with a hole too small for anything except a squirrel or mouse to get in... and put a dish of anti-freeze in it. It tastes very sweet and is instant death. I am very-very against this method. But it does work. The next most successful method is cats. I live in the country and people drop off cats all the time. I can't take care of them all, (no one else wants them). So I feed them enough dry cat food to be humane and they learn to hunt aggressively for mice and squirrels...especially squirrel babies who are exceptionally bold and not very smart. It keeps the population under control. I would prefer you used a "hav-ahart" trap peanut butter on the trap door works well. It is certainly the most dependable. Relocate them a good distance from your home so they don't return. They're clever, but fairly lazy, so it works. Personally I think the balance is the key. So I allow the cats to keep the population reasonable and I feed the squirrels the excess nuts and other things at a precise location away from the gardens. I might add, I have a huge winter bird population fairly unbothered by the cats. In summer I put the spoiled fruit in a location away from the plants and the birds are not a problem in fruit season either either. So the balance is there. Squirrels really are gorgeous creatures. Have you ever studied them up close and looked at their little fingers? They almost look human. And those eyes!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 7:19PM
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A question to consider. Those of you that have had their tomatoes and other veggies eaten by regular squirrels, not ground squirrels, have you had a shortage of rain during the problem time? One of the state conservation people suggested putting out shallow pans of water away from the garden area for the squirrels and other animals. It help except for the ones that had developed a taste for tomatoes. Nothing will help with sweet corn.

A side note the birds of all types loved to bath in the shallow pans much more than the shallow bird baths. Fill them up in the evening so the break of dawn babies have something to play in.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 7:31PM
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valentinetbear(z6 PA)

Delightfully evil! LOL I suspect hubby could make such a contraption! Should we start a "How high did yout TR fly?" contest?! LOL

And we thought squirting them was fun, last year. LOL

Thank you!

(For reference, Devil Trumpet is on my list of plants to buy for this upcoming season, too. LOL)

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 2:17PM
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valentinetbear ..... they will eat the seed pods. Haven't had them eat anything else on the trumpet. Not sure of any ill effects, either. If ya start a "how high...." thread, we'll have to include videos. Much entertainment, mucho funny. Don't think AFV would appreciate them, though. Course I did see one on AFV where someone rigged up a skeet slinger with seed and slung the little boogers into the woods. Flying squirrels .... hilarious.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 1:35PM
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This is the 2nd, and will be the last time I try to post if I don't see the fruits of my labor. As you might have guessed, I am a newbee to this site. I have 2 mostly fully grown pecan trees in my back yard. I use live traps and when the crop is good, I get enough pecans to satify my needs and to give some away as a present. But this bounty seems to be coming to an end. I trapped 57 squirrels in live traps last year. When the traps stopped working, you couldn't tell I'd made even a dent in the population. Squirrels trapped in live traps come back. Not all do, but enough. I would like to try kill traps if the yield after feeding the squirrels gets too small. Anyone have a source for effective, but relatively inexpensive kill traps?

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 6:17PM
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Poisoning the squirrels is a bad idea for many reasons:

1) Squirrels are territorial, so poisoning them will only allow new invading squirrels to come into your yard. You think you have problems with the ones you have now? Wait until the next wave of new ones tests the waters! The squirrels you have now can be trained to stay away from your plants by some of the other means mentioned above and they will benefit you by keeping new squirrels away. I feed my squirrels so they could care less about my plants.

2) Terminal Burrowing. A behavior among animals (and also noted among humans) to dig into someplace when the animal feels that it is dying... your crawl space under your house or shed, your attic, the old car in your garage etc... they will hide and die, then you have the fun of finding the stinking rotting squirrel.

3) Accidental secondary poisoning of other animals and perhaps children: Dogs, Cats and sometimes kids will find interest in dead animals. Although the poison from a datura plant may not be present enough to be transmissive from contact or ingestion by the finder, the many other bacteria and viruses brought by flies etc. in the early stages of decomposition could prove harmful or even fatal.

4) Cruelty. If you are going to kill something, at least have the decency to do it quickly. Death by poisoning is often a very slow and painful death by dehydration. Imagine what it would be like to die slowly over the period of several days while your internal organs fail. Poisoning is a very cowardly act that is easy for the person doing it and absolutely brutal for the victim. Frankly, I would not wish this type of death even upon my most mortal of enemies... and certainly not on a little animal that is just trying to get a bite to eat. Have a heart... think about it.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 1:08PM
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valentinetbear(z6 PA)

This post keeps coming back, like the flu during school semesters. I have grown Devil's Trumpet for two years now. (Anyone bother to notice this is was written 3 gardening seasons ago?) I chose it because thorn apples cause a bad trip - hallucinations - more often than death. Didn't work. Squirrels haven't tried it.

Then again, squirrels have stopped bothering us. We covered our tomatoes with fruit tree netting and squirted the little suckers unmercifully, when they got under the netting anyway. It was funny. Their natural reaction was to run upward, but the only escape was to run down and out. Soaked little tree rats. I think we tramatized them. They go by our yard over the telephone pole wires, and stare at us, hard, as they go by. One little movement from us has them running for three more yards before they pause. lol

Not total triumph though. The squirrels didn't bother our plants all summer (two little diggy spots, but that's easily resolved by adding stones, glass marbles, or rose cane.) Instead, late blight wiped out our tomatoes and are now going for our peppers.

I'm originally from South Jersey of "Jersey tomatoes" fame, so I'm passionate about tomatoes. Here it is, August and no more homegrown tomatoes this year.

As for worrying about poisoning the critters with thorn apples. I did consider the fall out. IF it killed them (and I assumed they'd take a bite and decide it didn't taste good, so would get sick and hallicinate, teaching them stuff in our garden isn't good), by the time it killed them, it would have digested enough and they would have been too bad looking, so there would be no critters eating it that aren't also invasive to the area. (Starlings and pigeons. Two other cirtters that deserve no fretting about.)

The logic of not killing a species that has outgrown its territory eludes me. The same "logic" is used for deer, oppossum, racoons, and a variety of other species that just don't work in a city. Because politicians worry about animal activists, instead, people in the city are in danger from "harmless" animals. Rabies has come back as a problem easily correctible. Cars run into deers on a major city thoroughfare. And squirrels? Well, those suckers destroy roofs, crawl spaces, and wiring when they seek new nesting areas by invadig our homes. All things rectifiable, if animal activists would simply realize, an overflow of critters in a city is bad for the people living there. Not like squirrels are on the endangered species list. If anything - too many. A shame, they are tasty, but shooting in the city has its problems, too. (People worry about invading critters, but not hungry people.)

As for not wishing that on a worse enemies - cool. Your life has been good. My worse enemies have caused enough physical damage that I wouldn't mind making them sick and have them hallucinate on thorn apple either. I wouldn't intentionally poison them, but if they were foolish enough to eat one, I wouldn't warn them about the danger until they chewed a couple of times. It's really a matter of degrees on what enemies have done. What's been done to me deserves jail time, at best. There was a day when those enemies would have been killed for their actions. Never underestimate waht "worse enemy" is to some people.

Now, don't mind me. Keep arguing back and forth. This post keeps returning because, face it, "Tree Squirrels are Winning." I just hope others learn how we stopped being hassled by them.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 1:19PM
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Ajustable Animal Sheild mail @ jimmy_maryleonard@yahoo.com

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 4:41PM
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valentinetbear(z6 PA)

jimmy, mary, or whoever you really are. Let me get this straight - you give me three words (two really. The forst one isn't really a word) three years later, and expect me to e-mail you? And, if I google those three words, what do I find? You doing the same thing on the same day on another forum. Gee, now that's something worth trusting. Oh, wait! No, it isn't. Leave it alone or explain yourself. If whatever you're talking about works, someone else would be talking about it online. ;)

Here is a link that might be useful: The same game elsewhere

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 5:16AM
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