Red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), gray squirrels
(Sciurus carolinensis) and flying squirrels (Glaucomys sabrinus)
normally inhabit wooded areas where they add interest and life to
the countryside and play an important part in forest ecosystems.
Both the red and gray squirrels have two litters of young each year,
one in early spring and the other in summer. Both species use tree
cavities as nesting sites and may build nests of leaves and grass
in the forks of trees. Various nuts, berries, buds and seeds are
the main foods of these squirrels. Flying squirrels are active at
night, and their presence in the neighborhood may be unsuspected
although they may be fairly numerous. These secretive gliders occupy
nests in hollow trees, where one litter of young is produced in
Tree squirrels, both the red and gray as well as the flying squirrel,
sometimes become a nuisance to the homeowner by entering buildings
to find shelter and to store food. In attics, partitions or spaces
between floors, they often become noisy and at times destructive,
especially in summer homes or camps deserted for the winter season.
Occasionally, these squirrels may damage flower bulbs and vegetables
in the garden or feed on ripening fruit. Red squirrels may cut twigs
of spruces and other conifers to obtain seedbearing cones. They
also strip bark from cedars for nesting material.
Squirrels in buildings can be trapped with ordinary snap-back rat
traps, baited with walnut meats of some similar food and set where
the squirrels can easily reach them. Be sure to wire or nail the
trap securely, so that a trapped squirrel cannot drag it away. Squirrels
can be trapped unharmed for release elsewhere by using any live
trap or box trap of suitable size. Bait the trap with nutmeats or
sunflower seeds. A few pieces of bait placed just outside the trap
entrance will help lead the animal into the trap. After the squirrels
have been remmoved, the holes or crevices through which they gained
entrance the building should be sealed lightly with wood, sheet
metal or heavy wire screen (1/2 inch [1.3 cm] mesh, galvanized hardware
In attics and in summer homes or camps deserted for the winter,
a liberal sprinkling of naphthalene flakes (from 5-10 lb [2 - 4
kg]) may help to repel squirrels as well as other possible pests
from a small room.
Tree squirrels damaging gardens or fruit trees can be caught in
snap-back rat traps. The traps should be fastened to fences or to
the trunks or limbs of the trees frequented by the squirrels, wired
or nailed in position and baited with nutmeats. Livetrapping is
also possible, but trapped squirrels should be taken at least 5
miles (8 km) from the trap site and released in an area where they
will not cause a problem for someone else. Remove livetrapped animals
as soon as possible after their capture to reduce the possibility
of them injuring themselves in the trap.
Squirrels can be prevented from climbing isolated trees by fastening
wide metal bands on the trunks. These should be about 2 feet (0.6
m) wide and fastened at a height of 6-8 feet (1.8-2.4 m), but are
useless if the limbs can be reached from the ground or from nearby
trees or structures. Tree limbs within 6 feet (1.8 m) of the ground
should be removed. Attach the band by loosely overlapping the ends,
so that it can be expanded to allow for tree growth.
Squirrels sometimes raid bird feeders, where they not only deter
desirable birds from feeding, but also consume considerable amounts
of bird feed. To excude squirrels, mount the feeder atop a pole
or pipe and fit a metal disc or baffle around the support structure
at a height greather than that which a squirrel can jump, preventing
the squirrels from climbing the pole and raiding the feeder. Since
squirrels can jump at least 6 feet (1.8 m), the feeder must have
a telescoping pole or must be filled from a ladder. Another approach
is to suspend a feeder from a cable or rope running over pulleys
between two buildings or between a building and a pole. The feeder
must bee at least 6 feet (1.8 m) above ground. Because a persistent
squirrel can move along the suspended line, a baffle fitted over
the top of the feeder will help. These protective baffles are available
The key consideration in keeping squirrels out of bird feeders
is careful placement of the feeders. Squirrels can leap horizontally
a considerable distance, so feeders should be placed with 10-12
feet (3-4 m) clearance from tree limbs on the sides and overhead.
Some feeders are designede to adhere to vertical surface of a picture
windowpane; these are quite often squirrelproof, if high enough
above the ground.
For people who enjoy squirrels as well as birds, it may be desirable
to place a separate, readily accessible feeder specifically for
the squirrels. If relatively inexpensive food such as dried corn
grain is placed in this squirrel feeder, it may divert them from
protected bird feeders, the more expensive bird feeds (e.g. sunflower
seeds) being left for their intended recipients.
Chipmunks (Tamias striatus) are interesting and ordinarily
harmless to lawns or gardens, feeding on nuts, seeds and berries.
Occasinally their numbers may need to be reduced if they severely
damage newly planted seedbeds, bulbs, berries or other garden plants.
Chipmunks are easily trapped in snap-back rat traps set near their
burrows, often at the base of a tree or stump or in a stone wall.
Rolled oats, corn, seeds or peanut butter are effective baits.
Chipmunks occasionally enter homes, where they generally are more
bothersome than destructive. This can be prevented by closing holes
in foundation walls and screening windows, vents and other ground-level
The use of dried blood or fox or coyote urine has also been
effective in repelling these animal pests. Follow directions carefully
with the predator urine. Some formulations may need to be reapplied
after a rain.
from James W. Caslick and Daniel J. Decker, Cornell Cooperative