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What Kinds of Repellents Exist for Squirrels?
Basically, there are two major types of squirrel repellents - the ultrasonic and the chemical type. Now let's move further down to their details.
Read more: Click here to learn more about squirrels.
What are ultrasonic repellents and do they work?
Ultrasonic is any sound wave above 20,000 hertz (20 kilohertz aka 20 kHz), which is above the ability of the human ear to detect it. Dog whistles, for instance, are usually in the range of 23 to 54 kHz.
Dogs can hear them but people can't. Most animals, including squirrels, can hear ultrasonic sounds. Studies at the University of Toledo found that squirrels can 49 kHz.
Ultrasonic repellents work by emitting variable pitches of ultrasonic sound in a beat and tempo designed to irritate, frighten, and repel squirrels (and other rodents) from a given area. They usually consist of one or more devices set out in a pattern with overlapping fields of sound.
Results for ultrasonic repellents are mixed at best. A great deal of anecdotal evidence suggests they do work.
While anecdotal evidence is usually taken with a grain of salt (when enough of it builds up), it becomes difficult to ignore the facts with a clear conscience. Ignoring it past that point seems to be a matter of “follow the money, honey” where someone has a financial incentive for denying their results.
Equally compelling, however, are collegiate articles which claim ultrasonic repellents don't work at all. The interesting thing about these articles is that while they appear to be scholarly works, they don't quote any actual studies or methodologies.
In all our research, we couldn't find any actual studies on the subject. In other words, they claim ultrasonic sounds don't work, but without offering any evidence to support their position – all the while berating the other side for a lack of rigorous evidence!
What about chemical repellents?
If the evidence is a mixed bag for ultrasonic repellents, what about chemical ones? Unfortunately, we find the same thing here as well.
Homemade repellents, such as mothballs, cayenne pepper, or ammonia are touted by many, claiming they work because squirrels don't like the smell.
In my 14½ years as a pest control technician I've encountered a number of people who have tried these methods, then told me how disappointed they were when it didn't make any difference. One woman actually found a Copperhead snake happily sunning itself in the middle of a bunch of mothballs on her back porch.
Read more: Click here to learn more about copperhead snakes.
So much for home remedies!
Commercial repellents have a somewhat better track record, however, persistence is essential. Chemical barriers must be constantly maintained and chemicals must be replaced after heavy rains or winds.
If they aren't replaced right way, don't blame the repellents for failing to keep the squirrels away. They can only work if you're dead serious in getting the job done. But there are other natural odors that may be competing with them, acting like a Push Me Pull You from Doctor Dolittle.