What Smells Do Squirrels Hate?

Have you ever noticed how squirrels seem to have an aversion to certain smells? It is because there are certain scents that squirrels are genetically hardwired to avoid. Understanding which smells squirrels hate can be beneficial if you’re looking for the best and most natural ways to keep these critters away from your yard or garden. This blog post will dive into olfactory perception and investigate what exactly makes some odors off-putting for squirrels. So read on if you’re curious.

What Smells do Squirrels Hate?

Squirrels may have different preferences and tolerances for different smells. However, some scents that might be unpleasant to squirrels could include solid and pungent odors such as vinegar, peppermint, and garlic.

It is also worth noting that squirrels, like many animals, have a good sense of smell and may be able to detect and avoid potential dangers or predators by using their sense of smell. For this reason, using strong-smelling substances as a deterrent may not be effective in keeping squirrels away, as they may be able to detect the odor and avoid the area.

If you are trying to deter squirrels from a specific area, it may be more effective to use physical barriers or to remove any food or other attractants that may be attracting them. If you are concerned about squirrels damaging your property or getting into your home, consulting with a professional pest control company for advice and assistance may be helpful.

What Smells do Squirrels Hate?

Name of Smells that are Unpleasant to Squirrels

Squirrels have a strong sense of smell and can be sensitive to certain odors. Some smells that squirrels may hate or repellent to squirrels include:

  1. Ammonia: Ammonia has a strong, pungent smell that may be unpleasant for squirrels.
  2. Peppermint: Squirrels may be deterred by peppermint’s firm, minty scent.
  3. Cayenne pepper: The spicy aroma of cayenne pepper may be undesirable for squirrels and may help to keep them away.
  4. Garlic: The strong, pungent smell of garlic may be repellent to squirrels.
  5. Hot pepper spray: Spraying a hot pepper-based repellent around your garden or plants may help to keep squirrels away.
  6. Mothballs
  7. Tabasco Sauce
  8. Citrus Fruits
  9. Cinnamon
  10. Coffee Grounds

It is worth noting that while these smells may be unpleasant or repellent to squirrels, they may also be undesirable for humans. Using these smells as a repellent may not be the most pleasant solution for keeping squirrels away.

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1. Ammonia

Ammonia has a strong, pungent smell that can be unpleasant for many animals, including squirrels. The smells of ammonia squirrels hate because it is unfamiliar and potentially overwhelming to their keen sense of smell. In addition, they may associate the smell of ammonia with danger or predators for squirrels, which could cause them to avoid it.

While the smell of ammonia may be unpleasant or repellent to squirrels, it is worth noting that it may also be undesirable for humans. Using ammonia as a repellent may not be the most pleasant solution for keeping squirrels away. Additionally, it is essential to use caution when handling ammonia, as it can be harmful if inhaled in large quantities or if it comes into contact with the skin or eyes.

2. Peppermint

To a human, peppermint may be a pleasant scent found in toothpaste, lotions, and other products, but to squirrels, it smells like a predator coming close. Our mammalian cousins have an incredibly acute sense of smell which can easily detect the overpowering aroma of peppermint. Furthermore, the strong flavor is a significant turn-off for them; it’s so strong that it could make them sick if they ate any food containing peppermint oil or extract. That’s why squirrels find their cute noses quivering when the scent is present; it’s a warning instinct telling them to stay away.

3. Cayenne pepper

Squirrels have an impeccable sense of smell and are sensitive to the strong scent of Cayenne pepper. This firm, spicy scent can be bothersome to them as it can distract from more naturally occurring smells like food or other members of their species. Additionally, when a squirrel picks up on the scent of Cayenne pepper, it will exhibit signs of avoidance as it creates an unpleasant sensation for them. Therefore, squirrels hate the Cayenne pepper smells because it is bothersome and interrupts their natural behavior.

4. Garlic

Squirrels, in particular, are uniquely averse to the smell of garlic, as evidenced by their reactions when presented with garlic in its various forms. The reason for this aversion could stem from the fact that garlic has antifungal and antibacterial properties, which could interfere with the digestive system of squirrels. It could also be an innate reflexive response used as a defense mechanism to steer them away from potentially dangerous food sources – whatever the cause, one thing is sure: squirrels don’t like garlic.

5. Hot pepper spray

Squirrels hate the smell of hot pepper spray because it contains capsaicin, which is particularly unpleasant to squirrels and other animals. Capsaicin is a powerful irritant that can cause severe burning and pain in contact with the skin or eyes. It also triggers an intense reaction in squirrels’ olfactory systems, making them want to avoid anything containing it. Hot pepper sprays are mainly used as an innocuous animal repellent and rarely have long-term consequences for those who encounter them.

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6. Mothballs

Squirrels dislike the pungent smell of mothballs because it masks their scent. This makes them feel less secure, as they rely on smell to detect potential danger and nearby predators. These animals are also susceptible to changes in their environment. For this reason, mothballs’ strange and sharp odor is often regarded as a hostile intruder. Ultimately, it has been suggested that squirrels actively avoid areas treated with mothballs so as not to disrupt their routines and carefully crafted habitat.

7. Tabasco Sauce

The intense heat of tabasco sauce can deter most critters; squirrels are brilliant and reactive due to their extended survival in human environments. Their acute olfaction makes them dislike the odor of tabasco sauce as they recognize it as a potential threat. However, their reaction does not always reach that extreme; some will avoid certain areas instead of fleeing away from them altogether. It is the healthier choice.

8. Citrus fruits

Squirrels hate the smell of citrus fruit, likely because of its potency and strength. While other scents can usually be overlooked by their keen sense of smell, citrus fruits are fragrant, often overwhelming the furry creatures. Even though they distance themselves from the fruit and anything else that smells like it, there is still no definitive answer as to why these animals hate citruses.

9. Cinnamon

It is not known definitively why some squirrels dislike the smell of cinnamon. However, it has been observed that the scent acts as a repellant for these rodents. Additionally, many people have seen that squirrels behave differently in the presence of this smell. They may become agitated or refrain from entering an area with a significant amount of cinnamon in the air. Some speculate that the strong fragrance overwhelms their senses and makes them uncomfortable enough to distance themselves from it. Ultimately, whatever the actual cause may be, some squirrels don’t like cinnamon.

10. Coffee grounds

The pungent smell of coffee grounds is particularly overwhelming to these animals compared to other odors. Squirrels have a heightened sense of smell and hearing, making them much more aware of their environment than many other animals. Research has found that when the scent of coffee grounds gets detected by squirrels, their brain perceives it as a warning and triggers a fear response in the animal. This explains why squirrels often flee or show defensive behavior when exposed to the smell of coffee grounds.

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So these were all smells that squirrels hate the most. If you also want to deter squirrels you can use them too.


1. What should you do to keep squirrels away from your property?

There are several things from which squirrels will stay away from your property. The most effective method is to use natural repellents such as hot pepper spray, mothballs, tabasco sauce, citrus fruits, cinnamon, and coffee grounds.

2. Are squirrels scared of the smell of mothballs?

Yes, squirrels are scared of the pungent smell of mothballs because it masks their scent and makes them feel less secure. They are also susceptible to changes in their environment, so the unfamiliar odor of mothballs is often regarded as a hostile intruder. Ultimately, it has been suggested that squirrels actively avoid areas treated with mothballs.

3. What smells do squirrels like?

Squirrels are not particularly attracted to any scent, but they have some fragrances they like more than others. Sweeter smells like fruits or nuts and is generally more attractive to squirrels than other odors. To attract squirrels, you can also use some essential oils, such as lavender or peppermint.

4. Will squirrels eat food that has a strong smell?

Yes, squirrels will still eat food with a strong smell, although they may be less inclined to do so. They are naturally drawn to the smell of sweet foods, but if a powerful scent overwhelms their senses, they may avoid it or eat it less frequently. It is best to avoid feeding squirrels foods with a strong odor, as this may cause them to become uncomfortable and deter them from returning.

5. Do squirrels recognize a familiar odor?

Yes, squirrels can recognize familiar odors. They have an incredibly keen sense of smell and can detect even slight environmental changes. They use this sense to help them realize when something is safe and familiar or if it is a potentially dangerous threat.


Understanding how squirrels react to different smells can help deter them from your home and keep them away from specific areas. They seem to have an aversion to strong scents such as citruses, cinnamon, and coffee grounds. On the other hand, some aromas may be attractive to them, such as the smell of sweet fruits and nuts. 

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