How Do I Know If I Have Squirrels In My Garden? [Signs &..]

how do I know if I have squirrels in my garden

Nothing is worse than spending a lot of money on your garden only to notice that something is eating them. Unfortunately, several animals love eating plants, not just squirrels. So how can you tell if squirrels are eating your plants?

Some signs that squirrels are eating your plants are bite marks, partially eaten flowers, missing plants, shallow digging, droppings, footprints, etc. 

Unfortunately, squirrels are not the only animals that love eating plants. Many animals, such as; deer, rabbits, groundhogs, etc. The signs will vary depending on the type of animal that is raiding your garden, but here are the signs that a squirrel is raiding your garden. 

Signs of Squirrels In Your Garden

Squirrels are opportunistic feeders that won’t have any issues raiding your garden. However, you may not know what to look for if you’ve never dealt with this issue. Below are the signs that a squirrel is visiting throughout the day.

#1 Bite Marks On Flower Buds

One of the easiest ways to tell if squirrels are eating your flower buds is by looking for bite marks. These small mammals use their sharp teeth to access the inside of the buds, leaving distinctive marks in the process. 

Observe your flower buds for signs of gnawing, ragged edges, or partially eaten petals. If you notice these signs, squirrels are likely causing the damage.

#2 Damage To The Plants

Squirrels are notorious for causing damage to plants, including digging up and eating bulbs and nibbling on stems, leaves, and fruits. 

These rodents will uproot young seedlings. This is because they prefer eating the young seedlings as opposed to the taller plants. It could be because the younger plants have more vitamins or minerals or because the smaller plants are easier to eat. 

Another sign to watch for is small mounds of soil or disturbed mulch around the plants. Squirrels have sharp claws and will dig in gardens looking for seeds, bulbs, or insects to eat. 

It could also mean that they are using your garden as a cache. 

Squirrels bury their food in several spots across a general area. These caches give them enough food to survive the winter when food is harder to find. 

#3 Squirrel Tracks And Droppings

Squirrel tracks and droppings can be a telltale sign of their presence in your garden. Look for small, elongated paw prints in the soil or on nearby hard surfaces. 

Unless you’re an avid tracker or hunter, it’s easy to mistake the squirrel footprints for other small mammals. Squirrel footprints are about two inches in length. Their front paws have narrow toes with tiny claws. 

Another indicator of squirrel activity is the presence of their droppings, which are small, oval-shaped pellets that are typically dark brown or black. 

You’ll also notice squirrel droppings around fences, trees, or other structures in your garden. Squirrel droppings are dark brown and barrel-shaped that look bigger than rat droppings. 

The shape of the dropping will vary depending on their diet. However, a squirrel’s poop will be pale brown because of its herbivore diet. 

#4 Container Digger

container plants

Your garden isn’t safe if you have a raised or container garden. Unfortunately, squirrels will find ways to disturb your herbs, tomatoes, or other vegetables. 

These rodents have no problem climbing, hanging plants, and eating the flowers. Some of their favorite plants are daisies and Gerberas, which do well in containers. 

If a squirrel is disturbing the containers, you’ll notice young vegetables completely uprooted. You may even see a squirrel hanging from your pots or running away when they hear you. 

How To Tell Squirrels Are Eating Flower Buds

gray squirrel

Observing Behavior

If you suspect squirrels might be eating your flower buds, you should first observe their behavior around your plants. Next, watch for squirrels in your garden, particularly if you notice them lingering around your flowers. 

Squirrels can be spotted eating fruits, nuts, seeds, flower buds, and vegetables and digging up bulbs.

Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to spot a squirrel in action because they’ll scatter off as soon as they hear you. Here are some tips to help you catch them in action.

Incorporating Wild Cameras

You can buy a wildlife motion-activated camera from Amazon or any home improvement store to monitor your garden or backyard wildlife. 

Set up a camera in an area where you’ve observed squirrel activity or noticed missing or damaged buds. 

The footage from the camera will help you catch the culprits in action and give you a better understanding of when and how the squirrels are accessing your plants.

Squirrel Prevention Methods

Add Some Spice To Your Garden

Adding spice to your garden is an excellent, non-toxic way of preventing squirrels from entering and eating your plants. 

Squirrels do not like spicy things, including the smell of spice, so this method tends to work well. 

You can sprinkle some chili powder, cayenne pepper, or other hot spices around your garden to help prevent the rodents from entering. 

Focus the spice around the base of your garden fence and at the base of every plant for the best results. 

Trap And Relocate The Squirrels

If you have a large population of squirrels trying to enter your garden and eat your plants, or if they have already entered and now know there is food in your garden, you must trap and relocate them. 

This humane method of removing the squirrels from your property will help protect your plants. That said, not all states allow wildlife relocation because most squirrels won’t survive. 

You can set up the traps close to the plants the squirrels are targeting and bait them with something they cannot refuse, like peanut or almond butter. 

Once you have trapped the squirrels, you must relocate them within one day and ensure they are far enough away from your home so they won’t return. 

You can speak to a local pest control business to find out where to release the them safely. 

Use A Mock Predator In Your Garden 

Squirrels are prey animals, meaning they have natural predators that you can use to your advantage to keep the chipmunks out of your yard and far away from your plants. 

For example, you can put a mock or decoy predator statue in your garden to prevent squirrels from entering. 

Some statues you can use are owls, hawks, and eagles. You can go one step further and purchase a motion-activated mock predator to scare off the squirrels. 

Place this predator somewhere highly visible in your garden so the chipmunks will instantly notice it. 

Other Animals That Eat Plants and Buds

wildlife that eats plants

Aside from squirrels, several other animals also feed on plants and buds.

By learning about these animals, you’ll be better prepared to protect your garden. 

Deer are notorious for nibbling on flowers, leaves, and buds. They also love eating low-hanging apples if you have apple trees in your backyard.  

To deter deer, try planting deer-resistant varieties, using repellents, or installing fencing around your garden.

Rabbits can also be a problem, feasting on young shoots and leaves. To keep rabbits out of your garden, consider putting up a small fence, using repellents, or planting rabbit-resistant plants like marigolds or ornamental alliums.

Some birds, like pigeons, blackbirds, and sparrows, might also peck at your plants’ buds and flowers. Cover your plants with a net or invest in bird deterrents like spikes, bird tape, or decoys to protect your plants.

Insects like aphids, caterpillars, and Japanese beetles can also threaten your plants and their buds. 

Look for any signs of insect infestation, and use organic or chemical insecticides if necessary. 

Also, plant bushes and plants that attract ladybugs and lacewings that naturally prey on garden pests such as; yarrow, calendula, and cosmos. 

Final Word

If something is eating your plants in your garden, it’s most likely a squirrel or other animal. Unfortunately, the activity will continue until you take action to remove the culprit. 

Monitor the unwanted activity while looking for the signs above to determine whether it is a squirrel. 

There are several preventive measures that you can take to protect your flowers from squirrels. These can include:

  • Covering flower bulbs with wire mesh.
  • Applying cayenne pepper or other repellents around your plants.
  • Placing secure bird feeders away from your flower beds.

Dealing with squirrels can be a headache. However, with patience and persistence, you can successfully deter them so you can enjoy the beauty of your garden. 

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