Last Updated on 25/06/2022 by Kevin Agar
For years I’ve been fighting to stop squirrels from destroying my bird feeders and eating all of the contents. I’ve tried various methods to discourage them but every method had limited success. There are plenty of examples on the Internet and some I’ve tried, that include
1. Adding pepper to the seed. Expensive due to the amount of pepper required to be effective.
2. Greasing the poles. Works if the feeders are far enough from other areas that the squirrels can jump from. Very messy though.
3. Baffles on the poles. Again only works if far enough away from other areas the squirrels can jump from.
4. Special feeders that are weight sensitive. Again, expensive.
5. Feeders that spin the squirrels off. Fun to watch but not really practical and expensive.
My latest method works really well and the squirrels can be seen looking at the feeders but not trying to access them. So what is it?
High Voltage discharge.
We use electric fences for farm animals. I’ve even seen an electric fence for elephants. If it’s considered ok and humane for them then I don’t see a problem using it for squirrels. You do need to have feeders with a metal lid and metal feeder ports that are isolated from the lid, but there are loads on the market that fit the bill (excuse the pun).
One word of warning, it hurts if you forget to turn it off when filling the feeder.
Originally I purchased a high voltage generator from ebay and ran it from 2 AA batteries. It worked really well but the batteries only lasted a day. Not a great problem if you use rechargeable batteries and you just replace the batteries when you fill the feeder.
Mark 2 used 3 AA batteries and a different high voltage generator. Same problem as the 1st attempt. The high voltage generator was powered continually and drained the batteries quickly.
Whilst searching the internet for a solution I came across an electric fly swatter on ebay.
I removed the workings, attached 2 leads, and sealed it all in a food container to make it weatherproof. It supplied 4000V at a very low current. This lasts a lot longer than the previous attempts and is extremely good at keeping the squirrels off.
What I need is something that lasts longer, is small, and will run on 2 AA batteries. Plus it needs to be affordable.
Looking at all the alternatives I think that a flash gun circuit would fit the bill. Rather than continually supply a very high voltage, it would be better if it charged a capacitor and then stopped. Then when the capacitor discharges by leakage or by a squirrel, it then tops the capacitor back up to the high voltage. This should reduce the drain on the batteries.
This is a work in progress and at the moment I’m looking into using the flash unit from a disposable camera.