How to help squirrels as well as garden birds

How to help squirrels as well as garden birds

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We're always keen to promote year-round feeding of wild birds and we know from our customers that it's something many of you enjoy doing. However, our small patches of green space often contain many more creatures than our feathered friends alone.

Your garden could well be frequented by squirrels and - whether they're red or grey - they'll be feeling the effects of the harsh weather and lack of food that the colder months present too. 

Although many Britons spend their time trying to get rid of these rambunctious rodents, sometimes the most practical solution is to give them their own feeder.

By making space for them and ensuring they're not in direct competition with the birds, you'll be rewarded with hours of fun watching their humorous antics - and in the case of red squirrels, you'll also be helping a threatened species.

Easy ways to help squirrels 

The best way to feed squirrels is to provide a separate feeding station for them, away from the one you use for birds. Here at CJ Wildlife, we stock a variety of different types, including some made from attractive, natural-looking wood.

Squirrels will quickly learn to approach the feeders, lift the lid and gain access to a tasty treat - just remember to also position the feeder high up, away from cats and other predators.

You should also get hold of some specialist squirrel food, as their bodies require slightly different ingredients than birds, so the mix of nuts, fruit and seed provided is aimed specifically at these larger animals. 

This mix can be used all year round - and don't forget the summer months either, as there can be a decline in their natural food sources at this time, contrary as it might sound.

Of course if you live in one of the areas where both red and grey squirrels can be found it is very important that you do not provide food as it may bring the two species into close contact, increasing the risk of the reds catching the debilitating squirrel pox virus from the greys.

Preventing squirrel problems

Squirrels can sometimes get a reputation for pesky behaviour, but it's actually quite easy to prevent much of this using a few easy tips. As we mentioned above, specialist squirrel feeders will negate the need for them to steal food meant for the birds.

The other approach is to remove the temptation altogether by using caged feeders, squirrel guards or Squirrel Buster feeders that are automatically closed by the weight of a squirrel, so that birds and squirrels can enjoy a conflict-free meal.

Squirrels do like to dig, especially when they're preparing their food stores for colder weather, so protect any flower beds or areas where bulbs are planted by putting a layer of mesh just underneath the top layer of soil.

The holes should be large enough for your plants to poke through, but small enough to deter little claws. You can also get repellent sprays if you find there are locations they like to stray into, but it's more ecologically friendly to create parts of the garden that are welcoming to squirrels so they'll be tempted to go there instead.