Cinnamon: Can You Use It To Repel Squirrels? Here’s How

Sciurus niger, a tree squirrel of north america, in the autumn light

Squirrels can wreak havoc around your home by eating bird food out of feeders and the grass seed right off your lawn. There are a few things you can do to deter them from your property. That includes something as easy as using cinnamon (spray it, sprinkle it, or use the essential oil). 

Cinnamon can be used to help repel squirrels from key target areas around your property. Since squirrels have a strong sense of smell, you can use that to your advantage by sprinkling strong cinnamon powder in frequently visited areas to irritate their nose and repel them.

So, if you have squirrels, keep reading to discover how you can use cinnamon to help repel them from your property!

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Most Common Type Of Squirrels

Before we dive into how we can use cinnamon to repel squirrels, let’s talk about what squirrels look like. Squirrels are a part of the rodent family. The most common type of squirrel in North America is the Eastern gray squirrel. 

As you can guess these mammals are smaller in size, but typically larger than a mouse. The most commonly known feature is their iconic bushy, gray tail and white or cream bellies. They sit on their haunches to enjoy a delicious hickory nut, turning it in their hand-like paws for the best bites. 

Speaking of bites, their arms almost look like miniature versions of a raccoon’s. And they have sharp front teeth called incisors designed so they can gnaw on their food easily. They look like smaller beaver teeth. 

Squirrels have smaller heads, with little ears at the top, and their eyes located more towards the sides of their heads. And the sounds! Squirrels make a wide variety of sounds, but the most common is their sharp, fast chatter, along with a longer chatter that resembles an irritated bird. 

If you’ve seen an animal like this in your backyard with a white belly, gray body, and bushy tail, chances are it is a gray squirrel. But don’t let this cute demeanor fool you though. They can be quite destructive if not properly managed. 

Also be sure to check with your local wildlife professional or do a search on the internet if unsure if you’re indeed dealing with a squirrel. 

Where Do Squirrels Live?

Not sure if you have squirrels in your area? We can briefly go over which regions you can find them and what their ideal habitats are. Squirrels live on almost every continent with the exception of Antarctica and Australia

According to a book called Squirrels: The Animal Answer Guide published by JHU Press, squirrels can live pretty much anywhere humans live. They frequently occupy the same regional areas as humans. 

Depending on the type of squirrel and where you live in the world, squirrels mostly likely populate your area. Be sure to check your local region to see if squirrels are in your area. A great source is your local wildlife expert, such as your Fish and Game Department! 

Fun Fact: Did you know one of the earliest fossils of a squirrel was dated almost 36 million years old? Crazy right? What is even cooler is that nearly the entire skeleton was recovered, according to a book published by JHU Press called Squirrels of the World

Squirrel Habitat

Squirrel eating nut on wooden bar in garden

As you have probably guessed by now, squirrels like to live in places with shelter and a great food source. Unfortunately, that food source could be your garden beds or bird feeders. 

Gray squirrels, specifically, can be found in rural areas and wooded areas, but also densely populated human areas such as cities. They mostly prefer wooded areas and forested areas with plenty of tree cover, but will inhabit any area with a good food and water source as I said above.

In the woods of my home in New England, I often see gray squirrels occupying pine trees and oak trees, especially during the fall months when they need to fatten up for winter the most. They especially love the seeds and fatty nuts, but we will dive more into that later. 

As humans deforest our woodlands, a lot of wildlife, not just squirrels, get pushed into more suburban and populated areas. So it should not come as a surprise to find a family of squirrels somewhere on your property where they do not belong. 

Now that we know where they like to hang out, we can talk about what they like to eat. An understanding of your pest will help you best determine which method to repel them. 

What Do Squirrels Eat?

Gray squirrels, since they like to occupy pine and oak trees, tend to munch on the nuts and seeds that the trees produce. They also eat fungi, corn, seeds, fruits, acorns, hickory nuts, succulent plants, buds, and more, depending on the season. Nuts, such as acorns, are stored later for the harsher months ahead. 

Keep in mind not all squirrels eat the same things, as it depends on the region in which they populate and the available food. In North America though, the fox and gray squirrels have a similar diet. 

According to a publication titled The Handbook: Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage by Jeffery J. Jackson at the University of Georgia, squirrels are highly adaptive to unusual food sources or if normal sources run low. 

Unlucky for us! But do not worry! Now, we can discuss why and how cinnamon might be the right deterrent method for you! 

Why Does Cinnamon Repel Squirrels?

Squirrels have a very sensitive sense of taste and smell. They use this tool to find food to either eat now or store for later for the harsher, colder months. 

Cinnamon, along with some other types of spices found in your every-day pantry, can irritate the squirrel’s nasal passages and cause irritation. This in turn, leads the squirrel to stay away from cinnamon.Additionally, cinnamon also masks potential food source, making squirrels less desired to visit that area.

The spice is unusual to them, tastes odd and irritates their nasal passages when inhaled. So it is an easy, humane way of repelling squirrels!

You can read more about the ways squirrels cause damage here.

Is Cinnamon Harmful To Squirrels?

Short answer is no. Cinnamon is a humane and easy way to repel squirrels from your property. Just note, there are not many studies proving that cinnamon is 100% effective at repelling squirrels. 

Cinnamon, combined with other repellent methods, can prove quite effective at teaching your neighboring squirrel families to keep their distance and to leave your squashes alone! 

How Can You Use Cinnamon To Repel Squirrels?

A red squirrel stands near a tree with a nut

Now that we have a good knowledge base of what squirrels are, where they live, and what they eat. Now it is time to dive into how we can use cinnamon to help repel them.

Sprinkle Cinnamon To Repel Squirrels

We know that squirrels love an easy meal, and a bird feeder on your property is as easy as it gets. 

Sprinkle cinnamon in the bird seed to help repel the squirrels. They will get a mouthful and hopefully think twice before raiding your bird seed again. Be sure to reapply every few days as wind and weather can wash or blow it away over time. 

Another great idea is found in our post Hot Pepper: Why It Repels Squirrels And How To Use It!

For those concerned about the birds, rest assured you will not deter them with cinnamon. Birds have different receptors than mammals do and cannot taste the spice! 

Spray Cinnamon To Keep Squirrels Away

You can make a spray as well! Combine water and a generous amount of cinnamon powder, or soak cinnamon sticks, in a spray bottle. 

Spray the affected areas with a generous amount of spray, including foundations, under sheds, the soil of your garden beds, and more! Just be mindful that some plants may not take kindly to the spray so do some research before spraying! 

Use Cinnamon Oil To Deter Squirrels

Cinnamon oil can be a great method as well. It is similar to the spray method. Add some essential oil to a spray bottle with water. Spray the affected areas. 

As I stated above, be mindful of which plants you spray as they may not react to the essential oil very well. 

Does Cinnamon Work On Other Pests?

Yes! Cinnamon is not only good for repelling squirrels but other pests as well. Other rodents such as chipmunks, also do not like the sensation of cinnamon once smelled. 

Some insects do not like the smell or taste of cinnamon either. These pesky critters include mosquitoes, ants, moths, spiders, and more! 

What Other Repellents Can Be Used To Repel Squirrels? 

Cinnamon is a great tactic, but is not supported by the scientific community to effectively repel squirrels. That’s why it is important to use more than one tactic against these potential destructive little critters. 

Read on to find out more about what other ways can be used to repel squirrels from your garden or home! 

Rodent Repellent Keeps Squirrels Away

There are many safe and effective products out there that can help you with your squirrel problem. Rodent repellent is a safe and effective method if cinnamon does not work for you. 

For instance, check out Mighty Mint 16oz Peppermint Oil Rodent Repellent Spray.This peppermint oil repellent spray can be a great alternative method to repelling squirrels and other problematic rodents and pests. The peppermint, just like the cinnamon, irritates the squirrel’s nasal passages. Hopefully they will think twice before going to that area again! 

You can also read our article about using peppermint to repel squirrels here.

Hot Pepper Flakes Or Powder Will Deter Squirrels

Close up photo of eating squirrel

Another way we can repel squirrels without using cinnamon is hot pepper flakes or powder. You can use cayenne pepper or another type of hot pepper. Capsaicin, the chemical that makes peppers hot, is what deters the squirrels. 

Hopefully the squirrels will think again before digging around in your bird feeder or vegetable garden.

You can read our post about repelling squirrels with hot pepper here

Hot Sauce Works To Deter Squirrels

Along with hot pepper flakes and powders, hot sauce can be added to your arsenal of repellents. 

You guessed it! Hot sauce also contains the chemical capsaicin, which we now know is the active ingredient that makes the hot pepper sauce “hot”. Adding some hot sauce to the cinnamon methods above can also prove effective at repelling your problematic squirrels.

Similar to hot sauce, vinegar can also repel squirrels!

Block Nooks And Holes Appealing To Squirrels 

If on a budget like many of us are these days, a few simple steps taken around your home can help repel and deter squirrels. 

Conduct property checks around your home, keeping an eye out for holes or areas that look appealing to a rodent looking for shelter or a storage area for winter food. 

During the fall months squirrels like to store as much food as they can to prepare for winter. Well their storage unit could be under your shed or even in your basement if they have access! 

The best way to try and repel squirrels if cinnamon or other repellent methods are not an option, is to close off and block any areas squirrels, or other pests, could find appealing. 

Keep Squirrels Away With Sound Devices

If your pet likes to taste test unknown objects and scents like mine does (my dog, more specifically), sprays and powders, no matter how safe, might not be an option to repel squirrels or other pests in and around your home. 

For instance, check out the Rodent Ultrasonic Repeller. This non-toxic method uses sound to deter pests, not just squirrels, from your home using sound waves that only the pests can hear. It can be used for cockroaches, crickets, fleas, mice, rats, mosquitos, ants, spiders, and squirrels.

Now, I’m personally not a fan of ultrasonic repellents as their effectiveness isn’t really… there. However, it’s a low cost and easy to use option that has the potential to work.

Chicken Wire Or Mesh Netting Will Keep Squirrels Out

Netting is an inexpensive way to block holes under buildings on your property you do not want completely blocked off. 

For good wire netting, check out this Lightweight Galvanized Hexagonal Wire. This product is an example of chicken wire many use to prevent squirrels and other rodents from nesting and storing on your property. You can also find chicken wire at your local hardware store or livestock supply store. 

Consult A Professional To Repel Squirrels

When in doubt, ask! If you are not sure how you should properly repel your squirrel or pest problem, it is always a great idea to consult a wildlife professional. 

A professional can give you the best advice as to how to deal with your pest problem, or even recommend calling pest control to remedy the situation on your property. 

It is important to remember when in doubt, always ask for the best course of action. 

That’s It!

That’s all folks! We learned that cinnamon can be effective at repelling squirrels as well as other pests. But it is always a great rule of practice to combine different repellent methods to best control your pest problem. Relying on one method may not give you the best results! 

References

Thorington Jr, R. W., Koprowski, J. L., Steele, M. A., & Whatton, J. F. (2012). Squirrels of the world. JHU Press.

Thorington, R. W., Thorington Jr, R. W., & Ferrell, K. E. (2006). Squirrels: the animal answer guide. JHU press.

Jackson, J. J. (1994). Tree squirrels. The Handbook: Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage, 10.

Gurnell, J., Lurz, P., Pepper, H., & Britain, G. (2001). Practical techniques for surveying and monitoring squirrels. Surrey, UK: Forestry Commission.

The Humane Society of the United States. (n.d.). “Squirrels and bird feeders: Quest for a squirrel-proof bird feeder.” Wild Neighbors. https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/squirrels-and-bird-feeders

Fitzgerald, C. S., Curtis, P. D., Richmond, M. E., & Dunn, J. A. (1995, August). Effectiveness of capsaicin as a repellent to birdseed consumption by gray squirrels. In National Wildlife Research Center Repellents Conference 16, 169-183.

Jacobs, L. F., Liman, E. R. (1991). Grey squirrels remember the locations of buried nuts. Animal Behavior, 41(1), 103-110.

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