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Do Mothballs Keep Squirrels Away? (Quick Answers)

Squirrels are common pests of homes and gardens, and it’s pretty hard to repel them if you don’t know how to deal with them. There are many DIY methods to repel squirrels, and using mothballs is one of them. But how does it work, and what are the side effects of mothballs? 

Keep reading to get a clear understanding of mothballs as squirrel repellers.

Keeping squirrels away with mothballs

Mothballs are adequate to keep the squirrels away. The pungent smell of mothballs is quite irritating, which keeps them away from where you keep mothballs. But mothballs are very toxic and negatively affect wildlife, the environment, and even pets and humans.

Mothballs are one of the most popular agents to keep household pests away. It’s a ball made of solid naphthalene and other chemicals, and Its unique characteristic makes it suitable for use in cloth cabinets to keep moths and other bugs away. 

Mothballs become gas from the solid stage and leave no mark on the clothes.

However, mothballs became pretty trendy to keep other household pests away, but mothballs should not be used everywhere mindlessly. 

Mothballs do repel the squirrels, but to repel squirrels, you will have to use mothballs in the open places, which can be pretty harmful to wild animals, soil fertility, pets and even humans. 

Mothballs have strong smells as they continuously release naphthalene gas. When a squirrel comes near a mothball, the pungent smell irritates its smelling organs. That happens because rodents have many times stronger smelling organs than us and are pretty sensitive too.

But some squirrels can also ignore the smell of mothballs if there is food nearby.

If they inhale or eat mothballs, they can pass away miserably. The chemicals break down their cells, and blood cells can not carry to their vital organs. 

It is true that mothballs can deter squirrels quite effectively but can cause some dangers. You must never use mothballs if you have kids and pets in your house. Mothballs are equally hazardous for your pets. If they consume mothballs, you can lose your loving pet.

It also has dangerous effects on human health. Inhaling or consuming mothballs can cause nausea, diarrhea, headache and even hemolytic anemia. In hemolytic anemia, blood cells get broken, and new blood cell production gets slower. 

It reduces the number of beneficial soil microbes that lead to low soil fertility, making it unsuitable for using mothballs in your garden to get rid of squirrels. Even in some stages, it’s illegal to use mothballs outdoors.

Let’s check out if you can use mothballs to repel those types of squirrels from your house.

Ground squirrels:

Ground squirrels can be repealed with mothballs and should only be used away from animals and people, such as in the attic.

Flying squirrels:

If flying squirrels make nests in your attic, you can use mothballs to repel them, but there are more humane ways to keep the animals away.

What do mothballs do to squirrels? 

Squirrels dislike the smells of mothballs. The smell irritates their nose, and they can not breathe with comfort when they stay near mothballs. The mothball fumes are very harmful to them. 

Mothball’s effects are similar to most mammals, and the smaller the animal, the faster the impact is. Naphthalene is the active agent of mothballs, and it causes hemolytic anemia, which breaks down the blood cells. 

For humans, the effect is slow and becomes dangerous when breathing naphthalene for a long time or consuming it.

But for squirrels, the effects of mothballs are faster. The effect starts almost instantly when a squirrel comes into contact with a mothball. Their nose and eyes start to burn, and they experience difficulty breathing. 

If the squirrel leaves fast, the squirrel may live for another day without any issue. But if the squirrel ignores the fume or can not escape quickly, he may become sick and pass away.

Will squirrels eat mothballs?

Squirrels will not eat mothballs usually, but they are pretty curious animals, and sometimes they may try to taste mothballs. Ingesting mothballs will cause severe illness, and the squirrel will pass away most of the time. Even licking the mothball a little can take their life.

That’s true for all the other animals, and one should be excessively careful while using mothballs in their house. Pets and children can think it is a candy and eat it. If that happens, visit the poison control center, vet or hospital as soon as possible. 

Are mothballs poisonous to squirrels?

Mothballs are incredibly poisonous to the squirrels and also to humans and wildlife. It can effectively repel the squirrels but is not worth taking the risk most of the time. It causes hemolytic anemia in squirrels and other mammals, which can be fatal in many cases.

There are many other natural alternatives to mothballs to keep the squirrels away from your home and garden. Cayenne paper, hot paper, garlic, essential oils and humane traps are good alternatives to mothballs, and they also don’t negatively affect the environment and people.

Mothballs are suitable to use in closed places like dryers and cabinets where the toxic fume does not get out. But when using it outside, you will have to be extra cautious. We will explain the right way of using mothballs in the following sections of the article.

Will mothballs keep squirrels out of these places?

Let’s check if it is okay to use mothballs in those places.


The attic is where people, pets and kids can’t reach. But that’s one of the favorite places for the squirrels to make nests. Squirrel nests in the attic can be quite irritating as the smell of their urine and faces will make your house smelly. 

You can use mothballs in the attic, which can also cause some issues.

If a squirrel has babies in their nest, they will not be able to leave, and even adults can pass away in your attic. What can be more frustrating than a decomposing squirrel in your attic! 

That’s why it is better to use alternative options to repel the squirrels from your attic.

Flower pots, flower beds, and plants:

One should not use mothballs in the flower beds, flower pots or garden. Exposing the mothball outdoors is not a good idea. It can have harmful effects on wildlife, beneficial insects and the microbial community of the soil. 

Use cayenne pepper or garlic spray on your plants to keep them safe from the squirrels. Those are entirely natural and do not have harmful effects on nature.


One should not use mothballs on the cars as a car is a closed place, and you will directly inhale the toxic fumes of mothballs. It also should not be used indoors with poor ventilation.

Bird feeders:

One should not use mothballs near bird feeders to get rid of squirrels. Birds can eat and get poisoned by mothballs.

How to safely use mothballs to repel squirrels?

You should keep a few things in mind to keep the squirrels away from your house and garden. Check out the following points.

Use mothballs away from humans and pets:

Only use mothballs where you and your family usually will not go close. Do not use it near a place where you spend a longer time, such as near your bed. Try to use them in corners, attic and other similar areas.

Look after pets and children:

If you have children and pets, do not use mothballs where they can reach. It’s best to avoid mothballs for their safety.

Don’t use it outdoor:

It is not suitable to use mothballs outdoors. Mothballs have harmful effects on the environment. It’s dangerous for wildlife, and it affects soil fertility very severely. You can even get arrested if you use mothballs outdoors in many states.

Choose the alternatives:

There are many alternatives to mothballs that are free from side effects and dangers. 

There are some ingredients in your kitchen that you can use to repel squirrels, such as paper powder, garlic etc. Some commercial repellent also does quite well to keep the squirrels away from your house.

Final thoughts

Mothballs work effectively to keep the squirrels and other pests away from your house. But it can also be dangerous for the environment, kids, pets and wildlife. So one should be very careful to use mothballs. It’s best to avoid it if other alternatives are available.