- GROUND SQUIRREL BIOLOGY
- GROUND SQUIRREL PROBLEMS
- DISEASE RELATED TO GROUND SQUIRRELS
- GROUND SQUIRREL REPELLENT
- PREDATOR URINE TO REPEL GROUND SQUIRRELS
- BEST GROUND SQUIRREL REPELLENT SPRAY
- SOUND REPELLER FOR GROUND SQUIRRELS
- GAS STICKS FOR GROUND SQUIRRELS
- HOW TO TRAP GROUND SQUIRRELS
- BEST KILL TRAPS FOR GROUND SQUIRREL
- CONTACT US
Though most people think of squirrels as animals which live in trees, there are several species throughout the United States which reside in the ground. These are close relatives of the grey and flying squirrels which populate much of the country. The more common species include the Thirteen Lined, the Belding’s, the California, the Rock, the Franklin, the Richardson, the Columbian, the Washington and the Townsend.
Related articles: CHIPMUNKS GOPHERS MOLES PRAIRIE DOGS VOLES
GROUND SQUIRREL BIOLOGY ^
Ground squirrels, as their name implies, have chosen to live underground and though they can still climb trees quite well, they don’t live in trees.
Ground squirrels can become a problem in the yard and around the home when their burrows lead to flooding. Their presence brings fleas and other insects or even worse, the transmission of disease. Ground squirrels will readily eat garden fruit and vegetables as well as nuts and flowers. If left alone, they will quickly populate to levels which can cause mass destruction in little time. They will even move into our homes if given the chance. This article will detail some of the more common species and then explain how you can control local populations.
MANY SPECIES OF GROUND SQUIRRELS ^
The California ground squirrel is limited in it’s range to mostly the west coast from the state of Washington down to Mexico. They like flat grasslands as opposed to forests but will live close to trees if they have to. They don’t need much water and will readily feed upon any green vegetation including flowers, fruits and plants. They will also eat nuts and seeds. They live in burrows they dig and will occupy these burrows year after year. They have litters which have 7-10 young once a year. They live 3-5 years on average.
The Belding’s ground squirrel has a much more limited range extending throughout 5-6 states including California, Nevada, Oregon and Idaho. They too avoid forests preferring meadow-lands close to farms growing wheat and alfalfa. Though they will feed on seeds and nuts, they will tend to stick with green leafy plants and fruits when they can find ample supplies. The Belding also loves flowers. They will produce litters of 6-8 on average once a year and will live slightly longer than the California squirrel.
The Rock squirrel has a huge range extending from part of California through Arizona into Texas, Colorado and Nevada as well as Utah. As their name implies, they like to reside in rocky areas. This has enabled them to adjust well to roadside rock walls, fences and man made ditches. Though they too will eat plants as a staple, Rock squirrels love nuts, seed and fruit and will readily feed on them when available. They average 3-5 young per litter per year and will live 4-6 years on average.
The Thirteen Lined ground squirrel is probably the most mis-identified ground squirrel often mistaken for chipmunk and gophers. It resides throughout most of the great plain states all the way from Texas to Pennsylvania to Canada. These ground squirrels will eat just about anything including insects, mice, earthworms, small birds, other Thirteen Lined squirrels, seeds, nuts, vegetables, fruit and flowers. They will produce over 10 young per litter once a year and will live a few years on average.
The Franklin ground squirrel resides in several of the mid western states from the middle of the country up to Canada. They will eat a lot of insects and small animals when available but rely mostly on plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables. They will change to seeds and nuts later in the year when available. Their litters can have 1-10 young and they only live a few years.
The Townsend has a range much like that of the Belding and relies on plants, fruits, vegetables and seeds for food. They have litters and life expectancies like the Franklin squirrel as well.
The Richardson, Columbian and Washington ground squirrels all reside in the northwest part of the country and like the Townsend, rely more on flowers, plant stems, fruit and seed for diet. They will eat nuts and grains when available and have one litter a year with as little as 2 or as many as 15 young. They only live a few years on average but because they can reproduce quickly a few can turn to 30-40 in a year.
GROUND SQUIRREL PROBLEMS ^
Most all ground squirrels look different and may reside in different regions of the United States. But they all behave in similar fashions, they all like urban environments and they can all cause damage to our plants and structures. Ground squirrels who want to live on your property will first have to dig burrows to nest. They may try to take advantage of old abandoned burrows but they’re good diggers and will quickly construct a network of tunnels. These tunnels will undermine cement slabs and foundations as well as present hazards to people and animals.
DISEASE RELATED TO GROUND SQUIRRELS
Ground squirrel activity will inevitably bring insects like fleas along with several diseases and virus all of which present a hazard to people. In recent years, black plague has been linked to animals like prairie dogs and animals like gophers and ground squirrels are almost assuredly helping spread this deadly disease indirectly.
GROUND SQUIRRELS LOVE GARDENS! ^
Ground squirrels will eat just about any ornamental flower or plant and since they love fruits and vegetables, most gardens will become a favorite feeding station once found. Since they like to live close to where they eat, once they start feeding in your yard they will colonize. This colonization can lead to some foraging into your home.
It’s for this reason that you should try to keep them off your property and once you find activity, take necessary action to remove all animals. The author will now list methods and products that can be used to repel ground squirrels from your yard to prevent local infestations. If you already have activity, there will be control options listed including poisoning, live trapping and kill trapping.
If you reside in a region which has ground squirrel activity, you must make note of surrounding land. Look for pockets of ground squirrels and some are present, expect them to move onto your land if left unprotected. If you know of people in the neighborhood who have had problems with these animals, make mental notes of where and when these problems were active. If neighbors immediately adjacent to your property have active ground squirrels or if your land adjoins fields where ground squirrels are present, you should start implementing some of the repellent treatments to make sure none move onto your land. Such repellents work well for this application.
GROUND SQUIRREL REPELLENT ^
Ground squirrels can be repelled and kept off you land using one of the repellents listed below. In general, the best approach is to line your property with either the scent or the sound. This will create a “fence” of sorts they will not want to cross. The “scent” will have to be renewed every 30-60 days but the sound device will last as long as the unit is active.
PREDATOR URINE TO REPEL GROUND SQUIRRELS ^
The first line of defense you can deploy is the use of COYOTE URINE . Coyotes are a natural predator of ground squirrels and for that reason, the urine scent will alarms them and make them feel uncomfortable. Use it along property lines, fence rows and pathways. Make placements of 1-2 ounces every 10-20 feet or more if needed. Though rain will break down the scent, ground squirrels are sensitive to this odor and will notice even trace amounts.
By itself, placements can be made directly to the ground. The net effect will be to create an invisible “fence”. Simply sprinkle the urine along entry borders using 1-2 oz per 10-20 feet. Plan on renewing the application every 30 days or as needed.
Most applications will last 1 month but if you want longer lasting residual, install LIQUID/GRANULE GUARDS. These are plastic holding reservoirs which can hold a few ounces of urine and protect it from the rain and sun. This protection will enable your placements to last at least twice as long before retreatments will be needed.
These holders blend into the landscape and will pay for themselves over time.
The use of Urine down exiting burrows or dens is not suggested unless you are sure the animals have been removed (see details on how to remove them below). In other words, applying urine to active burrows will not chase them away. Only after you have successfully removed the ones which live there should the old borrows be spryed. At that time the urine odor will keep away new animals from moving in to take advantage of the vacated home.
We offer two types of urine guards. The first one gets “staked” to the ground and holds the urine up top. The cover is easy to remove and once urine is placed inside, seal it back up and place the stake in the ground. Placements of the guards should be every 8-10 feet in areas with high activity.
A more “discreet” way to apply the urine is with CAPSULE GUARDS. These hold a little less than an ounce and are applied by pushing them into the ground. The guards will slowly release the urine like the larger guards above. The net result will be 60+ days of protection instead of a month or less.
In some areas, BOBCAT URINE might be a better option.
BEST GROUND SQUIRREL REPELLENT SPRAY ^
We also have another liquid repellent better suited for treating non-edible plants. Urine sprayed on plants can be damaging since its highly acidic. But PEST RID SPRAY can be used on fences, trees, shrubs, bushes, flowers and more ground squirrels fine attractive.
Where applied, Pest Rid will immediately cause the squirrels to forage elsewhere. Like the urine, applications will last 1-2 months under normal conditions.
The quart will cover 125 sq/ft; gallons will treat up to 500 sq/ft.
SOUND REPELLER FOR GROUND SQUIRRELS ^
Another option is to install SOUND REPELLERS. Our machine is quite unique in that it uses ultra sound by default which is usually enough to keep them away. But it also has a predatory animal audible sound you control. This sound can be turned up or down as needed. This sound alone will be enough to scare them away instantly.
Refer to our product page for more details on this equipment since it has too many options to list. But here is a quick summary of why this unit is a good option for ground squirrels.
- It uses ultra sound to repel animals and ground squirrels do not like this sound.
- It has a wireless remote control so you can turn the machine off/on as needed in case you need to use the area where its deployed.
- It has a daytime only setting, a night time only setting or a 24 hour a day setting. For ground squirrels, it should be on during the day.
- It has the optional audible sound setting.
- It includes an AC power supply so if you can run it the device by plugging it into a power outlet, you can let the machine run constantly which will allow it to effectively control a huge area during the day. Using it this will give you coverage up to 70-80 feet away covering up to 4,000 sq/ft in the process.
- It can also be powered by batteries which can last several months. But using it this way means you will need to have it activate via the motion detector only or else the batteries will run out after a few days if you leave it “always on”.
Plan on protecting your property by positioning these along property lines and borders where ground squirrels might enter.
More settings can be found here: GROUND SQUIRREL SETTINGS FOR OUR SOUND REPELLER
Install units pointing in the direction from where they will enter and ground squirrels will avoid the property. The sound is simply too irritating to the animals. This is particularly helpful at keeping unwanted animals off your property and in some cases, it can be strong enough to chase away nesting animals too.
GAS STICKS FOR GROUND SQUIRRELS ^
If you already have burrows, there is a repellent that could get them to move. Using sulfur as the driving force, these “dynamite” looking GAS STICKS are first lit and then placed down dens and tunnels. The goal of this approach is to literally “smoke” them out. If animals are in the den when you treat and their network is small (20 feet or less), there is a chance the smoke could suffocate them.
The second option that routinely happens is that they leave the den using an exit tunnel and escape off the property.
1-2 sticks per den is generally enough. And if you can close up or “cap” entrance/exits you see close to the one you want to use, do so as this will help keep the released gas in their tunnel.
Now for these to be effective, its best if the targeted animal is in the burrow. This can be confirmed by observing it run down it’s den as you approach. Once sure targeted animals have moved down their dens, make an effort to locate all entrance/holes and use rocks to close up and “cap” these other entrances. Leave one hole open through which you will apply the Gas Stick and make sure it is one of the main holes used. Keep one more rock which will be used to seal this last hole once the Gas Stick has been applied.
Next, light the Gas Stick, place it down the den and close the den up with that last rock you have ready. If the holes are sealed correctly, the Gas Stick will release sulfur gas which will move about the tunnel network reaching all areas where nesting ground squirrels will be living. The gas will take about 3-5 minutes to completely release and animals which are breathing the fumes will quickly and painlessly pass away. If done correctly, results are immediate. It is important to understand that there is no residual left behind from treatments; once the gas is gone so too is any chance of killing targeted ground squirrels. This is why knowing they are present in the den is crucial for success. Most dens will take 1-2 sticks; larger ones will require 3-4 all applied at one time.
WHAT ABOUT A POISON BAIT FOR GROUND SQUIRRELS? ^
We routinely get asked for a ground squirrel “poison” and though there are are couple of formulations on the market, these are for use by licensed professionals only because of the active ingredient. We do have a non restricted GOPHER BAIT which works well on gophers and moles. Using grubs and worms as the main attractant, any small animal that eats some will succumb to the active. Generally used at the rate of 2 oz per tunnel or nest, its the only bait you could try if you insist on using one but keep in mind, its not labeled for such ground squirrels – just moles and gophers.
HOW TO TRAP GROUND SQUIRRELS ^
If you have active animals nesting or foraging and prefer to remove them for good, consider a good live or kill trap. Trapping is effective. Once animals are removed, repellents work best and can be set up with confidence because they always work when repelling new animals coming to the area. But trying to repel established animals can be a challenge and in some cases, removing the animals is the best way to proceed.
BEST LIVE TRAPS FOR GROUND SQUIRRELS ^
We have three live traps effective for ground squirrels.
Th smallest is the LT3310 and really is only suggested to use on animals which are less than 10 ounces like the 13 Lined Ground Squirrel. This trap measures 3″ wide by 3″ tall and 10″ long.
To set the trap, simply push the front door “in”. It will then lock in place. Animals that enter will pass over the front door and eventually reach the “trip pan” which will release the door so it closes behind the animal keeping it contained inside.
The Green trap is what we consider to be a “economy” trap and not designed to last years or to catch lots of ground squirrels. Its definitely “low” quality but sells for a good price so if budgeting is a concern, try this trap as it will work. Just be prepared to “tweak” the trip pan setting as its more likely to adjust over time.
This trap measures 5″ wide by 5″ tall and 16″ long. It’s painted green and will blend into most landscapes well.
The best ground squirrel live trap is our LT5518RD. You can get it “stock” with front door access only but the rear door model is well worth the extra cost. This model will allow you to easily bait the trap as well as remove or release trapped animals. Made for professionals, this trap will last for many years. The author has this model and has trapped well over 500 animals using it over 14 years.
LIVE TRAP BAIT FOR GROUND SQUIRRELS ^
Trapping ground squirrels is actually quite easy. The key is trap placement. Simply place your trap alongside activity or burrows and with the right lure placed inside, you’ll get fast results.
For fruit eating animals (squirrels targeting your garden), go with the loganberry. Use a teaspoon full per set along with a small piece of their favorite fruit.
For nut eating squirrels, the pecan paste will work best. Same amount needed; 1 teaspoon full per set along with some bird seed or the local nut they’re targeting.
BEST KILL TRAPS FOR GROUND SQUIRREL ^
If you don’t want to live trap your squirrels and have no guilt about using a kill trap, there are two a few styles available that can make the job easy.
BODY GRIP SQUIRREL TRAP ^
The first is known as a Bodygrip Trap. These are clamp like traps which are placed directly over ground squirrel entrance/exit holes. As the animal sticks it’s head out it will get crushed which instantly kills it. Death is both painless and quick. These traps come in many sizes and don’t need to be baited. They simply need to be placed over ground squirrel holes.
The easiest way to make a set is to use bricks on either side of the trap and then to “set” the trap springs in between a small gap you leave between two blocks. In most cases, 8 blocks will be needed. Set 4 blocks on opposite sides of the hole. Stack two on top of one another and leave a gap just far enough apart to allow the trap spring to fit in place between the blocks. The double spring #120 trap is well suited for this set. If you look at the picture of the trap, you’ll see the springs are in place. The picture is showing the trap “set”. Imagine laying the trap down flat, just over the hole, with the two springs laying between the bricks. When the squirrels emerge from the hole, there head will hit the “V” trigger releasing the jaws.
These traps measure 5″ wide by 5″ tall and can handle any ground squirrel.
PIPE TUBE TRAP FOR GROUND SQUIRRELS ^
A similar type of trap – but one which is much easier to use – is the PIPE TRAP. This design uses a similar type of killing mechanism inside the pipe which is 4 inches wide. Squirrels love to enter pipes, tubes, hoses, down spouts and just about anything which is hollow and round. This design takes advantage of the squirrels natural curiosity but once inside, they don’t leave. Basically the trap acts like a pair of pliers which are being closed on the target animal.
SQUIRREL ZAPPER ^
Another kill trap which can be utilized effectively is the SQUIRREL ZAPPER. These devices are small plastic chambers which have a high conducting metal pad inside on the floor. As targeted animals enter, they will unknowingly ground themselves which causes a strong surge of electricity to flow through their bodies which causes a quick and painless death. These devices are excellent for use on ground squirrels and should be baited with either our Loganberry or Pecan paste for best results. Like live trapping, your set needs to be just outside their den on the ground.
Zappers are easy to deploy. Just add batteries, some of our Paste and set them out. Squirrels will enter but not leave. This is the “easiest” kill trap to use and one set of batteries will be strong enough to handle 20+ animals.
To protect the Zapper from the rain and other elements, be sure to install them with TRAP TUBE. This is a super heave PVC pipe designed to keep your zapper “high and dry”. They come with two stakes so you can anchor them to the ground. And they can be configured to stay in place on both flat surfaces or hills.
Once active animals are removed from their den, treat with either the COYOTE or BOBCAT urine listed above to ensure these locations are not used again. You can also set up some of the SOUND REPELLERS.
Ground squirrels can become a problem rodent in and around the home. It is best to use some repellents to keep them off the property altogether. Once they are established, you will have to trap or poison them to remove unwanted animals. And once you get rid of them, be sure to take care and don’t let them move back into your turf if you want to protect your garden and plants!
CONTACT US ^
Give us a call if you need further help. Our toll free is 1-800-877-7290 and we’re open Monday through Thursday, 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM. On Friday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM and on Saturday, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time).
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