Best Squirrel Repellent [5 OPTIONS REVIEWED]

There are four main types of squirrel repellents, though not all of them are effective. The first line of defense is to create a physical barrier such as netting, chicken wire, or tree collars between squirrels and their intended food. Next are plant-based or predator urine-based repellents. The fourth type is a range of mechanical devices, including trapping and newer technology such as electronic devices that generate loud noises, ultrasound, flashes of light, or sudden jets of water, with varying degrees of success.

Squirrels are cute little critters, and many homeowners love the idea of some form of wildlife in their yards. But squirrels are rodents, and they have front incisors that grow continuously, which means they must keep chomping. Plants, crops, wood, electrical wiring … all are fair game in their search for something to eat, build their nests, or care for their young.

When they invade your attic or create electrical fire hazards, you’ll need to act before it gets worse. Fortunately, there are many humane ways to stop or limit the damage from squirrel hordes in your area.

You can deter squirrels without killing them or using dangerous toxins, so read on for our recommendations for tried-and-tested squirrel repellents that actually work, plus important background information that will help you to deal with squirrels holistically over the long term.

two squirrels standing in backyard grass

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Best Squirrel Repellents: Our Recommendations

Remember to use the repellents liberally and often. Repellents work best when squirrels know of other food sources away from the area you are trying to protect.

1. I Must Garden Squirrel Repellent

Last update on 2022-08-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This granular repellent is activated when the critters try to dig up bulbs and vegetables, and it releases a high dose of irritating botanical oils

  • Stops digging in gardens and flower beds
  • 2lb and new 3lb Granular Easy Shaker Jar
  • No chemicals, poisons or bad odors.
  • It is birdlife-friendly but not intended for use directly in bird feeders.
  • Long-lasting and safe around vegetables and seedlings

2. Messina Wildlife Squirrel Stopper

Last update on 2022-08-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Specifically aimed at preventing squirrels and chipmunks from foraging and nesting in the garden and buildings.

  • 32-Ounce Trigger Bottle,
  • Organic and safe for use around fruits and vegetables
  • Ready-to-Use indoor, outdoor and in vehicles.
  • Pleasant smelling, easy to use formula
  • Great for birdfeeders, seeds and bu-Pounds

3. The Exterminator’s Choice All-Natural Rodent Defense Spray

Last update on 2022-08-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

You can use this popular spray both indoors and outdoors, including directly on bird feeders as it does not deter or harm birds.

  • 2 ounces and 1-gallon size
  • Almost pleasant-smelling blend of peppermint and rosemary oil, with added garlic and white pepper
  • The spray covers up to 750 sq. feet
  • Non-toxic and all-natural spray repellent
  • Not recommended for direct use on edible plants, but should rather be used on barriers surrounding the base of the plants.

4. Achla Designs Squirrel Deflector

Last update on 2022-08-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Bird feeders are easy targets for squirrels, especially during winter. You can spray the area with pepper spray, but deflector cuffs are very effective, easy to install, and requires no maintenance.

  • Plastic cuff to install around the base of the bird feeder
  • 18 inches in diameter and fits a standard 4×4 post (post included).
  • Sturdy materials to withstand harsh weather conditions and temperatures.
  • Open up, snap in place, and secure with the clamp
  • Fully adjustable baffle
  • Can be mounted on PVC pipes or almost any other type of pole if used with an appropriate clamp.

5. Shake Away Fox Urine Granules

Last update on 2022-08-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Fox urine granules remind upstart urban squirrels of the call of the wild! Squirrels have an instinctive fear of predators.

  • Apply granules at the base of plants
  • Scatter around areas in the yard you wish to protect from squirrels.
  • Suitable for all seasons
  • Long-lasting although not quite impervious to rain
  • No chemicals or pesticides.

Understanding Squirrel Behavior

squirrel resting and sleeping on concrete ledge

Like urban doves, squirrels are synanthropic, meaning that they have lost their fear of humans and have become fully integrated into the modern urban habitat because of their long association with human environments.

In fact, when people stop leaving around easy pickings like trash and crops, squirrels get hungry enough to become very opportunistic and aggressive feeders. Hungry squirrels will eat whatever food they can find, starting with the traditional nuts and seeds, shrubs, flowers, and progressing to insects, slugs, spiders, lizards, and even bird’s eggs.

The life expectancy of a squirrel in the wild is between six and 10 years or even double that in captivity, so you might want to act soon rather than ignore them until a large squirrel population becomes a problem! 

They are intelligent creatures who will quickly learn to avoid traps or mechanical devices that are meant to frighten them, and, if hungry enough, they will also eat food from areas where you have placed repellents.

Therefore, the best solution is to use a combination of methods to get rid of a squirrel problem.

Reduce opportunities for finding food in your yard

Prevention is better than cure, so if you can reduce the availability of feed in your yard, squirrels will automatically gravitate to other, more generous yards.

Seal trash cans and get rid of the garbage and other possible food sources. If you have nut- or fruit trees, keep the ground clear and visit your local hardware or garden center for protective tree guards that make it harder for squirrels to climb up to the food.

Trapping squirrels

Although trapping is an effective way to reduce squirrel population numbers, many species may not be trapped without a permit, or, if you are allowed to trap them, relocation may be regulated or forbidden.

Keeping that in mind, live traps such as glue traps, cage traps, or box traps can be either lethal or non-lethal. Both types can be purchased at garden centers or your local hardware stores. Lethal traps include body-gripping or scissor and harpoon traps and are best left to professionals when you have a real infestation.

Control by natural predators

The mortality rate of baby squirrels in the wild is high because they share their habitat with predators like snakes, owls, raccoons, coyotes, bobcats, and even feral cats. Some household pets like cats and certain dog breeds are natural hunters and may help to keep the balance during their occasional hunting forays.

Physical prevention methods

Create some kind of barrier between the squirrel and the food. Physical deterrents like netting or fencing can be very effective to keep squirrels out of vegetable gardens or raised bed gardens. You could also put a metal or plastic collar of about 2 feet wide around fruit trees to discourage climbers.

Use squirrel-resistant bird feeders, like a rotating design that moves when a squirrel tries to climb on the feeder, or a plastic collar underneath the seed platter that makes it hard for squirrel feet to get a grip.  Use pepper spray liberally on and around trees and bird feeders as birds don’t detect it, but squirrels do.

Scare them with noise or motion

Sonic devices emit high-pitched tones that are inaudible to humans but supposedly intolerable for squirrels. Despite prolific marketing campaigns and an explosion of sonic devices on the market, scientific peer-reviewed publications have consistently shown that ultrasonic devices do not affect squirrels, and we have therefore steered clear of these devices in our list of recommended repellents. They might work for you, so don’t hesitate to add them to your shopping list!

Motion sensor technology has become very cheap and can be built into any number of devices that will make a sudden movement, sudden noise, or deliver a cold jet of water to unsuspecting squirrelly scroungers. Motion-activated sprinklers work very well in veg gardens, especially if you can move the devices from time to time, and if you use them in combination with other repellents.

Solar-powered scarecrows like owl-shaped devices with flashing eyes, or eagle-shaped devices with flapping wings may be effective if you move them around regularly, although you should avoid placing them near bird feeders.

squirrel eating out of feeder

Plant-Based Repellents

Plant-based pellets work because they smell or taste bad for squirrels. They are usually organic, non-toxic, and contain high concentrations of essential oils like peppermint, garlic, and pepper. 

Some sprays can be used on plants, flowers, and food crops, unless you are allergic to the active ingredients. It might be better not to spray plants directly, but rather soak some rags with the repellent and wrap it around the plant, or place soaked rags inside a zip-lock bag after making a few punctures in the plastic. This makes the effect of the product more potent, and weather-proof to boot.

Always use repellents liberally and refresh the applications regularly, because very hungry squirrels with no other alternatives may ignore the distasteful smell and eat it anyway.

If you enjoy gardening, and the climate is suitable, you may try planting a type of lily known as Kaiser’s crown (Fritillaria imperialis), which reportedly repels rodents.

Predator Urine Repellent

Concentrated pellets of fox- or other predator urine work because squirrels have an instinctive fear of coyotes, raccoons, foxes, and wolves.  There are a few other scents squirrels can’t stand, including mothballs and the smell of putrescent eggs.

Granules or grains formulated from these substances tend to last longer than natural irritant sprays and only need reapplication every 30 days or after heavy rain.

When you allow your dog or cat outdoors, they will naturally leave their scent in the garden. That smell will also keep the squirrel population in check.

Continue Reading: Best Mandarin Bird Feeder That Keep The Squirrels Out

Conclusion

Squirrels are very energetic and active animals – it will probably take more than just one solution to maintain the balance. They can get used to, or find a way around most of the repellents you buy, so always combine and keep switching it up.

Physical barriers are low- or no maintenance, and if you enjoy growing your own fruit and vegetables, it’s probably the most humane solution in the long run.