Q: How can I get rid of the squirrels that are destroying my backyard? They have three huge (apparently connecting) holes around the large palo verde tree. They keep the gravel all messed up with their digging. Of course, my cat (who is an indoor cat) loves watching them from the door. The chipmunks have many holes around a large cholla on the bank outside the front wall, so I assume that is where they are coming from.
A: Round-tailed ground squirrels are not likely something you can eradicate. As you noticed, they can migrate from outside a wall by digging or climbing if it’s not made of slippery material. The best strategy is an integrated approach that includes systematic destruction of their habitat, trapping to reduce the population, and protecting the plants you like best with some sort of fencing. Since they are fairly small, using hardware cloth with smaller holes that can be buried a few inches into the soil may help. Since they climb, this means you also have to protect from that likelihood with either a cover or lining your barrier with flashing or some other material on which they cannot get traction. You can contain them but you can’t stop them.
Peter L. Warren is the urban horticulture agent for the Pima County Cooperative Extension and the University of Arizona. Questions may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org