Squirrels

Zournathan

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One of the most annoying problems I've run into in the short time that I've been trying to grow trees in pots is squirrels. They will regularly dig in my pots, damaging and exposing the roots of my plants.
BW042811_1_post.jpgBW042811_2_post.jpg
Thus far they have only killed one tree (which they dug up three days in a row). Since there is an elementary school right behind my house I ruled out my first idea: An Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!

And opted instead for this:
BW050711_post.jpg

Of course this only works because I'm using plastic kitty litter tubs and old nursery pots as makeshift training pots. Once I move them to real pots I would no longer be able to use this method, and the reduced volume of soil would make regular digging even more of a threat to my trees. Does anyone have some advice on how to handle these annoying little buggers?
 

Speedy

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I've heard chili powder on the soil will stop it but I dont know if it has any affect on the tree? I sometimes stick skewers in the soil so that there isnt room for them to get to the soil which seems to work well. The best one yet was actually catching one the act and scaring the crap out it (a yelling dude in a wheelchair with arms flailing around my the head would scare a lot things). Since then I havent seen any evidence of them messing with my pots.
 

rockm

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Chili powder will work -- until it doesn't anymore :D. Squirrels get used to an awful lot in a hurry. They're persistent. Once they find something they like, they really can't be stopped. Best solution is the wire mesh over the top of the soil. If it hurts their paws to mess with it, they will leave it alone. Secure the wire firmly to the pot.

Waving your arms and yelling will scare them, but YOU have to be around to do it. They simply learn to skeedaddle before you arrive and wait until you leave...:D

I've been battling the furry tailed rats this spring. They (and a raccoon) have set up house in my roof. I've been talking with professional trappers to get rid of the things. Unfortunately, the "shoot, shovel, and shut up" option can't be exercised in my suburban neighborhood, as standing around with a firearm in the Washington D.C. area can bring a whole lot of hurt immediately to the guy standing around:D. The trappers have some pretty incredible stories about what squirrels will put up with...Chili sauce and yelling are hardly obstacles...

Don't me started on the #$@% raccoons...:rolleyes:
 
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I set up ground squirrel bait stations (available at Home Depot) and the beauty of having ground squirrels is that they self-bury. The only thing you have to worry about is secondary poisoning of dogs, crows and any other scavengers that might eat the dead squirrels. If poisoning isn't your thing, then go with the wire mesh.

JC
 

Chub

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"Catch it with a coat, and smack it with a hammer"
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Bonus point if you know where that came from.:D
 
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Redwood Ryan

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"Catch it with a coat, and smack it with a hammer"
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Bonus point if you know where that came from.:D

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation! I win!
 

treebeard55

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Unbaited mousetraps have been pretty effective for me. They're small enough to scare them away without serious injury, which is all I'm after anyway. (Don't really care for the taste of squirrel.)

Of course, the squirrels in my neighborhood have plenty of other options too. Maybe it would help to set up a couple of feeding stations, as far from your trees as possible, so that at least hunger isn't a driving motivation.

Your screen covering looks pretty effective. <thumbs up> When the trees "graduate" to other pots, you could make covers from hardware cloth: it's strong enough to support its own weight, so no fastening would be needed. Cut a piece large enough to rest on the pot rim all around, with a hole in the right place for the trunk, and a linear cut from the side to the central hole, to let you get the cover into place. (Am I making my idea clear?) the access cut could be closed with a few pieces of wire if necessary.

Red pepper spray works for deer, but not squirrels, in my experience. But Tabasco sauce does dissuade the tree rats and their cutesy little striped cousins from dining on my fertilizer cakes.
 

Vance Wood

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Unbaited mousetraps have been pretty effective for me. They're small enough to scare them away without serious injury, which is all I'm after anyway. (Don't really care for the taste of squirrel.)

Of course, the squirrels in my neighborhood have plenty of other options too. Maybe it would help to set up a couple of feeding stations, as far from your trees as possible, so that at least hunger isn't a driving motivation.

Your screen covering looks pretty effective. <thumbs up> When the trees "graduate" to other pots, you could make covers from hardware cloth: it's strong enough to support its own weight, so no fastening would be needed. Cut a piece large enough to rest on the pot rim all around, with a hole in the right place for the trunk, and a linear cut from the side to the central hole, to let you get the cover into place. (Am I making my idea clear?) the access cut could be closed with a few pieces of wire if necessary.

Red pepper spray works for deer, but not squirrels, in my experience. But Tabasco sauce does dissuade the tree rats and their cutesy little striped cousins from dining on my fertilizer cakes.
Trying not to start a debate over evolution and creationism it is none the less amazing to see how certain species depend upon certain other species to survive. Most of the time squirrels dig in pots for two reasons. One is to bury seeds like walnuts and the like as a sort of stash for the lean times in the winters and early spring. They do this so often and in so many places that attract them for what ever reason known only to them that they forget where they buried stuff. Second: So-- they go about digging in areas where they would hide stuff in case they did so last year. That's why you sometimes find a walnut tree growing in your bonsai and there is no walnut anywhere close that would allow one to fall in the pot. I believe the natural system is set up this way to guarantee that some tree seeds are planted that would not normally germinate if left standing on the surface.

I don't know what to tell you about getting rid of them. I have been fortunate for the last three years to have three feral cats patrol my yard. They have gotten rid of the squirrels and the rabbits. Sadly the cats have disappeared and I will now have to work at this again. Bummer!
 

Chub

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I once found a small piece of toast in one of my shoes that I left on the window sill.....lol. They hide their stuff everywhere and anywhere.
 

Joedes3

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I was having a terrible time with them and went to home depot. I found a book that dealt with this very topic. I put two liter bottles on the wires going to my bird feeder; I purchased squirrel proof bird feeders; I did everything they said and still had the problem.

The last chapter in the book said, " In the end, the squirrel ALWAYS wins."

Good Luck
 

jk_lewis

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A WHAM-O slingshot and a pocketful of acorns works -- and is kinda fun. Safe for the nearby school, too.
 

Mike423

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Ive had a squirrel problem as well the past few years. I don't want to kill them so I tried those have a heart trap, needless to say they were too smart to go in it after multiple attempts (works great for ground squirrels though). I was thinking if the problem persists this year to maybe try repelall or coyote urine. One think I found that works on a pretty moderate level though is to place some 'kitty cakes' from the litter box around the perimeter of the stand that I keep my trees on, as well as the ground around it. The only down side is it seems to only work well for a few days and constantly has to be replaced by 'freshly baked' cakes on a regular basis.
 

Zournathan

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Cut a piece large enough to rest on the pot rim all around, with a hole in the right place for the trunk, and a linear cut from the side to the central hole, to let you get the cover into place. (Am I making my idea clear?) the access cut could be closed with a few pieces of wire if necessary.
That's pretty much what I did with the window screen material in the picture. When ever my tree's start graduating to real pots I'll have to take a look for the hardware cloth your talking about.

Thanks everyone for the responses!
 
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