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  • USA Wildlife Removal Education Guide - Do Mothballs or Ammonia Help Repel Squirrels?

Do Mothballs or Ammonia Help Repel Squirrels?

When it comes to establishing residence, squirrels are persistent. Mother squirrels normally bear two litters per year, and once they have built their nest in a safe place, they are reluctant to move. Cute as can be from a distance, their presence in an attic, ceiling or wall can be annoying or worse. The results can include disturbing noises, infestations of fleas or lice and potential fire hazards caused by their chewing insulation off electrical wires.

Outside, squirrels attack plants and trees, not only going after veggies you’re trying to grow and nuts ripening in your trees but also the buds and blooms of your flowers. Not to overlook that they often dig for bulbs, destroying the plants and leaving unsightly mounds of dirt.

More than a few companies offer products that intend to chase the animals out and keep them out of sheltered spaces like attics, or to discourage their presence in outdoor areas -- e.g. gardens, flower beds and orchards. These products are generally nathalene-based, such as mothballs, or ammonia-based, in solution and in powder or crystalline form. Application normally involves scattering or spraying the repellents on or around the vegetation to be protected.

Both purveyors and users assume that the products’ harsh and objectionable odors will be enough to drive the pests away. Sometimes they do work for a short time, but since they are based on evaporative chemical odors, the products tend to lose their potency over a relatively short period of time. If the application is indoors, as in an attic, the targeted squirrels often simply move to a different part of the space. If the application is out of doors, rain, heavy dew or simple evaporation can quickly reduce the products’ effectiveness. Thus, even under the best of circumstances, frequent reapplications are necessary.

Meanwhile, the squirrels -- smart as well as resourceful -- simply avoid areas where repellents have been deployed, returning to take up their foraging when the environment is more to their liking. Being omnivorous, the animals are not dependent on a single type of food so if one source is temporarily cut off, they easily adapt to other sources that likely exist within their range.

A further problem associated with chemical-based repellents is that because their effectiveness is based up emission of a strong, toxic odor, people inhaling the odor potentially can be sickened by it as well, as can their household pets. Thus, in establishing a squirrel-hostile chemical environment, property-owners may risk creating an even greater problem.

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