Outsmarting Squirrels: Learn How to Keep Squirrels Out of Your Chicken Coop
Do squirrels keep messing with your chicken coop? They're cute. But…
This can be a problem for you and your chickens.
These small animals can steal your chicken's food, damage their coop, and even harm baby chicks and their eggs.
But why is it important to keep them away?
The simple answer is that squirrels can bring disease and attract bigger, scarier animals that could hurt your chickens.
This guide will show easy ways to keep squirrels away from your chicken coop.
You'll learn about how squirrels think and act and ways to squirrel-proof your coop.
But first, let's get to know these furry little invaders.
What are Squirrels?
A. Characteristics of Squirrels
Squirrels are small, furry rodents in many places worldwide.
Their bushy tails and strong hind legs help them climb trees and jump from branch to branch.
Squirrels' front teeth never stop growing, so they need to gnaw on things to keep them at a healthy length.
This biting habit is why squirrels can be a problem for chicken coops.
They can chew through wood, plastic, or even lightweight metal.
B. Squirrel Behavior
Squirrels are energetic and curious creatures.
They're active during the day and always look for food.
Squirrels have good memories, which help them find hidden food catches in times of low supply.
They're not picky eaters, and they'll happily snack on fruits, seeds, nuts, and even bird eggs when available.
Squirrels may seem cute, but they sometimes show aggressive or territorial behavior.
They might scratch or bite when they feel threatened. This is also why keeping them away from your chicken coop is essential.
Why Squirrels are Attracted to Chicken Coops?
Chicken coops are like a treasure trove for squirrels.
They provide warmth, safety, and, most importantly, food.
Chickens' feed and leftover grains are a tempting buffet for these tiny eaters. If a squirrel finds its way into your coop, it will likely keep coming back for more.
Also, squirrels, being skilled climbers, can easily access bird eggs in nests.
This means that chicken eggs, which are larger and richer in nutrients, can be a prime target for hungry squirrels.
Understanding these key aspects of squirrels will help you better tackle the methods to keep them away from your chicken coop.
By knowing how squirrels think and act, you can outsmart them and keep your chickens safe.
Will Chickens Attack Squirrels?
Chickens and squirrels usually live together without any problems.
Chickens like to peck and find insects to eat, while squirrels hop around looking for nuts. Mostly, they leave each other alone.
But sometimes things change. If chickens feel scared, they might try to protect themselves, their babies, or their eggs.
And if a squirrel is stuck in a corner, it might try to fight to escape.
So, sometimes, chickens and squirrels might fight.
Let's think about this more:
- What chickens usually do: Chickens are usually calm. They don't fight unless they need to. Think about how your chickens act with other animals.
- Big or brave chickens: If a chicken is large, brave, or likes to protect its space, it might fight a squirrel if it feels scared or threatened.
- Food issues: Fights can happen if chickens and squirrels want the same food. Squirrels might want the chicken's food, causing problems.
So, even though chickens and squirrels don't normally fight, sometimes they might.
How to Keep Squirrels Out Of Chicken Coop: 8 Practical Strategies
Here’s how you can effectively squirrel-proof your chicken coop:
1. Make Your Coop Extra Strong
When making your chicken coop safe, consider it a special, secure home for your chickens. Here's how you can do it:
First, build your coop with strong material squirrels can't chew through. This is the first step to winning the fight against squirrels!
Hardware cloth or thick wood is great for this. They make the walls and ceiling of your coop very strong.
Next, think about the door to your chicken coop. Squirrels are little, so even a small gap is like an open invitation to them! But a good, strong door latch can stop this from happening.
And remember, put chicken wire under the ground. They could be digging beneath your fences and getting in.
Here's an easy fix:
- Dig a one-foot-deep, six-inch-wide trench around the area.
- Add chicken wire strips to your existing fence to create a downward 'skirt.'
- Bury this 'skirt' by refilling the trench with soil.
This underground barrier will effectively deter squirrel invasions.
2. Clean Up Your Yard
Squirrels love messy yards! A yard full of old stuff, like broken equipment or woodpiles, is like a fun park for them. This is because there are lots of places to hide and find food.
But here's good news. You can make your yard a lot less interesting for squirrels. How do you do that? You just clean up!
Start with removing any old stuff that isn't needed.
That pile of unused equipment? Time to let it go.
That bird feeder that isn't being used? Take it down.
Broken branches and twigs? Clear them out.
Squirrels don't like feeling exposed. So, they'll probably start looking for another place to hang out, away from your yard.
3. Store Food Waste Properly
Squirrels are curious little animals, always searching for food.
Dispose of leftovers in a secure, airtight bin to prevent squirrels from smelling and getting attracted to it.
Also, regularly empty your containers to avoid any smell buildup that could attract these critters. An open bag of chicken feed is too tempting to ignore!
Here's a tip:
Store your chicken feed in metal containers - squirrels can't chew through metal! Make sure you put the lid on tight after each use. Watch in amusement as squirrels scratch their heads around your feed-secure coop.
4. Collect your eggs often
We know how exciting it is to find fresh eggs in the morning, but remember to gather them regularly.
Squirrels see eggs as savory snacks. They might take them for a free meal if they see tasty eggs in the chicken coop.
And once they've tasted, they'll likely come back looking for more.
Collecting eggs every day is also beneficial to your chickens' health.
It stops them from becoming broody and sitting on the eggs, which might lead to aggression if the eggs get taken away later.
5. Let your pets keep an eye on your coop
Do you own a dog or a cat that enjoys spending time outdoors?
They might be a big help with your squirrel problem!
Like dogs or cats, pets can keep squirrels away just by being around.
Dogs and cats walk around their homes, showing squirrels they're watching and ready to protect their territory.
But remember, this way might only work with some pets. Some dogs or cats would rather chase bugs or take long naps in the sun.
Another important thing is that your pets and chickens should be friends.
You want your pet to see the chickens as something other than toys or food. That would make a new problem, not solve one.
If everything is good between your pets and chickens, having your pets around can help a lot.
It's a cheap, easy way to keep squirrels away from your chicken coop.
6. Use Squirrel Deterrents
Pest control companies manufacture many products to keep squirrels away. These items, like squirrel repellent sprays and powders, give the squirrels a bad smell or taste experience.
Putting these products on and around your chicken coop could help convince the squirrels not to hang around.
Here are some of the strong scents they avoided:
- White vinegar
- Peppermint oil
- Predator urine
- Hyacinth Plant
These repellents work in quite an interesting way. Like many other creatures, Squirrels rely heavily on their sense of smell and taste to find food and safe spaces.
Applying these sprays or powders in your chicken coop area tells the squirrels that your location could be better for food and a safe spot.
7. Set up Squirrel Traps
If the deterrents are insufficient to stop the squirrels, you might consider using a non-harmful trap.
Traps built for squirrels are very clever – they capture the squirrel without hurting it.
After catching a squirrel in your trap, you can release it far from your property or take it to a suitable location.
This can make it hard for the squirrel to return to your chicken coop.
8. Getting Help from Experts
Sometimes, despite all your good efforts, squirrels keep returning. It might be the right time to seek professional help when your tactics fail.
Some people are trained to handle animal behavior, especially with nuisance animals.
These experts know deeply about squirrels' habits, tendencies, and behavior.
They help resolve your squirrel dilemma appropriately and abide by all necessary laws and animal welfare rules.
Importantly, they aim to deal with the squirrels without causing undue stress or harm to the animals.
However, before we get caught up in professional intervention, let's discuss what this means:
- Hiring a professional generally implies costs. Are you ready to bear that expense, or are there other techniques you could try first?
- Research the person or company you're planning to hire. Are they as knowledgeable and respectful of animals as they claim? Don't forget to check their credentials and track record.
- Involving a professional is not always a permanent solution. While they can help handle current issues, if conditions that attract squirrels remain, the problem may reoccur.
Hiring an expert can help protect your chicken coop while caring for the squirrels.
But always consider the costs, credentials, and potential long-term effectiveness.
Squirrels are very cute with their fluffy tails and funny ways. But when you have chickens, these friendly-looking animals can cause trouble.
But remember, we talked about ways to solve this problem, as mentioned above.
Whatever way you choose, remember it's all about keeping things fair.
Ready to look after your chickens in a kind, smart way? Great! Let's do this in a way that respects all animals.
We are all part of one big, amazing family in nature!
- How do I stop squirrels from stealing chicken feed?
Use squirrel-proof feeders, which makes it difficult for them to access chicken food. Another option is providing them an alternative food source away from the coop, like corn or sunflower seeds.
- Can squirrels harm my chickens?
While the chances are low, yes, squirrels can harm or even kill your chickens. Smaller chicks and eggs are more at risk. Securing your coop and minimizing contact between the two can help prevent harm.
- Why are squirrels attracted to the chicken coop?
Squirrels tend to be attracted to food in the coop, such as chicken feed or scraps. They may also be curious or searching for nesting materials.
- Can I use a repellent to keep squirrels away from my chicken coop?
You can try various natural repellents, like a mix of cayenne pepper and water, or essential oils like peppermint. However, it is necessary to reapply them frequently, and they may be less effective in extreme temperatures.
- Are chickens afraid of squirrels?
Chickens usually won't feel threatened by squirrels, but chickens may get scared if a squirrel becomes aggressive. The key to avoiding this is maintaining a safe environment and minimizing their interactions.