June 9, 2008

Outwitting Squirrels

If you're going to do battle with squirrels, you're going to lose everytime - unless you know as much about them as you possibly can.

I repeat: you have to know everything about squirrels. Because they know everything about you.

Squirrels know when you fill a feeder - you're ringing the dinner bell for them. Squirrels know that you may occassionally scream and flail their arms at them, but that in a few minutes you will go away. Squirrels know that if they knaw through one feeder you will buy another one for them to sharpen their teeth on. Squirrels know that if they eat all of the feed you put out for the birds that you will just refill the feeder again for them. Squirrels know that no matter what, there's going to be delicious seed in your yard.

"Make my day!"

Gray Squirrels - Sciurus carolinensis

Weight: 16-24 ounces

Range: 1-7 acres

Foods: nuts, plant seeds, fruit, flowers, mushrooms, buds, birdseed, and they love peanuts and peanut butter

Lifespan: About one year in the wild - up to seven years as pets

Reproductions: Two litters a year

A town nearby where I grew up adopted the City Park squirrels. They were hand fed peanuts daily by the locals becoming so tame that they would sit on the park bench beside anyone visiting the park on a hot Summers day. This startled many a visitor to the town to glance up from a book to find a squirrel crawling across the bench toward their lap.

Squirrels are members of the rodent family - order of gnawing animals. They evolved about 40 million years ago in North American during the Eocene Epic. The origins of the gray squirrel are unknown. We've all heard the term - tree rat.

Squirrels have only one thing to do all day long: eat. Adult squirrels consume one to one and a half pounds of seed per week. Four squirrels will polish off six pounds of bird seed in one week!

A study by the Schlitz Audubon Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to test bird's preferences for seed. Within minutes several gray squirrels attacked the feeders. Black sunflower seeds were the favorite of the squirrels. The birds never had a chance!

Here's a grisly fact for you - Squirrels will eat bird eggs, baby birds, and the bones of dead matter, which also includes insects.

Although, squirrels obtain water from food matter, you will notice that squirrels visit your birdbaths as often as the birds.

A squirrel's teeth grow six inches each year. Plastic and wood pose no problem for their sharp teeth. Squirrels can even gnaw holes in some metals. They strip bark from trees and basically chew through eaves with no difficulty taking up residence in attic spaces.

A squirrel prefers to eat from its back legs, however can eat in any position - even upside down.

Squirrels will bury nuts for eating later, but cannot remember where they buried them after 20 minutes. Although squirrels cannot remember where they buried their nuts, they have no difficulty find nuts they have buried in the past or nuts buried by other squirrels. They use their acute sense of smell to find the nuts even if they are buried beneath several inches of snow.

Squirrels have immensely powerful back legs and can jump six feet in the air. They can leap between trees that are eight feet apart. Squirrels are fast and have been clocked at 19 miles per hour. Squirrels can swim up to one mile.

Here's some tips - Good Luck!

1. Hang your feeder from a tree. Make sure the feeder is eight feet away from the nearest branch, at least six feet off the ground, and completely covered with a baffle.

2. Adopt a cat from your local shelter.

3. Adopt terriers from your local shelter.

4. Squirrels hate the smell of moth balls.

Learn to live with the squirrels. Even if you find a squirrel proof feeder, squirrels will clean up the seed on the ground underneath the feeders.

Squirrel proofing for the gardener.

1. Encase your bulbs in chicken wire.

2. Squirrels hate the smell of mothballs. Place mothballs around your containers or treasured plants. Not too close to the plant but a few inches away.

3. Red pepper. If you encase your plants in chicken wire, coat the wire with petroleum jelly sprinkled with red pepper.

4. Feed the squirrels away from your garden.

If you are going to do battle with a squirrel - you are going to lose everytime. Now what about those rabbits???

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