Friendly, Neighborhood Squirrels

January 5, 2022 · 2 minute read
Friendly, Neighborhood Squirrels

Some of you love them.

Squirrels can be great fun to watch as they jump from tree to tree. Their fuzzy tails make them much cuter than their naked-tailed rodent cousins. It can be great entertainment watching squirrels outmaneuver your dog and puzzle through the latest “squirrel-proof” bird feeder that you just acquired.

Some of you hate them.

They’re in your bird feeder. They’re in your garden. (Really? Just one bite out of each tomato?) They got into your neighbor’s attic, built a nest, and stored a shocking quantity of nuts.

Whether you love squirrels or despise them, if you are living in the urban forests of Central Virginia, you’ll have to co-exist with them on some level. Squirrels can cause some issues for our homes and trees. Here are a few hints you could consider to keep any issues small.

Prune your trees for house clearance

Branches of large trees growing close to your house can create a squirrel highway onto your roof. From there, they may be inspired to chew their way through the eaves and into the attic. Keeping clearance between trees and roof can discourage squirrels from sharing your home.

Pruning trees will not stop squirrels, but it just might discourage them. If squirrels have taken up residence in your attic, pruning will not stop them from returning. Squirrels are adept climbers that can scale wood siding and brick. Squirrels can cause some tree damage, although it is usually minor. Sometimes you’ll find a lot of small green branches scattered under one tree in your yard. That’s squirrels at work.

It may seem like there are a lot of little branches under one tree, but it is minor enough damage that the biggest issue is the mess they leave us to clean up. Some parts of the year squirrels may start chewing bark off trees. Chances are they’re seeking out the sweet sap.

Bark stripping can occasionally be a bigger issue in our area. Most of the times I have seen this be problematic is in yards where there’s extensive bird feeding. If you feed birds and see squirrels start to create issues, you may consider pausing your bird feeding for a while or mixing cayenne pepper in your bird seed. This will likely lower the squirrel population in your yard.

If you think about how common these rodents are that share our urban forests, the issues they cause are fairly rare. Most of us have had far more problematic and far less entertaining neighbors over time.