- 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
- INSTALL SOUND REPELLERS ALONG PROPERTY BORDERS
- ABOVE GROUND SQUIRREL REPELLER
- LOW PROFILE SOUND REPELLERS
- 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 sprayed. At that time the urine odor will keep away new animals from moving in to take advantage of the vacated home.
We also know the use of urine will not be effective when there is a food source they’re targeting like a bird feeder or vegetable garden. The lure and need for food is so strong, scented repellents are not enough of a repellent to keep them away. So if you have food attracting them, you’ll need to use one of our sound repellers listed below.
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.
INSTALL SOUND REPELLERS ALONG PROPERTY BORDERS ^
Another effective way to keep ground squirrels out of the yard is to install some of our sound repelling devices. We feature two types; one for above ground, long distance coverage and the other is a “ground stake” low profile design.
ABOVE GROUND SQUIRREL REPELLER ^
For protection over large areas where ground squirrels can come from different angles, our ABOVE GROUND SOUND REPELLERS are the way to go. These units are very effective on ground squirrels to the extent that they can actually chase away animals already living in the yard.
This repeller is unique in that it uses ultra sound by default which is usually generally enough to ground squirrels 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.Units should be placed 1-2 feet above ground and pointed in the direction where animals are entering as well as “over” the turf you want to protect.
For easy installation, MOUNTING BLOCKS are handy. They can accept 1 or 2 repellers (picture to the right) and have a 1/2″ hole on their bottom so they will easily fit over a 1/2″ piece of rebar or any other wood or plastic stake. Ultra Sound Repellers will work fine by themselves as long as you have a good place to set them up. But we highly recommend getting the Units with Mounting Blocks in the kits we offer. Mounting Blocks allow you to place units anywhere and they will save time too.
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. So if you have animals coming around visiting periodically, they will effectively chase them away. But for nesting animals with active tunnels, you’ll need to first gas them and then install our in the ground repellers listed below.
LOW PROFILE SOUND REPELLERS ^
The ground stake repellers are a more “discreet” setup for the yard. Once installed, you’ll be able to keep them from creating nest tunnels. But again, plan on gassing active tunnels first.
So which unit do you install?
One design is strong enough to use as a barrier along property lines to keep foraging ground squirrels looking for homes away from your yard. The second unit is much stronger incorporating ultra sound along with the standard vibration and sound our basic unit provides.
There are lots of these units on the market these days but most are under powered and won’t be strong enough to handle the job when it comes to ground squirrels. That being said, the science is proven. Basically ground burrowing animals like ground squirrels will avoid dirt under construction or where they hear ongoing “noise”. For this reason, devices which intentionally send out sound waves can be used to both chase away ground squirrels and keep them from entering your property in the first place.
BASIC SOLAR POWERED GROUND SQUIRREL REPELLER ^
So if you’ve had ground squirrels in the yard and you want to make sure they don’t come back this year, install our basic SOLAR POWERED GROUND SQUIRREL CHASER along property borders. This device uses sunlight to charge a small battery which in turn will keep the unit running all day and all night. In fact it can run several days without sun so once installed, you’ll have 24 hours a day protection.
This basic unit can cover up to 6,500 sq/ft and if placed along property lines where ground squirrels might enter, these units will effectively reroute any nuisance animal elsewhere.
Coverage is about 4,000-6,500 sq/ft depending on soil type. Soft, loamy soil like that typically found along water ways will tend to absorb the sound and effectively deaden it. This means coverage will be thwarted and reduced to the lower range of 4,000-5,000 sq/ft. But for hard pan, clay type soil, coverage can be 5,000-6,500 sq/ft.
When placed along property lines, install units every 45-50 feet to establish an invisible “wall of sound” ground squirrels will not want to pass.
When the units arrive, they will have a slight charge but its not enough to use afield. So before installing units in the yard, we recommend letting them sit out in sunlight (turned off) for at least one day to get a good charge on their battery. This way when you deploy them in the yard, they’ll be ready to work at full strength.
Now if you currently have active ground squirrels, you’ll need the next unit down the page and possibly the above ground repeller listed above as well as the gas sticks for active tunnels.
DELUXE SOLAR POWERED GROUND SQUIRREL REPELLER ^
So if you have active ground squirrels centered on your property say in a garden or flower bed, our DELUXE GROUND SQUIRREL REPELLER will be needed. This model is one of kind and not available for sale elsewhere. True, there are models which look similar. But they don’t have all the features our units have which are needed for certain animals like prairie dogs, ground squirrels, chipmunks and voles.
Our deluxe model works essentially the same as the basic unit above. It too uses the sun to charge an on board battery so it runs on its own, around the clock. And it releases a vibration that will both move the ground and create a sound wave that will “rattle” ground squirrels so they want to leave. But our deluxe model incorporates other sounds making them well suited for control of existing problems when used in conjuction with the gassers.
As stated, this unit will vibrate several times a minute constantly rotating the sound cycle. But it also sends out “ultra sound”. In general, ultra sound won’t help fight true, under-the-ground dwellers like moles since they’re down in the ground and well protected from sound active above them in the open air. This is why all the other ground stake repellers on the market don’t include ultra sound. But for animals that like to forage up out of the ground (like ground squirrels), ultra sound is helpful and for the most part, a necessity if you’re trying to treat an active problem.
In addition to the ultra sound being sent out, it also uses LED bulbs located on the underside of the controller head. These light when its dark which effectively give the units an “evil” look at night. Small animals that like to forage on the ground will look up and see these flickering lights and perceive it to be a threat. This in turn will make them uncomfortable and nervous. Combined with the ultra sound, the vibration and the audible sound, the deluxe repeller is powerful enough to be used in the middle of a an active ground squirrels colony and within two weeks, force them to leave.
So if you have active ground squirrels and want to use this unit to chase them away, plan on gassing them first. After you gas the tunnels, wait a day and install the units directly into the tunnels and dens. During this initial phase you don’t want to install units along property borders for the first two weeks. Leaving the property borders unprotected will allow the nesting ground squirrels a way to escape.
Now after two weeks, you should still leave the units in nests where first installed for another month but at this time you can also install units along property borders. This will keep them out of your yard for good. And after another month, you can relocate the units from the middle of your property to the peripheral edges where they can work at keeping all other unwanted animals out.
Coverage for these units is a bit more compared to the basic unit. So for loamy soft soil, plan on getting 4,000-5,000 sq/ft of coverage. But for hard pan, 6,500 to 7,500 sq/ft per unit is to be expected. Along property borders, place units every 45-50 feet.
Setup for these is like the other unit in that you’ll want to let the head unit charge for 1-2 days prior to setting them out in the yard. This way they go afield under full power making them best suited to get the job done. For more detailed directions on how to set them up, download our SETUP DIRECTIONS (.pdf).
Regardless of which unit you get, you need to properly prepare the ground by drilling a smooth hole for them to fill. The hole must be the proper depth and width. Our SOIL AUGER is perfectly designed for the task. Simply attach it to your favorite hand drill and take it out to the yard for the task at hand. Holes can be drilled in 10-20 seconds and will be just right. Plan on making them about 9 inches deep as units need to be installed so 1-2″ stick out to keep the head unit off the ground.
GAS STICKS FOR GROUND SQUIRRELS ^
If you already have burrows and plan on installing our deluxe units to chase active animals away, use these gas fumigants to force them to move. These use sulfur as their driving force. They are “dynamite” looking GAS STICKS but don’t explode so you shouldn’t think you are deploying some kind of bomb! But they do get lit and then they basically “smoke” quite bit. Place them down dens and tunnels after they’re lit and then “cap” the hole so the smoke stays in the tunnel network. 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.
Gassing is effective and will provide 23-6 weeks of control. But when used with ground stake repellers, you’ll get more permanent results.
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.
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.
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.
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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