How to attract squirrels to your backyard

With their agility, intelligence and skill at problem solving, squirrels are interesting animals to watch in your backyard. In the United States, there are dozens of different species of squirrel, including tree squirrels such as the grey squirrel, ground squirrels like chipmunks and flying squirrels. Many of them regularly or occasionally visit residential areas. Attracting squirrels depends a little on the species in your area, but all squirrels appreciate food, somewhere to nest and safety from predators.

Provide a squirrel feeding station for ground squirrels. Place bowls or a tray on a patch of bare ground or grass at least 10 feet from any shrubbery or other cover, which could conceal predators such as cats. Most fruit, grains, nuts and vegetables suit squirrels. Provide a variety. If you want to save money, buy in bulk or from agricultural supply stores rather than from the supermarket.

Adapt bird feeders or build basic squirrel feeders out of plastic, 2-liter bottles for tree squirrels. Adapting bird feeders usually involves no more than removing squirrel baffles and hanging somewhere accessible, such as the branch of a tree. For a plastic bottle, make dime-sized holes at the bottom and near the top. Add more holes a little larger than the nuts or other food about two-thirds down, fill with food and thread wire or string through the top holes to hang. Squirrel feeders are also available from garden supply stores.

Install a squirrel box for tree squirrels. Squirrel boxes are essentially scaled up bird boxes -- about 2-feet by 1-foot by 1-foot with a 3-inch-wide hole near the top. Make your own or purchase one and position it about 10 to 20 feet up a tree. The higher the box, the safer it is for the squirrels, because it is harder for ground predators to access. A layer of dead leaves in the bottom makes the box an even more desirable squirrel residence.

Create a quiet squirrel corner for ground squirrels to burrow under or nest in. Loosen the soil with a garden fork to make it easy to tunnel in. Plant some dense shrubs and create a pile of old logs and scrap wood. Don't disturb the woodpile or the rest of the area, which may contain hibernating or breeding squirrels depending on the season.

Take pets indoors at night and supervise them outside during the day. Cats and dogs pose a threat to squirrels. Even if your pets are in no way hunters, their presence may be enough to scare squirrels away from your garden.


Do not feed raw peanuts to any wildlife, including squirrels. Peanuts may contain a toxic fungus. Roasting them usually kills the fungus but this is not guaranteed. Never feed wild animals salted nuts or any other prepared human food.

Things You'll Need

  • Nuts, grains and fresh produce
  • Squirrel or bird feeder or plastic, 2-liter bottle and string
  • Nestbox or plywood, saw, hammer, nails, screws, screwdriver and drill
  • Garden fork
  • Logs and scrap wood
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About the Author

Judith Willson has been writing since 2009, specializing in environmental and scientific topics. She has written content for school websites and worked for a Glasgow newspaper. Willson has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.