Feeding squirrels is a favorite pastime for many homeowners who have gardens on their property.
It’s not uncommon to find squirrels foraging for treats in trees and bird feeders in your yard. However, their presence can attract rats looking to take advantage of the food debris they leave behind.
To feed squirrels in your garden without drawing in rats, you need to put the food in a container that squirrels can get into but rats can’t.
Hang the feeder from a branch or pole to reduce the chances of rats accessing it. Ensure that it’s a considerable distance from your home.
While feeding squirrels can be an enjoyable hobby, it’s important to take the necessary precautions to avoid attracting rats to your property.
Whether feeding squirrels is a good idea depends on who you ask.
Some people don’t see anything wrong with feeding squirrels. Many people consider it a means to help wildlife, particularly during the difficult winter months when food resources are scarce.
People who feed squirrels do it for its sheer entertainment value beyond the satisfaction of doing something nice for a fellow living creature. These cute rodents can be fun to watch.
Folks against feeding squirrels often argue that it interferes with the creatures’ instinct to fend for themselves.
Feeding squirrels cause them to become tame around humans and may potentially lower their inhibition around predators. They also contend that squirrels are similar to rats. If allowed free reign into people’s gardens, they will eventually become a menace to the property.
The decision on feeding squirrels is a personal one. As long as you’re not interfering with your neighbors’ lives or property, there’s no reason you shouldn’t feed squirrels in your garden if you wish to.
Feeding squirrels in your garden opens up your property to rat infestations.
Squirrels aren’t particularly tidy eaters, so they tend to drop a lot of food scraps as they eat. This will attract rats and mice looking to clear up the leftovers.
Similarly, squirrels (just like rats) aren’t picky eaters. They enjoy the same foods that rats do, including nuts, fruits, and vegetables. So, leaving foodstuffs for squirrels in your garden will likely attract any opportunist rats lurking in the vicinity.
Feeding squirrels without attracting rats is easier said than done.
Remember, when squirrels feed in your garden, they’ll inevitably drop pieces of food on the ground. This lures hungry rats in the area to come and feed there.
To deter rats from entering your garden, make the environment unattractive to them.
Ways to make your garden less appealing to rats include:
Remove Food Sources
Rats will devour everything they can find in their surrounding habitat, including nuts, seeds, cereals, pet food, and even compost wastes.
For this reason, removing any possible food sources in your yard is the best way to deter rats from congregating there.
Clear up any food trash in your yard and keep your pet food in a place where rats cannot get to it. Also, ensure all garbage cans on your property are properly secured to keep rats out of your food waste.
According to Neglected Tropical Diseases, rats are more likely to enter a property with structural defects. If your yard’s perimeter has any cracks and holes, the chances of rats entering your garden increase drastically.
So, check the perimeter of your garden for any holes and seal them off using caulk to keep rats out.
Rats like to hide under garden sheds since these areas rarely experience much human activity. If you barely use your shed, it can become dirty and cluttered, offering the perfect conditions for rats to thrive.
So, you need to clean your shed to remove clutter and debris. Organize it tidily so there are fewer potential nesting areas for rats.
Faulty plumbing and damaged water pipes might attract rats to your house because they provide a consistent water source.
Repairing the worn-out and faulty pipes in your garden will make them more resistant to rodent attacks and cut off their water supply.
If you have pets, such as dogs or cats, remember to keep their water dishes away from them at night. This will deprive rats of an alternative water supply, driving them to seek it elsewhere.
Trees and shrubs appeal to rats because they provide safe havens from predators.
Rats are known to establish nests on the tops of trees and within bushes. Furthermore, tree overgrowths growing over your roof give a platform for accessing your home’s roof or attic.
To avoid this, keep the trees and shrubs in your yard trimmed regularly.
To attract squirrels to your garden, get the right kind of feeder. There are specialty feeders in the market, which allow squirrels to access food while preventing rats from doing the same.
They come in various shapes and designs based on their usage and installation methods. Hanging feeders suspended from a platform are ideal since they can be hung from a high branch that rats can’t reach. Since squirrels are prolific climbers and love to dangle from hanging platforms, they will enjoy feeding on a hanging feeder.
Alternatively, you can opt for a mounted feeder on a tree trunk. This kind of feeder is that it allows you to monitor what the squirrel is doing more easily.
Nevertheless, ensure the feeder is mounted at a considerable height from the ground such that rats cannot access it. According to the University of Nebraska, rats can jump up to 36 inches from a vertical surface. Ensure your squirrel feeders are at least 10 feet from the ground.
Mounting or hanging your squirrel feeder close to your home increases the chances of rats winding their way into your home. This is the very thing you want to avoid.
For this reason, keep the feeder at a reasonable distance from your house and any other building structures on your property, including sheds and garages.
As mentioned, squirrels are messy eaters that drop food on the ground as they eat. This can attract hungry rats eager to take advantage of the scraps of food.
To ensure this doesn’t happen, always remember to clear up any food crumbs from the ground once the squirrels have finished eating and left.
Setting up a mat under the feeder provides you with an easy way to keep the area under your feeder tidy. In doing so, you’ll only need to clean up the mat in the evening before you retire to sleep since rats are likely to come out in search of food at night.
Squirrels aren’t fussy eaters, but you should still provide them with healthy food. A squirrel’s diet should include nuts, fruits, vegetables, and seeds.
Some of the best food for squirrels include:
Having a feeder in your garden will likely attract rats since squirrels drop bits of food. However, you can feed squirrels in your garden without attracting rats by setting the feeder in a raised location.
Combine that with keeping your environment unappealing to rats and clearing any bits of food from the ground after the squirrels have finished eating.
Squirrels aren’t predatory against rats, so having squirrels in your garden won’t deter rats from entering your property. They will peacefully coexist, sometimes eating from a feeder at the same time without regard for each other.
The best way to keep rats away while feeding squirrels is by keeping your property clean and removing potential attractants, such as food waste, water sources, and nesting grounds.