Here’s an interview I did recently with Women’s Health Magazine about how to attract wildlife to your backyard, rabbits, squirrels, frogs, and bees in particular. Some of my quotes will be in the magazine itself, but I wanted to publish the full article for you to read here.
This was the first question:
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How to Attract Squirrels to Our Backyard?
For folks who love squirrels (I’m one!), how would you entice more squirrels to your yard–of course, in a way that’s healthy for them and safe for us?
Squirrels aren’t picky about what they eat. You may have seen them in bird feeders, or munching on strawberries in the garden. Providing food they like (which is almost anything) is the easiest way of attracting squirrels. They will eat flowers, berries, nuts, and seeds. They will even happily tuck into eggs and small insects!
What to Feed Squirrels
Some good things to feed them include pumpkin, strawberries, acorns, and hickory nuts. We do, however, need to be mindful of something called “Metabolic Bone Disease.” MTD is preventable but can occur with pet squirrels, or squirrels that are fed in our backyards.
MTD is caused by an improper diet, where the squirrel eats foods that are high in phosphorus and low in calcium. We need to provide a balanced diet and not only feed them their favorites; nuts and seeds. (Here’s our full list of what squirrels eat!)
Where to Feed Squirrels
Squirrels will always prefer a safe space, so anything up high is enticing. Particularly if you have domestic animals like cats and dogs; a high perch makes them feel safe. Any standard bird feeder is popular. Wooden posts with a bowl would work as well, although I recommend a small roof to keep the food dry. That’s mainly an issue if people buy specific squirrel food, not so much fruits and veg, but we don’t want food going rotten and the squirrels eating it like that.
They will eat anywhere, and if you have no cats or dogs and a secure yard, feeding them on the ground will do. But I definitely recommend up high. Hanging a feeder from a tree is delightful, they’re quite the acrobats!
Attracting Squirrels and Birds
If you’d like to attract both squirrels and birds, one of the main things is to keep squirrels out of the bird feeders. Bird feeders are such an easy feed that they will be the squirrel’s first point of call. You can keep them out with special squirrel-proof bird feeders.
You can also use a baffle, which is similar to a light shade and stops them from climbing up. As a last resort, you can coat the feed itself in hot sauce or chilli powder. It doesn’t seem to bother birds but squirrels won’t be back in a hurry.
As a conclusion, just grow. Grow lots. Grow wild. Establish a food forest rather than neat rows of vegetables or perfectly-spaced orchards. Grow enough to share!
Go about this the cheap way. Throw pumpkin seeds back into the garden. All of them. Once a sunflower has finished flowering, scatter the seeds around. Squeeze rotten tomatoes out into the garden. Save and sprout the seeds from your avocados, lemons, oranges, kiwifruit…
Not all seeds will sprouts. Many may get eaten before they sprout, which, in its own way, provides food for wildlife. But in the end, you’ll find yourself in a veritable edible wildlife food paradise and you may even get to harvest some of it yourself.
Other articles in this series: