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Grey squirrels first touched down in the UK in the 1870s, imported from the US. The grey squirrel is legally classed as an invasive, non-native species and has since expanded its range, even displacing the UK’s native red squirrel. The grey squirrel is extremely adaptable, meaning it’s highly successful at surviving and reproducing in urban environments – the reason you’ve probably seen them around town and cities.
How to get rid of grey squirrels from your garden
Protect your plants
One of the most important things you can do to deter squirrels is protect your plants.
Seeds and young plants are especially vulnerable as squirrels will nip off soft shoots and dig up and eat seeds.
Get around this by protecting your plants, by sowing and growing in a greenhouse, propagator or cloche to avoid squirrels getting their teeth on them.
Protect bulbs growing in pots by covering them with a layer of chicken wire or metal mesh, which you can remove after the bulbs start producing shoots.
Squirrel-proof your feeders
Bird seed mixes and peanuts are an absolute magnet for grey squirrels, but there’s numerous ways to deter them, such as buying squirrel-proof bird feeders.
Bird feeders on top of metal poles can be greased to prevent squirrels climbing up them.
Try smearing oil or petroleum jelly on the metal pole to stop them from gripping it and they will very soon give up.
Remember squirrels can jump considerable distances, so put feeders away from fences and other high points to stop them reaching their goal.
Hanging bird feeders from washing lines or string isn’t very effective either as their ability enables them to walk the line.
Use fruit cages
Bigger areas, particularly those used to grow tasty fruit and veg, can be protected with the help of a fruit cage.
Use a metal mesh to form the cage as squirrels can easily nibble through plastic meshes, while non-metal materials can act as nets that birds and other wildlife get stuck in.
Fruit cages can be as big as you need them, some are waist height and others tall enough for you to stand in.
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Grow food plants
Squirrels have a number of favourite food plants that, if grown, may distract their attention from your beloved plants.
Cobnuts and hazelnuts are a particular favourite and will provide a bounty of nuts for them to snack on.
Keep in mind that they may be looking to bury these nuts, so they could well dig up bulbs or other produce growing nearby in the process.
If you do plant one of these plants for squirrels, it’s best to do so away from the most cultivated areas of your garden.
Scare them off
Squirrels, for all their cheekiness, are easily scared away, and you can use numerous visual deterrents to do this.
Some gardeners have turned to artificial decoy birds of prey, like owls and falcons, places in a tree or other spots to fool squirrels.
They can eventually become used to the presence of the decoy figure, so you may have to move it to a different part of the garden every once in a while.
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