Deterring Grey Squirrels

What's the problem?

If you are lucky enough to have the native Red Squirrel, Sciurus vulgaris, in your garden, and not the introduced Grey Squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis, then please disregard this article!

The Grey Squirrel reached our shores just over 100 years ago from North America, and since then it has displaced the Red Squirrel in all but the remotest parts and a few carefully protected enclaves.

Whatever your opinion on squirrels you have to admire their persistence. Their antics are both entertaining and frustrating and they are determined to get the best food from the easiest source. Your garden birdfeeding stations represent a Michelin starred dining establishment for these cunning gate-crashing beasts. The problem is they can leave little for your preferred, and invited, bird diners. Another dark-side of the Grey Squirrel is that it will raid birds' nests for both the eggs and the chicks. Also if they choose your roof space to make their drey - then look out!

Squirrels are very intelligent, so are formidable foes. They learn quickly and stash away lots of food. They have been known to pretend to bury the object if they feel that they are being watched. They do this by preparing the spot as usual, for instance digging a hole or widening a crack, miming the placement of the food, while actually concealing it in their mouths, and then covering up the "cache" as if they had deposited the object. So, we have a challenge on our hands.

Is there a solution?

Over the years many ideas have been put forward to deter squirrels. Some seem based on common sense, some require a complex understanding of physics and structural engineering, and others are simply bizarre.

In reality though, deterring squirrels from gardens is a problem which few people manage to fully overcome. Not only can squirrels jump great distances, but they also have the uncanny ability to work out how to overcome almost any obstacle put in their way.

Here are some suggestions and you can choose for yourselves which category they fall into.



    • Use metal feeders with a fine mesh that the squirrels can't penetrate. A cage device around the feeder will let small birds through, but keep squirrels out.


    • Ensure a 2m gap between feeders and vegetation, this distance is too far for a squirrel to jump.


    • Create a separate squirrel feeding station, which might help with a peaceful co-existence.


    • Apply a liberal dusting of chili powder around your feeders. Squirrels don't like the spiciness, but birds seem to be not bothered by it. You can even make your own spray by cooking a broth of paprika, cayenne, jalapeno (or equivalent strength) chilies and onion. Allow it to cool before spraying. It's completely harmless to your garden.


    • Hang-up mothball filled socks from your bird table.


    • Make or buy a squirrel baffle. These should be made of slippy plastic and resemble a mixing bowl hug upside down and placed above your hanging feeders. They can be bought or homemade. Alternatively try greasing the pole with a petroleum jelly..



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