You want to know how to keep squirrels away. But should you choose a squirrel repellent or a squirrel deterrent? These two terms are often used interchangeably but truth is, they work to repel squirrels in rather different ways.
Used together, they can help you form the most effective squirrel-free zone in your home and outdoors.
We’re going to show you exactly what squirrels repellents do, what squirrel deterrents do, and how to use the best of both to keep squirrels away.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Top 3 Best Squirrel Repellents
BEST FOR OUTDOORS: Ultrasonic Squirrel Repeller with LED Lights
BEST FOR INDOORS: Loraffe Ultrasonic 4-in-1 Rodent Repeller
BEST SPRAY REPELLENT: Rodent Sheriff Peppermint Spray
Top 3 Best Squirrel Deterrents
Why Repel Squirrels?
According to some exterminators, squirrels are just rats with good PR. But ultimately, squirrels are a natural part of our environment. And if you live in a city, the sight of squirrels can be a rare moment of contact with the natural world.
Plus, did I mention that they’re cute?
It would be nice if we could all just get along. But as cute as squirrels are, they are not always harmless. Anyone who’s had one of these creatures get inside their attic can tell you that.
Once squirrels get inside a home, they will tear up insulation in your attic to make a nest. Also, as rodents, they have the same urge to gnaw that rats and mice do. Wires in your attic make a tempting target for squirrels, and this activity can create electrical shorts that can even be dangerous.
Also, in some areas, squirrels can carry rabies and could transmit it to your pets or even your family via a bite. Finally, squirrels can carry parasites such as fleas and mites that can then migrate to your home. So no matter how adorable they may be, squirrels can create a lot of serious problems for you and your family.
Sometimes, the furry creatures have to go. But who wants to have that on their conscience? Not everyone is comfortable killing a squirrel.
That’s where squirrel repellents and deterrents come in. If you can stop squirrels from becoming a problem in the first place, you may just be able to coexist in peace with these rodents.
How to Keep Squirrels Away
But if you are looking for a more humane solution to keep squirrels away, you’ll be looking at squirrel deterrents and repellents. And it’s not just the more compassionate route, it’s sensible, too – preventing a squirrel pest problem in your home and garden in the first place is much easier than rectifying one.
When it comes to the issue of keeping squirrels away, you have many options. But they can all be broken down into just two categories: squirrel deterrents and squirrel repellents.
Let’s find out a little more about each of them.
What is a Squirrel Deterrent?
A squirrel deterrent is an actual physical barrier to stop squirrels from reaching your home.
In the same way as you use fences to keep those darn neighborhood kids off your lawn, deterrents work to make it impossible for squirrels to get inside your house or outdoor spaces.
Whereas the effectiveness of a repellent may vary from squirrel to squirrel, squirrel deterrents have the advantage of providing a blanket solution to your squirrel problem.
Do Squirrel Deterrents Work?
As long as a physical squirrel deterrent is applied properly, they work to keep squirrels away. And as mentioned above, deterrents are not dependent on a squirrel’s personal preference.
Squirrel deterrents work to deter all squirrels regardless of whether they are fat, thin, nice, mean, dislike spicy foods or are scared of loud noises.
Take, for example, installing chicken wire over the holes that squirrels are using to get into your attic. That chicken wire will act as a physical deterrent to keep out all squirrels from getting into the attic, no exceptions.
What is a Squirrel Repellent?
Where deterrents make it impossible for a squirrel to get to your house or garden, repellents make it not want to try in the first place.
Squirrel repellents are designed to make your home seem less appealing to squirrels.
Often, these rely on smells that squirrels don’t like or the threat of a predator. But they could also be based around sound, taste, and other squirrel senses.
In essence, anything that squirrels hate can be a squirrel repellent.
Do Squirrel Repellents Work?
Squirrel repellents can and do work but be aware that no squirrel repellent can be 100% guaranteed to work. The reasons for that vary from one repellent to another, but often, it comes down to environmental factors.
Let’s say you’re using a repellent that creates a bad smell to drive squirrels away. What if it rains? Or if the wind is blowing the wrong way that day? Perhaps the squirrels simply ignore the smell?
The same goes for devices designed to make a sound squirrels don’t like. The truth is, squirrels are tenacious and highly adaptive animals. If they really want to get into your home, they will put up with a bad smell or strange noise.
Think of it like a Super 8 – you may not want to stay there, but if it’s cold outside and it’s the only place nearby, well, you’re going to check yourself in.
In a similar vein, if your home offers the squirrels shelter and a food source, they can get used to almost anything.
That doesn’t mean that squirrel repellents don’t work across the board, because they do. It just means that you’ll probably need to try a few before you settle on one that works best in your particular situation.
Also, they work best when combined with deterrents. It’s better to think of squirrel repellents as an added weapon in your arsenal rather than your main artillery.
Squirrel Repellent vs Squirrel Deterrent
Because deterrents are usually physical barriers, they require a little bit more skill and a little bit more work. If you’re the DIY type, squirrel proofing your house can be a relatively easy project. But if you’re not so handy, you may find this task intimidating.
In that case, repellents can seem more tempting.
But repellents are only ever temporary fixes, whereas deterrents used properly can be permanent. Also, repellents can have unintended side effects on other animals that come into contact with them. For that reason, repellents should be used carefully.
Ultimately, what works best for you is going to depend on your home, the type of squirrel problem you have, and several other individual factors.
But as a general rule, it’s better not to think of deterrents and repellents as an either/or proposition. The best methods of squirrel control combine both deterrent and repellent to keep these pests away.
What is the Best Squirrel Deterrent?
Let’s start with deterrents. Because these devices physically block squirrels from gaining access to your property, these are often the best long-term solutions.
Make it impossible for a squirrel to get inside your home, and you’ll never have a squirrel problem.
However, they usually require some work to set up correctly. You can do this yourself, or hire the job out to a professional. Either way, deterrents are your best bet for keeping your home free of squirrels for years to come.
So what are the best ones?
If you have a squirrel problem, or want to avoid getting one, make friends with screens. And I’m not talking about moving to Hollywood and breaking into the film industry. I’m not talking about regular mosquito screens, either.
To keep rodents out, you need something stronger. Meet chicken wire.
Will Chicken Wire Keep Squirrels Out?
Yes, but you must choose the right kind. To keep squirrels out properly, you’ll need quarter-inch galvanized steel mesh.
This works brilliantly to prevent squirrels from gaining access to your house.
Use the screen to cover up any holes in your home that squirrels could use to get inside. Pay particular attention to the roof, especially at junctions, where two different parts of the roof meet. Also, take a look at chimneys, air vents, and anywhere else you can find a gap in the roof. Any hole you find should be screened off with steel mesh.
You can fix the screen in place with construction screws, weatherproof silicone caulk, or in certain situations, expanding foam. If you’re worried about the look of the screen on your roof, you can paint the mesh black to make it less visible. You’ll also need something to cut the mesh; a good pair of metal shears is the way to go.
This kind of steel mesh has uses that go beyond your home, too. It can also be extremely helpful in the garden. Squirrels will happily eat many plants that we grow, such as tomatoes, zucchini, potatoes, tulips, and sunflowers. You can use this kind of screen to protect your plants from thieving squirrels.
Can Squirrels Chew Through Chicken Wire?
Here’s a fun squirrel fact: squirrels’ front teeth never stop growing. So how come you never see squirrels with tusks running around, you wonder? Well, that’s because squirrels are constantly gnawing on hard objects like nuts that keep their teeth in check.
Thanks to all that practice, squirrels have seriously strong teeth and most hard objects are no match for them.
Squirrels are capable of gnawing holes in wood, and bug screen will only keep them out for as long as it takes them to stop laughing at your feeble attempts to shut them out.
So does chicken wire stand a chance? Definitely – but you must choose the right kind. Skin the cheap chicken wire made from plastic – that will be easily chewed through.
Instead, you want to go for galvanized steel mesh.
The steel is too strong for the squirrels to chew through and is also rust-proof so you’ll have long-lasting protection. This mesh even has the added bonus of being effective against rats, mice, and some larger insects.
Can Squirrels Climb Chicken Wire?
Even the best chicken wire presents another challenge – squirrels are expert climbers and can easily scale chicken wire.
This isn’t a problem if you’re using the chicken wire to seal off your home but if you’re trying to protect a vegetable patch, you’re going to need to go the extra mile and install a cover over the area you’re trying to protect.
Last but not least – it’s not just the climbing you need to consider. Keep in mind that squirrels can also dig so you’ll need to bury the mesh about a foot deep into the soil to keep burrowing squirrels out.
If this sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. If you’re scared of heights or not good with your hands, you might want to hire a professional to do this work for you. But in the long run, it’s the most effective way to keep squirrels out of your attic and it’s also a great solution for your garden.
Unless something has gone very wrong with the structure of your home, your chimney shouldn’t provide any access to the attic.
Nevertheless, squirrels can and sometimes do climb inside chimneys, especially young squirrels that don’t know any better. This can often lead to the animal getting stuck inside the chimney, which can create big problems for the homeowner.
You can prevent this by using a chimney guard. These robust mesh devices go over the top of your chimney and keep squirrels and other pests, such as birds, out. It’s a quick and easy way to protect your home from pests. And don’t worry; Santa Claus can totally get past them.
Fence Spikes for Squirrels
Spikes are generally used to keep birds such as pigeons and seagulls from roosting on ledges. However, they can also be effective as a a physical squirrel repellent at stopping squirrels from getting to your home and yard.
Plus, they give you that cool, Dark Lord’s fortress look to your house, which will help to keep troublesome hobbits carrying magical jewelry away.
Placing spikes along ledges will make squirrels more reluctant to jump onto those ledges.
Tip: You can also wrap spikes around the trunk of trees to keep squirrels from climbing up them.
Because squirrels can’t chew through metal, aluminum flashing can be your best friend. Like all rodents, squirrels like to gnaw, and over time, this can start to damage edges of your deck, fence, steps, or the roof of your home.
Attaching aluminum flashing along these vulnerable edges will stop squirrels from chewing on the wood.
Also, because it’s so smooth, aluminum flashing is also a great way to protect trees.
You can wrap the metal around the trunk of the tree and create a surface that squirrels won’t be able to climb. By protecting your trees in this way, you make your yard a lot less friendly for squirrels.
Cut Back Trees
One of the best squirrel deterrents involves a little landscaping – namely, cutting back the trees that reach your house.
Squirrels and trees go together like – well, squirrels and trees. The tree is a squirrel’s natural habitat, and if you have large trees on your property, chances are good that you either have or soon will have a squirrel problem.
Depending on the species, a tree can provide a squirrel and its family with food, shelter, and everything else they need to thrive. But also, trees offer a great way for squirrels to reach your house. The spreading branches of a tree are like highways for squirrels, and they don’t hesitate to use these pathways to get to your home.
How to prevent marauding bands of squirrel invaders? Trim back the branches of trees and shrubs so that they don’t reach the house.
Despite their small size, remember that squirrels can leap up to 10 feet. So you’ll need to trim back any branches at least that far. While squirrels most certainly can run across the ground to reach your home, they are less likely to do that than they are to run along a tree branch.
What About a Bird Feeder Squirrel Deterrent?
We’re glad you asked because protecting your bird feeder from greedy squirrels is one of the easiest things you can do. And it’s a prime example of how you can use both a squirrel deterrent and a squirrel repellent to accomplish your goal.
The best option is to get yourself a squirrel-proof bird feeder. The hands down most effective one on the market is the Squirrel Buster Standard Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder. If this one can’t keep the squirrels away from your feeder, you’re battling squirrels with superpowers.
But what if you don’t want to replace the bird feeders you already have?
A smart, very affordable option is to either replace with birdseed with Cole’s Hot Meats Bird Seed. This bag is full of whole kernel sunflower meats that has been laced with the hottest formula of chili.
Or you can save some money by purchasing Cole’s Flaming Squirrel Seed Sauce and mixing it with the birdseed you already have.
Birds naturally lack the specific pain receptors that make spicy foods feel “hot” for mammals so they’ll be immune to the effects of capsaicin. Squirrels, on the other hand, will definitely feel it. And they won’t be attempting to eat that spicy bird feed again.
Oh, remember to wear gloves when handling the spicy birdseed.
Last but not least, you can always use a squirrel baffle to block squirrels from even accessing the bird feeder.
What is the Best Squirrel Repellent?
Do a quick search on Google or Amazon and you’ll find tons of options when it comes to squirrel repellent. So how do you ever choose?
The first thing you need to know is that all the different squirrel repellent options share one commonality: they’re all things that squirrels hate.
And squirrels hate quite a lot of things but all of it can be broken down into the squirrels’ five senses:
- Sounds that squirrels hate
- Smells that squirrels hate
- Tastes that squirrels hate
- Sights that squirrels hate
- Things that squirrels hate to feel
The dislike can be rooted in fear or discomfort but the basic premise is the same: anything that squirrels hate can make a good squirrel repellent. It all comes down to using each of these squirrel weaknesses for your particular needs.
We’re going to show you the best squirrel repellents on the market, how they work, and the best way to use it to keep squirrels away.
Let’s start with the best outdoor squirrel repellent options, shall we?
Ultrasonic Squirrel Repeller
Best for: Outdoor squirrel repellent
When it comes to sounds that squirrels hate, an ultrasonic squirrel repeller tops the list.
Ultrasonic squirrel repellers work by emitting a noise the squirrels don’t like. Because squirrels hear in a much higher range than humans do, we can’t hear the noise these devices make.
Ultrasonic LED Squirrel Repeller
- Motion activated
- Solar powered
- Ultrasound range from 13.5khz to 28.5khz
- Flashing LED lights
But squirrels can. And the noise not only causes fear and disorientation, it can also interfere with the ability of squirrels to communication with one another. Grey squirrels, for example, have been observed using ‘whisper’ calls at ultrasonic frequencies of around 50kHz to communicate with each other.
Ditto with flying squirrels. By preventing communication and emitting a constant annoying sound, ultrasonic squirrel repellers are unpleasant enough to keep squirrels away.
Do Ultrasonic Squirrel Repellents Work?
If you have a cynical mind, you may already have determined the flaw in these devices. If the sound they make is inaudible to humans, how do you know it’s doing anything at all?
Well, when these devices first hit the market, there were plenty of scam artists profiting from selling devices that didn’t actually do anything. However, eventually, the government got involved to ensure that independent studies can verify any claims the manufacturers of these devices make.
These days, ultrasonic repellers are much more reliable they used to be. However, that doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed to work – especially indoors.
Squirrels may not like the noise of these devices, but they will put up with it if they are already established in your home.
This is why ultrasonic squirrel repellents are best used as an outdoor squirrel repellent.
They are more effective in keeping squirrels from establishing a home in the first place than they are at driving squirrels out of a comfortable environment.
And considering the best ones are weather proof and solar powered, it just makes the most sense to use these as outdoor protection against squirrels. And as far as repellents go, they are about as easy to use as it gets.
Owl Decoy for Squirrels
Best for: Outdoor squirrel repellent
Squirrels are naturally jumpy creatures. After all, we don’t say someone’s squirrelly to describe a Zen-like state of calm.
The reason for this is that squirrels are small animals with a lot of natural predators. They are constantly on edge, knowing that a lot of other creatures are out to get them. One predator that squirrels are constantly fearful of?
Owl Decoy Statue
- Waterproof and non-fading
- 360°rotatable head
- Owl sounds to scare squirrels
This is why an owl decoy for squirrels tops our list for sights that scare squirrels. As a natural predator of squirrels, a well-placed owl decoy or two can transform your garden into a place that no longer feels safe for a squirrel.
How to Choose the Best Owl Decoy for Squirrels
The basic premise of all the owl decoys on the market are the same: squirrels are afraid of owls so the presence of a fake one will be enough to scare squirrels away.
But the devil is in the details.
So we recommend choosing an owl that doesn’t just look the part but can act the part as well, such as this owl decoy that behaves like a realistic owl. No, it doesn’t fly but it comes pretty close – it has a 360°rotatable head, glowing eyes, and makes realistic owl sounds to scare squirrels.
It’s even solar-powered and uses motion detection so you don’t drain the battery.
The only drawback to this solar-powered owl is that you may have to charge it if you don’t live in a place that gets much sun. If that’s you – go with a non-electric option like the OwlDecoy, which looks very much like an owl and has a 360°rotatable head that moves whenever there is a breeze.
To give your owl even more squirrel-scaring power, we recommend these tips:
- Fill the owl with sand so it doesn’t get knocked over by strong wind.
- Insert a piece of plastic into the slit in the back of the owl decoy’s head so that the head will turn when the wind blows.
- Move the owl decoy every couple of weeks so the squirrels don’t get used to it.
And of course, you can strategically use it to discourage squirrels from specific areas you want them to stay away from, such as your roof or trees, like the video above.
Motion Activated Sprinkler for Squirrels
Best for: Outdoor squirrel repellent
An even more tech-savvy option than the owl above is a motion-activated sprinkler to scare the living bejeezus out of the squirrels that wander into your lawn.
Black + Decker Motion-Activated Sprinkler
- Range of 30 feet, up to 1000 squire feet of coverage
- Very easy to set up
This squirrel repellent works in two ways: the sudden spray of water is startling enough to scare squirrels off. In addition, squirrels aren’t afraid of water but it is uncomfortable for them to get wet so they will actively avoid it.
It’s humane, effective, and easy to set up.
Outdoor Squirrel Repellent Sprays
Wouldn’t it be great if you could just spray something that would keep squirrels away? After all, that kind of approach can work on lots of other pests such as insects. And as it happens, some substances are known to have a repellent effect on these rodents.
Like many animals, squirrels find their way through the world mainly by smell. As a result, they are very sensitive to certain smells. Some attract them, and some repel them. So it’s no surprise that there are a couple of very effective squirrel repellent sprays that use the squirrels’ keen sense of scent to keep squirrels away.
Here are your best bets.
Bonide Repels-All Animal Repellent
Best for: Outdoor squirrel repellent
They’re not lying when they say this product “repels all.” This squirrel repellent spray literally uses the power of stinky rotting eggs to keep squirrels away. But it’s not just the eggs – for good measure, they’ve mixed it with dried blood and garlic oil for a truly putrid scent.
The result is a genuinely stinky product. A squirrel’s sense of smell is many times more sensitive than ours, so you won’t smell this disgusting aroma yourself. But the squirrels will.
This product is easy to apply and won’t cause any long-term harm to the squirrels. But it will make them want to get the hell away from your house as quickly as possible.
Coyote Urine for Squirrels
Best for: Outdoor squirrel repellent
Don’t think that this is some catchy brand name for a sophisticated chemical repellent. This product is exactly what it says. This is pure coyote pee. And it’s 100% natural, too. It’s hard to imagine why anyone would take a job collecting coyote urine, but thankfully, someone does.
The idea with this product is to spray it around your home and yard to make squirrels think that a natural predator has moved in. Coyotes love to eat squirrels, and so squirrels are naturally terrified by the smell of one.
Makes sense, right? And someone’s done all the hard work of collecting the urine for you. All you have to do is use the easy spray bottle to apply this product around your property.
Oh, in case you don’t want to risk any predator urine getting on your clothes while you’re spraying – Shake Away makes easy to use predator urine granules.
Note: It’s not just coyote urine that works – fox urine, bobcat urine and any other natural predator of squirrels will do the stinky trick.
Havahart Critter Ridder
Best for: Outdoor squirrel repellent
This ready-to-use squirrel repellent spray from Havahart is is both a scent and a taste repellent.
Using capsaicin, the active ingredient in pepper spray, this product produces a smell that irritates squirrels and other mammals that come close to it, but it also tastes terrible to them.
For this reason, you can spray it directly onto your plants to protect them from the ravages of squirrels and other animals. Just make sure to wash your vegetables once you harvest them from the garden.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re supposed to spray the animal itself with this product, however. It’s supposed to be used strictly as a repellent. And because it’s a liquid spray, it can be applied in more areas than the granules, so you could get out a ladder and spray along your roof as well as along the ground.
Just remember that you’ll need to reapply after it rains.
What About Squirrel Repellents for Indoors?
Many of the best squirrel repellents are best used outdoors. After all, you can’t exactly set up a motion-activated sprinkler indoors. And you certainly wouldn’t want the putrid scent of rotten eggs inside the house.
So here are the best squirrel repellents for indoor use.
Strobe Light Rodent Repeller
Squirrels take up residence in attics because they tend to be warm, cozy, safe from predators, and typically unoccupied. So how do you get these critters to leave such a welcoming space?
The best squirrel repellent for indoor use is this Plug-in Ultrasonic 4-in-1 Rodent Repeller. This little machine does a lot. It emits ultrasonic noise that squirrels find unbearable. But it goes further than that – it even has audio recordings of predator sounds to scare squirrels away.
And of course, there’s the strobe light function – this unit also comes with 12 high-intensity LED strobe lights that go off from dusk to dawn, ensuring that squirrels no longer have the safe serenity they came into your home for.
Essential Oil Squirrel Repellent
If you feel queasy at the thought of using predator urine for squirrels, a better-smelling option is to use an essential oil squirrel repellent.
The most popular of these? Peppermint oil.
Peppermint oil has a strong, almost spicy smell that can be unpleasant and even painful for the squirrels’ sense of smell. Plus, it’s been shown in studies to be an effective repellent for rats, which are rodent relatives of squirrels.
And when it comes to essential oils, you’ve got a lot of choices. It’s not just peppermint oil that squirrels hate – squirrels are also turned off by other strongly-scented essential oils like lemongrass oil, cedarwood oil, and clove oil.
Again, you’ll find these oils used in various squirrel repellent sprays like this one.
More Natural Squirrel Repellent Options
We’ve listed the best squirrel repellent options above but the list doesn’t stop there. There are several other completely natural squirrel repellents that you can make use of.
Here’s the list.
Most of the squirrel repellents on the market target the squirrels’ sense of smell. One very underrated squirrel sense that few repellents take advantage of? What squirrels hate to feel.
Enter Crisco, aka solid shortening. This greasy, slippery stuff is the enemy of squirrels who live to climb trees and scale fences. You can use it to coat the base of your trees or the poles of your bird feeder. Get creative.
It won’t just thwart squirrels from climbing places you don’t want them to, the feeling of dirty, slippery paws will make them want to stay away.
Not any old fertilizer will do. But if you want to improve the health of your garden and keep squirrels out of it, blood meal fertilizer is the way to go. Blood meal is simply dried blood and squirrels hate the smell and taste of it.
Not only that, but blood meal is rich in organic nitrogen, which is great for your plants.
Dogs love to chase squirrels. Some dogs even hunt them. So the sound of a dog barking can be as effective in scaring squirrels away as owl sounds or hawk sounds.
If you have a dog, letting it loose on the lawn from time to time can be an effective natural squirrel repellent.
Chili flakes will also work to keep squirrels away. Capsaicin comes from chilies. The chemical is a defense mechanism that the plants have evolved to keep animals from eating the peppers. That’s what makes peppers so spicy. And squirrels are not fans of spicy food.
In fact, knowing this, you may be able to make your own squirrel repellent from ingredients you have at home. Want a recipe? Okay. Like the Martha Stewart of pest control, I’m happy to provide one.
- Bring 1/2 a quart of water to a boil on your stove.
- Add a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, two chopped onions, and a single chopped jalapeno pepper.
- Allow this mixture to boil for 30 minutes, then let it cool and pour the water into a spray bottle.
Spray it on your plants and around your home to keep squirrels and other pests away. And if you feel like living on the wild side, you could also spray it on your hotdogs too.
Squirrel Repellent Plants
Since chilies repel squirrels, you may be wondering if other plants do the same thing. In fact, there are. There are plants that squirrels don’t like to eat, and then there are plants that are so repellent to these creatures that they can help protect your home and garden from the rodents.
Planting a few of these plants in your garden can help protect other flowers and vegetables.
Strong smelling flowers such as hyacinth and geraniums have been found to turn squirrels away while the flowers are blooming. Likewise, daffodil bulbs are immune to being eaten by squirrels – squirrels hate them as they are toxic to squirrels.
And for a smell that will help protect your whole garden, think about onions. Onions, along with scallions and garlic, will make squirrels think twice about feasting on your garden.
A Final Word on Squirrel Repellents
We live in an imperfect world. A world where even cute animals like squirrels can quickly become a nuisance. A world where these critters can even spread rabies, fleas, and other serious problems. But you don’t have to add to the problems of the world by killing squirrels to get rid of them. Using the methods above, you may be able to persuade them to go somewhere else peacefully.
Still, no single method is foolproof. The best approach to solving your squirrel problem is to use a combination of repellents and deterrents to make sure that the rodents stay away from your home.
Squirrels may be cute, but only when they stay where they’re supposed to be. Not when they move into your house and lawn rent-free.