Ask a Question forum: Getting rid of ground squirrels

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Casa Grande, AZ (Zone 8a)
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birdsongwend
Dec 15, 2016 8:10 AM CST
I am having a terrible time with ground squirrels in my yard. I will water a tree which is green and those pesky things will eat the roots off of my trees and then my tree flops over. If I catch one, I am going to strangle it. It is so frustrating, and they only pick on my good, tall looking trees. We have tried everything, accept strangling them and that is going to be next. Anyone have any ideas? thanks Wendy
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
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joannakat
Dec 15, 2016 9:55 AM CST
birdsongwend said:I am having a terrible time with ground squirrels in my yard. I will water a tree which is green and those pesky things will eat the roots off of my trees and then my tree flops over. If I catch one, I am going to strangle it. It is so frustrating, and they only pick on my good, tall looking trees. We have tried everything, accept strangling them and that is going to be next. Anyone have any ideas? thanks Wendy


Just curious, are they burrowing and eating from underground? I know you said they're eating the roots....

A friend of mine had a very interesting solution, one that's somewhat opposite to what we might want to do. If they're doing it because they're super hungry, you can try providing alternate food sources for them. Find out what they love and put it out near their nests.

wikipedia has this to say about their diet, but it doesn't mention roots: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

Are you sure it's the ground squirrels who are damaging your roots?
AKA Joey.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Dec 15, 2016 5:32 PM CST
Ground squirrels don't eat roots but they do burrow in and around the roots causing the tree to fall. My house is sitting on a rockery wall. The ground squirrels undermine the walls and cause them to fall also. I caught about 25 a year until a hawk moved in. He has taken care of them since.

I used live animal squirrel traps and found things the squirrels liked to bait them with. Of course, then you have to dispose of the squirrel some how. Smiling
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Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Dec 15, 2016 6:01 PM CST
Make a spray using essential oils such as Clove, Cinnamon, Lemon, Peppermint and Eucalyptus. That may help the ground squirrels to go elsewhere.
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Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
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ctcarol
Dec 15, 2016 6:08 PM CST
Cats and dogs will help keep them at bay to some degree, if they are outdoor pets. I think traps would work well, but you do have to dispose of them somehow. Hawks are good if the area is open enough, but they don't like tight quarters, and like the cats, they will also take any other birds.
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
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joannakat
Dec 15, 2016 8:15 PM CST
It's my experience that once they have burrowed in, nothing having to do with essential oils or granules or sprays will convince them to leave. Those things are good for keeping them out of garden areas or even other areas where they don't nest or live. But not for burrows. I just finished a nightmare scenario with a chipmunk that burrowed in and nested up against my foundation. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING could get that critter to leave.

Though the traps seem humane to us, they are actually less humane than one might think. First of all, putting food in them that they like means that you'll also be attracting critters who don't live where your trap is. Then, when you relocate them, they sometimes get run over by cars when they try to get back home. Sometimes, the area you attempt to relocate them to may already be inhabited by other, sometimes aggressive, ground squirrels or other critters and a shortage of food or fights may result.

And just a mention about their teeth: like other rodents, ground squirrels have to constantly file their teeth down by gnawing on something. That's why they can cause damage to cement foundations, stairs or other things.

I hope all this is somehow helpful.
AKA Joey.
Name: Cinda
Indiana Zone 5b
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gardengus
Dec 15, 2016 8:48 PM CST
I was going to suggest cats , I rarely see a ground squirrel except on the porch as a gift from one of the cats. An indoor cat can be useful too,
you can try dirty kitty liter in the holes .Most burrowing animals are very put off by other animals (especially predators ) fecal material and scent.
I have had great success using this method with the occasional ground hog trying to set up home in my territory.
Keep believing ,hoping,and loving
all else is just existing.
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
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joannakat
Dec 15, 2016 9:49 PM CST
gardengus said:
you can try dirty kitty liter in the holes .


In my experience, they just dig a different entry / exit and continue on their way. I'm guessing that groundhogs might be different because they are larger--up to 20-26 inches and weighing up to 9 lbs., it would be more difficult for them to simply dig a new entry. Whereas the holes ground squirrels dig are very small in diameter (3 - 5 in or so). I had this happen several times and then the ground over the area started to give in when stepped on. That's when they dug a new one about 3 feet away. They can be super tenacious.
AKA Joey.
[Last edited by joannakat - Dec 16, 2016 7:53 AM (+)]
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Dec 15, 2016 11:17 PM CST
Ground squirrels definitely eat roots. There is a nest in our local park right under the succulent garden and they have left several plants rootless and dying, without touching the above ground part. Other plants they prefer to eat the leaves or stem. Very hard to control in our situation given the sandy soil provides them exactly the conditions they need to stay established. I refuse to use poison.

I have given up on control per se actually but I would recommend a gopher cage, also useful against gophers... a cylinder of chicken wire with a bottom that you put in before installing a plant. They will hop the fence, so to speak, and burrow in from within the cage, but it's less likely. Of course that only makes a difference for plants with tasty roots. The rest you can protect pretty well with an above ground ring of chicken wire.

Predators are also a good idea if you can attract birds of prey or your favorite 4-legged friend.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Dec 15, 2016 11:28 PM (+)]
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Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
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Shadegardener
Dec 16, 2016 9:06 AM CST
I'm currently trying a product called Rat Magic - a blend of plant oils on a granular clay substrate. I sprinkle it around my winter cold frame to keep chipmunks, voles and mice from invading. I've also used it above ground on a "den" that's been in one area of my garden for a couple of years. The critters have moved out but perhaps to an unseen part of the garden. A feral cat has also helped bring the population down.
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can't eat money. Cree proverb

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