The truth about squirrels

The truth about squirrels is this: No matter how cute they might be, they are destructive pests. They are, in

The truth about squirrels is this: No matter how cute they might be, they are destructive pests. They are, in fact, members of the order Rodentia, and they certainly live up to that distinction.

I have had an ongoing war with them for several years now, though not at the bird feeders. I have three pecan trees in my backyard, so bird seed does not hold any appeal for them at all. Instead, they destroy my hoses:

Over time this becomes very costly. I repair the hoses as much as I can, but after awhile, it becomes a losing battle, and I have to replace them. At $30 or more for a good, kink-free hose, this adds up. Usually I have to buy three a year.

Even if it weren’t costly in terms of money, it is in terms of time and labor. I bury my soaker hoses, but they will often dig up and puncture them. Repairing these is a lot of work, since I have to step carefully around tender plants to do so:

What really makes matters worse, though, is that after I repair, and water, and repair, and water all summer long, the squirrels eat my harvest and it has all been for naught. In a region where a gardener should not ever take the use of water lightly, this is devastating.

I’ve tried leaving water out for them, thinking that it was because they were thirsty, but they chew the hoses anyway. I’ve tried leaving the gate to the vegetable garden open so that the dogs can chase them away, but then the dogs destroy things in their enthusiasm. Though other parts of my state have open season on squirrels, it is illegal to trap, poison, shoot, maim, throw rocks at, or otherwise harass them in my county. I suppose this is because somebody, somewhere, thought they were cute.

I do not.

They are not native here, though they have adapted well, given that, aside from dogs, they have no predators at all (including human; see above in re “illegal to harass them”), and many homeowners grow pecans. It is, in fact, a veritable pecan banquet here, and as close to heaven as you can get if you are a squirrel.

My latest attempt at foiling them is to cover my soaker hoses with a thick layer of mulch (which I do anyway to conserve water) and then layer that with poultry mesh:

I am also going to build a box in which to house the regular hoses, though this will create a bit of a hassle when I need to use them. Finally, a representative from Havahart has contacted me about trying out one of their humane, organic squirrel repellants. I have a major issue here, so I’ll be curious to see how well it fares.

Nevertheless, I do not deceive myself by believing any of this this will solve the problem. Years of battling their destructiveness have taught me that it is going to be a long campaign.