squirrel extermination

Understanding Squirrel Bark Stripping

Debarking is an odd squirrel behavior that has been recently manifested by Fox, Grey and Ground squirrels. To date, no substantial books have yet been written to explain how and why this behavior started when squirrels in the past have never stripped tree barks before. This article attempts to understand bark stripping and explore the ways as to how this behaviour can be stopped to save trees grown in orchards, crop plantations and market gardens from being unconsciously damaged by these squirrels.

Before we can talk about the more complex stuff, we should be familiar with the nature of bark stripping first. As a general fact, stripping are usually between half an inch to six inches wide; twigs and small branches with diameters not more than half an inch are usually clipped off and simply dropped into the ground by these squirrels. Thus, squirrels give away which tree they have just stripped because of the debris that they leave. It is easier for squirrels to strip horizontal branches but there are known species that also strip tree trunks. The amount of damage that squirrels can do to trees can be massive; to some extent, trees can die because of debarking.

For some reason, debarking normally occurs in the second half of winter. However, squirrels have also been seen to strip barks from trees that do not produce masts during spring. Squirrels are able to strip hard barks using their incisor teeth which are really designed to cut through wood. The width of the strip that they make depends largely on their specie because each specie has varying sizes of incisors. For example, the fox squirrels from the east can strip tree barks that are as wide as six inches. The types of trees that squirrels normally strip barks from are the following (year indicated corresponds to the year when the first squirrel strips in the tree has been seen, those without years have been discovered more than 3 years ago): Ash, Olives, Cedar, Redwood (2010), Willow (2008), Elm (2009), Gingko Biloba (2010), Hackberry, Honeysuckle (2008), Maple (2009), Lilac Bushes (2010), Linden (2008), Mulberry (2009), Oaks (2009), Red Oak (2010), Pecan (2009) and Sycamore. Many other tree species are left unrecorded here.

Why Do Squirrels Strip Tree Barks?

To date, there are four theories as to why squirrels strip barks from trees. However, these theories are all unfounded yet. Experts are still observing dozens of bark stripping squirrels to really find out which of these theories are more accurate. But for the purpose of this article, here are the theories:

1. Like most mammals, female squirrels also experience great pain during pregnancy; they also experience behavioural changes during pregnancy, for example, a female squirrel will not feed on anything hours before birthing. One theory is that, bark stripping could be their way of responding to the pain brought about by their pregnancy.

2. The second theory used to be quite sellable to people until it was observed that squirrels also strip tree barks during the wet seasons. The second theory supposed that squirrels strip barks in search for water since many trees retain moisture within the barks. But like what have been said, this theory has been greatly weakened by current observations.

3. Another theory is that squirrels strip barks in order to find good food. Although squirrels can feed on a lot of stuff including seeds, nuts and plants, the theory suggests that squirrels might be after the nutritional value or the taste of the inner bark layer of trees. Of course, it has already been proven that inner tree barks contain a lot of nutrients which trees use for its sustenance.

4. The fourth theory is quite interesting because it assumes that squirrels might be stripping barks for fun. The theory stipulates that perhaps, squirrels strip barks because they enjoy doing so. Squirrels possess queer qualities that makes this theory believable. For example, squirrels make loud noises during sexual intercourse simply because they enjoy making those noises. Just like other mammals, human for example, some activities are not really required for survival, but these activities are performed anyway because of the fun element involved in it.

Nevertheless, it is quite impossible for us to really pin out why squirrels debark tress as of this time. This behaviour has been recently discovered and experts are still in their way to understand how and why it happened. For now, we can just content ourselves with these theories and wait which of them is closest to reality when experts finally come up with answers.

How to Stop Squirrels from Stripping Tree Barks?

We can't really smear trees with chemicals or any other products of that sort to keep squirrels from touching it without actually compromising the tree itself. Thus, the best way to dtop squirrels from hurting trees is to keep them out of the orchard, the plantation or the garden. This can be done through the use of natural repellents like urine powder and strong-smelling herbs; dogs can also keep the squirrels out. For severe squirrel invasion, traps can even be used to catch them before they can do any damage to the trees. But if you want to be specific with tree-protection, you do the following:

1. You will have to invest on aluminium flashing sheets in order to get this done. Use the sheet to wrap at least 6 feet of the tree trunk (from the ground) in order to prevent squirrels from climbing up the tree. Squirrels are able to climb trees because of the texture of the bark; flashing sheets will make it very difficult for them to climb the tree.

2. You can also use barb wires to prevent squirrels from climbing. Just be careful not to hurt the trees with the wire. Start covering the tree about 8 feet above the ground to make sure that unsuspecting people are also not hurt. However, this method may hurt squirrels so if you are not fond of hurting animals, might as well consider method #1.
squirrel extermination