Keep Squirrels Away From Bird Feeders With These Smelly Solutions

If you love feeding the birds in your backyard but get frustrated when squirrels steal all the food, you’re not alone. Squirrels can be clever critters when it comes to getting into bird feeders. But there are some smelly tricks you can use to deter squirrels and keep them from gobbling up your birdseed.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Strong scents like peppermint, chili powder, vinegar, garlic, and predator urine can be used to keep squirrels away from bird feeders.

Why Squirrels are Drawn to Bird Feeders

Squirrels are notorious for their ability to find and raid bird feeders, much to the frustration of bird enthusiasts. Understanding why squirrels are drawn to bird feeders is the first step in effectively deterring them. Two main factors contribute to their attraction:

Easy Access to Food

Squirrels are highly resourceful creatures and are attracted to bird feeders primarily because they provide a readily available food source. Bird feeders are often filled with seeds, nuts, and grains, which are all highly appealing to squirrels.

These clever creatures quickly learn how to access the food by climbing, jumping, or even hanging upside down to reach the feeder.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, squirrels can consume up to one pound of birdseed in a single week! Their ability to quickly deplete feeders can be frustrating for bird enthusiasts who want to provide sustenance for our feathered friends.

Some of the most common types of birdseed that squirrels love include sunflower seeds, peanuts, and corn. These high-energy foods are not only irresistible to squirrels but also provide them with the necessary nutrition to thrive.

Opportunistic Behavior

Squirrels are opportunistic in nature, always on the lookout for easily accessible food sources. Bird feeders, with their open design and proximity to the ground or trees, make for an ideal target. Squirrels are agile climbers and can easily navigate tree branches to reach feeders hanging from them.

They also possess strong digging abilities, allowing them to excavate buried food or access feeders placed on the ground.

Did you know that squirrels have been known to travel up to 5 miles in search of food? Their persistent and determined behavior makes it difficult to keep them away from bird feeders.

Furthermore, squirrels are territorial and will defend their newfound food source from other squirrels and birds. This competitive behavior often leads to a flurry of activity around the feeder, scaring away birds and causing a commotion that disrupts the peaceful bird-watching experience.

Understanding the reasons why squirrels are drawn to bird feeders is the first step in finding effective solutions to keep them away. By implementing strategies that address their easy access to food and opportunistic behavior, bird enthusiasts can enjoy watching their feathered friends without the constant interference of squirrels.

Smells that Repel Squirrels


One effective smell that repels squirrels from bird feeders is peppermint. Squirrels have a strong sense of smell, and they find the scent of peppermint to be overwhelming and unpleasant. By placing peppermint oil-soaked cotton balls near your bird feeders, you can deter squirrels from coming near.

The strong aroma of peppermint will keep squirrels at bay while allowing birds to enjoy their meal undisturbed. For added effectiveness, you can also plant peppermint around your yard as a natural squirrel deterrent.

Chili Powder

Chili powder is another smell that squirrels find offensive. The spicy and pungent scent of chili powder is enough to keep these furry creatures away from your bird feeders. Sprinkle some chili powder around the base of the feeders or mix it with birdseed to create a deterrent.

The squirrels will be discouraged by the strong smell and will seek food elsewhere. Just be sure to use chili powder sparingly, as birds are not affected by its scent.


Vinegar is a versatile and effective ingredient that can repel squirrels from your bird feeders. The strong odor of vinegar is unappealing to these critters, and they will avoid areas where the scent is prevalent.

Create a solution by mixing equal parts vinegar and water and spray it around your feeders. Alternatively, you can soak rags or cotton balls in vinegar and place them strategically near the feeders. The smell will deter squirrels and protect your birdseed.


Garlic is not only a popular ingredient in cooking, but it can also be used to repel squirrels. Squirrels dislike the strong smell of garlic, making it an effective deterrent. Crush a few cloves of garlic and place them around your bird feeders.

Alternatively, you can sprinkle garlic powder or garlic flakes around the area. The scent will keep squirrels away while allowing birds to enjoy their meal in peace. Plus, garlic has many other benefits, including potential health benefits for birds.

Predator Urine

While it may sound unusual, predator urine is a natural and effective way to repel squirrels from bird feeders. The scent of predator urine, such as that of a fox or coyote, triggers a fear response in squirrels. They will sense the presence of a predator and avoid the area altogether.

You can find predator urine products online or at outdoor supply stores. Follow the instructions and place the urine near your bird feeders. This smell-based deterrent is a safe and humane way to keep squirrels at bay.

Remember, it’s important to regularly replenish and refresh these smells to maintain their effectiveness. Experiment with different smells to find the one that works best for you, and enjoy watching the birds feast at your squirrel-free feeders!

Tips for Using Smelly Deterrents Effectively

Apply Directly to Bird Feeder

When using smelly deterrents to keep squirrels away from bird feeders, it is important to apply the scent directly to the feeder itself. This ensures that the deterrent is in close proximity to where the squirrels are likely to be, increasing its effectiveness.

Whether you are using natural scents like peppermint or commercial squirrel repellents, be sure to follow the instructions for application and apply it generously to the feeder.

Refresh Frequently

Squirrels have a strong sense of smell, but they can also become accustomed to certain scents over time. To maintain the effectiveness of smelly deterrents, it is important to refresh them frequently. This can mean reapplying the scent every few days or weeks, depending on the specific product you are using.

By regularly refreshing the deterrents, you can ensure that the smell remains strong and continues to deter squirrels from your bird feeders.

Combine Multiple Scents

Squirrels can be quite persistent when it comes to accessing bird feeders, so it may be necessary to use multiple scents to deter them effectively. For example, you could combine the scent of peppermint oil with the smell of cayenne pepper or vinegar.

By using a combination of scents, you create a stronger and more diverse olfactory barrier that is less likely to be ignored by squirrels. Experiment with different combinations to find the best one for keeping squirrels away from your bird feeders.

Use Predator Decoys and Sounds

In addition to smelly deterrents, using predator decoys and sounds can also help keep squirrels away from bird feeders. Squirrels are naturally wary of predators, so the presence of decoys like owl or hawk statues can deter them from approaching the feeder.

Additionally, playing recordings of predator sounds, such as bird of prey calls, can further enhance the effectiveness of the deterrent. By combining multiple methods, you create a comprehensive defense system that is more likely to deter squirrels and protect your bird feeders.

Other Squirrel Deterrent Options

Squirrel-proof Feeders

If you’re tired of squirrels raiding your bird feeders, investing in a squirrel-proof feeder is a great option. These feeders are designed with mechanisms that prevent squirrels from accessing the bird seed.

They often have weight-activated perches that close off access to the seed when a squirrel’s weight is detected. Some squirrel-proof feeders also come with metal cages that surround the seed ports, allowing only small birds to enter while keeping squirrels out.

These feeders can be a bit more expensive than regular feeders, but they are highly effective in deterring squirrels.

For more information on squirrel-proof feeders, you can visit websites like or

Vaseline on Pole

Another option to keep squirrels away from your bird feeders is to apply Vaseline or any other slippery substance on the pole or hanging mechanism. Squirrels are agile climbers, but when they encounter a slippery surface, it becomes nearly impossible for them to reach the feeder.

The Vaseline creates a barrier that makes it difficult for squirrels to grip onto the pole. Make sure to reapply the Vaseline regularly, especially after rain or snow.

Hot Pepper Spray

If you’re looking for a natural and non-toxic solution, hot pepper spray can be effective in deterring squirrels. Squirrels have a strong sense of smell, and the spicy scent of the pepper spray is highly unpleasant to them.

You can make your own hot pepper spray by combining chopped hot peppers with water and a few drops of dish soap. Strain the mixture and pour it into a spray bottle. Spray the solution on your bird feeder and surrounding areas to create a deterrent.

Be cautious when handling hot peppers, as they can cause skin and eye irritation.

Remember, it may take some trial and error to find the best squirrel deterrent option for your specific situation. Squirrels are crafty creatures and can be persistent in their quest for bird seed. By combining multiple deterrent methods and regularly maintaining your bird feeders, you can create an environment that is less attractive to squirrels and more enjoyable for your feathered friends.


Squirrels can be extremely stubborn when it comes to stealing from bird feeders. But with the strategic use of smelly repellents like peppermint, chili powder, vinegar, garlic and predator urine, you can send squirrels a clear message to stay away.

Just be sure to apply scents frequently and directly to feeders. Combining multiple smells and decoys adds extra squirrel discouraging power. With a bit of creativity and commitment to your bird-feeding goals, you can outsmart those squirrels and enjoy watching the birds savor your gift of food, not the squirrels.

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