What Smell Do Squirrels Hate? (Top 23 Scents)

What Smell Do Squirrels Hate? (Top 23 Scents)

Public opinion on squirrels is divided. Some people see them as adorably hyperactive creatures that are amusing to watch. Others just think they’re rats with fluffy tails and pretty privilege. Wherever you stand on this argument, it’s helpful to know what attracts or deters them. So what smell do squirrels hate? Let’s look at some top contenders you can easily find.

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What Smell Do Squirrels Hate?

1. Vinegar

Most people rush for chemicals when they’re trying to get rid of pests. So they might use mothballs, bleach, or poison. These are all smells that squirrels hate, but they can also be toxic for kids, pets, and the environment. Vinegar is a safer option because it’s organic but still pungent. You could try white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, but not Substitute Vinegar.

2. Rosemary

Rosemary is wonderful on steak and roast potatoes. And its aromatic needle-like leaves look cute in gardens as well. But while we love that rich scent, mice, squirrels, and other pesky rodents can’t stand it. You can wipe down your bird feeders with cotton balls saturated in rosemary essential oil, spread dried rosemary leaves nearby, or plant a rosemary hedge.

3. Predators

As we said, some people think squirrels are adorable ADHD mascots, but the rest of us want them far away from our bird feeders and plants. And some see them as a yummy snack for squirrel stew. Fill your garden with hints of predators e.g. hawk/owl feathers, blood-meal, dog toys, cat nip, coyote urine, skunk pheromones, and … allegedly … clumps of human hair!

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4. Pine


Conifers typically have bright green leaves, even in the winter and fall. They also have a nice smell, cones, and needle-shaped leaves. But while squirrels love hardwood acorns, they’re put off by the scent of sweet softwoods like pine, cedar, and juniper. This makes conifers a smart natural deterrent, whether you plant them as a hedge or sprinkle their essential oils.

5. Peppermint

You need a subtle palate to differentiate the 20+ types of mint. And you have to be even more observant to tell their leaves apart. Luckily, the name may give you a hint e.g. pineapple mint or chocolate mint, which can describe their smell or their taste. And most mint plants will keep squirrels away. But if you don’t have green thumbs, you can use teabags or oils instead.

6. Paperwhite

In some circles, (Kindle) Paperwhite is a snazzy electronic reading device. But in the rodent world, Paperwhites are squirrel-resistant plants that have snow-white flower petals and non-palatable bulbs. After all, squirrels aren’t just about nuts. They love to root around in flower beds digging up edibles. Fortunately, the scent and flavor of paperwhites put them off.

7. Onions


We’ve all heard some cheeky trick to protect us from onions. Like dipping them in water before cutting them, or wetting your wrists. But why do onions make us cry? When they’re threatened, they produce allyl sulfide, which attacks their predator’s tear glands and nasal passages. This works on squirrels too, so they actively avoid anything that smells like onions.

8. Marigold

Did you know some insects can see colors that we can’t? It helps them detect flowers and predators. But for some creatures like squirrels and other rodents, petals can be irritating. A few examples of flowers that smell horrible to squirrels are marigolds, daffodils, geraniums, hyacinths, lilies-of-the-valley, fritillaries, snowdrops, mustards, frilly irises, and nasturtiums.

9. Lemon


When life gives you lemons, you can make lemonade. Or tequila. But lemons didn’t start life organically. They were bred by mixing citrons with Seville oranges aka sour, bitter, bigarade, or marmalade oranges. Meanwhile, a citron is sometimes called a rough lemon, since it looks like a regular lemon with a thick, rugged rind. They all have citrus scents that squirrels hate.

10. Lemon Balm

You’ve probably heard of lemongrass, the source of citronella essential oil. But have you heard of lemon balm? In the garden, it looks a bit like mint … and is actually part of that family. Its other names include honey plant, sweet balm, heart’s delight, balm mint … and Melissa. No, that’s not a joke, and no, squirrels can’t stand the smell so it keeps them away.

11. Lavender

Bird feeders and squirrel feeders have a similar structure. They’re also loaded with the same kinds of food so they often raid each other. You can keep squirrels out of your bird feeders by removing any climbing posts to deny access. Also, use lavender seeds, which birds love but squirrels hate. Lavender plants and essential oil will have the same effect, so there’s an idea.

12. Irish Spring Soap

Irish Spring Soap is a trademarked product with the sweetly distinct scent of citrus and bergamot. This deters rodents and pests like mosquitoes, mice, moles, and squirrels. It’s easy to use. You can spread shavings around target areas or stick a bar of soap in old stockings or socks. And it can last for up to four months. Just be sure you’re getting the original product.

13. Garlic

We’ve already talked about onions, nature’s organic tear gas. Their active chemical exists in herbal cousins like spring onions and garlic. It’s why they’re all effective cold remedies that clear stuffy noses and maximize mucus to flush out viruses and bacteria. They’re useful for inflammation as well. That said, squirrels hate the smell of garlic as much as the others.


14. Eucalyptus


Eucalyptus has a powerful aroma that some find disruptive. It can be soothing for sore joints and muscles, and it’s a helpful tool to clear your sinuses. But while koalas love it, many other animals can’t digest it. They’ve learned from experience not to nibble these noxious leaves, so the smell is enough of a warning to keep them away. Besides squirrels don’t like leaves much.

15. Dryer Sheets

The idea behind using dryer sheets to deter rodents is that they’ll hate the smell. Combining concentrated lubricants, fabric conditioners, and fragrances can overpower their senses. And while some experiments have shed doubt on their ability to discourage mice, they might still work on squirrels if you use several sheets. Try tying them on your trees and plants to see.

16. Coffee Grounds

You’ve probably heard people say caffeine turns them into squirrels because they get antsy, over-energized, and confused. But for most people, coffee makes you alert and organized. It turns out squirrels are equally sharp since they hide thousands of nuts before winter and retrieve 90%! So it makes sense that they avoid coffee grounds … they don’t need the help!

17. Citrus


Citrus fruits include various types of oranges, lemons, and limes, as well as related fruits like kumquats and grapefruits. But while some non-citrus fruits have Vitamin C (e.g. guavas, strawberries, cherries, etc.), it’s the citrus scent that repels squirrels. You can use a mixed essential oil with blends of citrus fruits, raw fruit peels, or your local citrus-scented cleanser.

18. Citronella

We mentioned citronella earlier. It’s an essential oil derived from lemongrass, which is a fragrant herb known to repel mosquitoes, mice, and other pests. It’s equally effective against squirrels so you can plant it along the edges of your garden to form a live fence. This will prevent squirrels from approaching and ruining your veggies. Plus, the scent is so soothing!

19. Cinnamon

Cinnamon looks quite different from other herbs and spices. This might be due to its location and processing. Most seasonings come from the fruit, leaf, root, or seed of the plant, but cinnamon sticks are bits of bark that are peeled into thin strips then dried so that they curl into quills. The smell is unpleasant for squirrels, so you can scatter them around target spots.

20. Chili


Humans can’t see infrared waves of light. To us, it’s just heat, but to reptiles, bloodsuckers, and some beetles, infrared is visual. Similarly, we can’t taste the capsaicin in chili and other pepper plants. We perceive it as heat. Many mammals share this trait, including squirrels, so they avoid eating, touching, or getting anywhere near chili plants, powder, or essential oil.

21. Castor Oil

Castor oil is considered medicinal and aesthetic, though its benefits range from the real to the deranged. Some say it encourages hair growth. Others say it detoxifies the liver and melts belly fat. But everyone agrees it smells vile, and that’s why it effectively repels squirrels. It’s also quite thick, so while it lasts longer than carrier oils like coconut, it can get sticky quickly.

22. Ammonia

Lots of people think urine smells like ammonia. But fresh urine actually has urea. It’s when the urine is dehydrated or has accumulated and dried off for extended periods that it gets pungent. Still, you can source fresh ammonia from any agriculture store or laundry aisle, and it does keep squirrels away. That said, it doesn’t smell great to humans either. And it’s toxic.

23. Allium

Not all flowers are unattractive to squirrels. They adore crocuses and tulips. But like some of the squirrel-repelling plants we mentioned earlier, alliums are low on their list of likes. And in case you didn’t know, allium flowers come from the same plant family as onions, garlic, chives, shallots, scallions, and leek. It turns out allium is the generic Latin name for garlic!

Sniff the Squirrels Out – Pun Intended

Every fall, squirrels bury over 10,000 nuts a piece. And they often come back to the hiding spot and move their treasure elsewhere to keep it safer. They even feint to stop their fellow squirrel thieves! By using scents they dislike, you can keep them from settling in your yard. Do you know any other smells that squirrels hate? Share your knowledge in the comments!

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