Ground squirrels are small and cute. But don’t let that fool you. These pesky critters can cause building foundations to crack, trees to die, and eat through insulation wires and plastics.
So, getting rid of squirrels should be a priority. Although out there, many people struggle with that. To help, we’ve structured this article as a complete guide on how to get rid of ground squirrels. Just find your way to the information you need.
How to Detect a Ground Squirrel Infestation.
Strangely, some of their habits overlap in certain areas. So, it’s quite difficult to tell which one.
However, over the years, a combination of one or more of the following markers can help you rat out a squirrel infestation:
- Scattered Holes in Lawns and Gardens
Ground squirrels are the squirrel species that burrow.
So, once you see one or two open tunnels with dirt mounds collected around them, then ground squirrels should be among your first suspects.
Often, ground squirrels prefer to burrow near building foundations, trees, shrubs, and tall grasses. So, inspect these as well areas to confirm your suspicions.
- Bite Marks on Furniture and Sprinklers.
It’s not unusual to see a squirrel chewing through plastics, woods, and rubbers. They find these things edible.
When you notice bitten spots on the plastic head of your sprinkler, wooden bird feeders, or somewhere else, then you may have a squirrel problem.
- Strange Noises.
Ground squirrels are lousy when burrowing. The more they burrow, the more they squeak.
If you hear any unusual rumbling in your garden or walls, then ground squirrels may be the culprits.
- Ground Squirrels Themselves.
Sighting a ground squirrel is the definitive indicator of a potential infestation.
What Kills and Get Rid of Ground Squirrels Permanently?
So many things. Here are some of them:
1) Poisons or Toxic Baits
Out there, you will find a lot of poison that can kill ground squirrels. However, each one of them has its own side effects.
Some are even under strict usage regulations. So, if you’re considering using baits to control your pest squirrels, you need to pay attention to the pros and cons of each poison you choose.
Let’s talk about some of them below:
- First-Generation Anticoagulants.
These coagulants are rodenticides. That means they can kill many kinds of rodents, including squirrels.
For instance, Bromadiolone will prevent the production of Vitamin K in the affected squirrels. This Vitamin K is what regulates blood clotting.
- FGARs often kill the squirrels in their burrows. So, non-target species like owls won’t get poisoned by eating the squirrels’ carcasses.
- FGARs have antidotes. So, they are safe for applications around pets and kids.
- FGARs are very effective when you have many ground squirrels to eliminate.
- It takes about 4+ weeks before the squirrels die. But eventually, they do.
- Sometimes, very few squirrels die above the ground. So, you need to get rid of the squirrel carcasses normally. We’ll get to this later.
Points and Precautions to Note About FGARs:
- You need to administer the First-Generation Anticoagulants Rodenticides (FGAR) within bait stations. These bait stations help to prevent owls and other predators from feeding on poisoned squirrels.
- For best results, apply the FGARs during springtime on warm afternoons. This is when most ground squirrels are active.
- For the best results, you need to re-apply the FGARs very often. This is because they are multiple feeding poisons. That means a pest must eat them several times before it dies.
- Zinc Phosphide.
Besides the FGARs, Zinc phosphide is another poison that kills squirrels.
To use it, you need to lace edible grains with Zinc phosphide and place them in areas that ground squirrels often visit.
When the targeted squirrels eat this, their stomach acid reacts with the Zinc phosphide to release a toxic gas. This gas builds up and suffocates them.
- Zinc phosphide kills ground squirrels quickly.
- There’s no need for repeated application. The squirrels die after eating it once.
- Zinc phosphide smells. So, squirrels avoid it.
- Only licensed pest removal professionals can use it.
Points to Note:
- To mask the scent, you can dip the grain in an orange flavor after applying the zinc phosphide.
- Wear gloves during application.
Unlike poisons, fumigants are gaseous.
When applied to squirrel burrows, fumigants kill ground squirrels by suffocating them to death. A good example is aluminum phosphide used by licensed professionals.
You can find other fumigants in gas cartridges sold in retail stores.
- It kills squirrels effectively.
- Fumigants are safe because their application is underground.
- You can only use fumigants during Spring when the soil is highly moist and active seasons. This is because dry land reduces diffusion and during winter hibernation, squirrels plug their burrows.
- Other innocent animals like foxes and owls that use abandoned squirrel holes might be affected.
- Only professionals can access some fumigants like aluminum phosphide.
- Don’t fumigate during winter.
- Read product labels before use.
- And don’t forget to use gloves, goggles, and nose masks while fumigating.
When your ground squirrel population is quite low, you can consider using traps. Out there, you will find different traps.
Some kill the squirrels while others will catch them alive. In this section, let’s examine the pros and cons of those traps that kill ground squirrels:
- Box and Tunnel Traps.
To use either of these traps, you need to locate them near the burrow opening and lace them with baits.
Good baits include nuts, almonds, barley, and oats. However, it is best that you use the food that you’ve caught your pest squirrels eating.
- Conibear Traps
Conibear traps have jaws. That’s what sets them apart.
To use them, place the conibear traps directly at the nest entrance and bury some part of it with soil.
- All the three traps above kill squirrels efficiently.
- Disposal of dead squirrels would need extra time.
- Other non-target species, like kit foxes, are affected.
- It is unsafe on the property with kids.
Points to Note:
- Conibear traps are best used without bait.
- In areas with Kit foxes, you need to spring all traps during nighttime.
- Seal all other burrows to divert the targeted squirrels to the trapping point.
- Place box traps in closed boxes with one entrance that’s about 3 inches wide.
4) Predatory Control.
Yes, the century-old method; attract squirrel predators to your garden.
For instance, hawks, owls, and snakes kill ground squirrels. You can attract hawks and owls by planting trees or placing bird feeders in your garden.
Bush covers also attract snakes. Although snakes aren’t advisable. We all know that.
- It is effective for the small squirrel population.
- It works for the long term.
- It consumes both time, labor, and even money.
- Not safe on properties frequent by kids.
How to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels Naturally.
The most humane way to get rid of ground squirrels is to repel them. Some natural squirrel repellents include:
1. Pepper Spray.
Mix this in boiling water for half a day and spray as needed on plants and burrows. This will make your garden more unwelcoming to ground squirrels.
Squirrels hate noise. So, you can buy several sound repellents. Check for other squirrel repellents and how they suit you in this article.
3. Squirrel-repelling Plants.
You can include plants like Castor bean, Mint, and Crown imperial in your garden. Squirrels hate their scents.
4. Castor Oil.
Mix this with water and spray where needed. Squirrels will take off because they hate the scent.
5. Live-Catch Traps.
Another humane way to get rid of squirrels is Live-Catch Traps. Live-catch traps are very humane compared to others that kill ground squirrels with brutal force.
However, you will be left with one problem; how to move the trapped squirrels.
In places like California, you cannot move any wildlife without a license or permit. So, you either have to release them back to your property. Or perhaps you can euthanize them.
To do that, visit a vet. But under no circumstance should you think about drowning the squirrels. You can end up behind bars for that, especially in California.
Ground Squirrels Vs Tree Squirrels.
Yes, it looks easy. Ground squirrels live in the ground and tree squirrels on trees. Simple and correct, right?
Well, unlike general belief, these two squirrels differ in more than just their names and where they live. Here, we will examine three of the most important features that tell them apart.
- Ground squirrels are quite larger and bigger than tree squirrels.
But unless you look more closely, you may not detect this.
Now, the reason for this slight difference in size is understandable. And that’s because the small size of tree squirrels allows them to jump and move about in trees. Likewise, it also allows the tree squirrels to live conveniently in their tree nests.
Compared to that, the earth’s crust can easily support the weight of ground squirrels. So, adaptation allows them to grow bigger.
- Tree Squirrels Have “Bushier” Tails.
Often, tree squirrels have cream or yellowish underbellies and more hairy tails. This is because they use their tails to support their weight while scampering around trees.
As for ground squirrels, their tails are less hairy. Their body is grayish with a usual pale buff on their underside. Sometimes, their fur is even decorated with white dots.
- Of the duo, ground squirrels are the burrowing ones.
It’s what they like. So, they handle the large and scattered holes that we often find in our gardens and lawns.
In fact, some holes can go so deep that they cause building foundations to crack. In such cases, we have the ground squirrels to blame.
As for tree squirrels, they don’t burrow. So, they pose a minor problem unless they find their way into your attic. There, they can cause damage whose repair can break the bank.
For one, tree squirrels can chew through electrical wires and eat through all furniture and other stored goods.
Ground Squirrels Vs Chipmunks
Ground squirrels and chipmunks have almost the same size and fur color. But with the following two things, you can tell them apart:
- Chipmunks Have Stripes on their Head
Now, both chipmunks and some ground squirrels, like the 13-lines squirrels have stripes. However, for squirrels, these stripes are restricted to their bodies.
Whereas chipmunks’ telltale stripes extend to their head and faces.
- Chipmunks live on trees like Tree Squirrels.
Earlier, we tried to differentiate between tree squirrels and ground squirrels.
Well… tree squirrels occupy the same tree habitat as chipmunks.
Now, in this article, we only examined ground squirrel elimination techniques that actually work. Out there, you will see many others. But not all local hacks are effective.
For instance, many people claim that coffee grounds and gum can kill or ward ground squirrels off. In fact, some say that the gum will melt and cement the squirrels’ intestines. But this has not been confirmed.
Although on a granular scale, coffee grounds give off scents that squirrels hate. However, the result you may get may not be worth the effort, money, and time.
So, it’s best you stick to the options we’ve listed and fish out which one’s works for you! Happy hunting!