Squirrels out of garden

How to Keep Squirrels Out of the Yard and Garden

Though kids may think they’re cute and lovable, squirrels can be real nuisances. After all, these bushy-tailed, food-stealing critters have a bad habit of helping themselves to bird seed, tree buds and bark, ripe apples and tomatoes, berries, flower blooms – the list goes on. Squirrels also like to dig holes in garden soil and planting pots, either to look for seeds or to bury food for later use.

Here are some signs that squirrels are causing mischief in your yard and garden:

  • Small holes dug in planting beds and pots
  • Half-eaten (or missing) fruit or flowers
  • Missing plants
  • Munched-on seed-heads

To keep squirrels out of your yard and away from your garden, you need to make those spaces unattractive to them. Here’s a whole-yard plan for keeping squirrels away.

  • Take away easy food sources. Squirrels are enthusiastic foragers, so pick up fallen nuts, fruits, and seeds. Don’t forget to secure trash can lids tightly and bury food scraps deeply into compost piles.
  • Scare them away. Rodent-chasing dogs and motion-activated noisemakers, such as garden spinners, pinwheels, and aluminum pie tins, all make good squirrel deterrents. In addition, if you’re watering your lawn anyway, consider using a motion-detecting sprinkler to increase the scare factor.
  • Use repellents. Chili peppers and mint are common home remedies for keeping squirrels at bay, since they detest the taste and smell of both. You can whip up a spray concoction using one of the many recipes found online. If you prefer the grab-and-go approach, try a no-stink commercial repellent spray like rain-resistant Tomcat® Repellents Animal Repellent Ready-To-Use, which uses essential oils that create a smell and taste squirrels naturally hate. For large areas, get fast coverage by using Tomcat® Repellents Animal Repellent Granules. Be sure to follow all label directions.
  • Spread some mulch. Although squirrels are natural diggers, you can discourage digging and help protect seedlings by covering the soil around your plants with a layer of mulch.
  • Cover your plants. Consider using a physical barrier, such as plastic netting, fencing, or chicken wire, to help keep your plants from harm.

It’s Gardening Season: 5 Tips to Keep Squirrels Out

Squirrels aren’t going anywhere, so if you want to keep them out of your prized garden, you have to get creative. Peter Schaefer/EyeEm/Getty Images


“Squirrels are great learners: This is their great survival trick,” wrote author Anne Wareham in the book “Outwitting Squirrels: 101 Cunning Stratagems to Reduce Dramatically the Egregious Effects of Garden Pests and Honest Advice Concerning Your Chances of Success.” “They can learn from another squirrel, or even from people, and they do it fast … if you have a family of squirrels around, it only takes one to learn the trick of breaking and entering and you can be sure that soon the whole family will be enthusiastic burglars.”

No doubt, gardeners everywhere are reading the above words, nodding their heads even while steam casually escapes from their ears. For it is gardening season and people are planting and tending their vegetables. And that means the war with pesky, persistent, athletic and quite intelligent squirrels is officially on. Some top “targets” for squirrels: tomatoes, bulbs, sunflowers, beans, cucumbers, eggplants, squash, figs and really anything we might ourselves eat.

You can Google anti-squirrel tips or ask the oldest person at the nearest garden center how they keep the squirrels out of the garden. And you’ll get no shortage of advice. We’re here to offer five “battle tactics” (below) to keep squirrels from undoing all of your hard, soiled-glove, proud backyard work.

But first, in the name of staying sane as the temperatures — and tempers — heat up, let’s start with a healthy foundation of perspective, based on three truths about squirrels.

Squirrel Truth No. 1

If you have nut- or fruit-producing trees in your yard, chances are you will have squirrels in your yard. Likewise, if you have a “bird feeder”, you also have a “squirrel feeder.” Squirrels steadfastly deny there is a difference. And finally, if you plant things in your yard that can be considered squirrel food, you will have squirrels in your yard.

Some gardeners and homeowners never fully come to grips with this truth. But wondering why squirrels are taking bites out of your unprotected tomatoes is — pardon the pun — fruitless.

Squirrel Truth No. 2

Killing squirrels that ransack your garden — while providing deep satisfaction to some uber-serious gardeners who have “tipped over the edge” — doesn’t keep squirrels out. More will simply arrive in their place. It is a war of attrition, and squirrel killers generally run out of ammo before squirrels run out of squirrels.

Squirrel Truth No. 3

Sending squirrels flying into space on catapults — while obviously a popular activity to take video of and post on YouTube — won’t work either unless you make your entire garden a giant catapult.

These are the squirrel truths. They cannot be challenged. Further, any idea that we might one day live in a world without squirrels (and these truths) is just, well false. Squirrels have been around for about 40 million years — a lot longer than us — and they are not going anywhere.

So let’s get to the heart of the issue: You have a garden, and you don’t want to get rid of that garden. That garden will attract squirrels. So, how do you keep the squirrels out?

Protecting Your Garden

Now we’re getting somewhere. While there are any number of creative ways and products that claim to, once and for all, send squirrels “back to the woods,” we’ve uncovered the most sensible — or at least the most common — top five “battle tactics” in the ongoing garden war against squirrels.

  1. Spice them. Many experienced gardeners, including those who produce the Farmer’s Almanac, claim hot spices do the trick. Like many humans, squirrels don’t like it when their lips and mouths burn. That’s why some gardeners sprinkle cayenne pepper around their plants. Others mix home-brew combinations that include capsaicin (the stuff in chili peppers that makes your mouth burn), peppermint oil, vinegar and other unpleasant-tasting ingredients, and they spray them around plants, but not actually on the plants they intend to eat. The sprays must be reapplied after rains.
  2. Terrify them. Predator pee is another option. You just spray it around the perimeter of your garden. One product claims wolf urine “creates the illusion that a predator is nearby,” which sends other animals, like our pesky little squirrel, running out of fear, never to return. Ha! (See squirrel truth No. 2.) Other varieties of predator pee include coyote, fox, bear, mountain lion and tiger. These also have to be reapplied after rains.
  3. Keep them out. Protect your garden — after planting bulbs or seeds, or when plants begin blooming — with netting or chicken wire. It might not look nice, but if done right, squirrels will soon get frustrated and find other places to eat. For vegetable pots, some gardeners recommend placing aluminum foil across the top and poking holes for water. Squirrels, apparently, are not fond of the reflection or the feel of foil.
  4. Annoy them. A great way to do that is to “hire” a dog or cat to patrol the yard. Here’s an example of the heated, perennial squirrel-cat rivalry.
  5. Feed them. Yes, it almost sounds too simple — or perhaps like succumbing to squirrel extortion. But many gardeners claim the trick to keeping squirrels away from their prized tomatoes is to simply set up a feeder (with sunflower seeds and other nuts) in an area away from your garden. Squirrels eat; you garden. Everyone is happy.

Sure, they’re cute and comical as they zoom around your yard, leaping from tree limb to tree limb, tails a-twitching. But lose enough tulips, crocuses, and bird seed to squirrels and they suddenly seem to hold a lot less appeal. In fact, Mike McGrath, host of the nationally syndicated radio program, You Bet Your Garden, calls the furry critters—tongue not entirely in cheek—”the servants of Satan.”

“It takes the average squirrel about a minute and a half to attend to all of its biological needs,” he tells CountryLiving.com. “And we don’t know how long they sleep, but the rest of their waking hours are devoted to driving humans crazy.”

Related Stories

McGrath recalls one year in particular when he planted hundreds of tulips inside a 4×8 flower bed. “Maybe a week later, I noticed the bed had been disturbed, but whenever I put my hand down into one of the little holes, I felt a bulb. So, I just smoothed it on over, didn’t think about it again, and then in the spring the entire 4×8 bed came alive with 200 to 300 black walnut trees. They had taken every tulip bulb and replanted that hole with a black walnut.”

So what’s a gardener to do? Try these top tips for repelling squirrels naturally.

vamphotoGetty Images

Get a guard dog. According to McGrath, the best deterrent is absolutely free, as long as you’re a dog lover. “Dogs hate squirrels,” he says. “Squirrels hate dogs. So, if you have a big dog especially”—he mentions Great Pyrenees or labrador retrievers as examples—”save all the hair from when you brush it and use that to mulch your spring bulb bed. The squirrels won’t go near it. And it works against slugs too, because they get caught up in the hair.”

Coyote Urine Small Pest Repellent amazon.com $25.13

Spread squirrel repellent. If you don’t have easy access to a canine furball, Nikki Tilley, senior editor of Gardening Know How, advises spreading some predator urine around your garden, or even ground chili peppers. “And adding some cayenne pepper to those bird feeders will help keep the squirrels out but won’t adversely affect the birds,” she says.

Get strategic with your gardening. You can also plant bulbs these rodents don’t like, such as daffodils and fritillaria, throughout the garden.” As an added layer of protection, surround plants with fencing, netting, or chicken wire, all of which will help keep squirrels out.

Jill Gleeson Jill Gleeson is a travel journalist and memoirist based in the Appalachian Mountains of western Pennsylvania who has written for websites and publications including Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, Country Living, Washingtonian, Gothamist, Canadian Traveller, and EDGE Media Network.

Benefits of Tomatoes For Pet Rats

If you’re wondering if you can give tomatoes to your pet rat, you’ve come to the right place. I always have tomatoes at home. Both me and my partner like to eat them with anything. So, obviously, we hope that our ratties like them as well. Like any other food, we always check if they’re safe for them or not.

So, are tomatoes a safe treat for pet rats? Yes! Tomatoes are a refreshing treat for your rats so go ahead.

Some people prefer to give them almost whole, others like to cut them in small pieces and give it the ratties. You can also take out the seeds and skin if you feel it’s safer. I like to keep it simple and let them play with their treats!

Table of Contents

Generally speaking, there aren’t lots of food that rats can’t eat. Tomatoes and other vegetables and fruits are very good for them. But don’t forget to give it to them in moderation! Rats are very gluttonous and they’ll only stop eating once the food is over or if they’re not into it.

I can certainly vouch for this when my ratties just look at their dry food and splatter it around because they want something yummier!

So yes, tomatoes are not only good for rats but very good. They have lots of vitamins (like Vit C, Vit K, etc) but they also have substances known to lower the risk of prostate cancer death in male rats.

On another note, vitamin C is something very important for your rat, since they can’t produce it enough. So boost up their system!

Should You Give The Whole Tomato?

Well, it depends on how big the tomato is. But generally speaking, no. Even a cherry tomato is too big for them to eat in one sit.

You can either give them halves or quarter pieces of a tomato. Of course, you can cut the tomato in tiny pieces, but rats like to explore their food and to work it out by themselves, so I’d say that the half cherry tomato is good enough!

Alternatively, if you do want to keep them entertained for a bit, you can give them a whole tomato. Let them play and nimble it for a few minutes then take it out again. Rats are very curious and will have some fun and exercise with the tomato for a while.

It’s also important to note that different foods will result in different droppings. Tomatoes are very watery, so it will be more than normal if you find wet droppings the next day. Your ratties are fine, they’re just not used to eating liquid or watery foods and so their system will behave differently.

How Many Tomatoes Should You Give

As I said, everything is good, but in moderation. Rats are small, so we should give them food, according to their size. The best way to go is with cherry tomatoes, so half of one per adult rat should be more than enough!

If you’re like me, who only has normal sized tomatoes at home, then cut the tomato in slices and cut each slice in half. A quarter of a slice per rat will leave them satiated. You should be able to tell, very easily how much to give them.

Remember that giving them tomatoes in smaller doses might also avoid some messiness. Tomatoes have seeds and lots of juice and our ratties can be messy with their food! What I mean to say here is that you’ll have lots of fun cleaning up their cage.

Take also this time to teach them to come for you or teach other tricks. Rats should be rewarded when they do something right and tomatoes are a good treat if they like them! I like to bring them treats, call for them and wait for them to come running to me.

Sometimes they’ll just stay nearby us, eating their new delicacy. Other times, they’ll take it, hide it somewhere on the cage and come back for more. Naughty ratties, I’m onto you!

Do All Rats Like Tomatoes?

Rats, just like people, have their own tastes. Some will like it, others will not. In general, though, most of them won’t be a fan of the skins.

This happens with many foods, actually. You might have noticed how much they’ll pick and throw away this or that food. And, for some reason, they’ll avoid the skins. They’re spoiled. They like the juicy and delicious part of any food, but the skin? That’s too much work!

You can take the skin out if you wish. But they’ll be able to work around it and it’s always a good exercise for them.

Back to the issue at hand, if you’ve already tried to give different treats to your ratties, you might have noticed that they like or prefer different things. For example, my ratties were never big fans of broccoli or zucchini. Apple though? They’ll savor it until the last piece.

It’s all a matter of observing them and seeing what they’ll eat or leave on the side. Some rats will eat everything and others can be pickier. In this matter, they’re just like us, I’m sure there’s some food that you can’t even look at!

Can Rats Eat Tomato Seeds?

They are not toxic, but they can be a choking hazard. Rats are usually smart though and a lot of them will just avoid eating seeds. They’re too small and don’t seem to be tasty at all.

If you don’t want to risk it, take the seeds out before giving the tomatoes to your rats. It also depends on how big the seeds are, smaller tomatoes will have smaller seeds, so you should be good.

As I said, rats are smart and usually, they won’t stuff their food in their mouth without examining it with their hands or teeth. If they feel it’s not worthy, they’ll throw it out. If they’re interested, they’ll munch on it.


Again, be ready to clean up the cage when they’re finished with the tomatoes. They’ll leave a mess out of it. Juice, skins, seeds and mushy bits. Not only will the cage become all dirty, if you leave it for too long, but it will also start to smell and attract flies. Even though they can make a mess, rats like to have everything clean, so they won’t enjoy the carnage they left behind either!

Can Rats Eat Tomato Sauce?

It depends on the tomato sauce. If you pick up some tomatoes and turn them to a sauce, without adding anything to them, it’s basically the same as eating a piece of tomato. If your rat is sick and having some difficulty with eating, this is a good way to give them food.

As for tomato sauce that you buy on the supermarket or you make yourself, with some condiments added… You can give them a drop or so. But I’d say to not give them a lot. It will be more caloric for them and too salty. For us, it might not make much of a difference, but they are way smaller and too much salt can be bad for them.

Nowadays you can find tomato everywhere and even grow some at your home or apartment. Maybe your neighbors grow them and you can ask for one or two. I’d say to stick with the tomatoes and avoid the sauce.

Again, rat’s prefer to explore their food and use their hands. Giving them liquid food should be reserved if they really need it. Sauces and fruit purees bought in the supermarket tend to have too many calories for rats. Plus they’ll love half of a cherry tomato more than a bit of sauce, I can guarantee!

What You Need To Know

Tomatoes are great for rats! But give it to them in moderation and just once in a while. Rats love treats and veggies, but they can also get tired of the same foods. Give them different treats now and then, so they’re always interested in eating them.

Half of a cherry tomato for an adult rat is more than enough and don’t forget:

  1. They’ll make a mess out of it, but have lots of fun while eating it.
  2. Don’t freak out you notice softer droppings! If your rat isn’t used to fresh and watery food, their system will behave accordingly. It’s nothing bad, just normal.
  3. Have fun as well, watching them in delight with this refreshing treat!

Back to the Blog

Can Rats Eat Tomatoes?

July 23, 2016 SaveSavedRemoved 0

Taken as pets, rats are so adorable little fellows! Those cute and cuddly animals have been popular as pets since nineteenth century. Although many people still keep away from them, considering rats are pests and disease bearers, there are some who can’t resists their charms. Domesticated rats that are grown to be sold as pets are clean and delicate animals. They are lovely, playful and not so demanding to take care off. If you decide to adapt one, we’re sure you’ll experience many joyful moments with your new pet.

Those tiny and intelligent rodents are the best choice as pets for young families. They enjoy the company of humans, being extremely playful and curious buddies. Rats are very intelligent and they easily learn to recognize their owners. Rats do not require complicated care, but they still need your time, love and devotion. Provide your pet the best possible living conditions, a lot of play and good nutrition plan.

If you treat your rat right way, it will be healthy and happy. Rats don’t live long, so you need to be very gentle and careful towards them. Their life span spreads from two, three to seven years maximum. Keep its home tidy and clean, play with it and feed it good food.

What do rats eat?

Rats could eat all sorts of food. Unlike other pets, they can digest many different types of food, as well as viands we eat. Rats could even be fed leftovers from our table, as occasional treat. Avoid too spicy, salty, fatty and sugary food, of course. However, they really need to have well balanced diet plan, to grow healthy and strong.

The best solution is to feed your rat purchased mixture of seeds and grains, as a basic food. You can easily buy it in any pet store. Those mixtures usually contain barley, rice, sunflower seeds and such. You should add some fresh veggies and fruits as well. Small, occasional servings of diary products and meat are also welcome. Fresh and clean water should be always available, of course.

Are tomatoes good for rats?

Vegetables are important in rats’ nutrition. Those rodents eat all sorts of viands and they require nutrients coming from vegetables, served both raw and cooked. Rat owners usually wonder what vegetables are safe for their pets, in order to prevent their cute rodents get ill or experience stomach problems. What is the story behind tomatoes?

According to many experienced rat owners, tomatoes are safe. In fact, those little fellows really enjoy their juicy flesh and rich taste. Rats just love eating tomatoes; some of them show particular interest in delicious cherry tomatoes. The common thing they do is that most of rats would most likely eat up the whole tomato flesh and leave the skin.

Tomatoes are full of vitamin C and other valuable nutrients. They are good for rats, but you have to be cautious if your pet is not used to watery type of veggies. So, treat it just a bite of tomato in the beginning, to let it adjust to the new food on the menu. Too much tomatoes given in one row could get your dear little friend diarrhea, if it’s not used to it. If everything goes fine, you can safely use tomatoes to enrich your pet’s diet plan.

Commercial mixture of seeds and grains, combined with some occasional treats of other types of food and healthy fresh vegetables, such as tomatoes, represents a good and balanced plan for feeding a rat.

  • Author
  • Recent Posts

Sherry Morgan

Sherry Morgan has been a lover of animals for most of her life. She was introduced by her
parents to first pet Kelly, a Collie, when she was three, and that began a lifelong interest in all
sorts of of domesticated animals people adopted for a happier family. Today, Sherry heads
Petsolino, a website devoted to produce expert content on animals and how to take care of
them. Her house is now home to two dogs, two guinea pigs and a cat.

Latest posts by Sherry Morgan (see all)

Ten Tips for How to Get Rid of Squirrels in the Yard

Squirrels can be a nuisance in the yard or garden by eating fruit, vegetables and birdseed and chewing tree bark. Squirrels also have a way of making their way into your attic or crawlspaces and setting up nests. Here’s how to get rid of squirrels in the yard and keep them out of your home.

Don’t feed them. If you feed them, they will come. Any food found in your yard is fair game for roaming creatures or those already calling your property home. When you’re hanging bird feeders, scattering plant seeds or throwing compostable food scraps into your garden, you create the opportunity for easy meals. You should weigh your enjoyment of bird watching with the potential to attract pests with uneaten birdseed.

Remove what attracts them. The sight and smell of fallen fruit, nuts and seeds lures squirrels. Rake your yard regularly to remove these items from under bird feeders and trees. Use garbage cans with tight-fitting lids to keep squirrels out of your trash.

Scare them. A dog or cat may keep squirrels out of your yard, particularly if your dog chases squirrels. If you don’t have a cat or dog, you can place plastic owls around your property on elevated surfaces such as fence posts or the roof to frighten squirrels away. You can also buy containers of predator (wolf or tiger) urine to spray in your yard or garden. The scent scares many animals, including squirrels, deer and rabbits. You need to re-apply the solution after it rains.

Spray them. Motion-activated sprinkler systems may help keep squirrels out of your yard.

Exclude them. Keep squirrels out of your yard by blocking their entry points. Prevent squirrels from traveling along utility wires by putting two-foot sections of lightweight two- to three-inch diameter plastic pipe around non-electrical wires. Slit the pipe lengthwise, spread it open and place it over the wire. The pipe will spin on the wire, causing tightrope-walking squirrels to tumble to the ground.

Deter them. If you can’t keep ground squirrels out of your yard, you can keep them away from your trees and plants using squirrel baffles. Put a two-foot-wide metal collar around trees, at least six to eight feet off the ground. You can also use squirrel baffles on poles that support your bird feeders. Put fences or netting around your plants. Build a fence out of one-inch mesh wire. The fence should be at least 30 inches high and extend six inches below ground, with an additional six inches underground bent outward at a 90-degree angle to discourage burrowing. An electric fence is a further deterrent. Place at least two electrified fence strands about three inches from an existing fence, one six inches above the ground and the other at the fence height. Cut small pieces of plastic bird netting and wrap it around ripening fruit. Use heavyweight mulch, stones or decorative rocks on the surface of your soil to keep squirrels from digging in your flowerpots.

Repel them. Treat seeds, bulbs and flowers with a taste repellent such as capsaicin or commercially available chemical repellent. Reapply these substances after it rains. Don’t use repellents on vegetables or fruit you’re planning to eat. Plant mint at the edge of your garden. Squirrels avoid the smell of peppermint plants.

Plant flowers squirrels hate. Daffodils have a toxin that makes them inedible. Squirrels don’t like the taste of snowdrops, allium or hyacinth, so plant those spring bulbs as a deterrent.

Trap them. Catching squirrels with a live trap can rid your yard or squirrels temporarily, but other squirrels often arrive to take their place. In many states, squirrels are considered a game species and are protected by law. Trapping may be illegal, so check with your state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Keep them out of your home. If you’re having problems with squirrels in your yard or garden, it could be a symptom of a larger problem: squirrels in your home. Walk around the exterior of your house looking for possible damage or breaches in the eaves, exterior walls or roof. Holes could serve as a squirrel’s point of entry and exit as they fetch food from your yard and take it back to their nest. Be sure to promptly patch or repair any openings to give squirrels one less option for entering.

Assess the squirrel activity in your yard or garden to determine the best way to get rid of ground squirrels. Look for signs of squirrel damage: golf ball-size or smaller holes in your plant beds, bite marks on fruit, missing plants or tree bark and container digging. Then follow the appropriate steps above to keep squirrels out of your yard or get rid of them after they arrive. Remember, a squirrel infestation can lead to severe damage that extends beyond that in your yard or garden. Prevent squirrels in your home by controlling the squirrels outside your home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *