Ask a Question forum: Squirrel control

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May 20, 2017 9:30 AM CST
What product do you recommend to rid my bird feeders and garden of those pesky squirrels who gorge themselves. I've tried feeders that have mechanisms to close the feeder openings due to the squirrel's weight. They simply hang from the top of the feeder with their hind legs and eat at the feeder openings. I am looking for a product that emits an odor that is offensive to them and can be sprayed as a repellant while at the same time not having the same effect on the birds.
Name: Tiffany purpleinopp
Opp, AL ๐ŸŒต๐ŸŒทโš˜๐ŸŒน๐ŸŒป (Zone 8b)
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May 20, 2017 10:06 AM CST
Hi & welcome! Not that your frustration is not real and warranted, but when I read the title of this discussion, I LOL'd, an oxymoron of sorts, on par with saying dry water. Is it possible to put some vegetable oil or other slippery substance on the feeder, wherever the squirrels are hanging onto the feeder? In my experience of trying to use that to prevent ants from being able to climb up a pole to get to hummingbird feeders, it has to be reapplied often but works for ants. Not tried it for squirrels.

Hungry birds are wonderful visitors to a garden. Having a bird bath and various trees, shrubs, and other plants that can create an entire habitat could be an eventual goal toward which you could work to attract a lot of birds, if interested, including growing plants that make seeds that birds seek.

In the meantime, best luck with your efforts to keep squirrels away when trying to feed the birds! A lot of squirrels live in our yard. They frustrate me when they dig up my potted plants. (Putting rocks, toothpicks, &/or plastic forks can help with that.) My DH likes to feed the birds when he wants to sit & take pics & the squirrels move right in when he goes inside to clean up whatever is left. His "feeder" is a frisbee nailed to a wood post near where he can sit in the shade with camera ready. ;)

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The less I interfere, the more balance mother nature provides.
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Name: June
Rosemont, Ont. (Zone 4a)
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May 20, 2017 10:46 AM CST
Hi @Rozy
I don't think you'll be able to get rid of your squirrels unless you stop feeding them! I suggest you put a baffle on the pole to stop squirrels and raccoons from climbing up to the feeder. You can buy baffles that are pipe-shaped, or make a cone out of metal (see feeder in background of following pic). The feeder must also be far from the nearest tree branch and high above ground so that a squirrel can not jump onto it directly.
Thumb of 2017-05-20/JuneOntario/e75ddb

Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
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May 20, 2017 11:59 AM CST
Slinkies on poles for bird feeders. Platform feeders almost impossible to squirrel-proof.
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
Name: Sharon Rose
Grapevine, TX (Zone 8a)
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May 20, 2017 1:55 PM CST
Hi Rozy!

Welcome! Someone on NGA had the best Idea, and I am sorry I can not remember who to give them credit. They took Cayenne pepper and mixed a bunch into Vaseline and rubbed that where the critters were coming from either top or bottom. I had heard of people using one or the other but both together might work. Sticky paws with hot pepper.
May your garden bring you joy!
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Name: Mac
Soon to be MidCoast, ME (Zone 6a)
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May 20, 2017 2:28 PM CST
We solved the "squirrel in bird feeder" problem. We just broadcast our birdseed on the ground. No destroyed feeders, no greasy poles, no questionable "avoidance mixtures" to deal with. The birds forage for it, the squirrels forage for it, the birds and squirrels coexist, and everyone's happy.
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Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
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May 20, 2017 2:29 PM CST
Hi and welcome, sadly I agree with Tiffany that the words "control" and "squirrel" don't go together. Squirrels are smart, agile and strong. They really can defeat almost any birdfeeder tricks. The scent repellent is always going to also repel the birds so that won't work, in fact the squirrrels will quickly learn it's not harmful, but the birds aren't as smart, so it could potentially scare away all the birds while the squirrels have the feeders to themselves.

I have two feeders. One is a "Squirrelbuster" like what you described, that shuts the ports if the squirrels get on the perch. Some of the young squirrels have managed to get seeds despite the clever design, but mine is tall enough that they can't hang upside down to get to the ports. I also suspend a hoop with some old window screening a couple of feet underneath the feeder so that most of the seed that the birds spread around gets caught in there. The squirrels are welcome to feed in the hoop/net and for the most part they are satisfied with that, and leave the feeder to the birds.

My second feeder station is atop a 6ft. metal pole, and I simply grease the pole with an old toothbrush and some Superlube maybe once a month or so. The squirrels can't get to it at all but it's fun to watch them try. There are actually 3 feeders suspended from that pole and none of them are accessible by the squirrels. But I do think they might try harder if they didn't have some access to the seeds from the net on the other feeder.

Thumb of 2017-05-20/dyzzypyxxy/8278f2 Squirrelbuster c/w catch net

Thumb of 2017-05-20/dyzzypyxxy/5781b0 Metal pole greased

I tried a globe cage feeder for the smaller birds, but the squirrels didn't have any trouble raiding that one:
Thumb of 2017-05-20/dyzzypyxxy/e085d8


"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." โ€“Winston Churchill
Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
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Jul 15, 2017 2:35 PM CST
Squirrels remember problem-solving techniques two years on
Nick Lavars Nick Lavars July 13, 2017
The findings might explain why squirrels are so good at surviving in cities, the researchers explain

Squirrels, with their nut-burying habits and uncanny knack of finding them later, are known for their ability to recall important details. But scientists have discovered a new squirrel trait they see as a different kind of memory skill, an ability to remember problem-solving techniques from almost two years earlier.

"This is not just remembering where things have been left, it shows they can recall techniques which they have not used for a long time," said Dr. Thรฉo Robert from the University of Exeter, co-author of the new study. "It's also different from what we see in the wild because they're remembering things for longer than the few months of memory needed to find hidden food."

The new discovery came by way of an experiment conducted by Robert and his colleagues at the University of Exeter. Working with five grey squirrels, the team tasked the animals with pressing levers in order to get their mitts on some tasty hazelnuts. The first time around, the squirrels took an average of eight seconds to complete the task. With practice, they eventually reduced their hazelnut retrieval time to just two seconds.

Then, 22 months later, the team presented the same squirrels with a modified version of this same task. The puzzle appeared differently, but actually required the same technique to obtain the hazelnuts and at first this threw the squirrels off. They hesitated for an average of 20 seconds before even beginning the task, something the researchers attribute to a neophobic response, or a fear of new things.

But once the squirrels got going, they were able to retrieve the hazelnuts in just three seconds on their first try, and then finally in an average of two seconds. This, the researchers say, is evidence of the squirrels' long-term memory skills as they recalled and applied the same technique used in the earlier challenge.

"This might be why grey squirrels can survive very well in towns and cities," says Dr. Pizza Ka Yee Chow, of Exeter's Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour. "For example, they're very good at getting food from bird feeders. People may try different types of bird feeders to keep the squirrels away, but this research shows grey squirrels can not only remember tricks for getting food but can apply those skills in new situations."

The team's research was published in the journal Animal Cognition.

Source: University of Exeter via EurekAlert
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Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
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Jul 15, 2017 6:04 PM CST
Interesting article...but has to be depressing to those that have squirrel problems. Thanks for posting!
Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
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Jul 15, 2017 8:19 PM CST
Hi and welcome to NGA!

I bought a pole with a baffle on it and it works! I've had it since February and not one squirrel has managed to defeat it. A bit pricey but it does work.

Thumb of 2017-07-16/Xeramtheum/8c3f1c

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