How to Keep California Ground Squirrels Out of Your Yard

In some states, home and business owners might enjoy watching squirrels frolic and play on their properties: scampering around in a game of squirrel tag, leaping from branch to branch in tall trees, or perhaps defying explanation (and gravity) climbing onto bird feeders. But in the state of California, most home and business owners do not enjoy a type of squirrel that can cause damage and dangerous conditions on their properties.

california ground squirrel on a rock

California Ground Squirrels

Adult California ground squirrels (also called Beechey ground squirrels) have a mix of gray, light brown and dusky fur to give them a mottled appearance. Bands of slightly darker fur, flecked with light gray, extend from head to mid back, and gray fur forms a cape over the sides of the head and shoulders. Their underside is a light buff color or grayish yellow.

When California ground squirrels are not sunning themselves or gathering food sources to "squirrel away" they spend much of their time underground in tunnels and burrows. Their burrow systems can house many generations of ground squirrels, forming small colonies. And each individual squirrel has an entrance of its own. The males of this species are often territorial, and males and females alike tend to stay within 150 yards of their burrows.

Other types of squirrels, such as tree squirrels, are not typically a problem unless they find their way inside attics or other places inside a home. Once inside they can cause issues because of their constant chewing. A squirrel in an attic can damage the structure of a home, destroy insulation, chew through wiring, or damage stored items, among other things. And if a tree squirrel accidentally gets into a living space and is scared or cornered, it can wreak havoc with its frantic attempts to get back outside.

California ground squirrels cause different problems, they don't need to get inside. Ground squirrels dig. It is what they do. And they don't care if they are out on open grassland, or in your backyard. They will dig burrows and tunnels in yards, orchards, around building foundations, patios, decks, and gardens. And since these animals multiply quickly (each female having five to nine babies a season) infestations can quickly take over. School fields, parks, and backyards can be destroyed. Large infestations can mean large holes in the grass that present a danger to anyone walking or running there.

The entrances of ground squirrel burrows are often large enough to allow a foot or even an entire leg to descend into the hole, posing the risk of a broken ankle or leg. If grass is allowed to grow, grass can lie down and conceal the holes, making them even more of a health hazard.

Tips To Keep California Ground Squirrels Away

While the following won't guarantee that you will never have ground squirrels take up residence on your property, they may help minimize their numbers and keep your property relatively safe from their destructive habits.

  • Keep all trash in tied trash bags inside trash containers with locking lids to keep squirrels and other foraging animals out.
  • If you have outdoor dining areas, make sure to thoroughly clean up after each gathering.
  • If you have plants with nuts, berries, or vegetables, keep these areas as picked up as possible, reducing food sources for squirrels and other animals.
  • Eliminate water sources on your property as much as possible.
  • Keep your grass trimmed short and your yard uncluttered. This will reduce hiding places for California ground squirrels which are preyed upon by red-tailed hawks, golden eagles, coyote, fox, badgers, weasels, house cats, dogs, and snakes.
  • Reduce insects (that squirrels feed upon) on your property by partnering with a professional pest control company.
  • Install tall fencing or netting around gardens or bushes you don't want these animals getting into. Make sure the fencing goes at least a foot underground.
  • Use motion sensor water sprinklers to scare squirrels away with water.
  • Plant mint plants around your home to repel the ground squirrels.
  • Add ground-up cayenne peppers to bird feeders to prevent ground squirrels from eating the bird seed.
  • Place ground squirrel feeders along your property line to keep them away from your home.
  • Spray a cayenne pepper solution around the foundation of your home to keep them away.
  • Get a few farm cats.

Get Help From the Professionals at Smith's

The professionals at Smith's Gopher Trapping Service don't only take care of gopher problems. We trap and/or eliminate other pest animals as well, including California ground squirrels. If you need assistance, we are standing by to help by removing your ground squirrel problem in a way that is effective and safe for kids, pets, and other wildlife. Don't take chances with these potentially dangerous animals on your property, reach out to Smith's today.


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