The Columbia ground squirrel is a small rodent that burrows in the soil to nest and hibernate, creating mounds of soil next to the borrow opening. They prefer to burrow in banks, hillsides and sloping round and open areas free of dense tree cover. They avoid soils with a high water table.
Adults weigh about 0.4 kg with a body length of 25-30 cm and have a 7.5-12.5 cm long somewhat bushy tail. Reddish-brown fur covers the nose, forelegs and hindquarters, and a mixture of gray and brown fur covers the back and tops of the legs.
Columbia ground squirrels emerge from hibernation in March and April, the males emerging 1-2 weeks earlier than the females. Females mate soon after emerging and produce a single litter of four to five young which do not emerge to feed on nearby host plants for about 4 weeks. They are active until August when they line their nests below the frost line with grass in which to hibernate.
They feed on a wide variety of vegetation, preferring the most succulent species available over the summer. Most of their water is obtained from all parts of plants. They do not store food but must consume enough to build up enough fat reserves to get them through their winter hibernation (usually 6-7 months each year).
Ground squirrels damage fruit trees by gnawing bark, girdling trunks, eating twigs and leaves, and burrowing around roots. Borrows around the tree base can damage and dry out roots, and make the trees more susceptible to toppling in high wind gusts. Their dirt mounds can make it difficult to mow and can damage equipment.
Ground squirrels are fed upon by many predators (coyotes, fox, weasels, owls, hawks, eagles, badgers, skunks and snakes) which can help to reduce damage along with other management tactics.
Options for ground squirrel control include trapping using spring-loaded leg-hold or body traps, or placing rodenticide products containing 0.005% chorophacinone or 2% zinc phosphide in burrows (hand-baiting) or in covered weather-tight bait stations. See discussion on use of rodenticides, hand probes (hand-baiting) and bait stations under Pocket Gopher control above..
Maintain an uninterrupted supply of rodenticide for 3 weeks or until no further signs of damage or burrow hills are noticed. Visit traps and baited borrows and stations every 48 hours to re-bait if necessary and remove and bury any carcasses which are found above ground.
Squirrels can be the source of a host of problems, including:
Inhabit Homes - Squirrels generally inhabit wooded areas and nest in trees, but will frequently establish themselves in attics or garages, where they’ll store their food and take up shelter.
Gnaw on cables, wires, stored items, walls - Similar to other rodents like rats and mice, squirrels can do quite a bit of damage, gnawing on cables and electric wiring, any items in storage, sprinkler heads and on the exterior and interior walls of a structure.
Noisy; bite if cornered - Squirrels are also noisy in their activities and will bite if you corner them.
Dig up landscaping/gardens - Squirrels have been known to dig up garden beds and damage fruit-bearing trees and vegetable gardens.
Strip bark - Squirrels will strip bark from trees and ornamental plants.
Everybody likes squirrels. They’re cute, they’re funny, and they’re always up to something rascally. When that “something rascally” has to do with inconveniencing you in your own home, however, they’ve gotta go. An infestation of squirrels in your home can put your home at risk of damage and cause health concerns for your pets and family.
Anytime you need some help with a rowdy rodential resident in your home, give us a call. We can safely and effectively
assist you in removing the squirrels and make recommendations so that your property does not become infested again.
If squirrels have become a problem where you are, schedule an appointment with QFI Pest Control.
Check out our monthly protection program options for year-round pest control.
QFI's protection plans are more than preventative pest programs.
They provide peace of mind - 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.
Start today to enjoy pest free surroundings all year long!