why do squirrels strip bark off trees

Fox squirrel ( Sciurus niger ) and gray squirrels' ( Sciurus carolinensis ) damage to tree bark (called bark stripping) can be quite severe. See photo at right by Dallas Virchow. We have recently heard from a gentleman in Pennsylvania that red squirrels ( Tamiasciurus hudsonicus ) also strip bark. We would love to hear from anyone who has had similar experience. Fox squirrels exist in the middle portion of the continental U. S. Gray squirrels exist in the Eastern portion of the continental U. S. Typically, strippings are 1/2 inch wide and three to six inches long. Other small limbs branches of one- to two-feet in length and 1/4 to 1/2 inch diameter are clipped and dropped to the ground.


Squirrels prefer to strip branches that are horizontal, but have been known to strip trunks too. The damage can be extensive. Bark stripping usually occurs in late winter. But it can occur in the spring if trees don't produce mast. Incisor Widths--These figures encompass the range in the width of teeth between upper and lower incisors and between male and female squirrels. Gray squirrel (Eastern)--1. 17 to 1. 74mm
Gray squirrel (Western)--1. 19 to 2. 25mm Fox Squirrel (Eastern)-- 1. 40 to 2. 30mm HELP US! We would like to expand our information. Send your suggestions to Ash (Boise, ID) Corkscrew Willow (OR) December, 2008 Elm (San Mateo, CA) May, 2009 Damaged branched up to 2-inches in diameter Japenese Maple (OR) December, 2008 Linden--Small Leaf (Ontario, Canada) stripped in Mid-November, 2008.


Maple (FL, MN, NE July, 09; ) Maple, Japanese (TX) Maple, Red (NE) Maple, Sugar (MN) Live Oak (DFW Airport, TX, June, 2009) Pecan (GA June, 2009) Russian Olive (Milton, Ontario) There are essentially three theories. Pregnant females often don't eat just prior to giving birth. Bark stripping may be their way of responding to the pain. Searching for water (although this theory has been weakened by observing that squirrels strip bark even when during a wet spring, stripping during a dry August reaffirms this theory).


Searching for food by eating the inner bark layer. Timing: Typically occurs in Spring (nest construction) and Fall as in (crop gathering). Pin oaks seem to be typically hard hit (Source: Jerry Pickel of PA). Tassel-eared squirrels use the twigs to feed on the nutrients found in the cambium and subcambium layers of pine and firs (Source: Richard Wadleigh). Click to learn How To Unfortunately, not much can be done to rid a yard of squirrels after they discover its trees. Squirrels are simply too numerous. It is illegal in most places to release live-trapped squirrels in another location. You can use traps and poison baits to help keep the squirrel population down, however.


Place traps near the squirrels' burrow entrance or the tree where you see the most squirrel activity. Bait the traps with corn or nuts for a few days without setting the traps until the squirrels eat the bait. Then start setting the baited traps. Anti-coagulant baits set near a burrow also kills squirrels when the baits are eaten for several days. Take care to keep pets from baits and traps. While it is legal to kill ground squirrels in many places, a permit is required to kill some kinds of tree squirrels. Check with your location's department of fish and game to ensure you are legally allowed to kill squirrels in your area.

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