Home » What Do Squirrels Hate? Sights, Sounds, and Smells that Squirrels Hate

What Do Squirrels Hate? Sights, Sounds, and Smells that Squirrels Hate

What do squirrels hate? Very rarely does anyone ask this question out of pure curiosity.

Nope, if you’re here wondering what tastes, and smells squirrels hate or what sights and sounds scare squirrels, it’s because you’re looking for the most effective things you can use to drive these pesky critters off your property.

Well, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s deep dive into the things that squirrels hate the most – and how to best use them to your advantage.

Why Does it Matter What Squirrels Hate?

Unless it’s your kids waking you up with a lovingly prepared yet disgusting breakfast, we don’t usually think of pests as being cute. After all, no one finds bed bugs or cockroaches in any way lovable.

But squirrels are different. They occupy that small area of overlap between adorable and nuisance that very few other pests approach.

You may have never seen squirrels as a pest before. If all they do is go about their squirrely business, you might not think of these rodents as a problem.

But actually, squirrels can be a major pest in areas with high populations. They can dig up lawns, strip bark from trees, and even invade homes. Additionally, squirrels also cause power outages and damage crops.

So these bushy-tailed terrorists are not to be taken lightly.

At the same time, squirrels have their mammalian cuteness going for them, which makes most homeowners reluctant to go nuclear when it comes to squirrel control.

If only these cute but annoying squirrels could be convinced to leave you and your property alone. A strongly-worded letter won’t do it but using a bit of squirrel psychology can.

Once you figure out what squirrels hate the most, you can employ these sounds, tastes, sights, and smells into a battle plan that will keep squirrels away – without harming them. No squirrels on your property and no squirrel deaths on your conscience. Win win.

Let’s dive in.

What Do Squirrels Hate to Eat?

Most people think squirrels are herbivores, preferring to feast on nuts, seeds and fruit. And that’s mostly right – squirrels do have a mostly herbivorous diet. But squirrels are above all opportunistic foragers and will eat what they can get their little squirrely paws on.

So when nature is ripe with bountiful fruits, nuts and seeds, squirrels will happily munch on that. But when pickings are slim, they’ll also eat flowers, roots, shrubs, and fungi. During times when food is hard to come by, squirrels will even resort to eating small insects and garbage if necessary. 

As you can see, squirrels aren’t particularly picky eaters. And they are survivors. If they need to stoop to eating things not normally on their favorite menu, they can do so in order to stay alive.

This squirrel knowledge is good to know because it means that many of the tastes that are supposed to ward squirrels off won’t necessarily work. Here’s what we mean.

Do Squirrels Eat Garlic?

Garlic shows up often on lists of things squirrels hate and it’s even included in various squirrel repellent sprays and granules like this one and this one.

So does it work to keep squirrels away?

Honestly, garlic has a smell and taste that squirrels don’t like. So in a time of bounty, when nature is full of other yummier foods, the presence of garlic may be enough to keep squirrels away from your vegetable patch.

But again, squirrels will choose an unpalatable food over starvation. So if there is little else to eat, their distaste for garlic most likely won’t be enough to keep squirrels away.

The same goes for onions – the scent and taste aren’t pleasant for squirrels but if they’re hungry enough, it likely won’t be enough to keep them away.

Do Squirrels Hate Cinnamon?

Another common household ingredient that’s often claimed to be hated by squirrels is cinnamon. And there are several DIY cinnamon squirrel repellent solutions written about on the Internet.

But do squirrels really hate cinnamon?

The consensus on this is very unclear. The only actual research on cinnamon and rodents that have been done is mostly about the health benefits of cinnamon when fed to rats. And you’re not exactly trying to improve the serum lipid profile of these pesky critters, are you?

Plus, there’s anecdotal evidence to suggest that squirrels don’t actually hate the taste or smell of cinnamon. In fact, they might be drawn to it.

Overall, we’d definitely recommend skipping cinnamon as a squirrel repellent as there is no evidence to suggest that squirrels hate either the smell or taste of cinnamon.

What About Capsaicin to Deter Squirrels?

If you’re trying to protect your pumpkins, your birdseed, or other edibles from greedy squirrels, the most effective thing you can use is capsaicin.

Capsaicin is basically an active component of chili peppers – the element that makes your mouth feel that “fire” sensation when you bite down on a chili. And as squirrels are mammals, like us, they also have those pain receptors in their taste buds that allow them to feel that burning fiery sensation.

That’s why there are so many products on the market that use this strategy like this chili powder squirrel deterrent and even this potent tabasco squirrel repellent.

Simply put: it works. And there’s actual even evidence behind it. It works so well because it’s not simply a taste that squirrels dislike – but will eat if they have no other option. It’s a taste that squirrels absolutely cannot stand.

So how do you use capsaicin to deter squirrels? Let us count the ways…

  • Get spicy birdseed. If you’re trying to get squirrels away from your bird feeder, you can replace your birdseed with a spicy alternative like Cole’s Hot Meats Bird Seed.
  • Make a capsaicin spray for squirrels. Our favorite way to use capsaicin to deter squirrels is in spray form.

So how do you make a capsaicin spray for squirrels? The easiest, most effective thing you can do is to get a bottle of Cole’s Flaming Squirrel Seed Sauce and mix it in a spray bottle with water and a couple drops of dish detergent. Give it a good shake and then spray it wherever you want to keep squirrels away from.

Just remember to wear gloves when mixing and applying.

What Smells Do Squirrels Hate?

Squirrels have an extraordinary sense of smell. Their keen noses help them locate nuts they’ve hidden, even when buried under a foot of snow. They can even sniff the food you keep in your home. Even cooler? Squirrels can recognize close relatives with just a simple whiff.

Because their olfactory senses are so developed, we can easily use this superpower against them. Even better? Many of the things that smell bad to squirrels are items you likely already have at home.

So what smells do squirrels hate? Here’s what works best and how to use it.

Do Squirrels Hate Peppermint?

One of the most recommended essential oils when it comes to pest control is peppermint oil. And squirrels are no exception.

That’s why so many of the best squirrel repellent sprays like this one and this one and this one all make use of peppermint oil as its main ingredient. This very potently scented essential oil smells refreshing and quite pleasant for us (it smells like Christmas!), but to a squirrel’s highly developed sense of scent, it can smell overwhelmingly strong and spicy.

But how well does it work? There are currently no scientific studies that have been conducted on peppermint oil and squirrels. However, there are studies showing that peppermint oil is an effective repellent for rats, who squirrels are closely related to.

To add to that, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that peppermint oil is definitely one of the smells that squirrels detest. Plus, it’s safe for you, your family and the environment so there’s no harm in trying it out.

The best thing about using these essential oils is that the scents are quite pleasant for us so you can also use these squirrel repellents inside the home. Not something you’d want to do with other scents, like…

Does Predator Urine for Squirrels Work?

It sounds off-putting but the rationale is solid. Squirrels have a lot of natural predators that they are keen to avoid. So one of the most effective ways to keep squirrels away from your premises is to make it think there is a predator lurking nearby.

The easiest way to do this is to let your dog or cat out in the garden more often so squirrels can smell their presence.

If you have no pets, you can accomplish the same thing with commercially sold bottles of predator urine. Yes, that it a thing. And there is a lot of variety out there. For example, you can use a spray bottle of fox urine squirrel repellent. Or a bottle of coyote urine for squirrels. Even bobcat urine will do the trick.

The only downside is that predator urine doesn’t exactly smell great to humans, either. Spray too much of this stuff, and your yard could start to smell like the bathroom of a bobcat dive bar.

Also, you’ll need to reapply after rain and as the smell wears off. Just like a real predator would.

Do Squirrels Hate Ammonia?

Squirrels may hate the smell of predator urine for more reasons than that it simply spells danger – it could also be because urine contains uric acid, is which a waste product made partially of ammonia.

And ammonia is a smell that squirrels definitely don’t like. It’s not hard to understand why. Ammonia stinks – some would even describe the scent as suffocating. And when strong enough, it can cause irritation to the eyes and respiratory system.

This is precisely why we don’t recommend using ammonia to keep squirrels away. Many people cite soaking rags in ammonia as a cheap and cheerful squirrel repellent but that can actually be dangerous, especially to leave around the house for pets and humans to inhale.

So how can you make use of the fact that squirrels hate the smell of ammonia? Well, meet…

Do Squirrels Hate Blood Meal?

Here’s one very underrated way to keep squirrels away: blood meal. Blood meal is simply dried blood and squirrels don’t like the smell of it because it contains ammonia and well, smells strongly like blood.

So how do you get your hands on enough dried blood to drive squirrels away? One option is to get yourself feed-grade blood meal and use it as a natural fertilizer in your garden and plants. You can even get dried blood in spray form – Plantskydd Animal Repellent contains dried blood as the active ingredient.

That alone could be enough to keep squirrels away from your vegetables. Plus, it makes a wonderful fertilizer. Win win.

But if you want a more potent way to use this smell against them, there’s a great commercial squirrel repellent.

Bonide Repels-All Animal Repellent comes in both a spray and granules. The proprietary formula is made up of dried blood, garlic oil, and an extra potent ingredient: putrescent whole egg solids. Putrescent simply means that these eggs are undergoing the process of decay.

As you can imagine, this formula produces a smell that is enough to drive anyone with a nose away. And that goes doubly for squirrels with their super sense of smell.

Are There Smells That Don’t Work?

Okay, we’ve covered the smells that squirrels hate the most. But this article wouldn’t be complete without listing some smells that squirrels may dislike – but probably won’t be deterred by. Here goes…

Does Irish Spring Soap Repel Squirrels?

One of the most popularly recommended household items to keep squirrels away is Irish Spring soap. This Irish Spring soap squirrel repellent consists of grating the bar of soap and scattering the shavings around places you don’t want squirrels to be.

You can also cut the bar of soap up into smaller pieces and place them in old pantyhose or drawstring pouch. Then, you can tie these repellent pouches on fences or leave them in strategic places around your plants.

But does it work? Honestly, it is 50/50. And any evidence of this working – or not working – are entirely anecdotal.

To date, Colgate-Palmolive (the makers of Irish Spring soap) hasn’t sponsored a study showing the effectiveness of any Irish Spring soap squirrel repellent claims. And any testimonies you’ll find online are mixed. Some swear it works. Others have even posted videos of it not working for squirrels or other rodents.

Our two cents? Go for a smell that’s more likely to work, like the ones above.

Do Squirrels Hate Coffee Grounds?

Coffee grounds are another commonly recommended home remedy to keep squirrels away. And it does seem promising – coffee smells lovely for us but the strong, bitter scent could be repulsive to squirrels.

Plus, if you’re a coffee drinker, you have access to a regular supply of grounds so it works out to be a very cost-effective solution.

But does it work? Just like the Irish Spring soap above, the jury is still out on this one. Some people say that coffee grounds work like a charm. Others find squirrels happily romping over coffee grounds, completely unaffected.

As far as home remedies go, though, this one can be worth a try especially if you already have coffee grounds lying around.

Does Vinegar Repel Squirrels?

Vinegar is often cited as one of the go-to home remedies for pest control. But does it work for squirrels?

We’re going to say not really. The evidence surrounding vinegar as squirrel repellent is very mixed. Many people recommend it but there is little proof that it works. In fact, some have reported squirrels being rather attracted to the scent and taste.

Here’s why. The only vinegar that may be potent enough to work is distilled white vinegar since it has the highest content of acetic acid. But even then, the scent only stays potent for so long.

That means spraying vinegar around your garden may be enough to cause your squirrels some alarm at the scent of something new but it probably won’t last long as a deterrent. And using cotton balls soaked in vinegar around the house may cause the squirrels living in your attic some discomfort but it probably won’t be enough to make them move out.

Which brings us to the final point on using smells that squirrels hate to keep them away…

What Smells Do Squirrels Hate the Most?

You already know that squirrels possess a super-powered sense of smell that makes anything that smell bad to us smell extra bad to squirrels.

And the downside of having such a superpower means that it can be used against them.

But to what extent?

Here’s what we mean. There are smell that squirrels hate the most, like predator urine, peppermint, and blood meal. And these repugnant scents may be enough to discourage squirrels away from your house and garden.

But for squirrels who have already gotten into your home, even the worst smells may not drive them away. In short: if it’s cold and wet outdoors and your attic presents a warm, cozy place to raise squirrel babies, a squirrel can put up with a few discomforts.

This is why we recommend you use smells that squirrels hate to keep them away from your home. But if they have already moved in, you need another game plan. Here’s how to get squirrels out of your house for good.

What are Sounds that Squirrels Hate?

When it comes to sounds that squirrels hate, you can divide them into two categories: sounds that make life difficult for squirrels and sounds that outright scare squirrels.

Here’s the best of both.

Ultrasound Squirrel Repellers

Ultrasonic squirrel repellers are a very popular choice and for good reason. These devices are non-toxic, convenient to use, humane, and effective. The best of these are also solar-powered so you don’t even have to bother with batteries. Plus, they have the definite advantage over spray repellents since they don’t need to be re-applied.

You just set it up and it gets to work keeping squirrels away.

So how do these electronic squirrel repellents work? Typically, they are capable of emitting ultrasound at a high frequency that humans can’t hear but squirrels definitely can. The noise is not only harsh and unpleasant for squirrels but it can even interfere with their ability to communicate with one another.

In short, these devices use sounds that squirrels hate to immediately transform your lawn into a place where squirrels do not want to hang out.

Sounds that Scare Squirrels

As you think about sounds that scare squirrels, place yourself in a squirrel’s little body for a second. Briefly see the world through its eyes. It’s full of tempting, delicious foods and exciting places to explore. But it’s also chockfull of predators that would love to eat squirrel for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Squirrels may have sharp teeth and claws but they are mostly defenseless against their natural predators like coyotes, foxes, raccoons, weasels. Even worse, they have predators in the sky they need to always be wary of like eagles, hawks, owls, and falcons.

The only real defense a squirrel has is its ability to run away.

This explains the typical squirrel’s alert and wary nature as well as how you can use it against them.

Some of the most effective sounds that that scare squirrels away are the ones that mimic natural predators – think owl sounds to scare squirrels. Hawk sounds will also work. So will the sound of a dog barking.

How do you accomplish this? You can get a fake owl that scares squirrels on sight as well as with owl noises. Many ultrasound squirrel repellers also have other sounds functions like dog barking noises, gunfire and eagle sounds that you can set the machine on.

What Do Squirrels Hate to Feel?

Here’s one that’s not usually covered when it comes to things that squirrels hate: what do squirrels hate to feel? Touch is an underrated sense when it comes to repelling squirrels but it can also be one of the most effective.

Here’s what squirrels hate to feel.

Getting Wet

Squirrels aren’t necessarily scared of water but they don’t like getting wet. If you watch squirrels in the wild, you’ll observe that they seek shelter in hollow trees when it starts to rain.

Squirrels will even use their bushy tail as a makeshift umbrella if there is no cover to protect their bodies from getting wet.

In most cases, a squirrel will avoid getting wet if it can. That’s why one of the best squirrel repellents you can use is a motion-activated sprinkler on your lawn. The sudden blast of water is surprising enough to startle a squirrel and the threat of wetness is enough to discourage it from hanging around.

Sticky and Slippery

Squirrels have incredibly dextrous paws, which they use to scale trees with expert form and perform gravity-defying jumps (and land).

As you can imagine, anything that is sticky or slippery really messes with their climbing game. Which is why squirrels hate to feel substances that like petroleum jelly or solid shortening.

Jelly can be used to coat things like pumpkins, which squirrels like to eat. And shortening, aka Crisco, can be used as a base coat for your trees to keep squirrels away.

Spicy and Fiery

Squirrels don’t like to eat things that are spicy, which is why we highly recommend capsaicin to keep squirrels away from edibles like birdseed.

But squirrels don’t just hate the taste of this – just getting the stuff on their paws will feel fiery and unpleasant so they will soon learn to stay away.

What are Squirrels Afraid of?

As you already know by now, squirrels have a lot of natural predators that they are constantly on the lookout for.

This makes squirrels relatively easy to scare. Even something as simple as a plastic owl can scare a squirrel.

The trick is, though, something that just looks the part won’t work for long. No, you want to combine it with movement.

Here are your best bets.

Owl Decoy that Moves

A plastic owl can be enough to cause squirrels concern. But one that moves whenever there is a breeze? The combination of looks and movement does more to convince a squirrel that there is a real life predator nearby.

Garden Spinner

To give squirrels a quick scare and discourage them from your lawn, anything with moving parts such as a garden spinner or pinwheel can work by startling a squirrel into thinking that some large animal is coming to get it.

Motion-Activated Sprinkler

At the more technologically advanced end of the scale, motion-activated sprinklers can be programmed to turn on whenever a squirrel appears, firing a jet of water at the animal, which will make it run away.

You can even get devices that use ultrasound and flashing lights in combination to scare squirrels away. Or at least make them think that they’re at a rave.

Does Scaring Squirrels Work?

All of these devices can work in the right situation. However, although no one’s offering to give them the Nobel Prize anytime soon, squirrels aren’t that dumb.

Over time, they will get used to new things in their environment. What scares them today won’t always scare them tomorrow.

Once they learn that no harm comes to them from these devices, they may lose their fear of them. Then you’ll be forced to escalate your methods.

That’s why it’s best to use repellents that scare squirrels alongside actual physical deterrents that will keep squirrels away. Even if the squirrels lose their fear of the repellent, the deterrent will still work.

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