Squirrels are pests in your garden, and not all of them can be easily deterred. But what are they afraid of, what frightens squirrels and can we use this to help keep our gardens squirrel-free?
There is a range of things that frighten squirrels including predators and other animals, strong smells and disturbing sounds.
What are Squirrels Afraid of?
Squirrels are afraid of a large number of things. They can be scared of both things that they see and the things that they smell.
You can organise these fears into a few main categories, which will follow in this article. Most of their worries are predatory based, but there are some different fears that we will also explore.
What Animals Frighten Squirrels?
Squirrels have many predators, which means that they can be easily frightened by other animals.
We can use this to our advantage in several different ways.
Below is a list of some animals that squirrels are afraid of and some ideas for using this fear to deter squirrels from coming into your garden.
Dogs and Cats
Two of the most common domestic animals and squirrels are afraid of them both.
If you have a pet cat or dog, you already have an advantage in keeping squirrels at bay. Dogs will bark and chase squirrels, and they will then be less inclined to return to this area.
If you are worried about squirrels entering your garden when your pets are not there, you can leave hair clippings around the base of commonly disturbed plants. This will make them smell the predator and remind them that the animals are still there.
It is not plausible to have a pet fox to keep squirrels off of your lawn. However, you can still use this knowledge to your advantage.
You can purchase predatory urine (such as fox or wolf urine) from pest control suppliers. Applying this around your garden will make the squirrels believe that there is a predator nearby, and they will vacate the area due to fear.
The downside to this, though, is that you may also be able to smell this, and you will have to continue to reapply it after every time it rains, meaning it isn’t convenient if you live in a country that frequently has wet weather.
If you live in an area with many owls, you already have a head start here.
Make your garden appealing to the nearby owls. Not only does it help them, but their presence will also keep the squirrels at bay as they will not go near areas fraught with predators.
If there are no owls near where you live, then don’t worry, there are still things you can do. You can purchase plastic owls that act similarly to scarecrows. They will make the squirrels think that an owl is nearby and will cause them to leave out of fear.
However, if you use this method, we advise that you periodically move the plastic owl around your garden. Squirrels are quite smart, and if the owl does not move, they may soon realise that it is not a real danger to them.
These methods have all been known to be effective in deterring squirrels.
However, as mentioned, some squirrels may realise that the danger isn’t real, so you should change your setup now and again and switch out these methods to keep the squirrels on their toes.
Another great benefit of using these methods is that they can also scare away other kinds of pests, such as rats and mice as they have the same predators.
Yes! Fake owls do scare squirrels effectively. As soon as they catch a glimpse of what they believe to be an owl, they will run. However, it’s a good idea to move the owl around every week so they don’t get used to it in the same place.
What Flowers Frighten Squirrels?
Some flowers are very effective at deterring squirrels due to their pungent smell.
However, whether this is because they are afraid of the scent is heavily debated. That being said, there are a couple of toxic flowers which squirrels can identify by their smell and therefore, some are believed to be capable of frightening squirrels.
These flowers are said to be the main ones that squirrels are afraid of. Every part of the daffodil plant is toxic to rodents.
They have a very strong smell, and squirrels can identify it as the smell of daffodils and are aware that this smell means a toxic substance is nearby. Therefore, they will leave the area alone for fear of poisoning themselves.
However, they may still disturb other daffodil-free areas of your garden. The best way to utilise daffodils to prevent squirrels is by interspersing them with flowers that are often disturbed by squirrels, as they will then make sure to leave this area alone.
Squirrels have an extremely strong sense of smell. This is why you can use strong smell plants to ward them off your flower beds. Peppermint and spearmint are both punchy varieties of mint that have been known to keep squirrels away.
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What Sounds Frighten Squirrels?
As well as smells and sights, squirrels can also be frightened away by sounds. Let’s have a look at a couple of the most effective sounds that frighten squirrels:
Admittedly, this is not a very ideal or practical solution. If you have a dog that naturally barks at squirrels, then let them bark away, it will stop them from coming back so often.
You can also play recordings of dog barking if you see squirrels trying to go into your garden. But of course, this isn’t the best solution as they may soon realise the threat isn’t real.
Dogs bark at squirrels because they get easily frustrated by an unknown animal. Squirrels move in an erratic way which instantly gets on a dog’s nerves, hence the barking.
Ultrasonic pest deterrents have become quite common because they emit sounds that humans cannot hear but are very painful for the squirrels.
Because the sound causes them a lot of discomfort, squirrels will become afraid of the areas where this sound is produced, so they can be quite useful to use in your garden.
Whilst these solutions have been praised by gardeners. They have their limitations. Sound is often quite directional, and squirrels will usually get past by learning where the sound devices are.
Like other methods, you should change up the positioning now and again to keep them alert.
To summarise what frightens squirrels, they are primarily scared of their predators, such as dogs, cats, foxes and owls. You can use visual, aromatic and auditory methods to scare squirrels from your garden by making them believe that there are predators nearby.
Squirrels are smart and may catch on that there are not predators in your garden, so be sure to frequently update your setup to keep the squirrels alert.
The most effective way to frighten squirrels from your garden is to use a combination of the methods mentioned above.
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Ryan is a keen gardener from the UK who’s spent years dealing with countless, common pests over the years so knows the ins and outs of how to deal with pests in the garden