How Do I Keep Squirrels
From Eating All the Cherries?
"Come play with me;
Why should you run
Through the shaking tree
As though I'd a gun
To strike you dead?
When all I would do
Is to scratch your head
And let you go."
-W. B. Yeats (1865-1939)
I'm so glad you asked that question! Here are "Paghat's Dozen Ways of Coping with Squirrels Harvesting All Your Cherries."
- Here's the main method: Pick the cherries very fast.
- If there is no access to the tree via telephone wires or neighboring trees to jump from, usually a metal barrier too slippery to climb up from the ground is alone sufficient to stop their access. A two foot metal band wrapped around a tree six feet above the ground usually frustrates their access upward. Make the band removable so it won't be there as an unsightly thing once the harvest is done & can be reattached seasonally. But remember, if there are any swinging vines nearby, the squirrels will do little Tarzan yells & get access to the trees that way, so:
- Trim limbs to be at least six feet, preferably eight feet, from any point the squirrels could jump from. At the very least you'll find out whether or not squirrels have wings.
- Busy them with unshelled peanuts which they like even better than cherries, mixed with whole walnuts which they'll have trouble carting off to their stash more than one at a time. This might give you the extra few days needed to do the harvest before they do.
- Grow only awful-tasting pie-cherries or chokecherries squirrels aren't as fond of.
- Have a trained pet racoon sit in the tree.
- Live-trap the squirrels & release them on the Island of Malta, then air-drop to the Maltese flyers containing the squirrel recipe from the Whitehouse Cookbook.
- Smear peanut butter in globs on the limbs of some other trees where there's nothing to harvest. The squirrels will get peanut butter stuck to the roof of their mouth & in their cheek pouches. It totally screws up their harvesting techniques without harming them, but they'll never be able to resist the peanut butter even though it makes it impossible to gather up anything else for hours at a time while their little tongues are licking & licking & poking out over & over at full tilt.
- Dogs prevent ground-access to trees & will keep the squirrels entertained teasing the dog.
- Hang lots of bird feeders with all sorts of bird treats all over the place. Squirrels think they're awfully smart (& they're right) & love resolving how to get at different bird feeders. Also, mix this method with the peanut butter trick & the big whole walnuts trick. Squirrels have a sense of play & joyfulness & the harder you make it for them to get at the bird feeders, the less time they'll have left over for the cherries once the feeders are cleaned out. They will even wait until you or the dog are watching because they're complete show-offs.
- Find the squirrels' multiple "dreys" or sloppy ball-nests made of twigs & leaves & newspapers bits & sun-faded Dixie Cups, then poke the nests to smithereens wherever they build or rebuild one. This will reduce you to a big meany, but the farther away they have to build their dreys to keep you from wrecking them, the more other stuff they will find to harvest on their way back to your cherry trees.
- Join a squirrel watchers' club. They're not as common as birdwatching clubs, but they're pretty common. In the company of a bunch of squirrely squirrel lovers you will learn how useful squirrels are in the environment. Having these folks as your pals will be good for your ego when they start praising you for growing cherries just to feed the squirrels.
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