It can be very frustrating. You put food out for the birds, and the squirrels get it instead. Trying to stop squirrels from getting to your feeder can be tricky, but one method you can use is a slinky. Secure it well, and they won’t get up the pole.
There are other things you can try and you may have to experiment to find the one which works best. Squirrels are very clever and they usually find a way to get to food even though you don’t think there is one.
- 1 Tips to Deter Squirrels
- 2 Frequently Asked Questions:
Tips to Deter Squirrels
The first method is the slinky. This goes down the pole which your feeder is on. The idea is that the squirrel will start to climb the pole, then when it gets to the slinky, the slinky will open and the squirrel will go back down.
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To attach the slinky, feed the pole through the middle, and attach it at the top. You will need to secure it well, or it will simply come off when a squirrel gets to it. Once the slinky is well fastened, let it fall. If it reaches the floor, you will need to cut some off so that some of the pole is exposed.
Slinkys work well with any poles, but some bird poles are more effective at stopping squirrels than others.
- If the pole is wooden or made from metal, these are easy for squirrels to climb, so try a slinky if you have one of these.
- Squirrels find it harder to climb copper piping or PVC poles, so try one of these with a slinky for added benefit.
You can also add grease to the pole as this stops the squirrels from getting a good grip so they can’t climb.
Place your feeder carefully
If you suspend your feeder from the branch of a tree, a squirrel will simply climb down the wire or rope and get to the food. Similarly, if it is close to a fence, the squirrel will also be able to get to it. Squirrels are good jumpers and some can jump as far as 10 feet, so placing your feeder can be a problem.
- Try not to place it too close to trees. If a squirrel can jump or climb across a rope, it will.
- If you have any buildings in your garden, such as an outhouse or garage, they can jump from the roofs of these on to the feeder.
Many of us don’t have gardens big enough that we can locate the feeder in the perfect spot, so there are a few things you can try to deter them.
A baffle is like a plastic umbrella. This sits at the top of the feeder, and if a squirrel jumps on to it, it will simply tip them off. You can also put one underneath a hanging feeder as they will not be able to climb around it to climb up.
- Feeder on a wire
Many people attach string or rope to two poles and hang a feeder from the middle. The problem with this is that the squirrels can still climb the pole and get across the rope. To stop them, you can attach a slinky to the poles or use some empty soda bottles on the rope or string. If you feed the rope through and put one soda bottle at either end, once the squirrel tries to step on the bottle to get across, the bottle will spin round and drop them off.
These are great for feeding smaller birds and you can choose which cage to buy.
- Some cage feeders have a cage built around them. The holes in the cage are small enough to allow smaller birds through, but too small to allow squirrels.
- You can also get spring loaded cage feeders. The door to the cage is spring loaded, so if a small bird lands in it, the door will remain open and the bird can feed. If anything larger lands on it, the door will close and block off the food.
Change the food
Many people believe squirrels will eat anything, but they don’t. If you add certain foods in to your feeder, they may deter the squirrels. Just some of the foods you can try are:
- Safflower and niger seeds. Birds love these but squirrels are not so keen.
- Many birds love peppers, while squirrels do not. You can mix cayenne pepper powder or capsicum in to the food, but do be careful that you do not use too much. If you do, the excess powder may irritate the bird’s eyes.
Sometimes all you need to do is give the squirrels their own feeders. If they have a source of food readily available to them, they are less likely to try to get to the bird’s food in your feeder.
Try to site this away from the bird feeders then the squirrels will not be encouraged to try to climb them.
Frequently Asked Questions:
This can be a problem, as they do need to be able to hold the weight of a squirrel.
- Shepherds hooks are one solution. You can tie them to the pole, with the slinky on the outside. You can then attach the top of the slinky to the top of the shepherd’s hook.
- You can also try tapping a few nails at the top of the pole so they hold the slinky in place.
Sometimes it can look as though the squirrel is tangled up in the slinky, but it won’t be. They are simply pushed back down the pole to the ground so they don’t fall or get caught. You will often see them come back for another go, so you can be sure the slinky poses no threat to the squirrel – other than stopping it from getting to the top.
I tried greasing the pole but it’s not working?
If the grease stopped the squirrels originally, then it probably needs to be reapplied.
Most greases will lose their efficiency over time and you will need to keep applying it. Petroleum jelly is a good choice as it is both waterproof and long lasting.
Slinkys need not reapplying so why not give them a go?
Squirrels are attracted by the thought of a free meal, so one way of stopping them is by keeping the area around your bird feeders clean. If nuts or seeds fall to the floor, these can attract more unwelcome visitors than squirrels.
Most methods of stopping squirrels are harmless to them and simply act as a deterrent. If you see a squirrel coming back for another go, that’s natural and doesn’t mean your slinky or other squirrel proofing method isn’t working. Most times, they eventually give up, but you can have some fun watching them try.