Attracting to & Controlling Squirrels in Your Garden
A little info about squirrels ...
Squirrels belong to the most successful and widespread order in the world: the rodents. Most squirrels are active during the daytime.
Nesting / Breeding:
They are known for their high reproductive rate. They usually produce 2 litters of 2-4 young each year. In the U.S., the first litter is born in January or February while the second arrives in mid-summer.
Their nests are usually located in trees. However, they may also accept man-made nesting boxes, such as the Barred Owl Nesting Box, Boreal Owl Nesting Box , Buffle-head Duck Nest Box , Common Golden-Eye Ducks, Common Merganser Nesting Boxes, Kestrel Nesting Boxes, Pileated Woodecker Nest Boxes, Wood Duck Nesting Box.
Attracting Squirrels with Food:
Squirrels basically are vegetarians. They eat a wide variety of plants, but they mostly use fruits and nuts. In the fall, they are especially attracted to oaks, hickories and pecans. Tree squirrels will also eat the eggs and young of nesting birds and certain types of insects.
One inexpensive way to feed your squirrels is to buy compressed corn logs, available at your local at Wal-Mart. The squirrels love them and they last longer than regular cobs. Alternatively, you can buy 50 pounds of feed corn oftentimes for less than $10 at your local feed stores.
Below are also some inexpensive online options (scroll down), for those of you who hate "shopping" as much as I do.
The Problem with Squirrels:
If you feed birds, sooner or later, squirrels will cause problems. Squirrels will eat your bird seed and may damage your feeders.
There are several ways of controlling that:
- Choose seeds they don't like: Fill the bird feeders with safflower seed. Squirrels don't much care for safflower seeds.
- You can "squirrel-proof" any feeder by putting it on a pole with a baffle (the underside lathered with Vaseline and hot pepper) about ten feet from a squirrel-jumping off point.
- There are quite a few squirrel-proof birds feeders available that will effectively "uninvite" squirrels from your bird feeders.
- Providing squirrels with their own "dinner table" is also a great to discourage them away from your bird feeders. In recent years quite a few squirrel feeders have come on the market.
- Protect Bird Nests: Also, please keep in mind that red squirrels, and sometimes gray squirrels, can become a serious menace to bird houses and the birds themselves. If you find your nest hole enlarged, chances are a red squirrel is the culprit. Once inside the box, squirrels make a meal of the eggs and young. Adding a predator guard of sheet metal to the entrance hole is usually enough to keep squirrels out.
About The Peanuts:
Don't feed raw peanuts to squirrels and other animals because it can seriously hurt them. Peanuts - although a valuable source of protein -- are often contaminated with aflatoxin, a fungal toxin. Aflatoxin is carcinogenic and causes liver damage in birds, squirrels and other animals -- even humans. Roasting reduces aflatoxin but does not eliminate it entirely. North American peanut producers are currently working on eliminating contaminated peanuts from their products. Also, raw peanuts and other legumes contain a trypsin inhibitor or substance that inhibits or prevents the pancreas from producing trypsin, an enzyme essential for the absorption of protein by the intestine. The detrimental effects of feeding raw peanuts have been documented since 1917. Squirrels fed a steady diet of raw peanuts, soybeans. other legumes, and sweet potatoes could easily develop severe malnutrition.
WDFW Urban Wildlife Biologist Patricia Thompson also reports that there are mycotoxins in raw peanuts that can cause liver, kidney, and brain diseases which unfortunately are seen in many birds. If you want to feed peanuts, the solution is to roast them (which will reduce, but not entirely eliminate, the mycotoxins)
According to the Washington State Cooperative Extension Service, roasting hulled raw peanuts for 20 to 30 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring them frequently, will destroy the trypsin inhibitor and render them suitable for feed. If that sounds like a lot of work, buy roasted peanuts but be sure they aren't salted. (Salted nuts of any kind should never be fed to wild animals.)
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