Squirrels are intelligent and athletic creatures that may look cute but can be an annoyance, especially if you are trying to keep them out of your trees. While it is not an impossible task, it can seem difficult if you don’t understand the different methods squirrels can use to gain access to the trees. Once you do, your efforts will not be in vain.
Most people can recognize a squirrel; but if you don’t understand this creature’s capabilities, you will have a hard time creating a baffle that works. Squirrels are well-known for their climbing abilities, but they are also excellent jumpers. Squirrels can jump 8 feet high horizontally in the air and jump 11 feet down from a branch or structure. They can leap 6 to 10 feet from one object to another.
Evaluating the Tree
Before you go to the work of installing a squirrel baffle on your tree, you need to evaluate the situation to see if it will be effective. Note if there are any buildings, poles, wires or other trees within 10 feet of the tree. If so, you will need to trim the tree’s branches so they are at least 10 feet away. If trimming is not possible, you will need to prevent the squirrels from climbing any of the nearby structures or trees as well. Also look at the tree. If it has a number of branches that are less than 6 feet high, a baffle will not work.
Sheet Metal Baffle
The best baffle for trees is a 2-foot-wide piece of sheet metal. The metal should be placed around the tree so it begins at least 5 to 8 feet off the ground. Attach it to the tree with wire and springs. The springs will ensure that the metal does not restrict the tree’s growth. When purchasing the sheet metal, make sure it is large enough to overlap when wrapped around the tree to ensure the tree doesn’t outgrow it. If you don’t like the look of the metal, you can paint it to match the color of the tree.
A cone-shaped baffle can also be used around a tree. These baffles can be purchased or made by cutting a piece of aluminum flashing so it flares around the tree. The baffle should extend at least 18 inches away from the tree and be placed about 6 feet from the ground to prevent squirrels from jumping over it. Secure the baffle to the tree with nails or screws. The drawback to this design is that it needs to be refitted to allow the tree to grow and requires you to attach it directly to the tree, which can damage it.
- Texas Wildlife Damage Management: Controlling Tree Squirrels in Urban Areas (PDF)
- Cornell Lab of Ornithology: What Can You Do About Squirrels? (PDF)
- Penn State University: Tree Squirrels (PDF)
- Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife: Living with Wildlife -- Tree Squirrels
- Larimer Humane Society: Humane Solutions to Squirrel Problems
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