How to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels Fast and Forever!

From live traps to natural repellents, we'll show you how to get rid of ground squirrels on your property and prevent them from coming back.
By
Phyllis McMahon
Phyllis McMahon
Research Writer
Phyllis teaches English Literature at a local college and loves writing in her free time. She’s also a great cook – her British beef Wellington is something the best res read more
reviewed
Reviewed By
Chas Kempf
Chas Kempf
Expert Consultant
Chas works in a professional pest control company and knows all the nuances of this job. Also, he’s a fantastic tennis player and loves to organize BBQ parties for his fam read more
Last updated: December 18, 2022
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Although cute, ground squirrels are destructive and a menace to your property. A large ground squirrel infestation can cause untold damage to your garden or land. The critters will devour your crops in the garden, be it nuts or fruits. You have to take immediate action once you spot two or three squirrels on your property. You can call pest control or kick the rodents out yourself. If you have no idea how to get rid of ground squirrels, you may experience a few challenges, starting with their fluffy, cuddly and harmless appearance. Do not let the critters’ attractive appearance delude you into letting them stay on your property.

Luckily, various ways of safely eliminating ground squirrels from your property exist. This article has all the information about the best ground squirrel control solutions. Read on to learn more about the pesky rodents, including their habitat and food preferences, how to remove, kill, and prevent them from invading your property again.

Ground Squirrel vs. Tree Squirrel

How to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels Fast and Forever!The primary difference between a ground squirrel and a tree squirrel is their habitat. As their names suggest, ground squirrels live and spend the majority of their time on the ground, while tree squirrels live and spend their time jumping from one tree to another.

Unlike ground squirrels, tree squirrels don’t burrow, and they like high places with less human population.

Ground Squirrel vs. Chipmunk

How to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels Fast and Forever!Ground squirrels and chipmunks can be hard to tell apart, especially if you are unfamiliar with either of the rodents. According to an article by the University of California Integrated Pest Management program (UCIPM), Ground squirrels are larger than chipmunks and have a longer bushy tail. Chipmunks’ tails are thin and short with unique stripes. They also have larger ears than ground squirrels.

Another primary difference is that chipmunks live underground in tunnels and burrows, while ground squirrels live above ground, on grasslands.

Where Do Ground Squirrels live?

As earlier mentioned, ground squirrels spend most of their time on the ground. They make burrows about 2 to 3 inches wide underground where they live and store food. The burrows are deep and complex because each ground squirrel must have its own passage and they live in families. They can be as deep as 20 to 35 feet.

What Attracts Ground Squirrels to My Yard?

To successfully remove all ground squirrels from your property, you need to know what attracted them in the first place. Like most pests, ground squirrels will find your place habitable if there is food, water and shelter. Here are some of the things that will draw ground squirrels to your property;

Food and Water

If you have a garden with nuts, grains, flowers, or fruits, the critters will stay. Human food leftovers, garbage, seeds, bird eggs, insects and frogs may also attract them. If you have a pond, stream, or birdbath in your yard, the squirrels may be drawn to it for water.

Shelter

Ground squirrels are attracted to large grasslands with a lot of space for burrowing.

What Harm Can Ground Squirrels Do?

Ground squirrels appear small and harmless but can cause untold damage to your property if unchecked. Here is why you should get rid of them.

  • Structural damage: Ground squirrels are excellent excavators, and they can choose to burrow under buildings on your property. This can cause foundation cracks that compromise your structure’s stability and are hard to fix.
  • Garden damage: Ground squirrels will eat your seedlings, fruits, berries and nibble the tops of your vegetables. Crop damage is inevitable with a ground squirrel infestation.
  • Burrowing: The squirrels will ruthlessly uproot plants in your landscaping and destroy your shrubs and trees.
  • Lawn damage: Besides grazing and creating bald patches on your lawn, ground squirrels will damage the items on your lawn, like sprinklers, sprinkler lines, and irrigation boxes by gnawing and chewing them.

Signs of a Ground Squirrel Infestation

How to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels Fast and Forever!Here are the tell-tale signs you have a ground squirrel infestation in your property:

  • Squirrel sightings: This may not be the first sign, but if you spot one or two ground squirrels, it is a sure sign you have an infestation. Your pet may also bring you a dead ground squirrel.
  • Holes: You may notice holes at the base of trees or around your garden plants. The holes are exposed open tunnels with a pile of dust discarded around the entrance.
  • Nests: Ground squirrels makes nests with leaves, twigs, moss, bark, and other organic materials. They compress the materials into a dense bed for coziness.
  • Patchy grass: If you notice bald areas on your neatly manicured lawn, it is likely that there are a few squirrels grazing it.
  • Chew marks: Have you seen any gnaw or chew marks on your sprinkler heads or outdoor furniture? Ground squirrels could be to blame.
  • Squeaking noises and musty smells: Strange squeaking and scratching noises in the outdoor space are a good indication of a ground squirrel infestation. They make noises when moving around and burrowing. Musty smells may come from their urine and feces.
  • Droppings: Ground squirrels are solid black or brown and have a tubular or round shape. If you spot the droppings, it is highly likely a few squirrels are frequenting your property.

Can You Kill Ground Squirrels?

Ground squirrels’ damage can be frustrating, and you may be tempted to kill all the critters out of rage. However, killing the rodents is not the best idea. What’s more, you have to check with your local government if it is legal to kill ground squirrels. Most states like California classify ground squirrels as nongame mammals that an owner or tenant can control in any legal manner.

Even if the law in your area allows you to kill ground squirrels, consider using humane methods like trapping and exclusion techniques. The humane non-lethal methods can just be as effective as the conventional lethal methods if done correctly.

Conventional Methods to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels

If you don’t have the patience for unconventional home remedies for getting rid of ground squirrels, you can use the following traditional methods:

Fumigation

How to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels Fast and Forever!This is the most common conventional way of getting rid of ground squirrels. It is done underground, thus safe for non-target species if applied correctly. It works best during spring or when there is a lot of moisture in the soil. It is a humane method because it kills the animals fast.

Trapping

How to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels Fast and Forever!This is another humane method of dealing with ground squirrels if you have a low to moderate infestation. Live ground squirrels traps are more humane than kill traps. Traps are highly effective and can get rid of a large number of squirrels, but you would have to either relocate the animals or dispose of carcasses. Also, even with the best squirrel traps, non-target animals including your pets may end up getting trapped as well.

Poisoning

How to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels Fast and Forever!Like most rodents, ground squirrels can be killed with poison bait stations. However, it can be a bit tricky as ground squirrels are hardly attracted to rodent bait. Experts recommend using first-generation anti-coagulants as they tend to digest most of it before it kills them. First-generation anticoagulant is most effective during summer and fall when the squirrels are more active. Poisoning is an effective control option for a large ground squirrel infestation.

Some of the top poison options for killing ground squirrels include:

Zinc Phosphide: This is highly effective because it is strong and it kills rapidly. Once ingested, zinc phosphide releases a toxic gas that damages the squirrels’ stomach, leading to their death. Zinc phosphide’s only downside is that it has an odor that squirrels avoid.

Strychnine: This is as powerful as Zinc phosphide but it doesn’t have an odor that squirrels will avoid. As soon as they ingest it, the squirrels will begin to feel the effects of the poison. Sprinkle a tablespoon of the poison on all the places that the critters frequent on your yard then wait.

Bromadiolone: This, unlike Zinc phosphide and Strychnine is an anticoagulant. It interferes with the squirrels’ blood clotting ability by preventing their bodies from generating Vitamin K. Without Vitamin K, the squirrel’s blood would not be able to clot, leading to a slow death if it gets injured.

Gas Bombs

How to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels Fast and Forever!Gas bombs are meant to suffocate and kill ground squirrels with smoke in their burrows and tunnels.

Not every state allows the use of gas bombs. Be sure to check that it is legal to use gas bombs in your area before buying them.

Although they are a rapid and effective solution, gas bombs are dangerous to use around pets and kids.

According to popular reviews, the Giant Destroyer smoke bomb/gasser is one of the best gas bombs that money can buy. It will safely and rapidly eliminate ground squirrels in their burrows without contaminating the soil or the animals.

How to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels without Killing Them

If you hate the idea of killing cute ground squirrels, here are some home remedies that you can use to repel the critters from your property:

Get a Bird Feeder That Excludes Squirrels

How to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels Fast and Forever!Ground squirrels may be attracted to your home by the food on your bird feeder. Get a bird feeder that excludes squirrels and ensure you clean up after your birds, as they are likely to spread a lot of bird food outside when feeding.

Use Live-Catch Traps

How to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels Fast and Forever!The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife recommends live-trapping as the most viable option if all other methods for resolving conflict with nuisance wildlife fail. If you don’t want to harm squirrels, just lay a trap to catch them, then send them off. Here is how to lay a trap:

Step 1: Purchase a live trap.

When it comes to rodent live traps, you are spoilt for choice; pick one that is within your budget, then buy  bait for luring your squirrels into the trap. You can use hazelnuts, acorns, or pretzels.

Step 2: Place the trap.

Place the trap near a ground squirrel hole or anywhere with high squirrel activity, then wait.

Step 3: Release the squirrels.

Once you have caught squirrels in the trap, take them far from your home and release them. Be careful when releasing the squirrels, as they can be aggressive when stressed. If it is legal to use live traps to catch wild animals in your area, you can call the wildlife department in your area to collect the squirrels. If the law is against catching animals with live traps in your area, try another method of getting rid of squirrels.

Release Natural Predators

How to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels Fast and Forever!You can use larger animals like a dog or cat to chase away squirrels from your property. Let your dog or cat free into the yard, and it will do all the work for you. Ground squirrels will flee when they realize their life is in danger. If you are not a pet person, this may not be an ideal control measure for you.

Make Noise

How to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels Fast and Forever!Noise can scare away squirrels effectively. However, you have to be ready for the noise pollution you would be causing. Your neighbors may not be too happy with the constant noise coming from your yard.

Squirrels cannot tolerate noise because they hear noises at a much lower frequency than humans. Ultrasonic spikes or loud recorded noise will irritate and send them off. If you can’t install ultrasonic noises, just record noises of fireworks, cannon sounds, or animal call sounds of squirrels’ natural predators, then play them at regular intervals on the yard. Wind chimes can also scare off squirrels if you hang them on trees or anywhere with high ground squirrels activity.

Plant Squirrel-Repelling Plants

How to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels Fast and Forever!Ground squirrels can eat just about anything, but there are a few food items that they find repulsive. One of the best ways to keep ground squirrels out of your garden is by growing plants that repel them. Squirrel repulsing plants include; castor beans, narcissus, imperial crown plant, and mint.

Planting squirrel repelling plants is the safest control option for your kids and pets; plus, you get to benefit from some of the plants like mint.

Use Pepper Spray

How to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels Fast and Forever!Pepper spray is an affordable and fantastic natural method of deterring ground squirrels from your home. You can easily make it at home, and it is highly effective. Here is how to make pepper spray;

Heat a full cup of water moderately, then add a full cup of hot red pepper flakes and let them soak for about 12 hours.

Add dishwashing soap to the mixture, then strain it into a spray bottle.

Spray the mixture to all the areas with ground squirrel activity in your home, including their holes, the garden, and trees.

Ground squirrels have a keen sense of smell, and once they notice the pepper spray, they will keep off.

You must keep reapplying the pepper spray every few hours at the beginning for better results.

Use Castor Oil

How to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels Fast and Forever!Squirrels are repulsed by castor oil. If you don’t have castor oil at home, you can easily get it from anywhere.

Mix ¼ cup of high-quality castor oil with two teaspoons of dishwashing soap. Add the mixture to one gallon of water, then spray it generously on your lawn and all the squirrel-infested areas in your home.

If natural remedies are not your thing, you can use a ready-to-use repellent spray in place of the homemade pepper spray or castor oil spray. The Bonide repels-all animal repellent is one of the best squirrel repellents in the market. It has natural ingredients that will deter ground squirrels without harming them and is safe for pets and people.

Use Decoys

How to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels Fast and Forever!You can use squirrels’ natural predator decoys like hawks, owls, and coyotes to scare them away. You can easily buy decoys from a gardening shop or online. Buy at least four or five, then place them on your yard strategically.

The only downside of this method is that squirrels are pretty intelligent and may soon get used to the decoys. You must keep alternating the decoys in different locations in your yard to avoid obviousness.

Use a Motion Sensor Sprinkler

How to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels Fast and Forever!Motion sensor sprinklers are pricey and need a lot of maintenance but are a worthy investment. They will make life a tad easier for you. The latest models have great sensors that can sense if anything or anyone comes into your lawn from any direction within several feet. They will shoot a jet of water towards the direction of the incoming signal.

Squirrels will get scared if they are met with a jet of water every time they try getting into your yard. A huge plus is that you will get your lawn watered in the process. You can get a motion sensor sprinkler that conserves water if you are worried about paying high water bills.

Use Smelly Fish

How to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels Fast and Forever!Squirrels detest the smell of stale fish. If you can get some stale fish, take advantage of squirrels’ repulsion and place them strategically in your yard. Be sure to combine this control option with another one, as it is not an everyday practical solution. Nonetheless, the squirrels will be put off completely by the smelly fish.

How Do Professionals Get Rid of Ground Squirrels?

Ground squirrels breed and multiply fast. You can have a large infestation in no time, as the females have 5 to 9 babies each season. If you have a large infestation that you cannot handle yourself, or you simply can’t be bothered to deal with the critters, you can call a pest control professional.

Pest control professionals are likely to send all the squirrels in your home packing in the most humane way possible. Here is how they will go about it:

Inspection: The pest control professional will inspect your property to assess the infested areas and the extent of damage caused by the ground squirrels.

Creating a plan: After assessing the ground squirrel infestation, the pest control tech will create a plan to deal with it. They will use pest management techniques to provide a comprehensive solution that is less toxic.

Getting rid of the ground squirrels: Pest control professionals will deploy the best elimination method to quickly get rid of ground squirrels from your property.

Exclusion: Pest control tech will give you the best recommendations for making your property less attractive to ground squirrels.

How to Keep Ground Squirrels off Your Yard for Good

It is not guaranteed that you can completely prevent ground squirrels from entering and taking residence in your property. Still, there are a few prevention measures that can keep the critters away.

Never Leave Food or Trash Exposed in Your Lawn

Ensure you clean up after dining outdoors to avoid leaving food that would attract squirrels and other foraging animals. Keep all the trash tied in trash bags and locked inside trash containers to keep squirrels out.

Cover Your Trash

How to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels Fast and Forever!Uncovered trash is one of the main attractants of ground squirrels and other foraging animals. The food smells in the trash attract the rodents. Always cover your trash to avoid attracting squirrels.

Keep Your Garden or Lawn as Tidy as Possible

Ensure your yard is uncluttered and your lawn neatly manicured to reduce hiding spots for squirrels. Remember ground squirrels are preyed on by more scary animals like snakes, coyotes, foxes, weasels, eagles, and red-tailed hawks.

If you have plants with nuts, berries, or vegetables in your garden, be sure to pick up any that fall to the ground to eliminate any potential food sources for squirrels. Rake the garden as well, and remove organic debris.

Use Natural Repellents

Natural repellents like mint, narcissus, castor bean, and an imperial crown plant can put off ground squirrels and prevent them from taking residence in your home. You can also spray cayenne pepper solution around your home to repel ground squirrels.

Decorate Your Garden with Stones

How to Get Rid of Ground Squirrels Fast and Forever!You can use sandstones, horticultural grit, or gravel to decorate your garden. On top of beautifying your garden, the stones will prevent ground squirrels from burrowing into your space. Squirrels will give up and go elsewhere when they are unable to dig up your property.

Inspect Your Home

Inspect your home for cracks and holes that may encourage squirrels to enter and stay. Squirrels may choose to live in the holes instead of digging up new ones. Cover up all the cracks you find to reduce all the potential hiding places for ground squirrels.

Get a Pet

A dog or a cat will help you get rid of ground squirrels as they will find it fun chasing and killing them. Get a farm cat that is not afraid of anything and loves to hunt down animals. Train your dog to chase and catch squirrels. The presence of predators in your home will discourage squirrels from invading and settling.

FAQ

What Do Ground Squirrels Eat?

It is hard to imagine that ground squirrels are omnivores because we only see them eating acorns on TV. They eat plants and smaller animals. Some species, like the cape ground squirrel eat snakes. In your home, ground squirrels can eat your fruits and flowers in the garden, the nuts and seeds in your bird feeders, and food waste in your trash.

Other than food with nutritional value, ground squirrels will gnaw and nibble on anything they find in your space, including; outdoor plastics, wood, furniture, electrical wiring, and outdoor décor.

Can Gum Kill Ground Squirrels?

Contrary to popular opinion, gum does not kill ground squirrels. Many people believe that bubble gum can expand in rodents’ intestines after ingestion. There is no evidence yet that squirrels can die after ingesting bubble gum.

Can I Use Coffee Grounds for Ground Squirrels?

Like gum, coffee grounds are not going to deter ground squirrels. Spreading coffee ground on ground squirrels holes like many people suggest is a waste of time and energy.

What Can I Put in a Ground Squirrel’s hole?

When you get rid of ground squirrels successfully, you have to cover the holes to avoid attracting a new infestation. You can also fill up the holes when they are still around as a method of chasing them away. However, since they are too deep, you may not be able to cover up every inch of ground squirrel holes.

To cover up the holes, you need a lot of water and soil. You can also simply put back the earth they dug into the hole until it is fully covered.

Another thing you could put in a squirrel’s hole is a mothball. Mothballs are commonly used to chase away gophers, and they can work in a similar way with ground squirrels.

Final Thoughts

Ground squirrels can be a menace if uncontrolled as they can eat almost everything, including non-food items like furniture and electrical wiring. We have covered all the pro tips on how to get rid of ground squirrels whether you have a small, moderate, or large infestation. Some control options like trapping are not legal in all states. Ensure your local laws allow live trapping or the use of gas bombs before using them as elimination methods.

If you have a large infestation that is out of hand or feel incapacitated to handle a ground squirrels infestation, call a pest control professional to help. They will handle the situation professionally, and get rid of the critters in the most humane way. Moreover, they will recommend prevention measures for avoiding a future infestation.

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