Monday, March 19, 2018

FEMA Trailers for Squirrels

Behold; the ubiquitous, five gallon, poly bucket in a soothing shade of green.

I used a 2-1/2" hole saw for the entrance.  Squirrels can chew the hole larger if they want it to be larger.  The reason for tipping the buckets upside-down is that the lids are not very resistant to UV light.  Flipping them over exposes the pigmented, thicker material of the bucket to the sun and puts the thin, less pigmented lids in the shade.

Holes are drilled in the sides near the bottom to reattach the bail.  I used a 1/4" bit and had to rebend the bails a little bit to make them pop in.  The holes for the bail should be an inch closer to the entrance than the center-line.  Reason to be explained in a later slide.

If you look closely you can see that the ridge that runs around the bottom of the bucket was skived out in a couple of places.  You do NOT want the water to drain toward the entrance hole.

The easiest way to drill the holes for the climbing cleat is to position it on the outside and drill the pilot holes through the cleat and through the bucket.  The top of the cleat was positioned about 3/4 inch from the bottom of the hole.

Here is the cleat after attaching it with pole barn screws.  The weight of the cleat has a tendency to tilt the bucket so water and snow melt drains down the side with the hole.  Biasing the bail holes toward the entrance side cause that side to tip up and water drains off the back.

Nesting material.

The bottom was attached with baling twine.  It would have been faster to use 14 gauge wire.  When using twine, loosely tie the first three positions so you can open the lid enough to run the twine through the last set of holes.  Then seat the lid and retighten all four ties.

Drainage holes.

This is a typical squirrel installation.  The squirrel can access the hole by way of the trunk.  The bail is tied to an unseen branch.  This tree happens to be a Black Locust.  All entrances were positioned so they were facing east-northeast so they in the lee of the prevailing winds.

Here is another squirrel installation.  This is snuggled between three branches on a Black Walnut.  The downside of this installation is that a raccoon might chew through the bottom to get at the nest.
This is a raptor or woodpecker installation.  Flickers and other woodpeckers favor 2.5" diameter nesting holes while small raptors prefer 3" diameter.  When nesting cavities are rare they can probably squeeze through the smaller holes.
There really is not much to these FEMA trailers for squirrels.  They are simple enough to bang them out in 10 minutes a piece if you have the materials and tools handy.


  1. The question is why? Why do you want squirrels??

    1. I enjoy watching them when I am hunting deer. They keep me awake and entertain me.

      I also like watching them after they have eaten certain kinds of mushrooms. I swear that break-dancing was invented after young, urban folk watched squirrels after they nibbled on magic mushrooms.

      The other thing is that it is difficult to dictate what species nest in which cavities. One approach is to simply make many nesting sites available.

  2. Yard rats? Secondary food supply, maybe?

    1. Well, maybe sort of but not like you are thinking.

      I am intrigued by how some squirrel species cache nuts.

      I have also seen squirrels carry nuts fifty yards to bury them in the soft sand of a volleyball court.

      The real reason is that having a few squirrels around increases the joy I feel when I am outside. But I would not turn down their cheerfully gathering my yearly supply of cracking nuts.

    2. You'll need to make a couple of corn-cob whirlygigs, just to entertain yourself at the deer blind.


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