Ground squirrels can cause damage to lawns, golf courses, fields & crops. Their tunneling can collapse ditch banks, kill vegetation & undermine foundations. Some ground squirrels can also be a reservoir for diseases such as plague.
Ground squirrels eat a wide variety of food. Most prefer succulent green vegetation (grasses, forbs, and even brush) when available, switching to dry foods, such as seeds, later in the year. The relatively high nutrient and oil content of the seed’s aids in fat build up necessary for hibernation. Most store large quantities of food in burrows.
Ground squirrels are small to medium sized rodents with slender bodies, bushy tails and large eyes. In general, their fur is short, soft and silky, and ranges in thickness from species to species. The color of their fur is also highly variable and can be whitish, gray, yellow, red, brown, or even black.
Ground squirrels can range in length from 6-12 inches and weigh from 10-25 ounces depending on the squirrel. Ground squirrels’ tails can range from 2-7 inches in length.
Ground squirrels typically live in burrows or tunnel systems they create themselves or will use abandoned burrows of other animals. Ground squirrels will use these burrows to hibernate, store food, raise young, and hide from danger.
Ground squirrels are active during the day and sleep at night. They have short legs and a tail of moderate length. The color of their fur can vary from - grey, pale brown, tawny, olive, reddish brown or dark brown.
Ground squirrels are common throughout the western two-thirds of the North American continent. Most are common to areas of open sagebrush and grasslands and are often found in and around dryland grain fields, meadows, hay land, and irrigated pastures.
Ground squirrels typically breed in the spring.
Young are born after a 4- to 5-week gestation period with 2 to 10 young per litter. Generally only 1 litter is produced each year.
How many types of squirrels are there?
There are more than 200 species of squirrels, according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), and they are categorized into three types: tree squirrels, ground squirrels and flying squirrels. 12 of these species are found in Canada.
6 of these are tree and flying squirrels: Eastern grey squirrel, Fox squirrel, American red squirrel, Douglas squirrel, Southern flying squirrel and Northern flying squirrel.
6 of these are ground squirrels: Richardson’s ground squirrel, Columbian ground squirrel, Artic ground squirrel, Thirteen-lined ground squirrel, Franklin’s ground squirrel, and Golden-mantled ground squirrel.
What is the difference between a ground squirrel, tree squirrel and flying squirrel?
Ground squirrels live up to their name and like to stay grounded – they typically live in burrows or tunnel systems they create, and some will hibernate there in the winter months. They eat nuts, leaves, roots, seeds, and other plants; but are also known to eat tiny animals such as caterpillars and some insects.
Tree squirrels also live up to their name. They typically live in wooded areas such as parks, forests, woodlands, etc. They will, however, make frequent trips to the ground when they are in need of food. Typically, their diet consists of nuts, acorns, berries and flowers. However, they also eat bark, eggs or sometimes baby birds.
Flying squirrels like to believe they’re birds and typically live like them, in nests and tree holes. They don’t literally live up to their name, as they can’t technically fly. However, they can glide through the air from tree to tree extending their arms and legs and coasting. These species eat nuts and fruit and also insects and baby birds that they catch at times.
Can ground squirrels be dangerous to humans?
Squirrels tend to be dangerous to humans indirectly by spreading disease vectors such as fleas, ticks or mites. Some ground squirrels are also reservoirs for plague.
Because squirrels are voracious gnawers, they pose a safety risk when they enter buildings. They frequently chew electrical lines which can cause fires.
Can ground squirrels damage my home?
Absolutely! Ground squirrels frequently chew holes in opportune areas of the roof to get into the attic, which is a warm, protected place in which to raise their young. A baseball sized hole along your gutters, trim or vents is a telltale sign a squirrel has moved in. We should change this to “ground squirrels frequently chew holes in doorway thresholds to gain access to garages, sheds and homes for warmth and shelter.”
Ground squirrels are rodents and need to constantly wear down their teeth, just sometimes they do this on electrical wires and/or structural beams inside homes. Their habit of chewing electrical wires can damage electrical equipment and cause power outages & fires.
Ground squirrels inside your home or building can make a big mess, ripping & displacing insulation - as well as contaminating surfaces with their urine & feces.
Can ground squirrels damage my yard?
Even if your home has yet to be invaded by a pesky squirrel, there are problems that can occur all over your yard. It's well known that squirrels will bury acorns and other nuts in anticipation of leaner times, which can lead to divots and holes in your grass.
To make matters worse, the National Wildlife Federation reported that squirrels may actually dig more holes than needed. If one of these rodents thinks it's being watched by an opportunistic adversary, it will pretend to bury a nut in one place before actually hiding it elsewhere. For that reason, a single squirrel can cause an impressive amount of damage to your lawn.
Beyond nuts, ground squirrels will also be happy to investigate a garden and munch on berries and other edibles. And in the winter, some individuals may even eat the bark off of a tree, potentially killing saplings in the process.
How do I keep ground squirrels out?
Sealing entry points with appropriate materials is imperative when excluding squirrels and other wildlife. Small cracks around doors and windows; as well as cracks/holes in chimneys foundations, plumbing mats, roof vents, wall vents, roof edges, and roof soffits and intersections/junction points.
Ensuring garbage is contained and taken out regularly and keeping food in airtight containers can also help. If possible, trimming tree limbs back about 6-8 feet from your roofline can make it tougher for tree and flying squirrels to reach your home.
Ground squirrels are crafty and can find entrance in very unique ways. There are also government restrictions that need to be carefully adhered to when performing any wildlife removal or exclusion, so we recommend a professional take care of it. We provide humane, legal removal as well as effective exclusion work.
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