Do you have a ground squirrel problem on your property? If you’ve noticed these furry critters burrowing holes in your yard or nibbling at your garden, you may be dealing with an infestation. But, how to get rid of ground squirrels? Having spent years observing squirrels around the world, I will explain the best methods to humanely get rid of ground squirrels.
Use humane deterrents like predator decoys, noise makers, and repellent sprays. Remove food sources and fill in burrows. As a last resort, live trap and relocate ground squirrels, or contact a professional exterminator for severe infestations that require rodenticides or gas bombs in burrows.
In this comprehensive guide, I’ll share everything you need to know to get rid of ground squirrels in your yard or garden. Let’s dive in!
Table Of Contents
How to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels
Let’s explore solutions for driving ground squirrels away from your property humanely and safely.
1. Remove Food and Water Sources
Eliminating access to food and water is a simple way to make your yard less appealing. Here’s how:
- Keep pet food inside and pick up any fallen bird seeds right away.
- Prefer squirrel-proof bird feeders like the ones below.
- Secure compost bins and garbage cans.
- Harvest ripe fruits/veggies promptly.
- Remove fallen nuts and fruit from trees.
- Rake up any seeds, grains, or debris.
- Use traps to reduce insects, a food source.
- Ensure consistent freshness of the water in your bird bath by regularly replacing it.
- Fix leaky spigots and irrigation issues.
Best Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder
2. Use Repellents
Squirrels detest certain smells. Use these strong scents to drive them away:
- Castor oil: Mix with dish soap and spray around burrows
- Pepper spray: Cayenne or capsaicin solutions irritate their respiratory tracts
- Predator urine: Fox or coyote urine creates the scent of predators
- Ammonia: Soak rags in ammonia and place them around the yard
- Mothballs: Scatter mothballs around problem areas
- Mint-based repellent: Squirrels hate mint!
3. Use Noise Repellents
Ground squirrels have sensitive hearing, so use sound devices to startle and scare them off.
- Use an ultrasonic device like the one below. It’s solar-powered and very effective.
- Play predator sounds or high-pitched ultrasonic frequencies
- Install motion-activated sprinklers like the one below
- Use vibrating stakes driven into the ground
- Hang windchimes or aluminum pans near problem areas
- Place radios tuned to talk radio stations around your yard
The Best Squirrel Repellent
Here’s the best motion-activated sprinkler. However, this type of device works best if you don’t already have ground squirrels burrows in your garden.
4. Use Predator Decoys
Decoys of hawks, owls, snakes, or cats will frighten ground squirrels. For best results:
- Use at least 3-4 decoys and move them frequently
- Place decoys where predators would hide like fence posts or the garden edge
- Try decoys with movable parts that look more lifelike
Here’s one of the best decoys to use for this:
5. Grow Repellent Plants
Certain plants deter ground squirrels due to smell, taste, or prickly leaves. Plant these around the yard perimeter:
- Onions, garlic, allium
- Mint, lavender
- Crown imperials
- Daffodils, narcissus
- Prickly branches like holly leaves or blackberry brambles
Here are the best plants you can use to keep ground squirrels at bay:
6. Use Physical Barriers
Fencing off gardens, yards, or planting beds creates a physical blockade. For best squirrel prevention:
- Bury fencing at least 12 inches underground so squirrels can’t burrow under
- Use small-mesh chicken wire or galvanized hardware cloth
- Extend the fence at least 3 feet above ground level
- Angle fence outwards from the ground to prevent climbing over
Here are the best physical barriers that you can use to keep ground squirrels out of your yard and specific plants:
The Best Squirrel-Proof Barriers
7. Remove Access to Shelter
Eliminating places where squirrels nest and hide discourages them from staying. Try these tips:
- Seal off access points to buildings, decks, and porches
- Trim shrubs and branches away from structures
- Cut tall grasses and keep the lawn short
- Remove woodpiles, rock piles, junk piles
- Fill old burrows and tunnels with dirt or gravel
8. Use Live Traps
For small infestations, live traps capture ground squirrels safely so you can relocate them. Bait traps with nuts, seeds, or peanut butter. Effective live trap options include:
- Box traps
- Repeating trap
- One-door wire cage traps
Check local laws before relocating wildlife. Release at least 10-15 miles away in a rural wooded area.
Here are some of the best live traps you can use to get the job done:
9. Use Baits as a Last Resort
While poisons are very effective, they should be a last resort after trying other methods first, as poisons can harm children, pets, and other wildlife. Some common ground squirrel baits include:
- Anticoagulant bait blocks
- Zinc phosphide bait
- Cholecalciferol baits
Strictly follow all label instructions and precautions when baiting. It often requires a professional license to apply certain baits.
Please check your local laws and regulations before eventually trying this method!
10. Professional Extermination
For severe infestations spanning large areas, professional pest control may be required. Pros have access to advanced techniques like:
- Gas bombs or fumigation
- Burrow-injected poison bait
- Live trapping and removal services
The right solution will depend on your specific situation, yard size, and local laws. An exterminator can evaluate and determine the best squirrel removal plan.
When to Call a Professional Exterminator
In general, calling a professional pest control company is a smart move in these cases:
- You have a severe, rapidly worsening infestation
- Squirrels have been present for months
- Damage is extensive despite your control efforts
- There are large networks of burrows
- Squirrels have moved into indoor areas
- You see juveniles around, indicating breeding
- You live in an area where DIY methods are prohibited
Licensed experts have the tools and training to assess your squirrel problem and eliminate them in the most effective, lasting way possible.
Preventing Ground Squirrels
Getting rid of ground squirrels is only half the battle – you also need to take steps to keep them from coming back. Here are some tips to squirrel-proof your yard:
- Install mesh fencing around gardens, flowerbeds, and trees
- Frequently rake up fallen nuts, fruit, seeds
- Use traps to control insects that squirrels feed on
- Plug burrow entrance holes with dirt, gravel, or rocks
- Trim overgrown areas and keep the lawn short
- Seal off access points to buildings and structures
- Manage compost piles so they don’t attract squirrels
Signs of a Ground Squirrel Infestation
Watch for these common signs that ground squirrels have invaded your yard:
- Holes with dirt mounds, especially near plants, trees, and structures
- Chewing damage on plants, vegetables, wiring
- Missing bulbs, seeds, seedlings
- Rustling in shrubs and burrows
- Chirping or barking sounds
- Visible ground squirrel activity, especially first thing in the morning
- Dried brownish-black droplets of excrement
What Attracts Ground Squirrels?
It’s also important to understand what draws ground squirrels to your yard in the first place. Here are the top attractants for ground squirrels:
1. Food Sources
Ground squirrels are opportunistic omnivores and will eat a wide variety of foods. Their diet includes:
- Nuts, grains, seeds
- Fruit, berries, buds, shoots
- Vegetables, leafy greens
- Frogs, bird eggs
- Pet food
- Bird seed
- Compost piles
2. Water Sources
Ground squirrels need to drink water daily, so easy access to water sources like bird baths, rain collecting in divots, garden ponds, or irrigation systems may draw them in.
Ground squirrels prefer to dig burrows in areas with soft, workable soil and available shelter like rock piles, stumps, shrubs, and woodpiles.
If you already have ground squirrels, they may attract new squirrels looking for mates and to establish new colonies.
Why Get Rid of Ground Squirrels?
While ground squirrels have an important role in the ecosystem, an infestation can quickly get out of hand and cause substantial property damage. Below are several key factors that may necessitate the removal of ground squirrels:
They Undermine Structural Integrity
All that burrowing can lead to significant foundation issues. Over time, ground squirrel tunnels can cause soil erosion, flooding issues, and collapse. Their borrows have even been known to divert irrigation water and destroy levees.
They Damage Plants and Trees
Ground squirrels gnaw on bark, roots, buds, and shoots. They’ll eat bulbs, seeds, and seedlings. Entire plants can be decimated seemingly overnight.
They Spread Disease
Ground squirrels may carry diseases like rabies, plague, tularemia, and ringworm. Their fleas can transmit disease to humans and pets as well.
They Attract Other Pests
Rats, mice, and snakes may move into prey on ground squirrels or use their abandoned burrows.
All of those holes and dirt mounds make mowing hazardous. Bald spots from grazing quickly develop. They’ll even chew through buried sprinkler lines.
Hopefully, this guide gave you a thorough overview of how to get rid of ground squirrels. Here are the key takeaways:
- Remove food sources and eliminate access to water to make your yard less appealing.
- Repellents like castor oil, predator urine, and pepper sprays drive squirrels away.
- Noise machines, sprinklers, and predator decoys frighten ground squirrels.
- Live trap and relocate ground squirrels at least 10-15 miles from your home.
- Seal off entry points, trim vegetation, and remove woodpiles to eliminate shelter.
- For severe infestations, contact a professional exterminator for specialty baits or fumigation.
- Once squirrels are gone, take preventative measures like fencing, frequently raking, and sealing access points to structures.
While cute, ground squirrels quickly multiply and cause extensive burrowing damage. Their burrows can undermine structures, destroy plants, and create hazards in your yard. Thankfully, a combination of techniques like habitat modification, repellents, exclusion, and trapping can safely and humanely eliminate ground squirrels from your yard.
For severe infestations spanning large areas, you may need professional pest control to fully eradicate ground squirrels and prevent them from returning. With persistence and patience, you can reclaim your yard and garden from these furry pests.