When encountering these nice rodents, we should not delude ourselves into thinking that ground squirrels are harmless. In large numbers, they can cause a considerable damage to the land where they have settled and the gardens in the vicinity. Whatever a gardener grows, be it pistachios or apples, ground squirrels are already there to devour your crop. They will never miss a chance to gnaw the bark of the trees or shrubs you have been cherishing for a long time. So, if the land is damaged or overpopulated with these critters, a set of control measures should be taken. There is a number of ways of getting rid of ground squirrels and each of them suits better for each and every situation.
This review provides a useful information on how to trap ground squirrels, what the best bait for ground squirrels is and how to kill ground squirrels if they have gone too far. A comparison table of the effectiveness of each of the methods will be helpful for choosing a right strategy while a review of 5 best squirrel control solutions will guide you through the variety of products that are commercially available.
Table of Contents
- 3 Best Ground Squirrel Control Products
- What Scientists Say On How To Get Rid Of Ground Squirrels
- How To Get Rid Of Ground Squirrels: Methods | Effectiveness |Comparison Table
- TOP 5 Products For Ground Squirrel Control
3 Best Ground Squirrel Control Products
|Kaput Ground Squirrel Bait, 5 lb||Giant Destroyer Pest Killer Gas Bomb||SQRTO Squirrelinator Trap|
|Works by ceasing normal blood clotting. A number of feedings are needed to kill the rodent. Best in summer||A gas cartridge used for fumigation. Best effective in spring.||Catches up to 25 squirrels at a time. Designed specifically for ground squirrels.|
|Effectiveness: 10||Effectiveness: 9||Effectiveness: 8|
STEP#1. Evaluate the situation. Depending on the number of ground squirrel in the area, you will choose the best solution for your particular situation. To eliminate small population, opt for traps while the larger number of these rodents present in the area require the use of poisons.
STEP#2. In case the damage caused by ground squirrels is limited, consider erecting metal barriers as a means of protection. For example, if these critters rampage the bird feeder or gnaw a valuable tree in the garden, wrapping it with metal mesh may be a good solution to the problem.
STEP#3. Modify their habitat. Even though you have opted in favour of more radical measures, habitat modification is essential for a long-term control of ground squirrels. Till the land plot and plant tall grasses. A rodent, which was trapped and released somewhere far away, is likely to come back if the area is attractive to living in. Poisoned rodents will be replaced by a new colony in case the habitat is suitable for them.
STEP#4. Apply gas cartridges to the burrows. Fumigation is relatively safe for humans method of a ground squirrel control, that is why you should start with it. The exception is the dry weather conditions or when a burrow is located beneath the building. Keep in mind that you must never insert gas cartridges under the buildings.
STEP#5. Place poisons. Baited with grains, poisons are effective for large areas. They should be placed near burrows and along the rodents’ pathways.
STEP#6. Trap ground squirrels. This method is recommended in cases when fumigating and poisoning have not provided the desired result or the number of ground squirrels is small. Therefore, trapping is a supplementary measure putting on the finishing touch.
What Scientists Say On How To Get Rid Of Ground Squirrels
The most effective methods of getting rid of ground squirrels imply killing the rodents and these are fumigating, trapping, and poisoning.
When choosing a method of eradicating these rodents, take into consideration the season since it impacts their behavior.
- Poisons. Scientists from the UC Cooperative Extension, San Diego, say that placing poison baits is a good solution in a period from the summer to autumn. This is due to the fact that at this time of the year, ground squirrels mostly feed on seeds.
- Fumigation produces better results in the spring because the humid weather conditions moist soil helps keep the gas in the den. In addition, fumigation is recommended for this season since it helps lower the rodents’ population. Squirrels are killed before their breeding season starts.
- Trapping is effective throughout the years, except for late autumn.
Still, there are other options available that are less radical and more humane.
First, exclusion. The main downside lies in the high cost of erecting fences and other sorts of barriers. The thing is that the mesh should be made of metal since plastic ones can be easily gnawed. Also, it is impractical because ground squirrels can climb over or dig beneath most structures.
Second, using natural enemies. Raptors and snakes prey on ground squirrels and can reduce their population in a natural way. However, this solution will work only when the rodent population is small because only an army of predators is able to annihilate the entire colony of these critters.
And, finally, habitat modification. Scientists from Montana State University recommend tilling the ground. This will cover the holes and flatten the moulds. After that, plant dense vegetation and tall grasses in the area. Scientific studies show that this makes the area less attractive to ground squirrels and they will be unwilling to extend their burrow into the cultivated area.
Now, let’s examine fumigation as a way of getting rid of ground squirrels. One of its major advantages is its safety. However, this is the case only if you attentively read the label directions and follow them. This is important because pesticides always pose a hazard when handled improperly. If the label says that the product may cause a fire, do not apply it in the vicinity of the house, flammable stuff or dry grass. Since fumes tend to accumulate in the confined space, do not apply them under the building or in the dens located beneath the structures.
Then, before applying fumigants, make sure that it is ground squirrels that occupy the den. The thing is that there is a number of animals and birds which use burrows of other animals to settle there, instead of establishing their own ones. As for the time of the year, you should better fumigate in the spring or whenever the soil is moist.
The humidity helps keep the gas in the den whereas, in the summer when the soil is dry, gas is likely to diffuse through the soil’s cracks. Also, do not apply fumigants in the winter because ground squirrels close the entrance tightly before hibernating.
Researchers from the University of California have found out that fumigating both with gas cartridges and aluminum phosphide is a very effective way of getting rid of ground squirrels. To reinforce the effect, use both of them: “Utilizing aluminum phosphide in combination with gas cartridges could increase effectiveness of both fumigants by indicating additional burrow openings through escaping smoke from gas cartridges and allowing for treatment of these additional openings with aluminum phosphide, which is a cheaper and potentially more effective material,” the scientists concluded.
And yet, they have revealed that using aluminum phosphide as a fumigation method is the most effective one. The researchers conducted a study, using two types of fumigation: gas cartridges and aluminum phosphide. The former resulted in over 80% of mortality while aluminum phosphide showed a 100-percent effect.
Poisonous baits should be applied in the spring and at the beginning of the summer when ground squirrels feed on seeds. Since poisons may pose a risk to other animals or small kids, put them directly into the den’s hole. Do not scatter poisons on the ground with tall grasses because the rodents will hardly notice them. But first of all, read carefully the label directions of each product and strictly follow them in order not to harm humans and non-target animals.
Scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison claim that poisoning is the cheapest and most effective way of getting rid of ground squirrels in large areas. They suggest using zinc phosphide and strychnine to control this species of rodents. The former is a toxic gas and used in baits.
Once the critter consumes the poisoned bait, it releases phosphine gas upon contact with moisture and acid in the stomach. The animal’s cells die, first of all, those of the heart and lungs. The second widely used poison is strychnine causing muscle spasms, which leads to death. Both poisons are registered ones, however, require permits to be utilized.
These are ground squirrels poisons which fall into a category of non-anticoagulants but there are also anticoagulant baits which work by ceasing normal blood clotting.
The most common anticoagulants are brodifacoum, chlorophacinone, difethialone and some others. Anticoagulants should be consumed by the rodent in multiple steps over the course of about a week to bring desired results. That is why this type of poison is considered relatively safe since in case your pet or other non-target animals occasionally eat the bait, they will not die. Nevertheless, do not let the pets into the treated area and remove the bodies of dead rodents as soon as you notice them.
According to specialists from the UC Cooperative Extension, San Diego, the most recommended way of baiting ground squirrel is to place poisons in boxes because this prevents pets from reaching the bait. There should be enough poisonous baits in the box so that the rodent can eat them in stages. Such boxes can be homemade. What you need is a strong material, otherwise, the construction will not be safe for kids and pets. Make several holes three inches in size that will serve as entrances for these rodents but not the larger animals.Once the box is made, place it near the rodents’ dens and pathways.
Trap ground squirrels if their population is small. Experts from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln suggest this method as a supplementary measure after fumigating and poisoning. Trapping will kill those rodents which managed to survive. Also, this is a good alternative to other ways of getting rid of ground squirrels which in your particular case turned out to be ineffective or cannot be implemented for some reasons. A clear advantage of trapping lies in the fact that this measure can be taken virtually throughout the year while other methods have season limitations.
Types of ground squirrel traps
The types of ground squirrel traps can be loosely divided into two groups. The first one kills the rodent while the second type of trap is designed to capture it alive so that the animal can be subsequently released somewhere far from your house. The live trap should be at least 18 inches in length and require baits to lure the animals in the cage. Peanut butter and nuts are the best bait for ground squirrels and are more likely to attract them into the trap.
Researchers from Montana State University do not recommend setting live traps for a number of reasons. First, you face a problem of how and where to release the animal. This is problematic because ground squirrels are disease carriers and you should not touch them, nor should you expose other people to a potential risk and their crops to damage by releasing the captive somewhere else. As an example, in California, releasing the ground squirrel without a written permission from the landowner is illegal.
Also, there is a risk of the squirrel’s returning to its colony, making all your endeavors vain. On the other hand, if the rodent gets into another colony, it risks not being accepted by its members and being expelled. In this case, the ground squirrel will starve to death or will be killed by a predator, which is not humane.
In order to kill the rodent instantly, use body-gripping or so-called Conibear traps which should be 6 x 6 inches in size. Set them in the open entrances to burrows but do not confine yourself to using a single trap. You need approximately a dozen of them to obtain a meaningful result. You may bait the Conibear trap but normally it is not needed because the key to successful trapping with this type of devices is the proper trap location.
Also, there are other devices killing ground squirrels such as box traps which should be baited with nuts and the like placed behind the trigger or attached to it. Do not forget to check all the traps on a daily basis and dispose of the dead ones. Never do it without gloves, hold the dead rodent with one hand and do not let kids and pets in the area until you are done with it.
|Works great in the spring, before squirrels start breeding. Scientific studies show that fumigating with aluminum phosphide is a very effective way of ground squirrel control.||If handled not according the label may cause a fire. Must not be applied inside the house or to dens beneath it.|
Ground squirrels poisons
|Work better in the spring and summer when ground squirrels feed on seeds. Cheap. Very effective for large areas.||Pose a risk to pets and kids in case the poison can be reached. Should be put in boxes which can be purchased or homemade.|
|An effective way of eliminating a small number of ground squirrels. Can be used virtually throughout the year. Conibear traps do not require baits.||When treating a large population, this method is just a supplementary measure after fumigating and poisoning. Live traps require baits and bring a problem of how and where to release the captive rodent.|
|Safe, environmentally friendly solution. It does not involve killing the rodents.||Expensive, only a metal mesh is effective. Impractical since rodents easily overcome most barriers.|
|Safe, environmentally friendly solution.||Eliminate only a small number of ground squirrels.|
|Safe, and environmentally friendly solution.||Is not effective when ground squirrels are already present in the area, especially if their population is high.|
TOP 5 Products For Ground Squirrel Control
In the review below, we will consider products that will help you get rid of ground squirrels in different ways. In case the rodents’ population is high, apply poison baits. The bait we have examined comes in convenient pellets and is attractive to ground squirrels. If you have opted for fumigation, read about a gas cartridge available, its properties and how it should be handled. An unusual spring device is a good barrier preventing squirrels from ravaging bird feeders. Another device designed specifically for ground squirrels is a live trap cage capable of catching up to 25 critters at a time.
1. Ground Squirrel Poison Baits
Kaput Ground Squirrel Bait is based on an active ingredient diphacinone which falls into a category of anticoagulants. The product is designed to control ground squirrels, with the taste they love. This is important because encourages the rodents to eat the bait instantly rather than store it in the burrow.
The poison comes in big pellets which makes them easy to hold. At the same time, the pellets are small enough to dump them down into the squirrel dens. As the seller put it, no pre-baiting is required when using this product. However, these pellets are toxic to other animals and humans as well, that is why they must be placed in bait stations or boxes. The can has a weight of 5 pounds and a tightly fixed lid so that children cannot open it easily.
How and where to place a bait. Consumers suggest placing the bait in a trap near the rodents’ pathways, near the entrance to the burrows or at the bottom of the fruit trees. However, the product is not legal in some states since it may kill tree squirrels as well. The bait kills all rodents. One customer says that he managed to kill more rats than ground squirrels when using these pellets.
One buyer claims that he used the entire can but has not seen any tangible result. He got in touch with the manufacturer and was advised to let rodents eat Kaput bait for four days in a row. Also, if there is food in abundance in the area, the chance of the bait being consumed is considerably decreased.
Kaput Ground Squirrel Bait, 5 lb: Check current price
According to University of California you can use anticoagulant baits (poison for rats and mice like JT Eaton blocks) to control ground squirrels. The squirrel must eat the anticoagulant in several feedings during a period of 5 or more days in order for it to be effective. They generally require 2 to 4 weeks or more to be effective. Continue baiting until all feeding ceases, and you no longer see any squirrels. Although few ground squirrels will die aboveground, you should pick up and dispose of those that do.
JT Eaton Rodenticide Bait: Check current price
2. Wilco Ground Squirrel Bait Station
If you are not fond of constructing devices with your own hands, this option is definitely for you. As we have mentioned above, when using poisons never leave them without a protective box preventing non-target animals and your kids from touching the hazardous substance. More importantly, the box should be made of solid material and have a reliable closure. For this purpose, Wilco Ground Squirrel Bait Station is the best bet. It is made of durable and high-grade plastic as well as has a child-resistant closure lid. The green color helps to disguise it as a part of the surrounding green vegetation so that the box looks natural to ground squirrels.
Place the box with baits along the rodents’ pathway and, when using several boxes, distribute them about thirty feet apart. However, customers note that the box should be secured by concrete blocks, otherwise, rabbits or other agile animals can turn it over, making the poison accessible. Also, some buyers say that there should be something inside the box to fix the bait itself since a ground squirrel may drag it out and leave outside the box. One of the customers drilled 2 holes in the box and ran a rod through them to hold the block baits.
Price: Check current price
3. Giant Destroyer Pest Killer Gas Bomb
This effective gas cartridge for fumigation is based on the active ingredients sodium nitrate, sulfur, and charcoal, targeting various species of rodents including ground squirrels. The gases should be applied to burrows and tunnels but never use it inside the house or in its close vicinity. One of the major advantages of this product is that it is a proven solution that has been successfully used for many decades. Once the cartridge is ignited, it produces toxic gases.
How should it be applied? Find a den and clear its hole. Make sure the hole is wide enough to insert the cartridge. At the same time, close other holes of the burrow with soil and rocks. Then insert the fuse into the cartridge end. Light the fuse and quickly insert the cartridge into the burrow. Do not hold the burning cartridge in the hands. Close the hole instantly with soil and rocks to avoid gas escape. Take care not to breathe the gases as they may be harmful to humans when inhaled. Also, do not let the fumes contact your eyes, skin, and clothes. After the job is done, wash with soap.
The Giant Destroyer’s rating is 4.3 out of 5 stars. Most customers are satisfied with this gas killer and claim that it works well on rodents.
Price: Check current price
4. SQRTO Squirrelinator Trap
SQRTO trap catches up to 25 squirrels within several hours and, judging by the consumers’ comments, it is really a device of mass capturing. Apart from speeding up the very process of trapping ground squirrels, this option helps you save on baits. The trap is very large, over 23 inches in width and 4 inches in height.
However, some ground squirrels are so smart and crafty that they figured out how to get the bait through the bottom and top of the cage. To avoid this, set the trap on a piece of plywood or any solid surface and put another piece of plywood on the top. In addition, put a heavy rock on to hold it down.
Check the cage regularly. Keep in mind that captured critters would run around the trap scaring out others. “I've never caught more than two squirrels at a time, but it works well and doesn't harm the squirrel. There is no complicated "setting" of this trap---place it on the ground and sprinkle some bait in and around it,” a customer wrote.
Price: Check current price
5. Songbird Essentials Squirrel Proof Spring Device
Sometimes, landowners need the targeted protection of bird feeders in the garden. And this is where this device comes in handy as it is designed specifically for this purpose. A 48-inch spring device has a unique mechanism which does not allow ground squirrels to climb over the poles. The product is suitable for any pole with a diameter not exceeding one inch. Its coils are tight and thick, preventing the device from stretching out over the course of time.
Some customers say that the product is not effective and ground squirrels manage to run over it while others claim that their bird feeders have not been attacked since the device was put up. Actually, much depends on how smart your local squirrels are and how inventive you are, after all. Look at this illustrative comment of one of the buyers:
“It is fun to watch those squirrels trying to figure it out. It has been working great for two weeks, then one very smart guy figured if he pushed it up with his nose, he'd be able to get up far enough so that he could reach over and pull himself onto the feeder. I fixed that by smearing the bottom half of the shepherds hook with vaseline. It's been four weeks. They try but can't get up the pole,” the customer wrote. Read all customer reviews.
Price: Check current price
Comparative Chart Of Ground Squirrel Control Products
Kaput Ground Squirrel Bait, 5 lb
|Poisonous bait based on diphacinone|
JT Eaton Rodenticide Anticoagulant Bait
|Poisonous bait based on diphacinone|
Wilco Ground Squirrel Bait Station
|A protective box for baits, made of solid plastic|
Songbird Essentials Squirrel Proof Spring Device
|Metal spring device|
Giant Destroyer Pest Killer Gas Bomb
|Gas cartridge for fumigation|
SQRTO Squirrelinator Trap
|Live trap designed specifically for squirrels|
Everything You Need To Know About Ground Squirrels
Ground squirrels are adaptive and may thrive in all sorts of habitats, however, they are unwilling to settle among dense vegetation and in damp areas. So, keep in mind that the more the grass is grazed, the more likely the land plot will attract these critters. This is the kind of habitat where they love to breed and that is where their population will get high very quickly. Ground squirrels also like settling in the areas of human activity and can be easily encountered near buildings, roads, and agricultural crops. In other words, they know how to benefit from the fruits of human’s labors.
They settle in dens burrowed in the soil, with the dimensions varying from five to thirty feet in length. Typically, such dens have several entrances looking like four-inch holes in the ground. In case you come across the den you are likely to encounter the rodent there since they use this harborage not only to sleep and escape predators but also as a resting place, a food storage, and a place to take care of their young. Moreover, the entire community of ground squirrels can dwell in one burrow as they are collective animals living in colonies. Therefore, if you have come across just a single rodent, this means that dozens of its kins are somewhere nearby.
Ground squirrels are diurnal animals, most active in the afternoon and particularly when the weather is warm and the sun is shining brightly. They hibernate in winter, however, the young ones may be active in winter months as well in case it is not too cold outside. Nor do they enjoy the sultry and hot weather, so in this period of time ground squirrels may remain inactive for several days. At such times, they close the nests’ entrances with the soil. Ground squirrels breed in the cold months of the year, from December to February, but in mountainous regions, the breeding starts in spring. The young show up on the ground quite quickly, half a month after the birth.
Their feeding habits vary depending on a season but mostly they consume vegetation. Once hibernation is over, these critters search for green grasses to eat but as soon as seeds, nuts, and grains appear — which is their favorite food — ground squirrels focus on them. This is their common diet in a period from May to October. They gather seeds and nuts in large quantities not because they are that gluttonous. Most of this kind of food is stored in the den. That is why if you suppose that a handful of tiny nice rodents are not able to steal much from the garden, you are wrong. Ground squirrels are provident guys and have an obsession with stockpiling food. And here is some more useful information for you: if you happen to see a foraging ground squirrel, this means that its den is nearby since they do no go far away from the burrows.
What Kind Of Damage Do Ground Squirrels Cause
The main issue with ground squirrels is that they damage plants and trees, most of which bear fruits like apples, peaches, oranges, and others. Ornamental plants in your garden are also likely to suffer from their invasion. Ground squirrels consume seeds of vegetables, gnaw the bark of shrubs and trees and are capable of removing the entire strip of bark from a trunk. Also, they devour leaves killing vegetation, while their burrowing in the garden’s soil damages the roots of plants, which can subsequently lead to withering and even the death of the tree.
However, their appetite extends far beyond the bounty of nature and ground squirrels have been spotted gnawing on gardening tools made of plastic or rubber such as hoses and bottles. This certainly inflicts a material loss to the landowner and complicates the orchard management. In addition, if a gardener exploits birds as natural enemies against various pests, ground squirrels may deter them since they eat the eggs of birds whose nests are established on the ground. As for burrowing, this is not just about damaging roots. Such mounds serve as obstacles to lawn-mowers, cattle, and people. When ground squirrels burrow beneath the houses or other human-made structures, the material damage can be particularly tangible requiring doing some repair works.
But above all, ground squirrels can pose a hazard to the human health as they carry diseases which are dangerous to humans, particularly in the case their population is large. First of all, this is bubonic plague carried by the squirrel’s fleas. It is lethal both to humans and squirrels, so, if you have come across several dead rodents, do not touch them. Instead, call your local Health Department and report the problem. A person gets infected through the flea’s bite or direct contact with the carrier. Apart from that, ground squirrels transfer fever, tularemia, and some other diseases.