Squirrels are harmless. Until they start getting into your chicken coop.
Then, you have a problem.
They’re eating food that’s not theirs. They’re making a mess and damaging things. They might even be eating eggs and hurting chicks.
You can’t have that. And you don’t have to.
Here’s how to keep squirrels out of a chicken coop:
Squirrel-Proof Your Chicken Coop: 9 Ideas
Wondering how to keep squirrels away from your chickens? Here are nine ideas:
1. Don’t Let Eggs Linger
Collect eggs at least once every day. Twice a day is even better.
Why does this keep squirrels away?
Because squirrels are known to eat eggs once they realize they’re a food source. And the best way to get rid of squirrels is to separate them from their food source.
2. Clean Up Feed Spills
If your hens are in the habit of knocking over their feeders, you can bet that squirrels are going to come sniffing around soon.
So, clean up feed spills whenever possible.
Nothing is more attractive to a squirrel than a ton of nutrient-dense food scattered all over the ground.
If you can’t monitor the feeders all day, invest in some heaving chicken feeders or anchor your current feeders to the ground. That’ll keep them from spilling as easily.
3. Store Food Securely
Have you checked your feed bins? You might be feeding the squirrels an all-they-can-eat buffet.
To keep squirrels from eating from your chicken feed bins (and wandering into the coop and run), opt for tightly sealed bins.
You don’t have to break the bank here. Simply plastic bins with locking lids will do the trick just fine.
4. Call in a Furry Professional
Got a dog or cat? Consider giving them a new job: Squirrel Hunter.
Cats and dogs love patrolling an area looking for critters like squirrels. (Particularly if you have the right breed.)
So, reconsider the rules: If you’ve tried to keep your cat or dog away from the chickens, think about training them to protect the chickens from squirrels.
If you already have a squirrel infestation, this is going to be a ton of fun for your furry friend.
5. Block Vulnerable Areas
If you have vents, windows or other areas where squirrels might be getting in, block them
Squirrels are persistent. They’ll chew through anything they can to get inside your coop for food or shelter.
So, block vulnerable areas with something they can’t chew through. Hardware cloth and steel wool are fantastic solutions for this.
6. Bury Chicken Wire
Seeing squirrels in your enclosed chicken run? They might be digging under the barrier and coming in that way.
There’s a way to prevent that. But it’ll require you to do some digging of your own.
If you bury extra chicken wire around the borders of your run and coop, you can keep the squirrels from digging under and into the area.
Here’s how to do it:
- Dig a trench around the outside of the area you want to protect. Make it about a foot deep and six inches wide.
- Cut wide strips of chicken wire that can extend from your existing barrier for six inches or so.
- Affix the strips of chicken wire to the bottom of your current enclosure, creating a sort of “skirt” around the pen. (The wire should extend outward and at a downward angle like a skirt would.)
- Bury the newly added skirt of chicken wire.
7. Clear the Clutter
Squirrels love clutter. Wood piles, tools, brush — these are all fantastic homes for squirrels.
If you have these types of clutter near your chickens, you may be running a squirrel motel with a big bright vacancy sign. And you probably didn’t even know it.
There’s an easy fix. All you have to do is clear the clutter. Move it inside the barn, trash it or relocate it.
8. Try Closed Compost
If you have an open-air compost pile or bin, you might be part of the squirrel problem.
Before it breaks down, compost is just food for squirrels. And remember: You have to stop feeding the squirrels if you want them to go away.
The solution? Close the compost.
Try a sealed compost container. There are lots of options that won’t be too hard to handle.
You can always move the compost into your outdoor pile once it has broken down enough to not be appetizing to squirrels anymore.
9. Keep the Chicks Inside After Dark
It’s not extremely common, but sometimes, squirrels will attack and kill baby chicks. This happens when they’re especially hungry.
So, if you have chicks running around, be sure to bring them inside after dark. Late evening and nighttime are prime hours for squirrels to strike.
Keep in mind:
Even if you haven’t had a problem with squirrels hurting baby chicks yet, you might notice it after you start removing other food sources for the squirrels.
So, bring the chicks inside as a precaution — even if you haven’t lost one yet. Better safe than sorry.
Why Keep Squirrels Away from Chickens?
If you’re starting to see squirrels in or hanging around your chicken coop or run, you need to care.
Squirrels are rodents. They can carry diseases. That’s reason #1 to not want them around your flock.
But there are other potential problems:
- Squirrels will chew through vulnerable parts of your coop, causing structural damage.
- When they get very hungry, squirrels will eat eggs.
- Squirrels have also been known to harm baby chicks when they are desperate for food.
- Ticks and fleas are all over squirrels. And they can carry nasty parasites that jump to your chickens.
- Squirrels make a GREAT meal for lots of predators. They attract hawks, eagles, snakes, weasels, foxes, cats and dogs. You don’t want extra predators hanging around your chickens.
- Squirrels that get into your chicken coop will poop in your chicken coop. Nobody wants that.
That’s A LOT of reasons to not want squirrels hanging around.
Fortunately, there are lots of really effective ways to keep squirrels out of your chicken coop. Just take another look at the list above.
Would you add any squirrel-prevention methods to the list? Let us know in the comments.