How to Attract Squirrels to Your Garden

Posted by admin on Dec 11, 2019 under Gardening
Photo credit: Malgorzata Surawska/Shutterstock

We have previously provided readers with 6 ways of attracting wildlife to their garden and 6 ways of attracting birds to their garden. For those who want even more information on how to transform their garden into a lively playground for various fauna, we will continue our series of guides with one aimed at teaching you how to attract squirrels to your garden.  

Squirrels are small, bushy-tailed rodents that can be found living all over the world. In order to understand how to attract squirrels to your garden, you must first get to know these tiny animals. Knowing what they eat and what sort of environment they prefer to live in will allow you to design your outdoor space in such a way that squirrels will not only want to come there but will also want to spend most of their days there.

What do squirrels eat?

Squirrels are omnivores, meaning they will eat anything they can get their hands on. That’s right, they don’t only eat nuts!

Squirrels will stock up on food and bury it in various places underground in preparation for the cold winter months when they are less able to scavenge. The main foods they eat are:

  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Fruits
  • Fungi
  • Small insects

Where do squirrels live?

This may come as a surprise to some, however, there are many different types of squirrels in the UK. They all prefer the same sort of habitat, making it easy to design your garden in order to attract all varieties. In the UK, grey squirrels are the most numerous – their population stands at about 2.5 million according to estimates. The second most common variety in the UK is the red squirrel, with a population of approximately 120,000.

Tree squirrels prefer wooded regions or areas with lots of trees and shrubs while ground squirrels will live in most habitats. This second type of squirrel digs tunnel systems underground in which it nests; some even use these to hibernate during the winter months. Flying squirrels, on the other hand, tend to live in tree holes or nests which have been abandoned by other animals.

Do squirrels nest?

Tree squirrels are generally known to build two types of nests. These are called leaf nests or tree cavity dens. Of the two, tree cavity nests offer better protection from the elements. Squirrels don’t borough into trees themselves, however, preferring to make abandoned nests or holes in trees their own.

Photo credit: Nora Hachio/Shutterstock

How to Attract Squirrels to Your Garden

Now that you know a thing or two about what they eat and how they live, you’re ready to start attracting squirrels to your garden.

Provide them with food

The fact that squirrels will eat anything makes life very easy for those wanting to attract these critters to their gardens. You can either leave food around your garden or place a feeding box on your property for squirrels to flock to. You can either buy or build one or two feeding boxes which you can fill with whichever foodstuffs you have available that day. If you decide not to use a feeding box, you should leave the food in the same place or places every time so that the squirrels get used to where it is faster and have an easier time finding it.

Create a welcoming and safe habitat

We’ve said before that squirrels prefer wooded areas. This is because they don’t like being in wide open spaces which make them vulnerable to predators. If you’re wondering how to attract squirrels to your garden, the best thing you can do is provide them with natural cover. If your garden isn’t already packed with dense vegetation, look to plant small and medium sized shrubs as well as a few squirrel friendly trees such as pines, willows, aspens, or any type of coniferous tree native to your region.  

In order to make your garden even more welcoming for these bushy tailed rodents, you can create holes in the trees you plant. Squirrels will be able to nest in these and will probably do so, especially if you’ve provided them with enough cover and a reliable source of food.

If you’ve got any other pets, consider fencing off a small part of your garden where you’re hoping squirrels will set up shop. Most pets, including dogs will tend to scare off squirrels but a low fence will keep your visitors feeling safe.

Photo credit: Grigoann/Shutterstock

Final Tips

Once you’ve attracted some squirrels to your garden and have allowed them to settle in, it’s probably time to think about whether or not you need to protect them from predators. Squirrels are hunted by a number of animals including hawks, owls, and foxes. If these catch hay of the fact that many squirrels are all concentrated in a relatively small area, they will start coming to your garden for a steady supply of food and will slowly drive the squirrels away. Foxes are the most common predator squirrels have to contend with in the UK and you’d do well to read our guide on how to keep foxes out of the garden if you want to protect your bushy tailed neighbours.

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