Tips for Outsmarting SquirrelsGrey squirrels are a bit like marmite – you either love them or hate them! Some people really enjoy watching the antics of squirrels as they raid the bird feeders and try to overcome our inventive methods for deterring them. However, more often than not, people ask us for advice about how to stop squirrels (and also large birds) getting onto feeders and scaring off your favourite garden birds. Squirrels are very determined animals and can cause major damage to property and land; they can also be extremely noisy, particularly during breeding season.
Squirrels are rodents, and are born to gnaw. Their incisors never stop growing, so they must chew constantly to keep them worn down. They have seemingly insatiable appetites and can easily consume up to 1kg of food per week! They are also extremely cunning, and physically equipped to successfully overcome the obstacles that we put in their way.
Anyone who has ever tried to outwit a squirrel with a mechanical device knows how difficult this can be. Squirrels can climb polished steel poles. They can leap more than 8 feet. Their tails give them phenomenal balance, allowing them to effortlessly cross long lengths of thin wire. They can dig and, yes, they can even swim – so building a moat to protect your bird feeders from squirrels is probably not the answer!
If you are troubled by squirrels in your garden and on your feeders and bird tables, then you essentially have three options. The first is to adopt a few squirrel-deterring methods and hope they do the trick. The second is to provide an alternative feeding station just for the squirrels, so that they leave your bird feeders alone. Finally, if your squirrels are becoming intolerable, then you can contact a local squirrel control service who will come out, remove the offenders, and give you advice about preventive measures. You should be able to find a squirrel control service online or in a local directory under ‘Pest Control’.
If you do decide to take option number one – outsmarting your squirrels – then here are a few things to try:
- Buy a squirrel proof feeder and hang it on a pole system in the middle of your lawn, approximately 10ft away from tree branches and bushes.
- Before buying a squirrel-resistant feeder, it may be worth considering what this actually means! Some brands (e.g. Droll Yankee New Generation tube feeders™ tube feeders) come with a lifetime guarantee against squirrel damage, but do not prevent squirrels accessing the food within. Caged feeders like those in the Nuttery™ range are also called 'squirrel resistant' since the cage surrounding the central chamber will prevent easy access to the bird food, but squirrels can still be very adept at gaining access.
- We now stock a range of tube feeder 'guardians' – cylindrical mesh guard cages that sit over the top of tube feeders. These come in a range of sizes, depending on the size of feeder you wish to protect.
- Our most popular (and, in our opinion, most effective) squirrel proof feeders are the Squirrel Buster range and the Droll Yankee Flipper. The Squirrel Buster seed feeders are weight-activated and shut off feeding ports when a squirrel lands on them. The Yankee Flipper uses a cunning weight-activated and motorised perch ring to spin squirrels off the feeder, leaving them no time to enjoy the bird seed! The squirrels soon realise that feeding from the Flipper is impossible and leave it well alone.
- Other things which might be worth trying are devices that help prevent squirrels from gaining access to hanging feeders. Squirrel baffles and squirrel domes (available for use either as a hanging dome or as a pole mounted dome) act as effective blockers.
- Greasing your feeder pole or using a squirrel slinky to stop squirrels scaling the pole may also be worth trying.
- Ground feeding your garden birds may be another alternative. Rather than hanging feeders up, try feeding from trays which are protected by ground feeding guardians. These guardians come in two mesh sizes – the small mesh will prevent squirrels squeezing through and accessing the food.