Ground squirrels seem cute when you watch them in movies or cartoons.
But don’t be fooled; these creatures are not as cute and harmless as they seem. These rodents can wreak untold damage on your farm, lawn, or garden, leaving you to wonder if they’re the same cute, cuddly creatures.
We’re sure you are reading this article because you agree with us. Ground squirrels can constitute a nuisance and need to be dealt with as soon as possible.
But how do you get rid of ground squirrels?
First of all, let’s discuss how to identify these rodent pests.
What Does A Ground Squirrel Look Like?
Ground squirrels are rodents, meaning they are mammals and have pronounced incisors.
All rodents have the same facial appearance, so that a ground squirrel may look like a giant rat or a chipmunk.
But unlike rats, they have a bushy tail covered in fur.
Their fur is usually dark-colored. It could either be a deep shade of gray, brown or have mixed coloration. Some ground squirrels have a strip of darker fur running from their head to their tails, like the 13-lined ground squirrel.
Like the Barbary ground squirrels, other ground squirrels have strips of dark brown fur run from their head to tail against their pale white coat. So ground squirrels can have different appearances, depending on their species.
Like other rodents, they have eyes at the side of the head and pronounced external ears. Ground squirrels can also stand upright, even though they move on all fours. They have sharp claws too, which they use for scratching and holding objects.
Why Are They Called Ground Squirrels?
Ground squirrels spend most of their time on the ground, unlike tree squirrels. We’d still come to the difference between ground squirrels and tree squirrels.
Ground squirrels live underground where they store food. They will often make burrows in a new habitat, which could be 2-3 inches wide. But there is a catch. These tunnels are deep and complex, as some could be 20-35 feet deep!
These squirrels dig extensive tunnels because each ground squirrel has its passage, so to say, as they live in families. They communicate with each other in high-pitched tones that sound like whistles.
What Do Ground Squirrels Eat?
We are used to seeing squirrels eating acorns on TV, but ground squirrels eat more than just acorns. Ground squirrels are omnivores, meaning they will eat plants and other smaller animals alike. They can also eat your fruits and flowers if they have their way.
Some ground squirrels, like the Cape ground squirrel, eat snakes. But these destructive pests will destroy even what they do not eat, like outdoor plastics and wood. You can also catch them damaging your electrical wiring or outdoor decor.
Ground squirrels eat nuts too and can disturb your bird feeder or wrestle your birds for some of their nuts. They can also feast on small insects and fungi they find growing around your home.
Overall, they will eat anything they can find in your space and destroy as much as they love to gnaw on stuff.
Ground squirrel vs. Tree Squirrel
(This is Ground Squirrel)
(This is tree squirrel)
One noticeable difference between ground squirrels and tree squirrels is their habitat. While ground squirrels love to breed and live on the ground, tree squirrels spend most of their time in trees, living and jumping from one tree to another.
Tree squirrels are not usually a problem because they don’t burrow, unlike ground squirrels. This is because tree squirrels are primarily found in trees or high places with little or no contact with humans.
On the other hand, ground squirrels are a nuisance because of their constant burrowing and gnawing.
When Is The Best Time to Deal with Ground Squirrels?
If you have a ground squirrel problem, it’s best to treat it in the summer or the spring. This is because most squirrel activity is seen during summer. They hibernate during winter, so it will be tough to spot and deal with them by then.
As for spring, the ground is usually still moist and will absorb most poison bait and pest control methods.
Since ground squirrels can birth around 30 baby squirrels per year, it’s essential to start treatment as soon as you notice 2 or 3 in your yard. If you stall for a month or two, you might wake up to a full-blown squirrel infestation.
What Damage Do Ground Squirrels Cause?
Apart from gnawing on your outdoor decorations or wiring, what other damage can ground squirrels do?
Well, you already know that they make their homes by burrowing.
They could dig up your lawn and garden by making burrows which could make your space look untidy. As they burrow, they damage plants in that area.
For example, if they want to make their home in your garden, they will destroy your plants with reckless abandon by uprooting them.
Ground squirrels are also known for eating flowers, fruits, and seeds. Anything growing in your garden is in danger of these pests.
Now, when ground squirrels burrow close to your house, it can cause an even bigger problem. They can result in problems for your house’s foundation by causing cracks in it.
These cracks can be expensive and time-consuming to fix. If not dealt with promptly, these cracks can interfere with the structural integrity of your home.
How Do I Get Rid of Ground Squirrels Permanently?
You know how ground squirrels look like now. You’ve also seen that a ground squirrel problem should be dealt with immediately, primarily because these pests can cause a lot of damage to your property.
If you’re wondering how to get rid of ground squirrels, there are a plethora of ways you can do this.
Some people don’t feel comfortable killing squirrels, and that’s fine.
There are methods you can use to eliminate them without killing them. For those who don’t like chemicals, there are natural/ organic methods to eliminate these rodents.
Let’s look at the methods that do not involve killing the squirrels directly before we move to the more gruesome ones.
Ground squirrels might be annoying and unruly, but one thing they run away from is noise. Just the way rats scamper at the slightest noise. Ground squirrels also move away from the noise as much as possible.
Now, it would be time-consuming for you to sit on your lawn making noise to chase ground squirrels away. What you can do is purchase some vibrating stakes and an ultrasonic repeller.
Vibrating stakes are small devices, usually solar-powered. They are sold in packs of four, six, or eight. You don’t have to make any killing, and the squirrels will surely leave your ‘noisy’ yard alone.
The Thanos® Solar Sonic Mole Repellent uses sonic audio pulse waves to penetrate the earth and generate a particularly unpleasant sound for burrowing pests, including the ground squirrels.
No longer will they invade your garden, ruin lawns, and destroy flowerbeds.
Water is an effective way of getting rid of ground squirrels without killing them. All you need to do is to connect a hose to a water source like a tap.
Make sure the water comes out with enough pressure because that pressure will go deep down into the burrows to chase out the squirrel. Position your hose at the entrance of the burrow and release a jet of water into it.
Within a few minutes, you will see the wet squirrels running out of their burrows. After chasing them out, you can use any of the things we listed out in the latter part of this article to fill their holes.
3. Smelly fish
Squirrels do not like the smell of stale fish because of its strong smell. You can take advantage of this by putting stale fish around your property.
While this might not be practicable every day, you can combine it with another method or use it once in a while. The squirrels will run once they perceive the smelly fish.
4. Certain plants
There are certain plants that ground squirrels would not even like to touch. Plants like mint, Narcissus, and crown imperial are repulsive to them. Plant these “squirrel-repelling” plants around your yard and watch how squirrels would avoid them.
You can also plant them near areas you notice ground squirrels enter your yard. These plants will act as a natural hedge for your space.
5. Castor oil
Castor oil is a natural pest repellant suitable for getting rid of ground squirrels. The castor oil works by repelling the squirrels with its scent.
To use castor oil in your yard, mix half a cup of it with a tablespoon of washing liquid. Then, mix this solution in half a gallon of water. The mixture can be used anywhere on your lawn or around your yard as it is not harmful to plants.
Fencing is not a method of eliminating squirrels but rather a way to control ground squirrels. Fencing involves using mesh or hardware cloth to secure your plants or areas you don’t want the squirrels to trespass.
The fencing material must go down into the soil at least 7 inches to prevent ground squirrels from borrowing their way through to the other side of the fence. Although this method could be expensive, it is suitable for gardens as it prevents other pests from ruining your garden too.
How to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels Chemically
Here are some of the methods that involve killing squirrels directly.
Just like with other pests, you can deal with ground squirrels through fumigation. The good thing about fumigating for ground squirrels is it is underground and not on the surface.
Fumigation can be done with approved chemicals, which you normally get from any agricultural store. But you have to be careful with fumigation as it can still damage plants and non target animals that live below your lawn.
Traps have been in use since time immemorial to catch animals.
It’s a trusted age-long trick.
There are two types of traps:
live traps and kill traps.
The live traps are usually large metal cages which ‘house’ the squirrel till you take it out.
In live or squirrel traps, the squirrel might die after a while since it doesn’t have access to food or water. Most people call wildlife services or just release the squirrels into the wild after they have been caught.
Kill traps, however, are not for the faint-hearted. These traps have a spring that triggers them to catch the ground squirrel in such a way it cannot escape. The traps usually grasp the squirrel’s neck, cutting off its air supply.
The more it struggles, the more it gets weak and eventually dies. Dead squirrel removal is not easy too. Sometimes, you have to kill squirrels that are half dead. If you have pets or kids that love to play on your lawn, then you should use a minimal number of traps so that no one gets hurt.
Another way to get rid of ground squirrels is baiting.
Baits could be anything a ground squirrel eats. Take a food sample of your choice and lace it with poison. The squirrels in your yard will eat the bit then start to experience health problems till they die.
You must make sure that your pets do not ingest this bait as it could be fatal to them as well. Below is a list of poisons you can use for these animals.
What Poison Kills Ground Squirrels?
If you’re thinking of what poison you can use to kill ground squirrels, then you have several options.
Before we go into these options, remember that poisons can harm you, your kids, or your pets. This is why it is essential to use them outdoors and keep them from your pets as much as possible.
Some poisons that can kill ground squirrels are:
Zinc phosphide is an effective poison against rodents, including ground squirrels.
You can use this strong poison to control ground squirrels because it kills squirrels rapidly.
The squirrels only need to ingest this poison once to get affected and die. Even though they do not die immediately, the zinc phosphate damages their stomach by producing a toxic gas, ultimately leading to their death.
Strychnine is another powerful position that you can use to poison ground squirrels.
All you need to do is put some tablespoons around your lawn or trash where squirrels would typically come to forage.
After they ingest it, the squirrel will begin to experience the effects of the poison.
Unlike zinc phosphide, strychnine doesn’t have an odor that squirrels avoid.
Bromadiolone is another dangerous substance you can use to kill ground squirrels.
Unlike the first two poisons on this list, bromadiolone is an anticoagulant, meaning it interferes with the blood clotting ability of the squirrel.
It is usually a whitish or yellowish powder. Bromadiolone prevents the squirrel’s body from generating vitamin K.
Vitamin K is an essential vitamin in humans and animals that takes care of blood clotting. When there’s no Vitamin K left in the squirrel, its blood will not be able to clot, leading to a slow death. If it gets an injury, probably from your trap, the bleeding won’t stop until it bleeds out.
Can I Use Coffee Grounds for Ground Squirrels?
You should not use coffee grounds for grounds squirrels because they are ineffective. Coffee grounds will not deter or chase away these animals as the smell doesn’t affect them in any way.
Moreover, it is not proven that coffee grounds are effective against ground squirrels. You could use coffee grounds for other things on your lawn, like adding organic matter or nutrients, but for ground squirrels.
Are Ground Squirrels Harmful to Humans?
Yes. Ground squirrels are harmful to humans and pets.
These rodents host many diseases like rabies, plaques, ringworm, and the bubonic plague. If the ground squirrels contact you or your pets, they would likely spread these diseases to you.
Can Gum Kill Ground Squirrels?
No. Bubble gum cannot kill ground squirrels.
A school of thought believes gum kills ground squirrels after they ingest it, but so far, there is no evidence to show that gum works.
What can I put in a ground squirrel’s hole?
There are many things you can use to fill up a ground squirrel’s hole or burrow openings. You can start putting back the earth they dug up into the hole till it is completely covered. You can also put mothballs into their holes.
Mothballs will chase a ground squirrel and gophers away.
But if you’re looking to fill up their home, you have to get a lot of water and sand. Squirrel holes can be very deep, so it will be hard to cover every inch of them.
What is The Best Bait for Ground Squirrels?
Ground squirrels can eat anything from fruits to nuts. However, if you catch these animals quickly, the best bait is peanut butter. Ground squirrels love nuts, and the smell of peanut butter will soon attract them to your trap.
Additionally, you can add some peanuts to make the bait even more effective. These peanuts should preferably be fresh and unsalted.
How Can I keep Ground Squirrels off My Yard for Good?
It’s not enough to eliminate ground squirrels from your space.
You also have to place some squirrel control measures, so they don’t come back. Otherwise, you might find yourself constantly eliminating these animals from season to season.
Here are the things you can do to keep ground squirrels off your yard for good:
Never leave food or trash exposed in your lawn:
Squirrels can eat anything and will be attracted to the littlest food they can find.
If you have a dining area outside or patio, ensure you don’t leave food there for long. Constantly monitor your food and clean up immediately you are done to avoid attracting pests.
Cover your trash:
Do you always leave your trash cans or bags open? Are there always food remnants around where you keep trash? Exposed trash can attract ground squirrels as they will always forage through the garbage.
If you can’t dispose of your trash every day, keep it in tightly-locked containers where squirrels cannot gain access. Clean up your trash area, too, as food and fruit remnants are appealing to animals.
Keep your garden or lawn as tidy as possible:
This simple prevention technique is not just for ground squirrels alone, but for most kinds of pests too. A clean, tidy garden hardly attracts pests. When it is clutter-free, it’s hard for a ground squirrel to find a hiding place.
Get water sprinklers:
Ground squirrels are easy to scare off.
If you install some water sprinklers, especially the motion-sensitive ones, you would be able to scare these pests off your lawn.
Check the sprinklers regularly because if they stop working, the squirrel might start gnawing on them, thereby damaging them.
Water sprinklers also help to keep your lawn fresh, so they are a plus for you.
Use cayenne pepper:
Rodents generally hate strong smells, and cayenne pepper is one of those smells. Mix two teaspoons of cayenne pepper with 75 Cl of water. Spray this peppery solution around areas where you particularly do not want ground squirrels to evade.
This solution will keep them at bay as they can’t stand the potent smell. If you can’t get cayenne pepper, you can use red pepper flakes too. Just soak two teaspoons of pepper overnight in the same quality of water, and you’re all set.
Get coyote urine:
Talking about strong smells, another smell that is sure to chase away ground squirrels is coyote urine. Coyotes are natural predators of ground squirrels. If they perceive coyote urine, the squirrels would think coyotes are actually around your space.
You can buy coyote urine from Amazon or a wildlife store near you. If you can’t lay your hands on coyote urine, you could use bobcat urine. They work in the same way.
Become a cat lover:
If you’re not comfortable with obtaining coyote urine, you can acquire some cats.
Now, you won’t buy domestic cats but farm cats. What’s the difference between farm cats and domestic cats?
Farm or barn cats are not afraid of anything and love to hunt down smaller animals, including rodents and lizards.
Remember we told you that ground squirrels are rodents?
Yes. You can use the age-long enmity between rodents and cats to your advantage as the farm cats will continuously chase or kill any ground squirrel troubling you.
Beautify your garden with stones:
You can purchase gravel, horticultural grit, or sandstones and use them to beautify your lawn. These stones will prevent ground squirrels from burrowing into your space. And when these squirrels can’t dig up your property, they’ll have to look for another place.
You could also use interlocking stones to adorn your property. If there’s no soil to dig, there will be no squirrels in your space.
Inspect your home:
You could be encouraging animals to visit you if you have holes or cracks around your house.
A ground squirrel may dwell in these spaces sometimes instead of its burrows.
No matter where you find a crack, whether in your attic or beside your kitchen door, be sure to cover them up. These will give the soil critters no place to hide on your property.
We’ve shown you how to get rid of ground squirrels. It is pretty easy once you follow the instructions highlighted in this article.
Remember, you have first to eliminate them before you prevent them. If you try to prevent them without getting rid of them, you would only be wasting time as they will always come back.
It’s not advisable to use the natural predators of ground squirrels like hawks and snakes to get rid of them. This is because these predators usually do more harm than good to you and your pets.
Instead we recommend to use Thanos sonic repellent.
The Thanos® Solar Sonic Mole Repellent uses the solar power to send out bursts of strong sonic pulse waves at the exact frequency burrowing pests are highly susceptible to.
This drives them from the area the device is located in and keeps them away for the duration it’s active.
We hope you enjoyed this article, and we believe your lawn or property will be free from these critters in no time!