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Gray Squirrel. Photo by Bet Zimmerman  

Researchers estimate that squirrels recover 85% of nuts they bury, mainly by smell. More....

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Squirrel at feeder.
A gray squirrel eats about 2 lbs. a week.  Put pole mounted bird feeders at 5-6 feet off the ground and 10 feet from the nearest jumping off spot. 

Did you know that:

  • The gray squirrel is Connecticut’s most frequently observed mammal.
  • 66 squirrel species are native to North America.  Connecticut has six “squirrels”: the woodchuck, Eastern chipmunk, red squirrel, Eastern gray squirrel and both Northern and Southern Flying Squirrels.  All are active in daytime except the flying squirrel, which is nocturnal.
  • Squirrels have a sweet tooth. For example, red squirrels may bite into the bark of sugar maples to start sap flowing.
  • Flying squirrels are found in Woodstock.  They can cover 80-150 feet in a single glide. 
  • In the original folktale, Cinderella’s slippers were made of squirrel fur, but a mistaken translation turned them to glass.
  • A squirrels leafy bed is called a drey.
  • Researchers estimate that squirrels recover 85% of nuts they bury, mainly by smell.
  • Gray squirrels live 7-8 years, and up to 20 years in captivity.
  • Squirrels can eat a variety of poisonous plants and mushrooms (like amanitas) without getting sick.
  • Red squirrels hoard food like cones and twigs in huge piles called middens.  Some have been measured at 20 feet x 12 feet x 3 feet deep.
  • Female red squirrels tolerate the presence of their mate for just one day in late winter. Maybe that’s because male squirrels take twice as long to groom themselves as a female.
  • Flying squirrels will eat insects, birds and eggs, and may nest in bluebird boxes.
  • Chipmunk burrows are typically 20-30 feet long, with a master bedroom, storage areas and separate escape tunnels.
  • Squirrels use their tails to communicate, for balance, and to shade out sun or shed rain.
  • A camel’s hair brush is really made out of squirrel fur.


  • Squirrels can inflict considerable damage to structures, gardens, insulation, and electrical wiring, and may leave fleas behind.  Never attempt to pet or feed a squirrel by hand.  They are wild animals, and will bite with their razor sharp teeth.
  • A gray squirrel eats about 2 lbs. a week.  Put pole mounted bird feeders at 5-6 feet off the ground and 10 feet from the nearest jumping off spot.  Use a baffle on the pole/above a tree hung feeder.  If you have a second story house, put feeders on a pulley system. Use a cube within a cube suet feeder.  Offer nyger (thistle), or safflower seeds which squirrels don’t prefer. 
  • Trim back tree limbs within 20 feet of your roof.
  • Put “Ropel” (a nasty tasting contact repellant) on feeders or structures squirrels are gnawing on.  “Hinder” is a repellant approved for use on food. 
  • Old timers used to grind dried hot peppers mixed with mineral oil and paint it on corn silk to deter squirrels.
  • Unlike mammals, birds lack pain receptors for natural capsaicin which causes the 'heat" in hot peppers, so it can be added to bird food to deter squirrels, raccoons and bears.
  • To keep squirrels out of attics and eaves, seal them with strong ½” wire mesh (making sure no squirrels are inside first!)  Squirrels may be repelled by the smell of mothballs.   
  • To get squirrels OUT and prevent their return, put in a one-way door made of hardware cloth. See instructions at www.urbanwildliferescue.org, Humane Eviction>Squirrels>Construct a One-Way Door.
  • If a squirrel gets in the chimney, drop a thick rope in to help it climb out.
  • Put a pile of bricks or cinderblock in a water trough to keep squirrels from drowning.
  • Wire mesh fences around gardens need to be two feet high and buried one foot underground.  Mixing blood meal with the soil may deter squirrels.
  • Hunting gray squirrels is legal from Jan 1 - Feb 28, Sep 1 - Sep 30, Oct 15 - Dec 31.
  • Trapping has limited effectiveness.  If you do trap, relocate squirrels 3-7 miles away.  A Havahart or Tomahawk trap is best, and can be baited with shelled pecans, peanuts, peanut butter or apple slices.  

For more information on how to manage problem squirrels or for a referral to a licensed Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator, contact the CT DEP Wildlife Division at (860) 424-3011.




Originally published in Our Town and the Eastern CT Forest Landowners Newsletter, 2005

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Last updated October 25, 2016

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