Squirrels look insanely cute and adorable — unless they’re in your trees savoring on the fully-grown fruits. They’re notorious for damaging trees and plants containing edible items.
If you’re growing trees primarily to collect the fruits, you might be wondering how to keep squirrels out of fruit trees. There are quite a few ways to humanely keep the tiny, furred creatures away from the trees.
Build a Fruit Cage
Fruit cages have been used for decades to protect plant and tree produce from birds. And you can use them against squirrels as well. The cage will wholly surround the tree. Since they’re netted, they do not block sunlight or the flow of air.
But, the holes are small enough for the birds or squirrels to pass through. They can sneak around the cage. The nets are made up of steel, nullifying squirrels’ attempts to cut the wires and break-in.
The only problem you might face is with the size. Fruit cages are suitable for plants and small-sized and mid-sized trees. But getting a cage for a large tree is difficult. So in some cases, building a fruit cage might not be one of your options.
Use Hot Peppers Around the Trees
Squirrels can’t tolerate the hot flavor of peppers. And you can use this to your advantage. The strong smell of hot peppers is enough to deter the squirrels away. The compound “capsaicin” in pepper is what bothers the tiny rodents.
So sprinkle the peppers around the trees. An even better option is to crush and mix cayenne pepper with chilies, mix them in water, and spray it around the trees. You can also mix pepper with petroleum jelly and then rub it on the trees.
Many other smells can put squirrels off the trees. Please don’t be shy to use them for your cause.
Deploy Fake Owls or Hawks
Squirrels have nemeses. And they are owls and hawks. Both of these animals are known to prey on squirrels, because of which the furred animals are afraid of them. You can use their fear to protect your fruit trees.
Deploy a few fake owls and hawks near the trees. This does not guarantee protection but will make the squirrels think twice before raiding your fruit trees. The more you have toys, the better it will be. Some models can produce sounds too.
Cut Away Branches Near the Roof
Squirrels possess excellent aerobatic skills. They jump around from tree to tree and from roof to roof. Even if you block their access from the ground, they’re intelligent enough to go to your top and make a jump (and succeed at it).
To make things harder, you should cut the branches near the roof. The greater distance would discourage them from trying the jump.
Plant a Sacrificial Tree
Another method you can try is planting a sacrificial tree. The purpose of this tree is to sacrifice itself (the fruits, instead). You plant it closer to the area where squirrels can access it easily. So they’d only target the fruits of this particular tree, leaving the others. Thus, you save the fruits at the other trees at the cost of one.
So those were the answers for basic questions like how to keep squirrels out of fruit trees. It’s recommended that you use as many methods as possible to protect the trees and the fruits. But ensure not to harm the creatures, which is unethical.