Why Are Squirrels eating pears and tomatoes?
September 1, 2008 7:37 AM   Subscribe

Why are squirrels eating our pears and our neighbor's tomatoes this year, when previously they ignored them? We have had the pear trees for years and never had this problem before, this year they are all gone already. Also I saw a squirrel try to bury a pear. Hexatron's Wife
posted by hexatron to Home & Garden (15 answers total)
What do the squirrels usually eat? If they're supply of whatever that is has been depleated in any way, they're going to find something else to eat.

Either that or they just discovered that pears and tomatoes taste good.
posted by theichibun at 8:00 AM on September 1, 2008

I don't know why they didn't last year, but I've found squirrels will eat just about anything they can get their hands on during the summer in preparation for winter.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:18 AM on September 1, 2008

I don't grow tomatoes, but every time I threaten to, someone tells me, "if you put water out nearby, the squirrels won't bother your tomatoes. All they want is water."
posted by notsnot at 8:50 AM on September 1, 2008

Depends on where you're located, but if you're going through a stretch of very dry weather, they may be attacking the fruit to get at the moisture inside.

(Also: squirrels are evil. Any further explanation is gravy.)
posted by gimonca at 8:54 AM on September 1, 2008

Another vote for the thirsty-squirrel theory. When there's a drought here, my tomatoes get way more varmint attention than usual.
posted by PatoPata at 9:21 AM on September 1, 2008

Thanks, yes, there have been several weeks of dry weather here, and there is not the usual abundance of acorns from the many oak trees in our woods. Also we have many deer who eat everything. Probably a combination of all that.

Mrs. Hexatron
posted by hexatron at 9:52 AM on September 1, 2008

Dry weather or not. Today it's the pears, tomorrow they're living in your attic. We used to have a problem with squirrels. Tried to live trap them and relocate but different ones just kept coming. As cute as they are, the only way to get rid of them is a bb gun. It's quick and painless. They are rodents!
posted by docmccoy at 10:13 AM on September 1, 2008

Because their usual oak or pine trees have been cut down and they are very hungry and desperate and all they have now are pears and tomatoes to stave off the hunger?
posted by watercarrier at 10:43 AM on September 1, 2008

We were just talking about squirrels eating weird stuff this year! We have a lot ( a really lot) less acorns this year, we settled on that as the explanation.
posted by KAS at 2:20 PM on September 1, 2008

I had about 10 medium-sized eggplants in the garden a couple of weeks ago, plus a few green tomatoes. The squirrels gnawed every fruit and vegetable off the plant and ran it up trees. If you've never seen a squirrel haul an eggplant twice its size up an oak tree, you're really missing something. Especially when they drop it from a height of 30 feet and it breaks into pieces in your yard.

We've decided the only way to keep veggies in the garden and not in the squirrels is to build some sort of barricade. The little buggers steal the figs off the tree, too.

Squirrels ARE evil.
posted by Addlepated at 2:28 PM on September 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

I dunno... I kinda like the three rascals that have been amusing me all summer. I put in three tomato plants, and unlike previous years, I've also been feeding my squirrels peanuts in the shell. I've been putting water in a bowl for them as well. My tomatoes have been unmolested, and the squirrels have been my own animal circus.

Of course, come the cold weather they might be knocking on my door for their peanut fix...
posted by Corky at 3:08 PM on September 1, 2008

You don't want to be feeding them peanuts

"Urban squirrels have learned to get a great deal of food from over-generous humans. One of the more common and inexpensive foods fed to squirrels is peanuts. Recent studies however have shown that raw peanuts contain a trypsin inhibitor that prevents the absorption of protein in the intestines, therefore offering peanuts that have been roasted is the better option.[13] However, wildlife rehabilitators in the field have noted that neither raw and roasted peanuts or sunflower seeds are good for squirrels, since they are deficient in several essential nutrients. This type of deficiency has been found to cause Metabolic Bone Disease, a somewhat common ailment found in malnourished squirrels.[14][15]"

posted by watercarrier at 3:24 PM on September 1, 2008

Squirrels and other mammals don't like capsaicin (hot peppers), have you considered spraying the pears with a mixture of some sort (such as red pepper flakes and cheap vodka in a spray bottle, let it sit over night). Friends suggested trying it to keep squirrels out of the bird feeder. Maybe try it on one pear to ensure it doesn't actually flavor the pear, so you could wash it off later. Then again, I like dried fruit with spicy habanero powder on top, so it might be a nice combination.

And I would try putting a water bowl out if they are going for the moisture.
posted by mrzarquon at 8:25 PM on September 1, 2008

(I have no tried this is anyway, but it is a non lethal deterrent to the squirrels, so I would try it if I were in your situation. Also, spicy vodka could be used for bloody mary's if it didn't work out)
posted by mrzarquon at 8:28 PM on September 1, 2008

I put the water bowl out and am watching for squirrels. The squirrels just laugh at our cats, who sometimes chase but never catch them. Chipmunks are not so lucky.

The pears are totally gone this year, but will keep the spicy pepper and vodka combination in mind for next year. Of course this may just result in a squirrel coctail party in the trees! Also will tell my neighbor who still has a few unbitten tomatoes.

Thanks again to all who replied.

Hexatron's wife
posted by hexatron at 8:19 AM on September 2, 2008

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