Minnesota member has squirrels chewing on the front door

Dear Angie: We live in Minnesota where the state uses lots of salt on the winter roads to eliminate ice problems. We have trouble with squirrels chewing on the wood by the front door and especially on the lowest panels of the painted garage doors. I assume they are eating the wood to get salt from the wood. After we repaint, it is OK for awhile and then they will be again chewing on the garage doors and molding around the front door that is next to the garage doors. Any suggestions on what we can do? – Jean S., St. Paul, Minn.

Dear Jean: The salt could be attracting squirrels and other rodents to the wood, but the wood itself is likely the main appeal. Many rodents, like squirrels, have continuously growing teeth, so they need to chew to keep them filed down. Wood is a natural substance within their habitat, thus the connection. In addition to the salt, if they smell anything in the garage they might consider a food source – for example, grass seed or pet food – this could attract them to that area, so it’s important to keep those items in enclosed containers.

To remedy your problem, you could contact a local pest control company to help remove the squirrels from that area. However other squirrels could quickly move in in their place. There are a number of over-the-counter repellents that can be used, including some that organic, but those require multiple applications and are temporary fixes.

A long-term option would be to apply another fresh coat of paint, wait until it dries, and cover the corners of the wood with a metal flashing.

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