The Q&A Archives: Squirrels

Question: I am looking for permanent ways of dealing with squirrels digging up lawns surrounded by a few big oak trees. We know it is not skunks! We have watched the squirrels dig up the yard (a pastime of ours, though not a favorite one). What I wondered was if the metal bands that had been recommended to someone with a fruit tree problem would also work in our situation. Would the squirrels, if we banded the trees in our yard (and pruned the lower branches) relocate somewhere else? Guess I don't know enough about squirrels to know if they'll dig up our acorns even if they don't have a nearby tree to sneak up. A local lawn co. also told me to find 5 lb. bags of red pepper flakes and spread that out periodically, although I haven't been able to locate a co. that sells the red pepper in large quantitites.

Answer: The tree banding technique should work for any tree squirrels. This involves pruning trees so the lowest branches are at least 6 feet off the ground. Then you will need to place 2 foot wide metal bands around each tree trunk in such a way that the bottom of each band is a minimum of 2 feet off the ground. The 2 feet height is about where the squirrel will reach when he jumps into the tree. He'll just slide back down. AND he won't be able to reach the lowest branches either!

By doing this the squirrels will not have a safe haven in which to seek protection. My guess would be that they would find another place that they considered safer. It's possible they might wander back if they're really hungry, but spring is here and food should be plentiful. By next winter, hopefully they will have forgotten about your acorn stash. Or the acorns will all have sprouted!

I wouldn't worry about the red pepper until you've tried the other. However, you can always give it a try--what have you got to lose? (You might try it on a small section at first if you have pets--to see how they respond.) The Arlington Food Coop (or Cambridge Food Coop) should be able to order you hot pepper in bulk.

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