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July 14, 2020

(Un)Lucky Number Thirteen

By Lauren Hogarth

One of the critters that are known to cause the most damage in our area is the thirteen-lined ground squirrel. To the untrained eye, this squirrel is often mistaken for an Eastern chipmunk. The squirrel causes extensive structural damage due to their tunnels. The tunnels are dug beneath patios, stairs, and foundations. However, burrows are the most common type of lawn damage caused by thirteen-lined ground squirrels. Because of these reasons, its presence is a nuisance and requires control.

As previously mentioned, thirteen-lined ground squirrels look a lot like the Eastern chipmunk. The biggest difference is that while chipmunks take to the trees, ground squirrels burrow. They make their homes along the foundation of buildings, in gardens, mulch beds, and so forth— they avoid wooded areas.

Associated problems

We hardly ever find thirteen-lined ground squirrels inside of homes and other structures, unlike the majority of their relative squirrel species. Rather than chewing inside, these squirrels will do their damage outside. They cause problems with erosion— tearing up gardens, and creating burrows/holes around the property.

In addition to structural damage, thirteen-lined ground squirrels also affect crops. In some areas, they feed on agricultural crops such as wheat, oats, corn, and — although the damage is limited to the harvest season, not during winter storage.

The thirteen-lined ground squirrel can also be a reservoir and vector for fleas and ticks. Contact with these squirrels risks contracting Lyme disease, as in more recent years they have become conduits of the tick-borne illness. Fleas, lice, and mites can also live on these rodents, so it is best to refer to a professional when dealing with them.

If you suspect you may have an issue with ground squirrels, we would be happy to help! These small and agile squirrels fit into our bait boxes where we trap them, so our control methods are environmentally friendly. Getting on a regular trapping program to control the population is an easy solution.

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