How to Keep Squirrels out of Chicken Coop

How to Keep Squirrels out of Chicken Coop

As an avid backyard chicken keeper, I’ve faced many challenges over the years, from foxes to raccoons. However, one surprising and persistent nuisance has been squirrels.

These seemingly innocent and cute creatures have a penchant for getting into chicken coops, often in search of food. For others dealing with this issue, I offer you my personal guide on how to keep these bushy-tailed invaders at bay.

To answer the burning question straight away: the most effective way to keep squirrels out of your chicken coop is a combination of physical barriers, deterrents, and maintaining cleanliness. By implementing these strategies, I’ve enjoyed a squirrel-free coop for quite some time.

1. Physical Barriers:

Mesh wire or hardware cloth with holes no larger than ½ inch should be your go-to. Unlike chicken wire, which squirrels can chew through, this sturdier material will stop them in their tracks.

Ensure that you cover all openings, including windows, vents, and gaps near doors.

2. Secure the Feed:

One of the main attractions for squirrels is the chicken feed. Invest in a metal, sealable container for storage and ensure that any spillage is cleaned up promptly.

You might even consider automatic chicken feeders which release food only when chickens peck, keeping it hidden from squirrels.

3. Natural Deterrents:

Over the years, I’ve found that sprinkling cayenne pepper around the coop and mixing a little into the feed works wonders. Squirrels detest the spicy scent and taste, while it’s harmless and often unnoticed by chickens.

4. Maintain Cleanliness:

Regularly cleaning the coop and its surroundings denies squirrels the mess and leftovers they might be attracted to. Ensure that you remove any leftover food and securely store feed away.

5. Guardian Animals:

My trusty cat, Whiskers, has been a great deterrent. While she’s no threat to my chickens, she does keep the squirrels at a distance. Other animals, such as dogs or even guinea fowl, can also serve as effective guardians.

6. Motion-Activated Sprinklers:

This was a game-changer for me. These sprinklers detect movement and release a burst of water, surprising and deterring squirrels without causing them harm.

7. Frequent Inspections:

Regularly inspect your coop for any signs of damage, wear and tear, or potential entry points. Squirrels are resourceful and can take advantage of even the smallest weaknesses in your coop’s defense.

The key to keeping squirrels out of your chicken coop is persistence and consistency. By ensuring you have robust defenses in place and maintaining cleanliness, you’ll make your coop a lot less attractive to these persistent creatures.

Remember, it’s not just about keeping your feed safe; it’s about ensuring the safety and well-being of your feathered friends.

ALSO SEE: How to Keep Goats Out of the Chicken Coop

How to Keep Squirrels out of Chicken Coop

FAQs on Keeping Squirrels Out of Your Chicken Coop

1. Why do squirrels target chicken coops?
They’re primarily attracted to the food and any leftovers that might be available.

2. Can squirrels chew through chicken wire?
Yes, squirrels can chew through chicken wire, which is why hardware cloth is recommended.

3. What size should the mesh holes be to deter squirrels?
Holes should be no larger than ½ inch.

4. How do I secure the chicken feed against squirrels?
Store it in a metal, sealable container and consider using automatic chicken feeders.

5. Will cayenne pepper harm my chickens?
No, chickens generally don’t notice the spice, and it’s harmless to them.

6. How often should I clean the coop to deter squirrels?
Regularly, ensuring that you remove leftover food and securely store feed away.

7. Can cats threaten my chickens?
While some cats might chase chickens, many, when introduced correctly, pose no threat and can deter squirrels.

8. Are motion-activated sprinklers safe for chickens?
Yes, they are harmless and only serve to surprise and deter pests.

9. How do I inspect my coop for squirrel entry points?
Regularly check for signs of damage, wear, and tear, or any gaps and openings.

10. Can squirrels harm chickens?
While they typically go after food, squirrels can potentially harm chicks or eggs.

11. What do I do if squirrels have already nested in my coop?
Remove any nests, secure the coop with hardware cloth, and implement deterrents.

12. Can I use commercial squirrel repellents?
Yes, but ensure they are safe and non-toxic to chickens.

13. How do guardian animals deter squirrels?
Their presence can intimidate or chase away squirrels.

14. Are guinea fowl effective against squirrels?
Yes, they can be noisy and chase away various pests, including squirrels.

15. Do motion-activated lights work against squirrels?
They can act as a deterrent, especially during nighttime.

16. How often should cayenne pepper be sprinkled around the coop?
Regularly, and especially after rains, as it can wash away.

17. Will squirrels try to dig under the coop?
It’s possible. Burying hardware cloth around the perimeter can help deter digging attempts.

18. Can squirrels carry diseases that affect chickens?
While rare, squirrels can be carriers of certain diseases or mites.

19. How do automatic chicken feeders work against squirrels?
They release food only when chickens peck, keeping it hidden from pests.

20. Can I use ultrasonic repellents against squirrels?
While some claim effectiveness, results can be mixed. Ensure any device is safe for chickens.

21. Should I trap and relocate squirrels?
While possible, focusing on prevention and deterrence is often more effective.

22. Are there specific plants that deter squirrels?
Plants like daffodils or alliums can act as mild deterrents.

23. Can squirrels climb slippery surfaces to access the coop?
Squirrels are excellent climbers, but slippery surfaces can make it more challenging for them.

24. Should I keep water sources away from the coop?
Yes, as they can attract squirrels and other pests.

25. Can I use a combination of deterrents?
Absolutely! The more layers of defense, the better.

26. How deep should I bury hardware cloth?
At least 12 inches deep to prevent digging attempts.

27. Do squirrels target coops more during certain seasons?
They can be more persistent during colder months when food sources are scarce.

28. How do I introduce a cat as a guardian without threatening the chickens?
Introduce them slowly, supervise initial interactions, and ensure the cat is well-fed.

29. Can dogs also deter squirrels?
Yes, many dogs will chase away squirrels.

30. Are there breeds of chickens that deter squirrels?
While no breed specifically deters squirrels, more aggressive breeds might be less tolerant of their presence.

31. Do squirrels get used to deterrents over time?
Some might, which is why combining multiple deterrents is recommended.

32. Can loud noises scare away squirrels?
Yes, but it might also stress your chickens.

33. How fast can a squirrel infestation happen?
Given the right conditions, they can become a nuisance in a short span of time.

34. Are squirrels nocturnal pests for chicken coops?
Squirrels are primarily diurnal but can sometimes be active during the early evening.

35. What do I do if squirrels keep returning?
Re-evaluate your deterrents, reinforce barriers, and consider seeking professional advice.

36. Can bird feeders near the coop attract squirrels?
Yes, it’s recommended to keep bird feeders away or use squirrel-proof designs.

37. How do I repair damage caused by squirrels?
Patch up holes with hardware cloth and regularly inspect for any new damages.

38. Will egg production decrease if squirrels access the coop?
Stress from pests can lead to a decrease in egg production.

39. Do motion sensors harm the squirrels in any way?
No, they simply act as a deterrent by surprising them.

40. Can I consult other backyard chicken keepers for advice on this issue?
Definitely! Sharing experiences and solutions can be beneficial.

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