Although many people consider squirrels to be pests, they offer some unexpected advantages that can enrich your garden and your life. Firstly, squirrels can help to distribute seeds and fertilize plants. They also provide entertainment and education and can deter pests and predators. To attract squirrels, provide food sources such as nuts, seeds, fruits, or corn and plant trees or shrubs that produce food that squirrels like. To protect plants from squirrels, use physical barriers or plant deterrent plants that have a strong scent or taste that squirrels don’t like. Be careful not to feed squirrels too much, as it can attract other animals and make squirrels dependent on you.
The Surprising Benefits of Having Squirrels in Your Garden
Do you have squirrels in your garden? Many people consider them pests, especially when they eat or damage plants, steal birdseed or bulbs, or dig holes in lawns. However, squirrels can also offer some unexpected advantages that can enrich your garden and your life. Here are some of the benefits of having squirrels as your furry neighbors.
1. Squirrels help to distribute seeds and fertilize plants.
Squirrels are natural scatterers and hoarders of food, gathering nuts, fruits, and seeds from trees and shrubs in your garden or nearby areas. As they travel, they bury some of their cache in the ground or store it in trees, creating underground or aboveground storage for future meals. In the process, they inadvertently plant a variety of seeds that can germinate and grow into new trees, shrubs, or flowers, even in places where you didn’t plan to have them. Moreover, squirrels also help to fertilize plants by depositing their droppings while eating or traveling, providing valuable nutrients and beneficial microorganisms that can improve soil health and plant growth.
2. Squirrels provide entertainment and education.
Squirrels are lively, agile, and playful creatures that can offer hours of amusement for both adults and children. Watching them climb, jump, chase, and interact with each other or other animals such as birds or cats can be a great source of joy, relaxation, and curiosity. Squirrels can also teach us about the ecology, biology, and behavior of wildlife, as we observe how they forage, communicate, mate, or raise their young. By studying squirrels, we can appreciate the diversity and complexity of nature and develop a deeper respect for all living beings.
3. Squirrels can deter pests and predators.
Squirrels are not only consumers but also protectors of your garden. By frequenting your yard, they send signals to other animals that this area is inhabited and defended, discouraging them from causing damage or harm. For example, squirrels can keep away rodents such as mice, rats, or voles that may eat crops, damage roots, or spread diseases. Squirrels can also alert you to the presence of other animals that pose a threat, such as hawks, owls, or cats, by making warning calls or retreating to safety. By having squirrels as sentinels, you can reduce the risk of infestation or predation in your garden and create a safer and healthier environment for yourself and your plants.
Q: How can I attract squirrels to my garden?
A: You can provide food sources such as nuts, seeds, fruits, or corn on a platform, feeder, or ground. You can also plant trees or shrubs that produce food that squirrels like, such as acorns, hickory nuts, or pine cones. However, be aware that too much feeding can also attract other animals, such as rats or raccoons, and make squirrels dependent on you rather than self-sufficient.
Q: How can I protect my plants from squirrels?
A: You can use physical barriers such as chicken wire, mesh, or cloths to cover or surround plants. You can also plant deterrent plants that have a strong scent or taste that squirrels don’t like, such as garlic, mint, or alliums. However, be aware that some plants may be toxic to squirrels or other animals, so research before using any methods.
Q: Are squirrels harmful to humans?
A: Squirrels usually don’t pose a direct threat to humans, but they can carry diseases such as rabies, leptospirosis, or salmonella that can be transmitted through bites, scratches, or droppings. Therefore, avoid touching or feeding squirrels by hand, and wash your hands and tools after working in areas where they are present. Also, be aware of any signs of aggression or abnormal behavior in squirrels, and seek professional help if necessary.