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Something is digging up my bulbs (tulips, daffs, etc.) and eating them. I know I have a squirrel in my yard, but do they eat bulbs? What else would dig things up and eat them?

Answer(s)

A

Although squirrels could be the source of your bulb damage, some other culprits may include skunks, raccoons, voles, rabbits, ground squirrels, and birds. The best way to determine the source of the damage is to locate for evidence such as tracks and gnawing or tooth marks on any bulbs that remain.

Squirrels, and the other species listed may entirely remove the bulbs from the area and eat them in another place. However, they may also eat as much as they can at the scene, thus leave evidence of gnawing. If a skuck is your problem, you should be able to catch a hint of their odor.

Voles and rabbits will eat the bulbs at the scene. Additionally, gnaw marks left by voles characteristically are about 1/8 inch in width and 3/8 inch in length; gnaw marks caused by rabbits usually are larger than this.

What to do? Exclusion is probably best.

Protect newly planted bulbs with1-inch mesh poultry wire. Dig a trench slightly deeper than the desired depth of planting and fit the poultry wire inthe bottom. Add dirt and plant the bulbs. Place another strip of poultrywire over the plantings so that thebulbs are completely encased, andfinish covering with dirt.

In the case of a raccoon, rabbits or skunks, they can be live-trapped an removed form the area. This technique does not work well for squirrel however. Research has demonstrated the relocated squirrels quickly find their way back home.

What not to do?

Although there are a number of commercially available repellents on the market, given climatic condition and regular lawn and garden watering schedule they will probably not be effective for you. Also, their are no toxicants registered for use against squirrels, raccoons, skunks, and rabbits. If you suspect ground squirrels of voles, we do have some options.

 

Posted on 1 Aug 2007

Terry Messmer
Professor & Wildlife Resource Specialist

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