How to Keep Squirrels Away (5 Expert Ideas)

Squirrels seem to be everywhere. It doesn't matter if you're in a city or the country - you're bound to see them around.

And, depending on where you live, they're bound to be a nuisance.

Squirrels aren't dangerous, but can wreak havoc on your yard and home. Keeping them away can be a monumental task.

How to Keep Squirrels Away

Squirrels are particularly challenging because of their enormous population. They’ll crowd you out of house and home if you don’t keep them under control.

If you need to get rid of squirrels, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll walk you through five of the best ideas on how to deal with your squirrel problem.

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What Attracts Squirrels in the First Place?

Squirrels are scavengers and hoarders. They will sniff around, seek out and eat:

  • Acorns
  • Bark
  • Berries
  • Bird eggs
  • Bulbs
  • Fruit
  • Fungi
  • Insects of various kinds
  • Nuts
  • Pine cones
  • Seeds 

Squirrel activity is driven by their never-ending hunger as well as their curiosity. Squirrels have an insatiable curiosity and will investigate anything new or different that appears in their foraging territory.

Squirrels are part of the rodent family, and like all rodents, they’ll chew on anything. The reason is simple. Their teeth never stop growing. They need to gnaw on wood, wires, bark, and other hard objects as a way to file down their teeth.

Squirrels are especially attracted to chewing on wires. They’ll seek out wires in the attic of your house if they can get in, in the engine compartment of your car, the electrical wires coming to your house, power lines, and the wires around transformers.

If you live in an area with a large squirrel population and there are frequent power outages, it’s usually because of squirrel damage to the lines.

This video shows the scope of damage that squirrels can cause and one of the most effective ways to keep them away.

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5 Ideas To Keep Squirrels Away

Squirrels can definitely be a nuisance. There are five best ways to remove squirrels from your home or property and to keep them away.

  • Remove attractants
  • Use squirrel repellents
  • Squirrel deterrents
  • Exclusion
  • Squirrel traps

Let’s take a look at how to get rid of squirrels.

Remove Attractants

Squirrels have an acute sense of smell. Anything they like the smell of will attract them to your home. By removing attractants, we mean removing anything in your yard and around your house that would attract squirrels. These are pro-active preventative measures.

Every time you take out the trash, make sure the lid is securely fastened. If the lid of the trash can is loose, they’ll think it’s a food source, get into it, and make a mess.

Another food source that attracts ground squirrels are the nuts, berries, and fruit that falls from the trees in your yard. If you have any of those, get out a rake and remove them every day.

Finally, once you’ve removed all the attractants from around your house, divert the squirrels by placing attractants along the back corners of your property to draw them away from your house and the main part of the yard. 

Basically, you’re creating a feeder for them to channel them where you want them to go. Squirrels are no different than any other animal in this respect; if you put out some food, they’ll go for it. Keep on feeding them in that designated area and they’ll stay away from the rest of your property.

Using Repellents

A squirrel repellent is anything that serves to drive squirrels away or ward them off. There are many different kinds of repellents on the market, with sub-categories in most of them.


There are plenty of predators who hunt, kill and eat squirrels. You can find a decoy for most them, including a coyote, fox, eagle, hawk, and of course, owl decoys. 

owl decoy

When a squirrel sees one of these decoys they’ll immediately be afraid of them and run away. You need to be aware of one problem with decoys, however, if you leave them in one place for more than a day or two, the squirrels will realize they’re not real and lose their fear of them.

Remember to move these decoys around regularly, so squirrels don't get brave and test their boundaries.

Essential Oils and Natural Repellents

There are a number of essential oils that can be made into a repellent spray. A few drops of peppermint oil in a spray bottle of water makes an excellent repellent spray because squirrels don’t like the strong smell. Garlic oil can be used to accomplish the same thing.

Squirrels are also repelled by capsaicin in spicy foods.  It irritates the skin and eyes as well as the mucous membranes around the mouth. You can sprinkle cayenne pepper, hot pepper, or hot sauce in the areas you want to keep them away from. Once squirrels get a taste of it or even a faint whiff, they’ll turn away.

Pepper spray, like the ones sold for protection, will also repel squirrels if you spray it around the areas you want them to avoid.

Predator Scents

In conjunction with the predator decoys above, you can also use scents such as predator urine to scare off squirrels. When they smell it, they’ll naturally assume there is a dangerous predator in the area.

If squirrels then spot a decoy hiding in the shadows, tall grass, or lurking behind a bush, they’ll become convinced their life is in danger and run away.

Motion Activated

Motion activated lights, sonic repellers, and sprinklers have the advantage of surprising the squirrels when they go off. Squirrels are easily startled and when lights, sirens, and sprinklers turn on without warning their instant reaction is to run.

These mechanical types of repellents have a limited lifespan though. Very quickly, the squirrels will realize they’re in no danger and proceed to ignore them. The best method is to activate a different system every night. That way, they never know what’s going to happen.

Using Bird Feeder Deterrents

A bird feeder is a huge attraction for squirrels. Obviously you could get rid of your feeder, but if you don't want to, there are numerous ways around it. Various deterrents discourage squirrels from using the bird feeder. 

Safflower Seeds

One of the key places where this comes into play is around a bird feeder. Squirrels love the same birdseed the birds do and will eat it all up if they can. The one exception is safflower seeds. Birds love them but squirrels don’t.

Put safflower seeds in your bird feeder and after one or two attempts on it, the squirrels will leave it alone. The problem here, of course, is that safflower seeds are expensive compared to regular birdseed. 

Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder

Rather than continuously spend money on expensive seeds, you could try a squirrel-proof bird feeder. These feeders have a squirrel baffle on them or weight-sensitive perches that close when squirrels get on them because of their heavier body weight.

Read also: What are the best squirrel proof bird feeders?


You can also purchase an after-market baffle that can be attached to existing bird feeders. These are usually dome-shaped attachments that prevent squirrels from climbing over them.

Read also: What's a baffle and how does it work?

Bird Feeder Placement

Another deterrent is to place the bird feeder at least 8-10 feet away from the nearest tree branch, fence, or roof. Squirrels are amazing jumpers and can often jump to the bird feeder from a higher position.

A slightly humorous way to stop squirrels from eating your birdseed is to oil the pole the bird feeder is on. This only works on smooth, metal poles. Oil it up with Crisco or vegetable oil, then sit back and watch what happens. Squirrels will jump up onto the pole, hang in place for a moment, then slide back down the oily surface.


Exclusion involves keeping squirrels away altogether. For this, you need wire mesh or small mesh chicken wire. If there are any holes in the attic of your house, cover them from the inside with wire mesh.

You can build a wooden frame around and over the top of your garden then cover it with rolls of mesh. You’ll need to build a screen door into the frame so you can get in and out, but once the whole thing is covered by the mesh, squirrels won’t be able to get into your garden to destroy it.

You need to bury the bottom part of the mesh about 4-6 inches in the ground so they can’t burrow under it. This method requires a lot of sweat and hard work, but once it is in place, they won’t be able to get past it.

Squirrels trap

Live Traps

Finally, you can use a live trap to catch squirrels. Put the trap in areas where the squirrels are most active.

Bait the trap with peanut butter, sunflower seeds, or the fruits and nuts they’re normally trying to get to in your yard. Disposing of the squirrels caught in the trap can be done by taking them several miles away to release them back into the wild.

Live trapping is highly regulated in some states so be sure to check with the game warden before trying it. Don’t run afoul of the law just to get rid of some squirrels.

Final Thoughts on Keeping Squirrels Away

No two squirrels are alike and no one method will catch, repel, deter, or exclude every squirrel. Your best option is to combine two or more of the methods listed above. Use them in tandem or switch from one to another each day to keep the little critters guessing.

Understand this, you’re not going to reach a point of final victory over the squirrels where you eradicate them and they never come back. It will be an ongoing battle to keep their numbers down to a manageable level. If can you lower the number of squirrels in your yard from 10 an hour to a couple a day, consider that a win.

Other Squirrels Guides

Curious about squirrel related articles? Check out our other detailed guides to help you deal with your pest problems.

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