When the gray squirrel appears with its bushy curved tail, everyone recognizes it. Sometimes it also has a black coat. In both cases, it is the same species: Scurius carolinensis.
Present in the southwestern part of Quebec, the gray squirrel lives in hardwood forests and green spaces in cities. Its cousin, the red squirrel, is smaller and prefers coniferous forests further north and east.
In summer, the squirrel often builds a nest of leaves and twigs high in the trees. In the fall, it hides food in preparation for winter, since it does not hibernate. Its diet consists of a little of everything: seeds, nuts, samaras, bulbs, flowers, fruits, insects, eggs, etc. To spend the winter, it moves to a place better protected from the weather, usually in the hollow of a trunk.
Useful or harmful, the grey squirrel?
The grey squirrel contributes to the regeneration of the forest thanks to the quantity of seeds it buries… and forgets to eat.
Active and visible during the day, they bring life to parks and woodlands.
It is sometimes accused of…
Entering attics and sheds to nest.
Gnawing on electrical wires, which can be a fire hazard.
Grabbing bird food and destroying bird feeders.
Digging in garbage cans.
Digging up and eating seeds, bulbs, flowers and fruits from the garden.
Gnawing on the bark of various shrubs and nibbling on their buds.
How do you keep squirrels away from your home?
If you have a dog or cat, rely on their help to scare away the gray squirrel. Otherwise, there are some actions or repellents that can help.
How do you keep squirrels out of your garden and flower beds?
When planting bulbs, sprinkle dried blood meal, available at garden centers.
Spread squirrel repellents around plantings: cayenne pepper, human hair, cat or dog hair. Reapply after each rain.
Spread fertilizer made from chicken manure. Squirrels hate it!
Choose bulbous plants that do not attract them (daffodils, snowdrops, hyacinths, etc.).
Grow fragrant plants around the bulbs: geranium, mint, rosemary…
Place a chicken wire under a few centimeters of soil above the seeds and bulbs. Click to open the additional information boxClick to open the additional information box
How do you keep squirrels away from your shrubs and fruit trees?
Wrap plastic sleeves around the trunks of shrubs.
Place high PVC slats (for fencing) around the trunks of fruit trees to prevent squirrels from climbing them.
If the squirrel is jumping from another “perch”, deploy a net attached to thin poles instead.
How do you keep squirrels away from your bird feeders?
Install the feeder at least 1 ½m off the ground and 3m away from any area from which squirrels might dart.
Attach feeders to the end of long wires or to posts. To complicate access, you can even install a dome or cone designed for this purpose.
Sprinkle cayenne pepper on the seeds. Birds don’t like it, but squirrels do!
How do you keep squirrels out of your house or shed?
Reinforce and repair the roof edges and block access under the garden shed.
Prune tree branches within 3m of buildings.
Block openings with a mesh of 1cm or less. Make sure the nest is empty and that the squirrels are outside first: otherwise they will do serious damage if they try to get out.
How do I get rid of a grey squirrel?
If a squirrel is nesting in the shed or attic
Constantly light the attic or shed or play the radio in it. This should bring him out.
Sprinkle flour near the exit to see from the tracks if it has left the area.
As a last resort, capture the squirrel with a cage and bait and release it outside. A cage can be obtained from a hardware store, garden center, pest management business or animal rescue company.
The operation is more delicate when the female is raising her young: she will defend her nest against any intruder by screaming or biting. If she is disturbed, she will carry the young one by one to another shelter.