Does Cayenne Pepper Deter Squirrels?

In the quest to find natural ways to deter squirrels from gardens, people have found that pepper works well for deterring squirrels. But what about more specific types of pepper-like cayenne pepper, can that be used to repel squirrels?

Yes, cayenne pepper does deter squirrels, like most other chillies, because of the strong odour it omits that puts squirrels off.

Does Cayenne Pepper Repel Squirrels?

Much like other types of pepper, cayenne pepper works very well to deter squirrels from gardens. The reason for its effectiveness is the same. It is because of its smell.

Squirrels do not like the smell of pepper because they have very sensitive noses, and it smells spicy to them.

Therefore, using a spicier-smelling pepper, such as cayenne pepper, will be even more effective as the smell will be much stronger for squirrels, and it will work very well at repelling them. 

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Does Cayenne Pepper Keep Squirrels Away from Bird Seed?

You might enjoy putting seeds out for birds but, before you know it, a squirrel has performed acrobats to climb the pole and grab the seeds, scaring off any birds.

The good news is that a simple trick can deter them from your bird seeds… Mix them with cayenne pepper! Birds cannot taste capsicum but squirrels can.

The smell alone can be enough to deter them. If they get as far as to try eating them then they’ll get the message it’s too hot for them to handle.

If you haven’t got cayenne pepper to handle then anything with a spicy kick can work including hot paprika, chilli powder and chilli flakes.

How to Use Cayenne Pepper to Deter Squirrels

Using cayenne pepper to deter squirrels is a simple process. There are two ways in which you can do this, which are outlined below, both will be safe to use in your garden:

Using Ground Cayenne Pepper

The easiest way to deter squirrels with cayenne pepper is to sprinkle either grounds or flakes of the pepper in your garden’s soil.

Sprinkling them over the areas that are commonly disturbed is also a good idea, but it may only work at keeping them away from that one small area.

Cayenne pepper can actually be helpful to plants as it does provide nutrients for the soil. Just be warned that you will need to reapply the pepper after it rains otherwise the smell will be diluted and it will not work as well to repel squirrels. 

If you want to up the effectiveness then you can try mixing with other smells that squirrels dislike such as garlic powder, black pepper or onion powder – you might find your garden starts to smell a bit though!

Use a Cayenne Pepper Spray

Another easy thing you can do is make an at-home cayenne pepper spray to spritz around your garden. To do this, mix a small amount of hot sauce in a spray bottle with a gallon of water.

It is always a good idea to make sure that your solution is diluted enough before applying it to your whole garden.

Test the spray on a couple of leaves and then check to see if there is any damage in a couple of hours. If not, then your solution is dilute enough to use on all of your plants.

Like with the pepper grounds and flakes, you will need to reapply this solution after it rains. Hot weather can also cause the spray to become ineffective as it quickly dries out.

How to Make a Cayenne Spray for Squirrels
Making a cayenne spray to use against squirrels is simply. Mix one-part hot sauce with twenty-parts water. Hot sauce is punchy so you don’t need much of it. Give it a shake, decant it into a spray bottle and get spraying.

Can You Plant Cayenne Peppers to Deter Squirrels?

Planting cayenne peppers, or any kind of chilli pepper plant, will repel squirrels. However, the smell of the growing chillies is not as strong as the smell of processed cayenne pepper flakes or hot sauce.

Therefore, it is likely that the plants will only deter squirrels from going to that one small area of your garden.

If you are finding that there are particular plants or areas that are being severely disturbed by squirrels, you could plant a cayenne pepper plant near these areas to make squirrels avoid going near those plants.  

Is Cayenne Pepper Toxic to Cats?

Cayenne pepper is not known to be toxic to cats. It can, however, be an irritant if it gets in a cat’s eyes or paws. This is worth considering if you have a pet cat.

Is Cayenne Pepper Safe to Use in the Garden?

Yes, in general, cayenne pepper is safe to use in the garden. It will not cause harm to your plants, other wildlife or the soil.


Summarising what we have learnt, squirrels do not like cayenne pepper, which can be used to deter them. They do not like cayenne pepper because of its spicy smell.

You can use cayenne pepper to repel them by sprinkling it in the soil or making a hot sauce spray to apply to your plants. Having a cayenne pepper plant will also keep squirrels away from the small surrounding areas of the plant.

Other pests that cayenne pepper will help to repel include cats and ants. These creatures are also repelled by cayenne pepper because of its strong smell.

3 thoughts on “Does Cayenne Pepper Deter Squirrels?”

  1. Not true! I live in the mountians of East Tennessee I have loaded my bird feeders with cayenne pepper and it has not detered the squirrels one iota.

    • Unfortunately, like a lot of deterrents, they’re never 100% effective and it does seem to depend on where in the world you are, the squirrel that you’re dealing with in particular and so on. Make sure the cayenne pepper you’re using is hot. If it’s not, then consider mixing with hot paprika or ground chilli powder.

  2. Need another solution the squirrels here in south Jersey devoured my feeder that was loaded with cayenne didn’t deter at all.


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