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What Smells Do Squirrels Dislike? (Quick Answers)

Small or medium-sized rodents belonging to the family Sciuridae are called squirrels which are primarily found in almost every continent minus Australia and Antarctica.

These rodents are small and fast and due to their size, color, eyes, a bushy tail, and activity come across as adorable or cute to most humans.

Despite being small, these rodents have a keen sense of smell, sight, and hearing, and can smell burrowed food and even other squirrels and imminent danger to act quickly.

They rely on their sense of smell, sight, and memory to find out the buried food or food in general, especially in winter when the food decomposes slowly and the smell travels less.

But this amazing sense of smell acts like a double-edged sword since the squirrels get overwhelmed whenever they come across a smell that is a touch too strong or bitter.

Now, let us learn about the smells that a squirrel dislikes and learn more interesting facts about them.

8 smells that squirrels dislike and how to use them:

Squirrels tend to have a very keen sense of smell and dislike acrid or pungent smells like the smell of coffee grounds, peppermint, chili flakes, and so on. Since they are notorious burrowers, they tend to destroy gardens, and we can use these pungent smells to keep the rodents away.

As mentioned, squirrels have a very good sense of smell and certain smells that are normal to us might overwhelm them. As a result, they avoid places where these smells persist and dislike these smells. Some of the smells that have the ability to deter squirrels are mentioned below:


Marigolds emit a smell that even overwhelms humans. It is a smell that reminds some people of damp hay or straw.

Terpene is present on the foliage of marigolds, which is the collective group of marigold leaves. Terpene is a volatile, unsaturated hydrocarbon with an unpleasant scent. 

Even people find this pungent odor overpowering; some have compared it to the scent of damp hay. Due to their keen sense of smell, squirrels cannot bear plants that have overpowering aromas. 

Alongside the leaves of marigold, the squirrels also can’t stand the strong smell of the marigold flowers. The smell of marigold blooms, which is very strong and reminiscent of the plant’s leaves, tends to repel or confound insects and rodents. 

This is due to the volatile oil called terpene that is present on their leaves, which also gives their flowers an unpleasant odor that effectively deters pests like insects and rodents.


Lavenders have a compound called linalool in them which is the reason we find the smell of lavender so pleasing. Other plants that contain linalool include thyme, mint, etcetera.

As a result of that smell, these plants act as natural repellants. They keep unwanted pests and rodents away. This is because, while the smell is pleasant to humans, it is too overwhelming and strong for rodents, which include squirrels.

Squirrels do not like lavenders due to linalool which causes the aroma of the plant.


Scallions, onions, garlic, and so on are the alliums. They are a species that has a strong smell and that odor keeps the rodents and insects away.

The flowers of alliums rarely smell but what causes this strong smell is the foliage of the plants. They emit an odor that is so potent, that the squirrels avoid them and dislike them.


As mentioned, squirrels have a special sense of smell and can easily get overwhelmed by strong smells. Hence, they dislike spicy odors like pepper, cayenne pepper, and chili powder.

These rodents tend to bury their noses when looking for food. Hence, some spices sprinkled on the grounds, or on plants will make the squirrels detest the smell and keep away from the garden or lawn.

Peppermint/Coffee Grounds: 

Peppermint has become a primary ingredient to repel squirrels away. It has a clean, cool scent that sometimes even makes a human sneeze. 

Squirrels with their strong smelling senses get overwhelmed and hence detest the ingredient, avoiding any place that might smell like peppermint.

Similarly, coffee has a very potent bitter smell that has overwhelmed even a normal human many times. Due to this bitter smell, squirrels dislike the smell and keep away from it. If we sprinkle some of it on plants, it will keep the squirrels away.

Homemade Repellents: 

Some homemade sprays are made that seem to repel the squirrels due to their strong smell. One of those recipes is the mixture of vinegar, onion, garlic, or peppermint oil to spray on the plants. 

Some repellents are made by extracting the oils of certain natural repellents but that might take professional tools to make possible.

Apple Cider Vinegar: 

Like a homemade repellent, another smell the squirrels dislike the smell of apple cider vinegar. The pungent smell of apple cider vinegar repels the squirrels, like all other natural repellents, since it messes with a squirrel’s sense of smell.

Along with apple cider, if some cayenne is mixed, the odor becomes more pungent, and is disliked by these rodents. After all, the more the repellents, the more it smells, and the more the squirrels will dislike it.

Commercial Repellant: 

Commercial repellents are made specifically to keep insects and rodents away. These repellents work so well because their odor is so potent and acrid, that it makes most insects and rodents dislike them, and hence avoid them.

Spraying some repellent on the plants will keep the squirrels from destroying the plants and vegetables.

What attracts squirrels in your lawn, yard, or garden?

Anything edible to the squirrels will attract them to your lawn, yard, or garden.

Squirrels are hungry rodents who burrow, climb, or search for food anywhere, including dumpsters. But to be more specific, they have affinities towards seeds. Acorns, walnuts, etcetera are the prime foods that can attract squirrels. 

Apart from those, we can use corn to draw them out. We can hand them or put them in bird feeders or sprinkle them on flowerbeds or around our garden. 

Squirrels are most attracted to sunflower seeds and we can also attract them by putting sunflower seeds in the bird feeders along with peanuts. Besides, we can even put a collection of nuts and seeds out in a bowl or at the base of trees.

Moreover, planting flowers and vegetation that they prefer will also help them burrow and cache their food in your garden and creating a comfortable environment consisting of abundant spaces where they have the choice to hide and live will also make them stay.

We have to avoid planting natural repellants–including but not limited to daffodils, onions, marigolds, and lavender–in our garden so that they do not get repelled and dislike staying in the garden.

Other solutions to keep squirrels away from your yard:

There are few other solutions to keep squirrels away from your yard. Such as –

Fences and Row Covers: 

Even though squirrels are small, putting up fences around your yard will save your garden. However, traditional fences will not work. For fences to work, they should be fine and made for small rodents.

Wires like chicken wire should be installed on the fences to fortify the fences further against squirrels. 

These rodents are known to be notorious burrowers and can get through by digging. Hence, it is advised to install the fences at least six inches deep so they cannot dig their way through.

Row cover is a transparent or semi-transparent material that’s installed over the plants in the gardens to save them from drastic weather and sun rays, and in our case, keep the rodents and insects away.

INNOLITES Garden Netting, Ultra Fine Garden Mesh Netting 6.5'x10' Greenhouse Protective Net, Trellis Netting Netting for Protect Vegetables Fruits Plant Flower Crops Screen Barrier Net Row Covers.

Modern-day Scarecrows: 

Modern-day scarecrows include battery-operated owls that are installed to scare unwanted rodents away. 

Simply installing one where the squirrels might consume the plants will solve the problem of squirrels harming the plants since these rodents are skittish and tend to scatter at the smallest hint of danger.

Plastic Owl Scarecrow Sculpture with Rotating Head for Garden Yard Outdoor

Motion-Sensitive Water Sprinklers: 

These sprinklers can detect motion–be it of a human, cats, dogs, or squirrels–and can turn towards it before sprinkling water there. This causes them to startle and scatter and after a few times, they tend to avoid that place altogether.

Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer Motion-Activated Sprinkler with Day & Night Detection Modes,Black

Cleaning the Trash: 

It is in the nature of rodents to be attracted to the smell of trash and decomposition. We can keep them away by cleaning out the dumpster regularly and keeping the area clean and free of gunk.

We can also make sure our dumpster has a cover that closes properly and keeps the smell inside and not let it waft outside where it might attract the squirrels since they come back to places where the trash lies undetected and uncleaned.

Final thoughts

Squirrels dislike pungent, acrid, spicy, bitter, and strong smells because of their strong sense of smell and tend to dislike anything that carries these smells. For instance, they dislike the smell of marigolds, cayenne, vinegar, peppermint, essential oils, and anything that has a strong smell.