How Ground Squirrels Damage California Homes and Yards
Where do we start? There are so many ways a ground squirrel can cause damage. They can damage plants in landscaping. They can damage gardens and fruit-producing trees. They can displace dirt under foundation slabs and cause cracks. They can damage your lawn. Those mangy squirrels can even damage you or someone you love. Let’s break it all down.
The burrowing activity of ground squirrels can uproot the plants in your landscaping, especially small plants and shrubs. They are particularly attracted to food-bearing plants such as plants that produce grain, nuts or fruits. If you have small ornamental trees, these pests can chew the bark off at the base of your trees and kill them. This is called girdling. They’ll also eat apples, oranges, apricots, peaches, prunes and other fruits.
When ground squirrels get into your garden, they will eat whole seedlings, nibble on your vegetable tops, and munch on some fruits and berries. They’ll also damage your vegetables in the same way they damage the plants in your landscaping, by digging around roots.
The pernicious burrowing of ground squirrels can also present a danger to the structures on your property. Excavation underneath buildings can create cracks in the foundation that can be hard to fix. If you try to seal the holes next to foundations, sidewalks, and other hard structures, you can make the problem worse, as those ground squirrels will dig their way out another way and increase the underground void. This can produce more cracks and lead to the collapse of the structure.
If you have a sprinkler system in your yard, ground squirrels can be a serious issue. They are known to gnaw on the plastic heads of sprinklers, the lines leading to those sprinklers, and on the irrigation boxes.
Burrowing is one of the worst ways ground squirrels damage yards in California. All of those holes they dig cause dead patches of grass and bald spots to take over the yard. This is because the displaced dirt is usually spread around by the activity of lawn mowing and smothers your turfgrass. All of that lawn damage is unsightly to look at and disheartening if you’ve worked hard to keep your lawn beautiful. If this isn’t enough, mowing over ground squirrel dirt mounds can damage your lawn mower and lead to repair costs.
When we get called in to deal with a ground squirrel issue in a schoolyard, it is usually for the protection of the students. Ground squirrels can create holes large enough to stick your leg into. When concealed by grass, they present a serious risk for a broken or sprained ankle. And there can be dozens of holes spread out in a soccer field. This has led to some schools having to cancel home games because visiting schools don’t want to take the risk of a child being hurt.
If you have a ground squirrel infestation in your backyard, it can present a risk for your kids, and also for you. A hole can develop overnight and catch you off guard. It is even worse when gophers play a part in the problem.
Along with this threat of physical damage, ground squirrels are linked to diseases. One disease that they can spread is the plague. While the plague is rare, and it is no longer able to spread as it did during the days of the black plague, it is still a serious threat that should be kept in mind. If you notice several dead squirrels in your backyard, notify public health officials immediately. And never pick a dead squirrel up with your hands for any reason.
The Solution For Ground Squirrels
If you’re dealing with ground squirrels in the Greater San Jose area, you’re in luck. Smith’s Pest Management also specializes in the trapping of ground squirrels. We have the expertise to resolve your ground squirrel problem no matter how big or how small. We’re often called in to protect golf courses and vineyards from these and other destructive burrowing pests. Your residential property will be in good hands. Reach out to us today to schedule a visit with one of our wildlife control professionals.