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If you notice a squirrel in the garden or want to attract one as a guest, it is a good idea to put up a squirrel house or bird feeder. Especially over the winter, the squirrel house can be vital for specimens that live near the city. At the same time, you can watch the small rodents with their bushy tails building their annual nests and engaging in wild mating rituals. To build a squirrel house, all you need is the right instructions.

Difference between squirrel house and feeder

If you're not very familiar with the Sciurus family, the squirrels, you're probably wondering if there's a difference between a squirrel house and a bird feeder. The answer is yes. While the house is used by the rodents to sleep and as a shelter for the offspring, feeding houses are separate facilities that are only used to provide food. The reason for this is the way of life of the animals, because they never eat where they sleep and therefore stock up. The following options are therefore available to you:

  • build a bird feeder if you want to support the animals with food over the winter
  • build an entire house if you want to give the rodents a place to sleep

A big advantage of the bird feeders is the fact that they do not have to be built at the same height as the sleeping places. Even if you don't have a tree that is at least four to five meters high, you can offer food to the squirrels. Remember: if you decide to have an entire house, you will also need to put up the bird feeder so that they have enough food, especially in an urban environment.

left: squirrel house
right: feeding house

tip: The cute rodents, especially the females, will be happy if you hang up several houses at once. They change nests more frequently and use one as an alternative nest, for example, if they are threatened by a marten or a cat.

Build a squirrel house/feeder

materials

The materials for building the nests and feeding places are important so that the animals can move into them at all. Squirrels are quite picky, so it's important to choose materials that effectively replicate their natural environment. Below is a list of materials:

  • Wood 2 cm thick, untreated, quantity depends on the size of the house
  • roofing felt
  • Biologically based wood stain
  • Brass screws, stainless steel screws or nails (galvanized)
  • Plexiglas for the bird feeder
  • Stainless steel or brass hinges
  • wood glue

The following types of wood are particularly suitable for this:

  • maple
  • beech
  • jaw
  • larch

These are quite light compared to other solid woods, which is good for the nests, as they have to be hung up quite high in the tree. In addition to the materials for building the house, you also need padding that is placed directly in the squirrel house and looks appealing to the squirrels. If there is enough nesting material, the animals are happy to move in:

  • Straw or untreated wood wool
  • feathers or sheep's wool
  • moss
  • short, thin branches

Since the squirrels need quite a lot of nesting material, you should collect a little more. Especially the use of feathers The animals like it because they often collect it in the wild. Be careful not to use large feathers, such as those from crows, seagulls or pigeons. These are often not suitable for nest building. Now it's time to build the houses.

squirrel pup

tip: Many do-it-yourselfers make houses for the squirrels from plywood or MDF boards. However, these are not suitable for this purpose as they are often damaged by the animals' claws.

squirrel house

Build a squirrel house: instructions

Squirrels need a bigger house compared to birds as they can reach sizes of up to 20 centimeters and weight up to 400 grams. For this reason, you should build a squirrel house with the following attributes:

  • Base area: at least 26 cm x 26 cm
  • Height: at least 30 cm
  • Base plate can protrude 2 cm at an entrance hole
  • Roof should protrude at least 1 cm on the sides and at least 3 cm on the front
  • this prevents rain from running into the house
  • a flat roof is recommended as the animals like to rest on the roof
  • in addition, a flat roof made of one piece of wood is much easier to build
  • there must be two holes with a diameter of 7 cm on two different sides
  • these serve as entrances and escape routes
  • the roof is slightly sloped and the roofing felt is fastened with staples so that water can drain off more easily

A squirrel house made of a block is particularly easy to implement and, above all, sufficient for the squirrels. You can simply screw and glue the four sides, the floor and the ceiling. The lid is attached via hinges so you can fill it easily. Don't forget to treat the untreated wood with the wood stain after assembly. Then place part of the nesting material in the roost and form a hollow in it with your fist. Finally, fill in the rest of the nesting material, close the lid and hang it up. The squirrel takes care of the finishing touches.

squirrel house

Hang up the squirrel house: instructions

Hanging up a squirrel house involves a lot of work, as they are placed at a height of four to five meters, ideally directly in the treetop. However, the following applies here: the higher, the better. Natural predators of rodents find it difficult to reach them at heights of more than four meters. The right time is well before mating, either before February or before June, depending on what time of year you are. If your tree has a forked branch at this height, that would be ideal, but placing it on the trunk without additional branches is also possible. The following are available for attachment:

  • ratchet straps
  • Strings or ropes made of weatherproof material, such as jute or polypropylene
  • wooden strip
  • Brass or stainless steel ring bolts

If you decide to use the cords or straps, you need to make sure they fit around the tree and secure the house well. To do this, you screw the eyebolts into the back of the house and thread the rope or ratchet straps through them. Alternatively, screw a strip of wood at least twice the height of the house vertically to the back. Then nail the wood to the tree using the wooden strip. Choose a good, stable ladder for hanging. Squirrel houses are not heavy, which makes hanging them quite easy.

tip: If you are not good on ladders yourself, ask someone to do it for you. As a result, you do not run the risk of falling off the ladder out of fear.

bird feeder

Building a bird feeder: instructions

The bird feeder is much smaller compared to the squirrel house. The dimensions:

  • Wooden base: 20 cm length x 10 cm width
  • 3 wooden sides: 15 cm high x 12 cm long
  • 1 Plexiglas screen: 10 cm high x 10 cm wide
  • Wooden lid: 12 cm length x 10 cm width

First you attach the side parts and the plexiglass pane. The plexiglass side is mounted offset one centimeter inwards via grooves. The squirrels can see the food through the plexiglass, but you have to lift the lid to get to it. For this reason, the side panels, not the back, are slanted towards the front and the lid is mounted on hinges on the back. The Plexiglas must never connect directly to the lid for two reasons:

  • Prevents mold growth as the lining is ventilated
  • Squirrels cannot hurt themselves if another animal jumps on the lid

Of course you can decorate the feeder for the squirrels, but you should pay attention to the points mentioned above.

Hanging up the bird feeder: instructions

The big advantage of the bird feeder is the low height at which it has to be hung. Since the squirrels like to move to their food and the feeding place should not be too close to the actual sleeping place, another tree in the garden is a good idea. Hang the bird feeder from the tree using a nail or string so you can reach it while standing or using a small ladder. It doesn't have to be any higher. The reason: You don't always have to go to dizzying heights to refill the food.

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