- Tree rats is a better name
- Will kill chicks and eat eggs
- Carry pests and disease
- Will chew electrical wiring
- A gardener’s worst nightmare at times
- Killing squirrels just causes another squirrel to move into the territory
- Rarely will there be more than one squirrel unless it is a mother and litter or a park where the squirrels are being fed
- Wide platform treadle feeders are not squirrel proof
“Squirrels will eat eggs and chicks especially when they have a litter and have a protein deficiency. Squirrels also eat baby birds and bird eggs.”
Cute or not…
Squirrels Will Kill Chicks
Squirrels are rats with a good P.R. department. They are called tree rats for good reasons. Besides stealing your chicken feed they naturally feed on wild bird eggs and wild bird chicks while they are nesting and have a protein deficiency.
Rats will also steal eggs and kill feathered out chicks and any baby chick they can get hold of. Some of the diseases and pests they carry are host specific but some are not.
Keeping squirrels out of a chicken coop is going to take hardware cloth and very tight gaps on any door or junction. If there isn’t a hole a squirrel can quickly chew through 3/4″ plywood or even solid wood to make an entry hole. Worse, if the place is enclosed like an attic or tool shed they will make winter nests in the insulation and are not tidy enough to urinate and poop outside. They can make a mess and even cause electrical fires that will burn down your home.
A bumper crop of acorns and other nuts will cause squirrels to have two, even three litters a year, causing a population explosion. Luckily squirrels have a high mortality rate too from cars, predators, and disease. Many squirrels don’t make it more than a few months after they leave the nest.
Squirrels like to avoid open areas if possible and prefer some sort of passageway like nearby tree limbs or a fence, anything that keeps them off the ground and safe from dogs. If you have nearby trees wrap a two foot wide strip of sheet metal around the tree about six to eight feet off the ground to prevent the squirrels from using the tree as a refuge or highway to the coop. Don’t nail the tin in place, use wire and springs that will allow the tree to grow and expand.
A hole the size of a child’s fist is large enough for a squirrel to enter so a coop needs to be pretty tight to keep them out. Of course a good treadle feeder with a distant treadle and a spring loaded door is a must if you leave the coop open during the day. Dogs make good deterrents but most squirrels are quite adapt at evading dogs. Squirrels can be easily trapped. Once though as they are clever animals.