While many homeowners consider squirrels adorable woodland creatures who are entertaining to watch and cause little damage to trees, think again. Believe it or not, squirrels eat tree bark and that can be damaging to the trees on your property.
Squirrels are notorious for their voracious habit of chewing on things, and tree bark is no different. Oftentimes, the reasons why squirrels eat tree bark is if food and water supplies are scarce or to build a nest for a soon-to-be-expecting female.
But the cambium layer of the tree – often identified as the growing part of the trunk – is a delicacy for squirrels and once tasted is hard to resist. This layer containers sugars which are irresistible to squirrels while providing nutrients the small animal need. So while they may start out only removing the top layer of tree bark for their family home, once they get down to the cambium layer it’s essentially a buffet.
What Can Happen to the Tree?
The health of your tree depends on the degree of damage caused by the squirrel. If the removal area is small, new growth will often protect the tree from any real damage. However, if the removal area is large and deep into the cellular layers of the tree, the area is now vulnerable to weather, pests, and diseases.
Keeping an eye on the tree’s exposed areas is crucial in order to avoid limbs from dying or harmful pests from easily gaining access to the tree’s system.
How to prevent squirrels from eating your tree bark?
There are many ways to help prevent squirrels from eating your tree bark. A natural way to prevent damage is by sprinkling cayenne pepper on the affected area or spraying a mixture of Tabasco sauce and water.
Trapping is another solution, however, once you trap them, new squirrels will quickly replace the old ones. These preventive solutions are temporary fixes and require time and re-application.
They may be adorable but can be highly destructive if they identify your tree as a chewing post. Inspect your trees regularly, especially if you notice any increases in squirrel activity.