I used to love watching the squirrels in my backyard exploring, running around and playing with each other. Until I realized that these curious little animals will eat lots of plants in the garden, including strawberries.
Trust me, there’s almost nothing worse than spending MONTHS growing strawberries, and then you come out one day and there’s a huge chunk taken out of the plant, or a few bite marks on your fruit.
But sometimes it can be hard to figure out which animal is the culprit.
Do Squirrels Eat Strawberries?
Yes, squirrels love to eat strawberries. Squirrels can destroy strawberries pretty quickly, and even take chunks out of the strawberry plants.
Not only are squirrels awful for strawberries, but if you have bird feeders, good luck 🙂
How to Keep Curious Squirrels Out of the Garden
It’s not an easy task to prevent squirrels from getting into your garden. They are active animals with a lot of energy, and they can climb 50-foot tall trees, so don’t count on your 8-foot fence keeping them out.
However, strawberry plants only grow to about 1 foot tall, so it’s slightly easier than say, keeping squirrels away from tomatoes.
Here are some great ideas to help mitigate the damage they do to your garden.
1. Fencing and Covers
Yes, I just said fences alone won’t work. But if you add a “lid” to them, why wouldn’t it help?
Plastic garden netting or bird netting can help keep squirrels from being able to destroy strawberry plants.
But you can also go a little more durable and put some hardware cloth (essentially metal garden mesh) or chicken wire on top of your strawberry plant.
You can add a piece of PVC pipe in the middle to drape the netting over the plants without it setting directly on them.
These are great options for strawberries because they don’t really grow tall. Make sure you leave space for a door of sorts so you can prune runners or remove bugs as needed.
2. Electric Fence
Another option is to use an electric fence that will emit a high-pitched sound when activated by squirrels coming into contact with it.
This sound is unpleasant to humans but not harmful—and it doesn’t bother birds at all! The fences are inexpensive and easy enough for any homeowner to install themselves without professional help.
3. Motion-Activated Sprinkler
This is my all-time favorite option. Not only is it effective, but it’s hilarious to watch in action.
I tested it out and it works! Here is the motion-activated sprinkler in action in my garden:
Point one of your home security cameras towards the garden, or set up a trail cam, and watch this magic happen the next time a “cute” little squirrel tries to eat your strawberry crops.
A motion activated sprinkler works wonders for keeping animals (and people!) out of your yard. It sprays intermittently as it detects continuous motion so animals won't get used to the timing of it.
A motion-activated sprinkler will work day and night to protect your garden from these furry thieves.
4. Scarecrow or Fake Owl
Have you ever seen a squirrel being hunted by an owl? Talk about creepy! No wonder this option works for keeping squirrels away.
Place a fake owl or hawk in the corner of the garden and you can realize for a little bit. But don’t get just ANY fake owl, you want this one with a swiveling head that will move around and the squirrels won’t get used to it.
So make sure you move it around the garden every couple of days.
5. Let Your Dogs Run Around the Yard
Most dogs love to chase squirrels around the yard, and they can do so without hurting them.
If you don’t have a dog or if yours doesn’t like squirrels, you can try whistling at the squirrel. This is also a good way to get your kids interested in protecting the garden too!
Even when the dogs are not running around anymore, the hair they leave behind has a strong scent and can keep squirrels at bay.
6. Cayenne Pepper Spray
Sprayed on plants, it can deter squirrels from eating them. You can add garlic into the spray for an added effect.
You can also try sprinkling cayenne pepper on your strawberry patch to keep them away. I use this on my pumpkins around Halloween to keep them from taking a bite.
7. Companion Planting
Companion planting is kind of like having your own personal army of repellents. You can plant these “relics” in your garden to keep squirrels away.
Plants That Repel Squirrels
One good trick is to use companion planting to discourage these rodents from eating your veggies.
Certain plants can actually repel squirrels, while others will attract them away from more nutritious plants.
Here are some companion plants that will help deter squirrels and other animals from feasting on your vegetables:
Here are some of my favorite repellent and attractive plants:
- Marigolds – A fan favorite for keeping deer, rabbits, and other pests away from your garden. For some reason, squirrels hate marigolds almost as much as they hate my motion-activated sprinklers and It’s working for me! Marigolds are nice to look at too, so it’s a win-win in my book. I plant them all around my yard every year.
- Onions – You can plant onions to help keep squirrels out, but you can also use whole onions in the garden to keep squirrels away. Wrap onion bulbs in mesh bags and hang them near the plants you want to protect.
- Garlic – You can also plant garlic as a companion plant around the edge of your garden, like a little perimeter fence for rodents. Adding garlic to your pepper spray will help keep squirrels away as well.
8. Thorny or Spined Plants
One method is to plant thorny plants such as blackberries, roses, barberry, or forsythia near the trunks of fruit trees and around the perimeter of your strawberry patch.
9. Clean Up Compost Piles
Compost piles can contain a lot of great food scraps that can attract squirrels and other pests. If your compost pile is even remotely close to your garden, it’s going to be a lot harder to keep squirrels away.
Make sure your compost pile either has a fence around it, or something to keep squirrels and raccoons out.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Squirrels Only Eat Ripe Strawberries?
Squirrels will eat a strawberry before it turns red as the sugars and good flavor is still in there. Although it might be a little more bitter, squirrels will not shy away from eating an unripe strawberry.
What Do Squirrels Generally Eat?
Squirrels eat fallen nuts, acorns, sunflower seeds, and all kinds of vegetables that many gardeners grow – plus, they love bird feed. They’ll even eat smaller insects, eggs, and other foods.
Squirrels are notorious for digging up freshly planted bulbs, flowers, or seeds. They will also eat just about any kind of fruit or vegetable they can get their paws on.
Although squirrels don’t usually cause permanent damage to healthy trees and plants, they can do a lot of damage to tender seedlings and smaller plants.
In an urban environment, squirrels may not be able to find enough food in the wild; they might come down from their branches to seek out a little extra nutrition in the form of a neighborhood garden. Lucky you! 🙂
What Animals Will Eat Strawberries?
Aside from squirrels eating strawberries, you’ll want to keep an eye out for birds, deer, raccoons, and other backyard animals as lots of them enjoy eating the fruit and plants.
What Eats a Hole in Strawberries?
If you’re finding little holes in the strawberries, it could be a pest like a worm, or a small bird that has pecked at the fruit.
What is Digging Up My Strawberry Plants?
Voles and certain types of mice will eat the roots of the strawberry plants. Since the roots are pretty shallow on these plants, they can uproot the entire thing, destroying the leaves and all.
How to Keep Squirrels From Eating Strawberry Plants
When it comes to keeping squirrels out of your garden, there are a number of options you can try. But because fresh strawberries are one of the ground squirrels’ favorite edibles. Some methods involve creating an environment that is inhospitable for these furry creatures while others encourage them away from eating vegetables and fruits in the first place.
My favorite “squirrel repellent stack” is the fake owl combined with a motion-activated sprinkler for some good comedic relief 🙂
The most effective method may be combining repellant plants with companion planting and other deterrents such as scarecrows or fake owls hanging around the perimeter of gardens. You can also plant thorny plants near trees or use coffee grounds to discourage their presence altogether!