Are Squirrel Nests Bad For Trees? [Can They Cause Damage]

are squirrel nests bad for trees

Squirrels are cute and entertaining creatures for those who don’t deal with them daily. However, for those who deal with them daily, they can be a nuisance. They can cause worry over the health of the trees they live in, especially during the breeding season. So, are squirrel nests bad for trees? 

Squirrel nests themselves are not bad for trees and will not cause harm to the trees they are in. However, the squirrels that live in them can cause damage to your trees, as they use materials from the trees to build their nests and to help in their survival. 

This article will explain how squirrels will damage your trees to build their nests and how you can help prevent your tree from dying due to this damage, so keep reading!

Do Squirrel Nests Damage Trees?

Squirrels are furry little creatures that many people find cute and entertaining to watch as they scavenge for food, play, and fight with each other. 

Different types of squirrels live in urban areas and tend to interact with humans daily. 

The people who interact daily with these squirrels don’t find them as cute and entertaining as others. To these people, squirrels can be a nuisance and can cause damage to plants and property.  

If you have never dealt with squirrels before, you might wonder whether their nests damage your trees. Don’t worry- squirrels construct their nests with organic materials like leaves and twigs, so they will not harm your trees.

So, the nests themselves are not bad for your trees, but the animals they home can be bad for your trees and cause significant damage if you aren’t careful. 

Should You Remove Squirrel Nests From Your Trees?

So, squirrel nests themselves will not harm your trees, but the squirrels that live in them and are continuously building them can damage them. So, should you remove the squirrel nests that you see in your trees, or should you leave them? 

Many people think the best way to prevent squirrels from damaging trees is by removing their nests, but this method can do more harm than good. If you remove the squirrel nests, this can cause one of two outcomes. 

The first outcome is that the current squirrels building the nest will move on to find another habitat. 

This sounds good, but this will encourage more squirrels to move into the vacated area, so you will still have the same problem. 

The second outcome could be that the squirrels will start their nest from scratch in your tree, which could cause damage to your trees as they use material from the tree to build their nests. 

So, the safest thing to do is to leave the squirrels and their nests and remove them once the breeding season is complete and the squirrels have moved on. 

How Do Squirrels Damage Trees?

So, squirrel nests won’t damage your trees, but the squirrels in them will damage your trees to help build the nests, among other things; but how do squirrels cause damage to trees? 

There are multiple ways squirrels can damage your trees, and each way will cause a varying amount of damage to your trees.

Some of the damage caused can affect the health of your trees and will require you to step in and help your trees if you want them to survive, so it’s important to know what to look for. 

Let’s go through how the squirrels you are dealing with can damage your trees, so you know what to watch for to see if your trees need some help.

Squirrels Nip Off Tree Branches

If squirrels are residing in your trees, they will begin nipping off young twigs and branches from your trees, which can impede the growth of the tree as the new growth is killed off. 

The squirrels will do this for two reasons. 

They do this to help control the length of their teeth as they grow constantly and must be kept under control for the squirrels to survive and live comfortably. 

Squirrels will also nip off young branches from your trees to use as material to build their nests.

If your tree is young or unhealthy, it will struggle as the squirrels nip off its branches. However, if your tree is healthy, this branch nipping should not harm it and could benefit it, as this is nature’s way of pruning trees. 

Squirrels Rip Off Tree Bark

Another way squirrels damage your trees is that they rip off tree bark from the tree they are nesting in. if the squirrel goes overboard and rips off too much bark from one tree branch, the branch will die. 

You will see patches of bark missing from tree branches, or you see a girdle; you know the squirrels are ripping off the bark. 

When a tree branch has a girdle (meaning there is a ring of bark missing from around the bottom of the branch), you need to cut that branch off. If you don’t, the entire tree will eventually die.

Squirrels will strip the bark of trees to help keep their teeth short and under control, and they will use the bark as a building material for their nests. 

Eating The Tree Buds

Squirrels will also eat the young and juicy tree buds that begin to grow on your trees in the early spring. Squirrels find these buds delicious and will seek them out and eat them during this time. 

This can damage the growth of your tree as the new growth gets eaten before it has the chance to grow. 

Squirrels Make Holes In Trees Bigger

If you have a hole or hollow in your tree, the squirrel will use this hollow as a safe place to build its nest. This hollow will protect the nest from the elements and will help keep the nest warm. 

Unfortunately, the squirrels will make this hollow bigger as they make space for their nest. 

This can damage the tree’s structure and cause the tree to be unstable. Sometimes the squirrels can make the hollow so big that the tree can start falling, causing the tree to die. 

How To Help Prevent Tree Damage From Squirrels 

So, the squirrel nests don’t damage the trees they are built in, but the squirrels will damage the trees to build the nests and to continue their daily routines, but how do you prevent squirrels from damaging your trees to make nests? 

Unfortunately, there is no way to stop this damage from occurring. All you can do is ensure your trees are as healthy as possible, as healthy trees can easily survive this assault from the squirrels. 

The squirrels will damage unhealthy trees to the point where they cannot cope and will die. In contrast, healthy trees will survive and recover from the squirrels using them to build their nests. 

Final Word

Squirrel nests are not bad for your trees and will not damage the trees they are built in. However, a squirrel might use different materials from the tree to build their nests, which can damage the tree. 

The best thing to do is keep your tree healthy and well cared for to ensure it can survive the squirrel’s breeding season. Good luck keeping your trees healthy!

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