How to attract squirrels into your backyard is a common question that many people ask. Squirrels are adorable creatures, and they can be fun to watch as well. There are some things that you should know about these animals before trying to attract them, however.
For example, the best way to get squirrels in your backyard is by planting trees or bushes for them. They love acorns, walnuts, and other nuts, so you should plant those trees in your yard if you want more of them around!
Squirrels are found in nearly every state across North America, both rural and urban. While most people actively try to keep them out of their backyards, others take a more laid-back approach to their presence in the garden.
Squirrels have a lousy reputation with many people. For some, they’re an annoyance that should be tricked out of the yard or chased away, but others see them for their positive qualities: they dig up bulbs in flower beds, steal seeds from bird feeders, and chew through electrical wiring inside houses.
Therefore, people find it a remarkable achievement when they notice squirrels in their yard. It can be challenging to attract them; however–one of the things you should understand is that they are incredibly fast.
With some clever discouragement in certain areas and ample encouragement in others, squirrels can live harmoniously within your backyard, delivering you plenty of entertaining wildlife activity to watch and a more natural, wild habitat surrounding your house.
Attracting wildlife, such as squirrels, to your backyard is easier with a few strategies that make your backyard more attractive. Follow these tips, and you should be able to attract squirrels into your yard!
Nevertheless, following a sequence of steps might be enough to ensure that you get to see some squirrels in your backyard now and again. Who knows, it might even lead to acquiring a small nesting ground for them right in your yard!
So, how do I attract squirrels to your backyard? It just takes a few things:
Provide Some Natural Cover
Have you looked at your backyard recently? If not, do so to get a sense of how much natural cover is already available. Are there trees, bushes, or other plants that squirrels seem to enjoy being around? Well, those are the things you’ll want more of in your yard for these small animals.
For example, you can use some freshly cut branches to create a bit of shade by resting them on the ground. Or, there are many bushes and tall grass that provide adequate protection.
Stacking logs or wood is also an easy way to attract more squirrels.
Plant shrubs and other ground covers
Planting trees and bushes can be expensive, but buying shrubs that produce nuts or berries may be more accessible and cheaper. It should also be noted that squirrels enjoy avoiding open areas such as fields to avoid predators and enjoy having shrubs for protection.
Some bushes and trees that would be attractive to squirrels are hazelnut plants, hedgerows, berry bushes such as mulberry, elderberry, blueberry, or raspberry.
Squirrels generally want to avoid open spaces, so it’s best to provide them with the cover they need. Thick vegetation throughout your yard or landscape will do just the trick.
Deciduous trees and hedges are popular nesting places for squirrels because they provide a good leaf cover. Popular shrubs, such as Hornbams, also offer the advantage to the squirrels because it allows for protection against a predator.
Squirrels benefit most from a garden filled with deciduous hedges, as they provide cover and shelter for an animal who travels throughout your yard on poles or the support beams of structures.
Provide Feeding Area for Squirrels
Setting up a squirrel feeder can be one of the best ways to draw these rodents to your backyard. Squirrel feeders are designed to exclude other animals from accessing the food inside. Animals such as raccoons cannot reach in and get any of the seeds.
Squirrel feeders are often put at a high place so that the squirrels can easily climb up to it, get food from it, and jump away. But simply installing a feeder is not enough. You need to ensure that you keep it filled regularly.
In the beginning, you may only notice a few nuts or acorns being taken from your feeder. But as time goes on, it might be emptied more often.
Squirrels are less inclined to approach a feeder or the area around it if human beings are nearby.
If your goal is to film squirrels at the feeder and you want them to eat, a way to improve your success rate is to fix or place a camera near the feeder. Check footage from it the following day for an up-close look at any squirrels that have found and eaten food from this location.
One of the best forms of food for a squirrel is sunflower seeds. Get your squirrel feeder stocked with these seeds, and you won’t be waiting long before they start to make themselves at home in your backyard.
If you want to give your squirrels an easier way to find food, put whole corn cobs or pine cones covered in peanut butter on a branch where they can easily reach them.
Depending on the type of feeder you have and your personal preference, it may be best to use a bird or squirrel feeder. For instance, some people prefer to scatter seeds throughout their yard, while others opt for only placing them in one central area. Regardless of what approach you take – putting out sunflower seeds would surely appeal to both birds and squirrels.
Many bird lovers have problems with squirrels, who relentlessly steal their food. This is because once the squirrels taste birdseed, they come back for more, and your bird feeder can become depleted quickly.
If you don’t want squirrels to eat the birdseed, choose seeds designed explicitly for birds like safflower. Squirrels will avoid eating this type of seed, and it still attracts numerous species, including doves, house finches, blue jays, and more.
What Do Squirrels Eat
Some may think that squirrels only eat natural nuts and seeds, but after all, this is what you’ll regularly see buried in the lawn.
Naturally-occurring foods also available to squirrels include:
- Tree flowers,
- tree buds,
- and spruce, among other things.
A large part of their diet is plant-based, but Eastern Gray Squirrels are also carnivores. while they may tuck into:
- Small insects,
- bird eggs,
- and even amphibians.
Fortunately, you can feed squirrels in your yard with much more than just nuts.
Some of these foods may not be natural, but the interactions between humans and squirrels have led to a wider variety of foods than ever before. You can lay out:
- Peanut butter,
- corn (you can buy corn on the cob for squirrels in bulk!),
- And zucchini, to name but a few.
Some types of biscuits seem to be incredibly appetizing to squirrels. To give these little animals a tastier meal, leaving out some of this food is an excellent way to go!
- Shelled nuts, such as:
- peanuts (you can buy clean peanuts for squirrels in bulk)
- and hickory nuts.
Hickory nuts are a tasty and healthy snack for squirrels, but they also serve as an alternative to chewing on sundry items around the house or gnawing bark off of trees.
They are not picky eaters and will usually try anything, which is why it’s important that you can provide the right foods for them.
When only a few food items are left, replenish them. This will encourage squirrels to continue coming back and allow your yard to be home for more of the adorable creatures.
Once you get one squirrel running around and playing in the yard, it won’t be long before more show up.
Plant Trees Near Feeding Areas that Squirrels Like
Trees are a natural place for squirrels to travel. If you want more squirrels in your backyard, add more trees. A tree is also the perfect nesting spot to have some squirrel friends nearby year after year.
Squirrels Friendly Trees
You need to understand not all trees are hospitable for squirrels. Some trees are far more welcoming than others. For instance, planting a few nut-bearing trees in your backyard will attract many more squirrels.
You can purchase squirrel-friendly trees at your local nursery. Look for trees with branching structures so the squirrels will have a place to build nests, and check for openings near the bottom of the tree as these are often areas where they enter.
However, keep in mind that these trees grow huge and require regular maintenance. For example, if the tree’s branches get too close to your roof, there is a chance they may provide an entry point for squirrels.
You don’t want to inadvertently introduce these tiny animals into your house because they are frightened by change and will wreak havoc on your home if they find a way in.
Dying or Dead Tree
If a tree in your backyard is dying or dead, let it naturally decay there. Squirrels like nesting and hiding food in deadwood trees for nocturnal rodents to find. Just make sure that the tree is not dangerous and poses a threat of falling on people, buildings, or cars because any injury could lead to unnecessary medical bills.
If you’re worried about whether a dead tree is safe to keep, contact an arborist in your area. They can assess the tree for safety.
Trees that Squirrels Like
Some trees can be planted because they will yield edible nuts or flowers. Other types of trees can be planted when you want to create spaces squirrels can find homes in, like branches that make crooks and hollow spaces.
Some of these trees have bark that is easily scalable and allow squirrels to climb them without incident.
Here are some trees that squirrels prefer:
These are trees that fall into both coniferous and deciduous categories. You don’t have to worry about the aesthetic you want your yard to accomplish because these types of trees usually attract squirrels.
Provide Several Water Station
Like all animals, squirrels need water to survive. Most times, they are unable to find a sufficient amount of clean water. Putting out water for them will ensure that you’ll see them again in the future.
If you want to take your garden or backyard up a notch, building a small pond is an excellent DIY project. This will give you more aesthetic appeal and help make your place stand out from others in the neighborhood.
Put out bowls and fountains to provide water.
Providing water for a squirrel is as essential as providing food. Make sure that the yard where you feed your squirrel has a clean source of water. Natural water sources are ideal, but if you want to keep things simple, a bucket of water will suffice.
You need to make sure you regularly clean it and keep the water fresh. It won’t be long before animals such as other mammals or birds drink the water too.
It is not a problem because most squirrels are typically willing to share their water source with other animals.
- A bowl, basin, or birdbath provides a cheap and easy place to give water daily.
- Fountains can provide a constant flow of freshwater, and they may be more difficult and expensive to install.
Place these dishes throughout the landscape near the shelter. These dishes are beautiful to squirrels and other wildlife in the summertime.
If your region only has natural sources of water that are frozen over during the winter, adding a birdbath-type heater to the basin can keep them from freezing and accessible to squirrels.
Make Some Distance with Squirrels
What good is catching squirrels in your backyard or garden if you can’t interact with them? However, attempting to tame a wild squirrel is virtually impossible and makes them uncomfortable. What you can do instead, though, is make them feel comfortable around you so that they will come closer to you.
Remember that if you try to approach too closely, the squirrel will run away. That’s why you need to stay back and keep your distance until the small animals come out of hiding.
You will likely find the rodents becoming warier of your presence. Some might even run away until they realize you’re not coming any closer, but once they do, they’ll become more comfortable around you.
You may see the squirrels near your feeder right away. It’ll take a few days for them to get used to you, but it shouldn’t present any future problems once they do.
Setting Up Nesting Box
If you want a squirrel to visit your garden for more than a quick drink, the next best thing you can do is shelter it. Place a nesting box in your garden, and the magic will happen!
When you build a nest in the tree, make sure that it has at least 8 cm wide arms to fit the squirrels through easily. The best thing you can do is hang the box high up on a tree branch to protect your furry friend from any unwanted intruders.
Remember that during springtime, the squirrel might begin feeding on its baby.
Install nesting boxes on trees and fences
Nesting boxes provide squirrels a place to live, keep their food, and store nuts. Nesting boxes also serve as homes for the birds that eat the nuts. You can purchase special nesting boxes online, or you can use birdhouses or cages. Mount this item to trees, poles, fences – anywhere above ground is ideal, but below ground will work.
To get squirrels to use the nest boxes, you can place nuts or sunflower seeds inside; however, this may attract birds and other rodents.
Using Squirrel Calls to Lure
Buy a squirrel call at any hunting or outdoor store. These are typically small and made of metal, wood, and rubber. They usually cost about $10-$30 USD
To find the squirrels, face slightly away from where you think they are and look towards trees, bushes, or other woody plants. Brown animals naturally found in a tree-filled environment will be easy to locate.
Tap the squirrel call against your side. Hold the call by the wooden end and tap the rubber end with a firm, quick motion against your body. It would be best to repeat this motion until you produce a series of noises that sound like squealing squirrels.
Squirrels typically make a series of noises that start loud and fast, then become quiet at the end. You can use this sound to replicate what squirrels do naturally.
Squirrel calls won’t bring a squirrel to you, but they may cause them to reveal themselves. Squirrels may come out if they hear another one nearby.
Hold two bolts by the top or head. Rub them together. The sound will resemble that of a squirrel eating and may draw other nearby squirrels to the location. You can also use coins to achieve a similar effect.
What to Avoid
Directly feeding peanuts to squirrels is a common mistake, as this leads to the squirrel’s diet becoming too high in protein.
It is hazardous for squirrels to eat raw nuts because it can harm them a lot. Peanuts are rich in protein and contain a fungal toxin, which is carcinogenic. This toxin can damage the liver of squirrels and other animals, making them more susceptible to cancer. Humans become at risk as well when they consume peanuts.
Roasting the peanuts will reduce but not eliminate their aflatoxin content. However, it doesn’t kill them, so that if there are no other means of feeding wildlife, then roasting those nuts for 20-30 minutes at 150 degrees is your best bet.
Instead of putting peanuts in the feeder, you might want to skip it altogether.
It might be a lot of work for you, but this makes the peanuts suitable for feed. If you don’t have time, buy roasted unsalted peanuts from your grocer’s bulk section.
What to Aware
It’s a heartwarming sight to see those furry creatures running about in your backyard or garden, but you should be aware of the potential issues they may cause.
For starters, if you have a garden with fruit and vegetables, the squirrels are going to cause some damage.
Squirrels will bite into fruits and vegetables and leave them to rot. Preventing them from chewing through your plants may be impossible, which is problematic considering that there are no things you can do to save them other than poisoning the squirrels with repellent.
The result is that many factors come into play for attracting squirrels to your garden. For example, where you live will determine the possibilities.
If you live in the city center, it will be more difficult to attract squirrels to your garden. If you live in the suburbs or countryside, they are likely coming quickly.
Building a small vegetable garden and protecting it with netting is an excellent way to keep the pesky squirrels out.
The last thing you want to do is attract squirrels to your house.
To keep squirrels from accessing the roof of your home, make sure there are no tree branches that can reach that height and seal off any possible openings in pipes, windows, or another masonry.
Squirrels also strip the bark off trees. Make sure you keep them away from essential trees by wrapping them in sheet metal or installing baffles.
Keep pets inside
Pets can be a real problem for those who want to encourage squirrels in their yards. Trying to keep them from going out into the yard (which might allow them access to your bird feeder!) and sectioning off part of the yard just for the small rodents can help ensure safety while also giving your pets more freedom outside that is easily monitored.
Outdoor cats kill a significant number of squirrels and other animals. Try not to let your cat outside so they don’t hunt wildlife.
If you have a large yard, establish an enclosed area for your dogs. Make sure the dogs cannot access the places where you want to attract squirrels.
- Squirrels can climb through a garden and up nearby trees without much difficulty, so you might not even be able to see them for long. But if you watched their tail as they scurry about, it would be easy to identify the squirrel because of its distinctive fluffy stalk.
- Squirrels often have a wide variety of food in their diet, but nuts are the most important. One should plant trees or bushes for squirrels to easily access these prized possessions (to attract more). Squirrels might forget about any acorns they stock and usually only come back when winter approaches and need them for heat.
- However, squirrels aren’t strictly nut eaters. Their diet usually relies on fruits and vegetables. For this reason, planting fruit trees or gardens in your yard will likely attract more of them to the area.
- Squirrels aren’t particularly picky when it comes to food and will eat anything they can get their paws on, including fruit that has fallen on the ground. One of their favorite foods is broccoli, squash, or mushrooms.
- Squirrels aren’t too territorial to the point where they will leave if they feel unsafe.
One thing that you should never forget is to be patient. The most critical step when setting up a habitat for squirrels is simply waiting. Don’t rush in, but instead give the environment time to settle and adapt before providing food or interacting with your pet.
If your house is near a woody area and there’s not too much disturbance, you will soon notice squirrels – but if your home is in a busy neighborhood, it will take longer.
It may take upwards of 15 days before a squirrel discovers your garden, so you need to be patient. You will notice these furry creatures in your backyard after some time has passed.
Enjoy having fun with Squirrels!