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.

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Ground squirrels have chosen to dig their homes 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 our gardens fruit and vegetables as well as our 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.



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 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.



All the above ground squirrels look different and may reside in different regions of the United States, but they also have many similarities. These similarities include digging and eating – both of which can cause a lot of damage in or around the home. Ground squirrels which start to live on your property will first have to dig burrows to nest. Though they will take advantage of old abandoned burrows, they are good diggers and will quickly construct a network of tunnels which will become the life support for their colonies. These tunnels will undermine cement slabs and foundations as well as present hazards to people and animals.



Ground squirrel activity will inevitably bring with it insects like fleas along with several diseases and virus all of which present a hazard to people. 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 start to colonize. This colonization may eventually lead to some getting in the home.

It is 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 see if any are present. 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.



Coyote UrineGround squirrels will readily ignore treated areas and move around them to seek harborage and food elsewhere. There are many products that can be installed for preventive measures including liquids, granules and ultra sound devices. COYOTE URINE can be used quite effectively to keep unwanted ground squirrel activity off your property. The scent of this urine alarms them since coyote readily feed on any ground squirrel. Use it along property lines, fence rows and pathways. Make placements of 1-2 ounces every 10-20 feet or as needed. Though rain will break down the scent, ground squirrels are sensitive to this odor and will notice even trace amounts.

Coyote UrineCoyote Urine:


Capsule GuardsGranule Liquid GuardMost applications will last 1 month but if you are in a wet rainy region or period, install some LIQUID/GRANULE GUARDS. These are plastic holding reservoirs which can hold a quart 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. They blend in nicely with 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. Applying some to a burrow network where active animals still live will not keep them away. Only after you have successfully removed the ones which live there should borrow treatment be applied. At that time the urine odor will keep away new animals from moving in to take advantage of the vacated home.

Granule Liquid GuardLiquid Guard:

Capsule GuardsCapsule Guard:



Granule Liquid GuardPest Rid GranulesAnother material which works well at keeping ground squirrels away is PEST RID GRANULES. This product releases an odor ground squirrels, bats and rabbits don’t like. Ground squirrels will avoid areas where the repellent has been applied. Spread it out along property lines, fence rows or pathways coming from a field or land onto your property. By applying this material you will be able to help cut down on animals moving into your gardens or other nest locations. Like the urine, applications will last 1-2 months under normal conditions. However, you can install some of the LIQUID/GRANULE GUARDS to protect your applications from the rain and sun. These guards will enable your applications to last 2-3 months.

Pest Rid GranulesPest Rid Granules:

Granule Liquid GuardGranule Guard:


If you have a lot of loose nuts or other food attractants in your turf which is attracting unwanted squirrel activity, removing as much of it as possible will help reduce nesting. We know this will help because ground squirrels like to nest as close to food as possible. Furthermore, certain soil types are more likely to be dug out for nesting and burrowing. If you have such soil on your property, it is more conducive to nesting ground squirrels and they will tend to gravitate to such soil wherever it can be found.



Whole ControlIf you have a lot of food attractants around – too much to conceivably clean up – and you have soil which the local ground squirrels like to use for nests, consider broadcasting some WHOLE CONTROL over all such areas. Whole Control is a bad tasting agent generally used for moles, voles and armadillos. It won’t hurt the plants, turf or soil but it does taste bad and tends to keep animals from feeding on or digging in anything which has been sprayed with this product. Simply water it in over the soil they find attractive and spray it over the nuts or plants they are targeting as food and you will force them to forage elsewhere. Keep in mind that treatments will only last 1-2 weeks and works best when used before animals are nesting in the areas being treated. If they are already established, you may have to resort to some of the stronger control methods listed below.

Whole ControlWhole Control:





USD AC/BATT YARD GARD (49)Once last option you may try is the use of an ULTRA SOUND YARD GARD kept constantly running by using the included AC power converter. This technology has been available for some time but our experience is that it really only works well when certain conditions are present. Don’t use it to remove existing animals – it probably won’t work. And don’t rely on it’s “motion detector” setting; keep it constantly running. When used this way to keep new animals away, we get good results.



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 but again, it probably won’t do much if you target animals which are already living where you direct the sound. Since they can simply escape down their burrow to avoid the sound they probably won’t move away. Sound alone is usually not enough of a reason for a ground squirrel to leave – especially if there is a good supply of food close by.



Giant Destroyer 4 PKIf you already have some burrowing and taking up residence in your property, you will have to start an aggressive ground squirrel control program to knock them out. This can be done by poisoning, live trapping them or kill trapping them. Poisoning ground squirrels can be done with a couple of different products. A common tool used for this purpose are the GAS STICKS. These are small cylinders which are comprised of concentrated sulfur and use a fuse to be lighted. Gas Sticks are used to poison targeted ground squirrels by essentially poisoning them through fumigation. To be effective, several things must work in your favor.

Giant Destroyer 4 PKGiant Destroyer:


First, the targeted animal must be present in the burrow. This can usually be confirmed by observing it run down it’s den as you approach. It is suggested that you make sure targeted nesting squirrels are in fact present in the burrow since using Gas Sticks only work when targeted animals are present. Once you are sure targeted animals have moved down their dens, make an effort to locate all entrance/holes and use rocks to these 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.



If you don’t want to poison targeted ground squirrels, you might consider trapping. Trapping can be done with either live traps or kill traps. There are several live traps available which will serve you well.

Live Trap 3x3x10The smallest one to use is the LT3310 and really is only suggested to use on animals which are less than 10 ounces. The Thirteen Lined ground squirrel can be effectively trapped with this model but most other species will be too large for this trap.

Live Trap 3x3x10LT3310:


Live Trap 5x5x18 RDLive Trap Green 5x5x16The more common traps used for ground squirrels are the GREEN ECONO 5X5X16, the LT5518 or the LT5518RD. 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. So if you have a serious problem, get the LT5518 or the LT 5518RD. All these models use a 1/2 inch by 1 inch mess wire which is sure to hold even the Thirteen Lined squirrel but large enough to catch the largest Rock or California specimen you might have.

Live Trap Green 5x5x16Green Live Trap:

Live Trap 5x5x18Live Trap:



Pecan PasteLoganberry PasteTrapping ground squirrels is easy. Simply place your trap alongside activity or burrows. Bait it with either the LOGANBERRY PASTE or our PECAN PASTE and make sure to check it at least once every 24 hours. You will readily catch them and once trapped you can either relocate them or destroy them accordingly. If relocating, be sure to take them at least 5 miles away since they will return several miles if given the chance. Use one trap for every 5-10 animals. Using less traps could make the task seem never ending if you have 10 or more animals so be sure to put enough to work. It is much more efficient to relocate 2-3 animals at one time than to drive 5 or more miles for one ground squirrel every few days! Work effectively and remove as many as you can at one time.

Loganberry PasteLoganberry Paste:

Pecan PastePecan Paste:


If you don’t want to live trap your targeted animals and have no guilt about using a kill trap, there are two styles available which will work well. 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 and staked. It is important to stake them because predatory animals that feed on dead squirrels will drag your trap away if it is not secured.



BG 220BG 110BG 55Bodygrip traps are easy to use and work well. Get traps to fit the hole size you need to cover. Popular sizes for ground squirrels are the BG 55, BG 110, BG 160 and the BG 220. It is best to set as many as you can over all holes as this will provide quick results and help avoid trap shyness.

BG 55BG 55:

BG 110BG 110:

BG 220Bodygrip 220:


RaticatorAnother kill trap which can be utilized effectively is the RODENT ZAPPING DEVICE. 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, sets need to be made just outside their dens on the ground.

Trap TubeTo protect the Zapper from the rain and other elements, be sure to install them with TRAP TUBE. This is a plastic “tupperware” like container that will keep the Zapper protected. Remember, it is electric and does not do well when it gets wet. These work very well for ground squirrels as proclaimed here in this RAT ZAPPER REVIEW.

Trap TubeTrap Tube:



Pest Rid GranulesCoyote UrineNow that you have successfully eliminated the ground squirrels which were living in your yard and garden, do everything you can to make sure more don’t come. This can be accomplished by first destroying any old burrows and dens you have on or close to your land. Remember, abandoned dens will assuredly attract new residents eager to take advantage of vacated homes. Breaking them apart by digging down 2-3 feet will generally help to prevent this from happening but adding some COYOTE URINE or PEST RID GRANULES will cause any ground squirrel to think twice about living there. The scent of coyote urine in the mound can only mean one thing and in most cases, roaming squirrels will not move into any den with that odor. And with the Pest Rid; ground squirrels tend to avoid areas where it’s applied so they probably won’t ever notice the old burrows after some has been applied.

Coyote UrineCoyote Urine:

Pest Rid GranulesPest Rid Granules:


As stated above, you should never apply the urine to dens which have active populations but you can use it once you remove the current inhabitants.

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!


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Comments on GROUND SQUIRREL CONTROL Leave a Comment

April 20, 2012

Diane Newcomer @ 12:23 pm #


Neighbors keep feeding squirrels peanuts and now they put a feeder in line fence next to my property to keep them out of their garage. These people aren’t friendly with any of the neighbors. What can I do to keep squirrels out of my shed?

June 9, 2012

jerry @ 1:23 am #


I have ground squirrels eating the electric wiring in my car and truck. I have replaced many items. I need serious help to stop them from getting in my autos as they are breaking my bank?

June 16, 2012

Gail Wheeler @ 7:05 am #


We have 80 acres in Indiana. We thought all the holes in “our yard’ were moles…. however, this week our cat has now killed and proudly brought 2 dead squirrels to our door: the first a little red one. Then a black one today, which I put in a bag … into the freezer… wondering about what kind it was and could they be living in the ground?

Earlier this spring the cat had a tiny little red animal in my garden which was ‘crying like a baby’!! It had huge blue/green eyes and a very little tail. I took it from the cat and very quickly it went into a hole in my flower garden. I had no idea what it was… but now I suspect it was a baby” ground squirrel” after reading some of your information. We do have a lot of Oak trees and have put out food for birds in the winter and a “few” squirrels.

Our first year here there were flying Squirrels but we thought the noise of our many children scared them away to the woods behind us. However, in over 30 years here, this is the first year that we have been aware of “ground squirrels”. Thank you for this informative site!!

July 17, 2012

Barbara @ 8:52 pm #


We have had a mole problem, but now we see it is ground squirrels. We have holes around our crepe myrtle bushes and have some now around the foundation of our house. What can we do? We have a ultra sound mole killer, but it hasn’t helped the squirrels.

July 22, 2012

Dee A @ 3:38 pm #


Hope you can help me with my problem. Do ground squirrels have a smell? I have an odor that I think is coming from a burrow under my front step. Is it possible there are babies in a nest causing it? It is driving me crazy! It comes and goes and seems worse in the evening. Any suggestions?

July 23, 2012

Kristen @ 8:56 am #


I have ground squirrels eating the tomatoes out of my garden! I have a plot in a community garden so I am somewhat limited on what types of controls I can use (I don’t think they would like traps…) Any suggestions to keep my produce alive?

September 6, 2012

Lesllile @ 11:13 am #


My husband and I just bought a home out in the country. There are big grey ground squirrels EVERYWHERE. There are burrows in a retaining wall, burrowing under my house and all over the yard. I have dogs and cats that both spend a significant amount of time outside so I am wary of poisons. The ultra sound devices looked appealing, but from reading your information it will not do much for current rodent residents. What do you suggest I start with? I had also heard that squirrels multiply at a rapid rate, as quickly as every 6 weeks? Can you confirm this? There is a large coyote population all over as well, but they do not come close to the house. Please help! Thank you.

September 7, 2012
July 14, 2013

RJ @ 2:19 pm #


Do you have any info on controlling the Antelope Ground Squirrel? And putting out coyote urine does not phase them. I have real live coyotes on my property and they are not doing a good job and the squirrels are not afraid of them.

October 5, 2013

Judy Meirndorf @ 4:14 pm #


Thank you so much for the helpful information you have given! We have a terrible problem with them. When you walk on our ground, your feet sink into the dirt due to their tunnels. We will try your suggestions now that we know where to get your traps. Thank you again!

Can you eat these squirrels? I see it on Duck Dynasty all the time where they eat squirrels. Boy, we would never have to buy meat again! Chuckle! Chuckle!

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