Friday, July 24, 2009

Man vs. Squirrel

A loyal reader recently alerted me to the latest anti-squirrel propaganda circulating the Interweb: this article. I can't believe suburbanites are waging war with these adorable little creatures! Especially considering the Maryland/DC/Virginia area experienced a major acorn shortage last year!

All kidding aside, there are actually folks out there that want to deter the little guys as opposed to attract them with corn cobs and love, and the suggestions in the article are far more humane than that awful Rodenator Pro we learned about a few months back, so I suppose I should post a few.

Christopher Soloman for MSN writes:

An ounce of prevention
The best way to keep squirrels away is to thwart them in the first place. There are several effective ways to do this:

  • Cut back: “Squirrels can climb wood siding or brick siding pretty effectively, but the most common thing they’ll climb is tree limbs,” McNeely says. So a good rule of thumb is to cut branches until they’re six feet away from a home’s roof lines – too far for most (nondaredevil) squirrels to leap.
  • Collar that tree: Stop squirrels from climbing trees or even power poles by wrapping them with a 2-foot-wide collar of metal, six feet off the ground, says the University of California: “Attach metal using encircling wires held together with springs to allow for tree growth.”
  • Trip up tightrope-walking rodents: Wildlife expert Jackson says you can stop squirrels from running along electrical wires by installing 2-foot sections of lightweight, 2- to 3-inch diameter plastic pipe. Slit the pipe lengthwise, spread it open and place it over the wire. Since this outer pipe fits only loosely, it spins on the wire, and squirrels can’t cross it.
  • Fix that feeder: If the home’s birdfeeder is the attraction, put an end to that by buying one of several varieties of squirrel-proof feeders. Or, give the squirrels something else to target: Nail up a corncob farther away, Jackson suggests.
  • Block ’em out: You need to seal out the varmints so they won’t waltz back inside. How? “Areas of concern should be covered with metal flashing, or quarter-inch mesh or even half-inch mesh,” McNeely says. Extend the patch several inches beyond the hole in all directions to stop the squirrel from gnawing around it.

Caution: “One should always make sure that the squirrels are not present before sealing a hole,” he says. Translation: Don’t accidentally block them inside! Here’s how to make sure you don’t: Ball up a newspaper. Put it in the hole the squirrels have been using. Now wait, probably two days. If the newspaper remains intact, McNeely says, you can be more certain the squirrels are outside. Now seal up the hole.

People badly want to believe in a magic bullet – or make that a stinky bullet – some product
that drives away squirrels because it smells bad, tastes bad or imparts fear.

  • Hot sauce: There are products on the market that use capsaicin, the “hot” ingredient in pepper, to discourage squirrels from gnawing, for example. But the experts are skeptical about the effectiveness. “That may have some effect,” Jackson says of a pepper-based spray.
  • Sticky stuff: Products that contain polybutenes, or sticky materials that can be applied to buildings, railings, downspouts and other areas to prevent squirrels from climbing, may also be effective because animals don’t like to walk on them. But it’s not exactly desirable to have strips all around your house like a sticky moat.
  • Mothballs: The University of California says that napthalene (mothballs) used at a rate of five pounds per 2,000 cubic feet of air space may temporarily discourage squirrels from entering attics and other enclosed spaces. However, the smell of mothballs also can irritate humans, and some experts don’t advise this.
For pro-squirrel news, be sure and check out some previous JustSaying posts.


becky said...

First, I do agree with all the humane options. But, "just saying", all I could picture when reading these ideas is how squirrels will figure a way around it.

Deborah said...

You're right. They will. I giggle every time I see a "Squirrel Proof" anything because it's simply impossible.