Just when you think this is the year that you are going to have a lush garden that produces a bounty of all of your favorite fruits and vegetables, enter the dream killer, also known as the ground squirrel.
Ground squirrels are members of the…wait for it…squirrel family of rodents and they generally live on or in the…are you ready for this…ground. So, to recap, in case you missed it, ground squirrels are squirrels that live on or in the ground. Never would have guessed that by their name.
Ground Squirrel Identification
They have brown, grayish-brown or reddish-brown fur with gray and white dots and measure between 14 to 20 inches, including their tail. Their squirrely bodies tip the scales somewhere between 21-30 ounces with the males tending to be larger than their lady squirrel friends.
Ground squirrels carry out their special brand of destruction in grasslands, grain fields, pastures, meadows, around residential and commercial buildings, and most noticeably, in your yard and garden.
What Do Ground Squirrels Eat?
Given that ground squirrels are primarily herbivores, they eat plants, vegetables (even in the seedling stage), seeds, grains, fruits of all kinds, including apples, apricots, oranges, peaches, and also a variety of nuts that include almonds, pistachios, and walnuts. Basically, the garden you painstakingly planted in your yard is pretty much a ground squirrel buffet.
Ground Squirrel Damage
But their reign of terror doesn’t stop there. Ground squirrels can cause significant damage and even total destruction to food-bearing plants, ornamental plants, shrubs, vines, and trees. Ground squirrels will even gnaw on plastic sprinkler heads and irrigation boxes and lines.
Unfortunately, there’s more. If the damage caused by their eating habits isn’t enough to send you to the booze farm, their burrowing will. Ground squirrels are big time burrowers. Big time. They live, laugh, and love in underground burrows where they sleep, get their chill on, hoard food, raise their little squirrel babies, and hide from the people who planted the garden they destroyed.
The burrow openings are usually 4 inches in diameter with the length of the burrow measuring somewhere between 5 and 30 feet. Their elaborate tunneling system can be pretty darn destructive. Not only do the burrows and mounds make landscape maintenance a challenge, but they can also be hazardous to machinery and body parts of the people and animals that trip over them. When burrowing takes place around trees and shrubs, the roots can be damaged so much that the trees actually topple over. In addition, when burrowing takes place beneath buildings or other structures, well, let’s just say that the repair costs could be significant.
Even though mama ground squirrels only produce one litter of 5 to 8 ground squirrel babies per year, as you may already know, having even one ground squirrel in your garden or in your yard is way too many. So, don’t delay, because they definitely won’t leave on their own. Check out the products at HowToPest.com so you can keep your garden, lawn, and landscaping from getting squirrelly.