How to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels: Pest Removal Guide

In most cases, ground squirrels don’t get into homes, but they can damage your garden, destroy your harvest, and dig burrows all around until they destroy your landscape. In this article, you’ll learn how to get rid of ground squirrels safely and effectively!

What Attracts Ground Squirrels to My Property?

Before discussing how to get rid of ground squirrels, it’s crucial to think about what attracts them to your garden or backyard in the first place.

  • Squirrels are opportunistic animals and will eat everything they can lay their hands on. Therefore, if your garden has a source of food that appeals to these rodents, they’ll likely become regular visitors to your garden or start building a den that hosts tens of squirrels at a time.

Getting rid of waste is essential to keep squirrels away from your home. Leaving food remnants without getting rid of them after having an outdoor dinner or not disposing of garbage properly leaves plenty of food for ground squirrels to feed on.

  • Growing veggies and nuts is one of the biggest squirrels’ attractions. They’re also attracted to your property if you have a bird feeder, birdbath, or fish pond. Ground squirrels will look for frogs, insects, bird eggs, and fungi, and if they can find them in your garden, they will most likely stay.
  • If you don’t maintain your garden or backyard, it will be the perfect spot for a growing ground squirrel population. They prefer to live in large grassy areas where they can dig their burrows without being disturbed.

Why Get Rid of Ground Squirrels

Ground squirrels are usually a mix of brown and gray in a mottled appearance with a pale underside. They live and breed in burrows that they dig in hillsides or vertically into the ground. Each burrow is about 5 inches in diameter and can be as long as 35 feet.

Burrows are usually shared by multiple squirrels, where each one uses its own entrance. This means that a single den or burrow can be made of tens of tunnels and has tens of openings.

These curious and intelligent animals are essential to maintain a healthy ecosystem in your garden or backyard, but you don’t have to tolerate an increasing number of ground squirrels infesting your property and making life unbearable.

Squirrels are cute rodents that can be found in most states, and they’re usually fun to watch. However, the presence of ground squirrels on your property can be a real problem for several reasons.

  • The continuous burrowing damages the roots of plants, so your trees and shrubs will die even if you’re trying your best to take care of them.
  • Digging burrows can damage your house foundations in the long run. Likewise, ground squirrels can chew on the wooden structures, subjecting your building to collapse.
  • Squirrels feed on different types of plants and flowers, so they will destroy your trees, flowers, and any veggies you’re trying to grow. Avid gardeners consider ground squirrels to be highly annoying because they can dig up the ground to the point that you can’t even maintain your landscape. Moreover, they multiply fast, so it becomes harder to get rid of them as time passes.
  • Using their strong teeth, ground squirrels will chew the plastic heads of sprinklers and damage irrigation boxes and sprinkler lines.
  • Like most rodents, ground squirrels can host several diseases like rabies and the bubonic plague. These diseases can spread to humans and pets in the house, so it’s vital to ensure that ground squirrels are kept under control.
  • Although they’re not particularly fond of getting into houses, a ground squirrel in your house can cause a lot of damage. This small animal can chew on wires, eat wooden furniture, destroy installed insulation, damage your floors, or destroy any stored items you’re keeping in the basement or attic.

How to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels

Luckily, there are several potent yet easy and humane ways that can keep ground squirrels away from your property without affecting their health or subjecting your property to damage. In the next few sections, we’ll be taking a look at how to get rid of ground squirrels.

1. Make Your Property Inviting to Natural Predators

The answer to your ground squirrel problem may be to invite more animals to your garden and let them take care of the squirrels naturally.

Hawks and owls are among the natural predators of ground squirrels. While they might not be able to control a serious infestation, they make the area unsuitable for a breeding population, and in most cases, the ground squirrels will consider digging their burrows somewhere else.

If you’re into birdwatching, it would be a great idea to study the hawks and owls in your area and make sure that your outdoor space is inviting to them by growing large trees that they can use for perching. In the long run, this can be one of the most effective solutions.

However, you need to carefully consider this solution if you have an outdoor cat or keep rabbits or a small dog as pets, as these predators can eat them, too. Although snakes are also among the ground squirrels’ natural predators, many people don’t feel comfortable introducing them to their property.

2. Provide Little to No Food

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You can get rid of ground squirrels by making life hard for them if they choose to dig burrows on your property. Keep trash bins covered, and make sure that you’re not leaving any source of food that might attract ground squirrels.

Change the type of trees you’re growing, and if possible, get rid of nut trees that these animals love. You can use netting and metal sheets to protect your flowers or veggies. Ground squirrels also feed on insects, so you can hire a company for pest control to get rid of bugs and insects.

You should also trim the grass in your garden and eliminate most water sources. With no access to food, water, or shelter, ground squirrels will probably reconsider digging their burrows in your outdoor space. All these methods are efficient preventative methods but need to be maintained to keep ground squirrels away.

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3. Make Some Noise

Ground squirrels are sensitive to noise like most animals, and you can use this piece of information to control a severe infestation. There are several ways you can make your property noisier, so ground squirrels won’t be comfortable digging burrows in your garden or backyard.

Windchimes work fine as they produce noise every time the wind blows. You can also buy vibrating stakes and insert them in the ground all-around your property, and they will cause enough noise to keep ground squirrels at bay.

If these two solutions fail, you can invest in an electronic device that produces ultrasonic waves that repel ground squirrels and other rodents. These electronic devices last for a long time and will repel ground squirrels without killing them.

Dogs and cats can hear ultrasonic waves and might be disturbed by them, especially if they’re too high. In most cases, these ultrasonic devices aren’t strong enough to bother your pets. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to watch them to see if they’re bothered, so you can turn off the device if needed.

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4. Grow the Right Plants

Although ground squirrels eat all types of roots, plant leaves, flower buds, fruits, and veggies, there are various kinds of plants that they can’t stand. Growing these plants in your garden or backyard will make the space uninviting to ground squirrels.

These animals hate the smell of castor beans and narcissus and are unlikely to infest your garden if you plant them regularly. They also hate the smell of shallots and garlic. Growing them or keeping them on stakes around your outdoor area will keep ground squirrels away.

Mint is another plant that ground squirrels hate. You can grow mint on your property to keep ground squirrels under control. As a bonus, you can also use the herb in cooking.

This solution is extremely safe for kids and pets because you’re not using any chemicals or devices. The flowers will also make your outdoor space more beautiful. However, adequate gardening knowledge and regular maintenance are needed to make this solution work.

5. Use Pepper Spray

Preparing your own DIY repellent spray is easy and can get rid of the existing ground squirrels in your space while keeping other members at bay. Just like most rodents, ground squirrels can’t stand chili pepper because it has a burning effect and makes them very uncomfortable.

Luckily, you can easily prepare a repellent solution by mixing equal parts of white vinegar and lemon juice or white vinegar and water, then add about a cup of chili pepper flakes and let it infuse on low heat. You can also leave it in the sun for a few hours until the spray is ready.

Put the solution in a spray bottle and shake well before spraying it and start applying it next to the roots, plant leaves, and veggies that ground squirrels attack. You can also apply this spray solution at the entrance of burrows that you can see around the garden. The smell of the pepper spray will drive ground squirrels out of their hiding and they will start looking for another spot to dig their tunnels.

This method is extremely affordable, and it’s safe because you’re not using any harmful chemicals. Moreover, it’s easy to prepare.

Re-application is necessary because the solution loses its potency after a while. Furthermore, you should be careful about using pepper spray if you have kids and pets that spend time in the garden, as this spray can cause irritation.

6. Prepare a Castor Oil Solution

Castor oil is another potent ingredient that you can use to get rid of squirrels. Castor oil has an asphyxiating effect on ground squirrels, as well as other rodents like rats, chipmunks, moles, and shrews. Preparing a solution is quite affordable and easy.

All you have to do is to mix half a cup of castor oil with half a cup of dishwashing soap. Then, add this mixture to a gallon of water and spray it around your garden.

You should try to spray it close to the burrows dug by the ground squirrels in your backyard or lawn. You can also use peppermint oil instead of castor oil, and you can use the concentrated drops of oil if you don’t want to prepare a diluted solution.

Although this is an effective method, it can be potentially dangerous to other forms of wildlife. Castor oil can be toxic to dogs and cats and should be avoided if they spend time in your garden or backyard.

7. Use Live Traps

Live traps are suitable for those who want to get rid of ground squirrels without killing them. Setting up live traps is a good solution to deal with a low to moderate ground squirrel infestation as you’re able to get rid of the animals you caught.

Once a ground squirrel is trapped, you should relocate it. You can take any caught ground squirrels away from your property and release them in the park or a nearby forest, where they will be able to forage safely.

These traps are humane, efficient, and fast, and you’ll be able to catch a large number of ground squirrels over a short period. Nevertheless, this method won’t work if you have a serious infestation as squirrels breed quickly.

Kill traps also work, but these traps kill the animals on the spot. You also have to dispose of them afterwards. They can also be harmful to pets or kill other animals by mistake. If you’re interested in finding a safe, yet humane, way to get rid of ground squirrels, then you should stick to live traps.

What if Nothing Works?

In some cases, you can choose more drastic solutions to get rid of ground squirrels. Fumigation is a potent solution that eliminates ground squirrels but should be conducted by a professional pest control team. The fumes will kill the animals instantly and will help you get rid of the problem on the spot.

However, this method should be done at the right time as it might affect other species by mistake. You should also be aware that this can be a potential hazard to pets and kids in the house.

Another method that works instantly is the use of bait. Grains and seeds are coated with a strong poison that kills ground squirrels once consumed. Applying the bait and dealing with the dead animals should be done by a professional team. Poisonous grains can also be toxic to kids, pets, birds, and other forms of wildlife.

Wrap Up

Ground squirrels can damage your property and ruin your garden. Luckily, there are several effective ways that can help you prevent them from infesting your garden or drive them away without killing them. All you have to do is to choose the most appropriate method and follow it to learn how to get rid of ground squirrels.