Squirrels. You either think they’re adorable or a nuisance.

I’m not sure why squirrels are so polarizing but they really are! If you fall into the “they’re so cute!” camp, you’ve probably got a bag of peanuts at the back door ready to feed them when they come peering into the window.

While your intentions are so very good, we’ve got some bad news for you. You shouldn’t feed the squirrels. Firstly, they might become dependent on your generosity and stop looking for food on their own. They also might lose a certain healthy fear of people. While you’re a safe human, your neighbour down the street might not be. It’s important for wild animals to keep a safe distance from humans. Speaking of that neighbour down the road, they might really resent your generosity when the squirrels start digging up their garden beds to hide a nut or two or three. Moreover, many people are allergic to nuts – sometimes dangerously so!

So, what can you do to help the furry friends in your backyard? Plenty!

#1. Give them water

Everybody needs to quench their thirst. If you’ve got a bird bath, you’ve probably noticed that squirrels will come by from time to time to get a sip. If you don’t have a bird bath, a simple shallow dish will do! Just make sure you clean them out regularly to keep them sanitary! Please make sure you don’t offer water to squirrels or birds during the winter months as it could do more harm than good to these little creatures.

#2. Keep your cats indoors

Cats don’t only go after birds outside. Plenty of our feline friends will hunt squirrels as well. If you’d like to learn how to teach your cat to become an indoor cat, read this!

#3. Plant these shrubs

Squirrels don’t only eat nuts, you know! They’ll forage on all sorts of stuff including berries and parts of shrubs. Some of their favourites include native wild cherry, red osier dogwood and hawthorn. When the spring arrives, consider planting one or all of these shrubs on your property!

#4. Plant a deciduous tree

If you’ve already got a leafy tree on your property, you won’t need to plant one! Squirrels like the Eastern Grey Squirrel build their nests high up in deciduous trees. They build their nests with leaves, vines, grasses and twigs. They also offer a lovely snack! Oak, hickory, beech and maple trees offer yummy buds to chow down on! In the spring, Red Squirrels drink the sap of Sugar Maple trees.

#5. Put up a birdfeeder

A birdfeeder will satisfy more than your backyard birds through the winter months. Squirrels are active through the cold weather too and so they’ll happily chow down on birdseed that’s fallen to the snowy ground.

#6. Plant a coniferous tree

Not only do pine and spruce trees offer tasty snacks for squirrels, these coniferous trees and others offer a safe place to get away from predators and build a nest too! Coniferous trees are great spots to build a strong nest filled with grasses, feathers, bark, mosses and more.