Squirrel and Chipmunk

Squirrels are regulars at many backyard birdfeeders. Their antics may be cute, but they scare away birds, can consume huge quantities of expensive bird seed, and will often make off with entire seed balls or suet cakes. These furry rodents are smart, too. Given time, they will eventually gain access to virtually any desired target. The trick is to keep them guessing!

Here are some ways to foil these pesky marauders.

  • Locate your feeders away from trees so squirrels can't drop down from above. A large inverted cone mounted on top of the feeder will also deflect squirrels that are trying to jump onto the top of the feeder.
  • If your feeder is pole-mounted, you'll need to keep the squirrels from climbing the pole or jumping onto the feeder from the ground. A cone-shaped baffle mounted beneath the feeder will usually do the trick. You can also try running the pole through the center of a Slinky toy. Secure one end of the Slinky to the top of the pole and let the other end hang down. When squirrels try to climb, their own weight will stretch the coil and keep them on the ground.
  • Try mixing ground hot pepper with the birdseed. Capsaicin, the spicy part of hot peppers, makes birdseed too spicy for mammals to handle, yet is completely tasteless to birds. In fact, it's an excellent source of vitamin C.
  • Try using a repellent, such as Repels-All Animal Repellent, which contains dried blood, egg solids and garlic oil.
  • Try using a specially designed, squirrel-proof feeder. The Globe Cage Feeder is a good option.
  • Squirrels love sunflower seeds—but not safflower seeds. Try making the switch.
  • If you can't beat 'em, feed 'em. Distract the squirrels by providing their own feeding area with dried corncobs.
  • Trapping is the surest way to remove problem critters. Live traps are very effective for trapping a particularly pesky squirrel or chipmunk. However, don't expect to control a whole population with trapping. There are always more where they came from. Some states also have regulations about trapping and relocating animals. For more information, read Animal Trapping Techniques.

A Hot Idea

Sharen in Elyria, Ohio, found a way to keep squirrels out of suet:

The squirrels got so they were pretty predictable and came around the same time each day. Even putting my dogs out to chase them off failed. They just waited and returned, especially to the suet.

I don't know exactly where, but I had read that squirrels do not like the hot pepper suet. So, I bought one and put it out. The first few times, the squirrels were angry. How did I know? They were knocking over one particular plant that sat on the deck. This happened repeatedly to the same plant, so I knew it was a reaction to the hot pepper suet.

Now, when I am home, I put out the regular suet because I have found that the majority of the birds prefer this over the other. Then, when I'm not home, I will replace it with the one the squirrels don't like. This way, we are able to continue feeding the birds, yet keep the pesky little guys away.

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