If you want to have more squirrels in your yard, you need to take a more proactive approach. You can do that by bringing in things that squirrels find attractive.
What squirrels find most attractive will depend on their type. However, all of them have some things in common. These attractions include nuts, green vegetation, seeds, insects, fruits, fungi, and eggs.
Here are all 11 ways you can attract squirrels to come into your yard:
- Leave out the garbage
- Leave your compost heap out in the open
- Share your poultry eggs with your furry friends
- Find a way to bring insects and bugs into your property
- Include nut plants in your property
- Start an orchard
- Start a backyard garden or make your existing one accessible
- Plant flowers
- Roll out the red carpet with squirrel feeders
- Install nesting boxes
- Provide drinking water
Therefore, if you want to attract squirrels to your yard, you must implement different strategies to provide the food, water, and shelter they tend to seek in the wild. This guide provides the tips you can implement to bring in more of these furry creatures into your property.
Primary Types of Squirrels
To attract squirrels into your yard, you must first understand the type of animal you will deal with. That is because these rodents differ in how they move and create shelter. So what works for one kind of squirrel may not work for another.
Also, your location may determine the kind of rodent you get in your outdoor space.
Below are the primary types of squirrels living in the US.
1. Ground Squirrels
Ground squirrels are medium-sized squirrels that live on or in the ground and are primarily active during the day. These rodents tend to live in their caves and forage for food nearby.
In these underground shelters, they rest, escape danger, rear their young, and store their food. Nonetheless, they can climb trees.
Examples of ground squirrels include the following:
- Uinta ground squirrel
- California ground squirrel
- Richardson’s ground squirrels
- Antelope squirrels
- Prairie dogs
You can find these rodents at various altitudes ranging from sea level to mountain tops, mostly in open areas or grasslands. But sometimes, they can be found in forests.
Because of the way they operate, ground squirrels will eat foods such as vegetable seedlings, ornamental plants, plant roots, nuts, young trees, vines, and shrubs. In addition, they will gnaw on tree barks, irrigation lines, and plastic sprinkler heads.
When these rodents burrow, they tend to around trees, shrubs, and underneath buildings. As a result of all these things, people consider them notorious pests.
2. Tree Squirrels
Tree squirrels live up to their names. You can find them in areas with trees in urban and forest settings. And these trees act as their food stores, places to create nests and escape from predators.
It is also worth noting that most tree squirrels are also diurnal animals, which means they are active during the daytime.
Navigating slim branches and vertical tree surfaces is a regular activity for tree squirrels. Because they mostly live on trees, they have hard jaws to gnaw on fruits and nuts that form most of their diet.
However, they will attack any other small prey that lives among them, including mice and birds. In addition, they tend to make their homes in nests within the forest canopies. But they can also form nests in the hollows of trees, on pines, within tangled vines, and on tree undergrowth.
Examples of tree squirrels include as follows:
- Western and eastern gray squirrels
- Fox squirrels
- American red squirrels
- Black squirrels
3. Flying Squirrels
Flying squirrels are types of squirrels that tend to glide from one tree to another to stay safe from ground predators.
They do that by stretching out a furred membrane to form a parachute-like form that enables them to cover 150 to 500 feet. They also can turn in mid-air to avoid flying predators like owls.
Concerning shelter, flying squirrels can nest in bird nests, tree cavities, and tree holes left by other birds, such as woodpeckers.
They are Houdini-like in their ability to escape, making them difficult to attract and keep as pets. Also, they are nocturnal, which means they are primarily active at night.
Examples of flying squirrels include:
- Northern flying squirrels
- Southern flying squirrels
Their diet includes birds, eggs, seeds, insects, fungi, and fruits.
What Do Squirrels Find Attractive?
Knowing what kind of squirrels and what they eat is half the battle. But you need to implement your knowledge to bring more of them into your yard.
Below are some of the ways you can do that.
1. Leave Out the Garbage
There is a reason why squirrel-proof garbage trash cans are a thing. It’s because squirrels tend to go through human garbage searching for food.
A typical squirrel can eat anything you or your pets leave unfinished. That includes cheese, pet food, breakfast cereals, left-over pizza, and sugary snacks.
Therefore, if you want to attract squirrels, especially ground squirrels, leave out the garbage in your yard. It is one of the easiest ways to attract these furry creatures in an urban setting.
However, the dependency on human food may not be in the best interest of any squirrel. In the long run, it may harm the squirrel.
2. Leave Your Compost Heap Out in the Open
Composting is great for the environment. But it could be what you need to attract squirrels into your yard.
Typical compost may consist of fallen tree leaves, paper, fruit peels and skins, sawdust, grass clippings, left-over foods, and animal manure. Many of these things are food for squirrels.
It is also pretty common to find other life forms like worms and insects within compost heaps. These will help convert the waste into something you can use in your garden or lawn. But they also act as a food source for squirrels.
Homeowners that do not want squirrels or other night creatures in their properties often use compost bins with tight lids. So, it follows that to attract these cute furry animals, you should do the opposite.
You can either have an open compost bin or let your waste form compost in a loose pile at one section of your yard.
It would be cruel to feed your chickens and birds to squirrels to attract them to your yard. But there is no guilt associated with providing them any extra eggs you may have.
Generally, squirrels eat eggs when the opportunity presents itself. But if your poultry produces more eggs than you can eat or sell, you could always share them with your furry friends. But ensure they are raw and put them in a safe place, such as a nesting box, where they will not break.
If you have ground squirrels nearby, you could place the eggs near any holes you see in your yard or garden. But if you want to attract tree squirrels, it would be better to put the eggs near the trees on your property or at the edge of it.
4. Find a Way to Bring Insects & Bugs into Your Property
Insects form part of the squirrels’ diets and give them the proteins they need. They include insects, such as butterflies, crickets, bugs, grasshoppers, mealworms, caterpillars, and larvae.
The rodents are also known to raid beehives and eat the bees. So, that is something to think about if you are a beekeeper looking to attract squirrels.
While composting is a convenient way to attract all manner of worms and bugs, it is not the only way.
You can also actively begin insect farming to provide food for the squirrels you want to attract. The insects tend to breed fast and give you an additional opportunity to make money.
Once you breed, rear, and harvest these insects, you can place them in open containers near burrows or vegetation on your property to let squirrels access them.
An additional way to encourage an increase in insect population is to change your lighting. Research shows that halogen, CFL, and incandescent lights attract the highest number of insects.
5. Include Nut Plants in Your Property
Squirrels are famous for eating nuts. These include acorns, peanuts, hazelnuts, almonds, and pine nuts.
For that reason, if you want squirrels to make your property a permanent home, you should plant anything that produces nuts and can thrive in your environment. That includes walnut, pecan, pine, and oak trees (for the acorns).
6. Start an Orchard
Fruits also form part of the regular squirrel diet. The sugar within the fruit provides them the energy they need to carry out their everyday activities as they forage for more food.
To attract all types of squirrels, you would need to plant short and tall fruit trees. Shorter versions of these trees include berry bushes, grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, and other dwarf fruit trees. These will provide food for ground squirrels.
But it would be best if you also planted taller fruit trees to provide food and shelter for the flying and tree squirrels. These include avocado, apricots, oranges, peaches, and kiwi.
Remember that flying squirrels can cover large distances while moving from one tree to another. However, tree and ground squirrels can’t glide. But they can jump about five feet in a vertical direction. In addition, they can jump 10 feet in horizontal order.
7. Start a Backyard Garden or Make Your Existing One Accessible
Generally, squirrels are not picky eaters. As a result, these rodents can eat almost any vegetable you plant, including squash, tomatoes, chard, lettuce, broccoli, beans, and peas. So, if you create a vegetable garden with these plants, squirrels will jump or burrow in and feed themselves.
However, they do not like foods with strong scents like garlic and peppermint. In addition, squirrels hate the spiciness of pepper and will, thus, leave cayenne plants alone. Also, they will avoid flowers like hyacinth and daffodils.
On the other hand, if you have an existing garden and yet see no signs of squirrels, it could be because you have fenced it or potted plants in inaccessible containers.
Tree squirrels may also find it challenging to come in because the distance of your garden from other buildings or vegetation they could jump from is much longer than they can handle.
In that case, you could try bringing down the garden fencing in the area you want squirrels to access. And you could also remove protective squirrel-proof netting if you installed it.
8. Plant Flowers
Flowers can also help attract squirrels because they serve as food. Moreover, they attract insects and birds that form part of the squirrel diet. So, planting flowers in your yard could bring in more of these rodents closer to your home.
The list below includes some of the squirrel-friendly flowers you can plant:
9. Roll Out the Red Carpet with Squirrel Feeders
Most homeowners that struggle to attract birds also complain a lot about squirrels. The rodents like to eat birdseed, eggs, and small birds.
So, to keep squirrels out of birdhouses and bird feeders, you can roll out the red carpet for them by installing squirrel feeders.
A squirrel feeder is a food container for squirrels that is strong enough to accommodate their weight. You could buy or build it and position the feeder right in the center of your yard or at the edge of your property.
Once you install the feeder, you can put in all sorts of food squirrels. That includes sunflower seeds, nuts, left-over breakfast cereals, mealworms, and ears of corn, among other things.
So long as you replace the food squirrels eat from these feeders, they will keep coming. And you can continue to enjoy their company.
10. Install Nesting Boxes
Squirrels tend to build nests. It’s just that the materials used and the positions of these nests differ.
If you want to attract squirrels into your yard, you need to install nesting boxes for them. That is where they will shelter and nurture their young.
When you build a nesting box, ensure it is strong enough to safeguard squirrels from their natural predators. But at the same time, it should be large enough to accommodate at least one squirrel, and it’s young.
Also, the nesting box should allow for proper drainage and easy entry. If you fill it partially with leaves, it will be more attractive to the rodents and make them more likely to settle in.
If you choose to install a nesting box, do so where predators cannot easily reach. So, you could attach it high up (at least 30 feet high) on the side of a thick tree (with a diameter of at least 10 inches) on your property with the entry facing the tree trunk. Where possible, opt to install the nest boxes in a forested area.
Remember, ground squirrels shelter underneath the ground. So, your nesting boxes are unlikely to attract them.
11. Provide Drinking Water
A typical squirrel drinks water regularly and more when pregnant or lactating. Squirrels also drink lots of water during hot summer months.
When drinking water, squirrels sit down and lap it up like lions. So, you must ensure the container you put water in is accessible to them and suited to their drinking habits.
If your squirrel feeder comes with a water container, there is no need to provide another for the squirrels. But if it doesn’t, you have to explore other viable alternatives.
In that case, it would be wiser to install outdoor water sources that don’t run out and improve your yard’s look.
Some of them include:
- Water fountains
- Bird births
- Water bowls
What you choose will depend on the size of your yard and budget. But the more significant your water source, the more squirrels you can provide water for. If you want to keep them away from most of your property, you can place these water features at the edge of it.
Is it Worth it to Keep Squirrels in Your Yard?
Squirrels are cute and entertaining. That alone makes them worth bringing into your yard. But that is not their only benefit.
Squirrels are worth having because they forage for food and store seeds, thus, helping seed dispersal. In addition, they feed on smaller rodents, insects, and snakes, thus controlling their populations.
Also, their ability to dig deep and store foods into the ground helps improve soil aeration and fertility in those areas.
It is also worth noting that squirrels are prey for other animals like owls and eagles. So, they also help sustain their predator populations as well.
A Word of Caution: Squirrels Do Not Make Good Pets
While squirrels are cute and play a part in sustaining their ecosystem, they do not make good pets. They are very energetic and can chew anything in sight. For that reason, they will damage your furniture, walls, ceilings, and floors.
Squirrels could even chew and destroy your electrical wiring and plastic piping. So it is not wise for you to try and cage them or keep them in your home as pets.
Additionally, squirrels tend to get infested with ticks and fleas. As a result, they can carry diseases (check out how to keep squirrels off porches and decks here), such as the plague, Lyme disease, leptospirosis, tularemia, and salmonellosis, among others.
You could get these diseases through their droppings or by getting infested by the ticks and fleas that previously inhabited the squirrel’s body.
Also, the rodents could attack and injure you. And those injuries could cause some infections that lead to severe health complications.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to have some squirrels in your yard. But they are not the average animal that you can domesticate.
So, keep squirrels within the designated areas of your yard using strategies like fencing, dogs, cats, and repellants. Remember, so long as you keep them under control, they will provide you with years of comic relief.