|Coyote on the hunt for ground squirrels.|
Ground Squirrel and Prairie Dog problems can be frustrating, costly and even dangerous. Can doing nothing be the answer to my ground squirrel problems?
Relying on Predators for Rodent Control
Rattlesnakes and Gopher snakes eat ground squirrels and prairie dogs. The snakes go after the young squirrels because the adults are not easy prey for them to devour. Adult ground squirrels have even been known to fight and bite snakes, including rattlers! Another interesting fact: male California ground squirrels are sometimes immune to rattle snake venom.
Here's an idea...if you see a gopher snake on the road, safely relocate it to the nearest ground squirrel hole. The snake will have a safe place to hide and may discover dinner inside.
Coyotes & Badgers enjoy eating ground squirrels - when they can catch them. Sometimes they pair up as hunting buddies. The badger digs for the squirrels and the coyote chases them. Check out the video below:
Raptors like the Red-tailed hawks, kestrels and golden eagles eat ground squirrels, too. Although, if you have a small dog, remember raptors have been known to snatch them up - so keep an eye on your little pooches.
Do you have any snags on your property? It's a good thing if you do. Snags are standing dead trees. They make great perching sites for numerous bird species and provide cavities for nesting birds. Snags and perches can provide a strategically-located vantage point for raptors. By making perches available, you may make it easier for them to hunt the ground squirrels on your property.
If you don't have any snags, artificial perches can be installed to benefit the birds. Materials can be wooden or metal posts, branches and dead trees. Artificial perches can also be purchased online. Different heights and structures attract different bird species, so variety is a good idea. Since, you don't want the birds to have to stare into the sunrise or sunset, to provide an optimal view for the raptors, orient the perch so that the cross pieces point east and west.
People often complain to me that they've put up owl boxes but they still have a ground squirrel problem. Remember, ground squirrels are diurnal, active during the day. Owls are nocturnal and out at night. Don't take down the owl box, chances are it's helping rid your property of mice and gophers.
This requires work, but at least it doesn't require you to chase down a squirrel. Ground squirrels usually live in open areas, but at times the use available cover. By getting rid of the brush pile, you may remove the rodents' hiding places and make it easier for the predators to do their job.
If you have a small yard or dog that's an excellent squirrel hunter, a dog may be all you need. Unfortunately, dogs can't make much of a dent in large established squirrel populations.