I have too many to count squirrel visitors during the day and a few Raccoon visitors at night! I have spent many hours on this site and google looking for ways to protect my fruits from them.
My tiny backyard and front yards (60 * 25 ft & 35 * 25 ft ) are filled with fruit trees and I am finally seeing success in producing great quality home grown fruit! I pretty much have to give up on growing fruits if I cant fix this problem Many on this forum have had success using humane traps, relocating, baiting, shooting, etc. None of these options are available to me. What is available to me is a nice budget I have set aside this year to protect my fruits!
I want to use this thread to track and post results of every single method I test to protect my fruits from squirrels and raccoons. Do you have any ideas / gadgets / methods that have worked for you or that you want me to try? PLEASE post here.
Moved the experiments and results to a separate post at the bottom of this thread.
I tired one of the motion detecting Ultrasonic/lights/flashing and nothing smaller than a man or a bear would activate it. My money wasted.
It did manage to scare me a couple of times. The dog would set it off and look over to see what was making all the noise.
There are many posts here on dealing w/varmints. The info therein may save you time and expense of coming to terms with reality. Some conclusions I have personally drawn from these discussions…
Scaring varmints away is a temporary measure as their desire for your fruit will motivate them past these measures in time.
Squirrels and raccoons (and many other rodents) will chew through your netting, bags, etc.
IMHO it is inhumane to relocate your problem (varmint) to become another human’s problem.
The only option you have to enjoy your fruit is to kill the varmints. This is not what anyone wants to hear but it is best to come to terms with it sooner than later. I consider it a community service and a necessity since incurring $1500 damage to my house from squirrels)
I’ve gardened a long time and never had much of a problem with varmints until I succumbed to growing fruit (someone suggested orcharding was easier than gardening - IT IS NOT. It is MUCH more challenging. And I am relieved by my decision to start removing some fruit trees.)
I wish you the best.
First let me say…I feel your pain and frustration. I was so discouraged just a few years ago.
My friend a block away from me doesn’t have any issues with fruit loss…He has two terrier type dogs and a “doggie door” that allows them to go in and out at will.
My strategy, on the other hand, is to grow more fruit than the animals can eat. When I only had one persimmon tree, I had to put wire cages around any fruit I wanted to keep. Now I have so many persimmons that I welcome the critters. The same applies to my blueberries, figs, citrus, and mulberries. I only have two peach trees, so I lose that battle and pick the fruit early and let them ripen indoors (not a good strategy).
On some of my larger trees I have removed the lower branches and put metal baffles on the trunks to prevent critters from climbing. The only animals I have truly conquered are deer and crows. Around the plant areas that the deer love I string 20 lb mono-filament fishing line (the deer here only come around at night, and they get freaked out when they walk into the mono-filament “fence” that they cannot see). Crows used to be a major problem on my fig trees…A few years ago I started putting a few corn chips out for them every morning, and almost immediately a dominant pair took over the territory and won’t let another crow near. I only had to chase the pair out of the fig trees twice.
It is quite shocking to me, that with all the brilliant minds and ingenuity in the world, that none have succeeded in making something that “outsmarts” these animals.
@JustAnne4 - I truly hear you and agree with you - but its not an option here (without going into details). I promise I have spent hours readings posts with the word squirrels. I also remember seeing your Racoon video @ night on a post here.
I am no experienced gardener but in the last few years, I am realizing its a losing battle with squirrels, I would do anything to have you as my neighbor
If nothing works, I guess I will have to go back to growing veggies and flowers
I remember last year you had a couple of doves living in your apricot tree and they defended it vigorously from the squirrels. How about building small houses for doves and putting them in your trees, and let the doves guard them against the squirrels. Not sure where you can get the doves from, but I know they will live in wooden boxes, I grew up in Egypt and we used to keep doves there like farmers keep chicken here (we kept chicken, ducks and rabbits too)…
Other ideas that I personally contemplated, but never pursued, are keeping non-venomous snakes in my yard or even raptors, basically squirrels natural predators. Not sure if these ideas are feasible, but since you seem desperate you may study them more than I did. I succumbed to lethal traps and trapping/shooting (even though I do love squirrels, and feel remorse every once in a while), as otherwise I will not have a single ripe fruit to eat from my trees.
In the battle of survival against the squirrel army, I have attained a temporary stalemate. I had it especially bad, my home would probably qualify as a squirrel heaven. It’s away from the road, shielded from all sides by fences (aka. squirrel bridges). All the neighbors have mature trees which provide a safe haven away from my slingshot and other projectile shooting paraphernalia. I present them a great snacking oasis, along with one of my fence neighbors. Any time they see us, they climb up the trees and navigate away to safety using the high tree bridges. Squirrel spikes, hah hah, they just walk sideways on the fence. Bird feeders, they will empty it and and the young’uns still ripped apart the immature fruit. I only wish my kids had their admirable palate. Walnut catkins, apricots, almonds, apples, loquats, persimmons, quinces, guava, even freaking plums and pomegranates. Pomegranates?
One of the neighbors used a poison mix, but ugh. the effective stuff is so bad, I junked it in a hurry. A squirrel detecting camera system using algorithms newer than the ones in self driving cars (not kidding). The squirrels could care less, they are guerilla fighters, not a standing army to vanquish. All they did was fill me with rage :_)
TLDR: Peanuts and a cage. I got 15 of the suckers, and relocated them to the creek nearby. To the poster that thought it was not humane, the creek has plenty of food. Oaks, loquats, almonds and more. If you go this route, I’d recommend getting several cages and deploying them all at once. They do wise up, but still can’t seem to resist the peanuts. I was lazy one night and didn’t put the cages away and got a raccoon that was as big as a medium size dog. I just let that one go as they don’t seem to wreak anywhere close to the same havoc as the squirrels. Don’t leave the cages out in the night, the raccoons just tip them up after the second day to eat the bait.
The squirrels are still there, but the fruit get to live a wee bit longer…
Girly, consider another option: electric fence. That’s what I did after desperately trying everything fighting against a groundhog, not squirrels. I do have squirrels but they are not as destructive as groundhogs. I finally decided to enclose my veggie area (that also include two fruit trees) with an electric fence. This is about 25*35 ft area within my property. The electric fence is only 2 days old so I can’t speak too highly of it just yet. But so far it seems to be working.
Cats! I had fruit trees for over 10 years, no squirrels or raccoons or rabbits ever bothered my fruit trees. The only reason I can think of is my free range cats😂I have a cat door, so my cats come and go as they please.
Depends on the cat. My ‘outdoor’ cat became buddies with a raccoon and hung out with it while it was feeding out of her cat food bowl. Squirrels weren’t even bothered as they could scurry up the trees if it even tried. The only thing it got was the poor mourning doves, and the odd mouse present for her dear human mommy. Now it’s an ‘indoor’ cat lol.
I visited a friend who had a rather large plot in hill country Texas. They kept probably just under a dozen bright orange tabby cats, who enjoyed sleeping outside on their patio or in their barn more than in the house. All of them were quite friendly.
I thought they were there to keep the mice, rats, rodents etc… down. In actuality, they were there to kill the rattlesnakes in the orchard and field. They are quite successful at their job and also keep possums, raccoons and other bothers out. I’m told there are always a couple cats that couldn’t care less should the odd animal walk across, but their peers happily pick up the slack.