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Ventura Countys Pesky Squirrel Problem
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Ventura County’s Pesky Squirrel Problem

Squirrels can be deceptively cute. Especially when they’re accustomed to people and not very shy, they m

ay not seem like much of a danger 

or threat. Their seeming harmlessness can even encourage some people to feed them. What many people might not know is that squirrels are still rodents, and these animals can spread a host of diseases to people and be a threat to a property’s integrity. The most common type of squirrel in Ventura County is a major nuisance, and it’s best not to encourage it to stick near your property.  

The California Ground Squirrel

Near the coast, there aren’t as many squirrel species to deal with; however, the one species that thrives in this environment, the ground squirrel, can inflict significant structural damage and threaten the health of county residents. The ground squirrel has mottled brown fur with some white and gray markings on the back. Their bellies are lighter brown, gray, or white, and they have white rings around each eye. With somewhat bushy tails and a head and body shape similar to a prairie dog’s, they can grow up to 20 inches in length.

While ground squirrels can climb trees, they prefer to retreat to burrows, usually about 4 inches in diameter and between 5 and 30 feet long. Most of the time, burrows are built within a few feet of the surface. They can be single-squirrel dwellings or community burrows with more complex branching systems and several squirrel residents.

two ground squirrels in a back yard

Part of the reason ground squirrels can be so destructive is because of their intense love for fresh fruits and vegetables. While they mostly eat green grass and herbs before hibernation, they can switch to seeds, grains, and nuts and wreak havoc on a fruit tree. In gardens, vegetables in the seedling stages are preferred. Not only can they pick gardens and fruit trees for fresh foods, but they can also rip the bark off of trees, eat parts of it, burrow into and around the roots, and gnaw on sprinkler heads. As chewers and tiny little robbers, squirrels are problematic, but as burrowers, they can make mowing the lawn and maintaining the landscape over their holes and mounds more than a pain.

Aside from creating constant inconveniences, ground squirrels can spread dangerous diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, rat-bite fever, Chagas’ disease, and can be carriers of the bubonic plague. Among other diseases, they can also be vectors for disease-carrying pests like fleas and ticks.

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Squirrel Prevention Methods

Keeping squirrels away from your property is not only important to your natural landscape and fresh food, it’s important to your health and safety. To keep ground squirrels at bay, there are a few prevention methods that will deter them from your property.

Protecting your fruits, trees, and sprinkler heads may be as simple as following these suggestions:

  • Don’t feed them purposefully, and avoid feeding them by accident. If they’re attracted to your bird feeders, purchase squirrel-proof bird feeders.
  • Wrap trees in sheet metal to make them difficult to climb or band and trim them.
  • Erect a solid fence around your garden or yard which will decrease their visibility and make them less likely to settle.
  • Don’t leave sources of standing water, such as birdbaths, and be wary of accidental standing water from leaking pipes or dips in landscaping.
  • Keep grass trimmed and pick up fallen nuts, seeds, and fruit.
  • If squirrels have already established burrows, place loud radios, strobe lights, or cat poop in their holes to persuade them to move elsewhere.

Some devices have been known to help with rodents, such as vibrating stakes, lawn ornaments, spicy sprays, and others. If you’re unsure of how to approach a squirrel infestation, the best move would be to consult a pest control professional about vacating your unwanted squirrel squatters.

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