What Smells Deter Squirrels?

Squirrels are pests and gardeners have tried many ways to deter them. There are some distinct smells that squirrels dislike, let’s have a look at if we can use any of these smells to deter them.

There are many smells that deter squirrels. These include peppermint, pepper, coffee and garlic. Anything excessively strong or spicy will work particularly well when it comes to deterring squirrels from your garden.

What Smells do Squirrels Dislike?

There are a large variety of smells that squirrels dislike. They are usually ones with strong and distinct odours such as particularly sweet or spicy smells. Below is a list of some of the well-known smells that squirrels detest.


Peppermint can smell very sweet to squirrels and they dislike this. Using peppermint is more effective than spearmint as the smell is stronger.

Peppermint Deter Squirrels


Both white and black pepper produce smells that squirrels dislike. This is likely because of the spicy tone that pepper contains. Even as a human, you can probably appreciate how aggravating the smell of pepper can be on your nostrils.


It might be a smell that you look forward to in the morning, but coffee is strong and smells very bitter to squirrels and they will usually avoid areas that smell strongly of coffee.


Garlic is a smell that appears to be a shared dislike of many pests. This includes rodents and insects alike as well as the notorious squirrels we are discussing. You could also try smells similar to garlic such as chives or onion.

There are many other smells that squirrels dislike, but these ones listed above appear to be the ones that they dislike the most.

Can Essential Oils Deter Squirrels?

Using essential oils is a good way to utilise the smells that squirrels dislike. A good oil to use is peppermint oil as it is very sweet and strong. It is, in fact, far more concentrated than using the leaves of peppermint.

One way to use this oil is to make a diluted spray for your plants. Mix a couple of drops of the essential oil in with some lukewarm water. Add this solution to a spray bottle and spray your plants. The smell of the mist will keep squirrels away from your plants.

However, essential oils can be very strong and cause damage to your plants.

To prevent this from happening, do a test before applying your spray across all your plants. Spray one or two of the leaves on your plant and return in a couple of hours to see if any damage has occurred. Because of its strength, you should also not make this solution in a room with pets as some essential oils can be harmful to dogs and cats.

Can Fragrant Plants Deter Squirrels?

A natural way to prevent squirrels from entering your garden is to simply plant things that they dislike. Planting garlic bulbs is one such example. It is best to plant garlic near areas where squirrels have started to dig. The smell of the garlic bulbs will discourage squirrels from continuing to dig in these areas.

Similar effects can be achieved by growing spicy foods such as chillies.

It should be noted that using pepper and garlic in grounds and spray forms will produce a stronger smell. This means that they will be more effective over wider areas in your garden rather than just in specific places.

Can Grounds Deter Squirrels?

Using grounds is a great way to deter squirrels. Grinding white or black pepper around the soil of plants will keep squirrels away. This also works with spicier peppers and grinding them over the top of plants is also effective but less direct.

You can also use coffee grounds to deter squirrels. These rodents dislike the bitter smell of coffee despite our own species’ love for the drink. If you have used coffee grounds you can mix them or place them on top of the soil of affected plants.

This is highly effective, and it is also recommended that you do this to any hibiscus plants in your garden as it will prevent them from becoming a snack for your squirrel visitors.

What Smells Should You Avoid?

Despite there being an abundance of smells that squirrels dislike, there are some smells that will not deter squirrels and some that may even attract them.


Whilst squirrels generally dislike sweet smells, they consume berries. Therefore, it is possible that the smell of berries would make squirrels think that there is a food resource nearby.

Bramble Squirrels


Much like berries, squirrels will eat a lot of nuts and will be attracted to nutty aromas that make them think they will be following a food source.

It is more common for a smell to deter a squirrel rather than attract it. It is much easier to optimise scents to deter squirrels rather than attract them.

Why Should You Deter Squirrels?

Squirrels are cute, almost everyone thinks so, so why would you want to keep them out of your garden? Grey squirrels are the most common species to visit gardens and they are classified as pests.

They will eat bird food, beneficial insects and also fruits and plants that you may be growing. They may also start digging in your garden to try and search for food or find places to hide their food. So whilst they may be cute, they can cause damage to your plants and also decrease visitations from birds and beneficial insects.

Fortunately, there are plenty of smells that deter squirrels which can be used with ease and without damaging your garden, plants or beneficial insects.


To summarise, here are some key points of what we’ve learnt about squirrels and their relationships with smells. Squirrels dislike a lot of smells, most commonly overly sweet or spicy smells. Some examples include pepper, peppermint, garlic and coffee.

You can use essential oils and mix them with water to make a squirrel deterrent spray. Planting garlic in affected areas of squirrel digging will prevent them from coming back.

Using coffee grounds is especially effective for protecting any hibiscus plants.

You can also grind black pepper or cayenne pepper on top of plants to keep squirrels away. Avoid using any smells in your concoctions that are foods of squirrels such as berries and nuts as this may attract them as they hope to find a food source.

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