Texas gardeners are blessed with two seasons each year to harvest home-grown tomatoes. Texas squirrels are blessed with two seasons each year to take a great big bite out of home-grown tomatoes before Texas gardeners can harvest them.
Squirrels feast on pecans, fallen fruit, squash, cucumbers, and even watermelons and cantaloupes. Rummaging through your garden beds, they may dine on bulbs that are a lot fresher and tastier than the nuts they squirreled away the year before. They can take over feeders you leave out for birds and other wildlife, and they don’t reward you for your sacrifices by becoming good pets.
If you have not had a lot of interactions with squirrels, there is a fundamental fact of the relationship between the squirrel and the admiring, animal-loving outdoor Texas gardener: Squirrels bite. That furry friend from the trees above will take bite out of your finger when given a chance. And it might even dine on your smaller pet chickens and eat their eggs as if it thought it was a raccoon or a skunk.
If you want to win the battle for garden supremacy with Texas squirrels, you are going to need to plan ahead. Here are 10 tips to taking action to help squirrels find a better habitat than your garden in Texas.
1. Confuse the critters. Gray (although not red) squirrels have a keen memory for landmarks. If you want to direct squirrels out of your garden with a minimum of fuss, move any shiny objects to a different location in your yard or garden every three or four months.
2. Install squirrel baffles on lines and wires leading to your home or garden. When a squirrel shimmies across a line, it grasps the top of the line with its front paws and the bottom of the line with its back paws. Putting a roller on the line makes it impossible for the squirrel to proceed.
3. Call out the hounds. Although this strategy may not work if your hound is a chihuahua, allowing your dog to patrol your yard or garden once a day or so, especially in the middle of the day, may keep squirrels off your property.
4. Get rid of squirrels humanely with a Havahart Two-Door Squirrel Trap. Just be sure it is not more than 5-1/2 inches high, so if you happen to trap a skunk, it can’t raise its tail to spray you.
5. Keep squirrels out your attic with ultrasound. Electronic noise machines generate high-pitched sound at 56,000 Hz. This is too high for humans to hear but drives squirrels batty. It’s a lot more useful for keeping squirrels out than it is for getting squirrels out. Once a mother squirrel has made her nest in her attic so she can raise her 4 to 10 babies, you are not going to be able to get rid of her with nuisance devices.
6. Make sure branches are cut within 15 feet of your roof. A squirrel can jump that far from a tree limb to the roof of your house, and then gnaw its way inside.
7. Dig mesh wire around valuable garden beds to a depth of 15 inches, with at least a three inch margin above the ground. This will deter both squirrels and, if you live in the Panhandle or East Texas, also gophers.
8. Place mothballs in the corners of the attic, where mother squirrels like to build their nests. Fumes from the mothballs make squirrels woozy so they want to leave. Be forewarned that the fumes can have a similar effect on people.
9. Recycle kitty litter underneath bushes or thicket at the edges of your property. Since cats sometimes eat squirrels, they will steer away from the odor of used kitty litter.
10. Shut the garage door at night. Squirrels sometimes find their way under the hood of your car or truck. You’ll make an unwelcome squirrel tartar should the squirrel get caught in your radiator fan or alternator belt, and a single broken wire in your vehicle’s electrical harness can result in more than $1000 in auto repairs.