Squirrels will frequently make nests in attics, destroy gardens or other landscaping. Unfortunately, they also love to chew on electrical wires.
The bad news is that when they do, squirrels can become real pests by causing hazardous situations, such as fires and other costly repairs.
The good news is there are ways to stop them…
Below, I will discuss seven ways to stop squirrels from chewing wires!
This squirrel was chewing on the lights in this tree. | Photo By Rocco on Catchpiece.com
Why Squirrels Chew Wires
Squirrels and other rodents like mice and rats have a single pair of continuously growing incisor teeth in the upper and lower jaw, which requires them to gnaw on various materials to continuously keep their teeth filed down to a healthy length for survival purposes.
They like to chew on all sorts of materials including phone lines, landscape lighting, Christmas holiday lights, car engine wires, and even power wires.
So how do you stop them from damaging your stuff?
Seven Ways To Stop Squirrels From Chewing Wires:
1. Use Hot Pepper Repellent Sprays to Deter Chewing.
2. Protect Engine Wires With Electronic Device.
3. Protect Engine Wires With Rodent Tape.
4. Protect Power and Telephone Lines With a Conduit.
5. Use Waterproof Direct Bury Wires.
6. Use a Live Trap to Relocate Squirrels.
7. Use a Lethal Trap to Kill Squirrels.
Use Hot Pepper Sprays to Deter Squirrels
Every season during the holidays, I put up Christmas lights for the kids to enjoy.
And every year, the one thing you can count on, are squirrels totally mangling a set of lights.
One way I have found to protect string lights is to spray them with a really hot pepper spray.
I like to garden and one of my favorite plants to grow is hot peppers.
When I have a really good crop, I will use it to make my own really hot pepper sauce.
Not only is it great for spicing up your food, but you can also spray the hot stuff on the wires.
Squirrels are bothered by the burning taste and will associate it with chewing on the wires: as a result, they will stop chewing on them.
Just mix the sauce with some water in a spray bottle and cover the wires. After the spray dries, hang your lights.
As a bonus, you can also use your leftover hot pepper sauce to spray garden plants to deter squirrels and other animals.
Another cool way to use the hot sauce is to mix it with birdseed to keep squirrels away from your bird feeder.
Squirrels don’t like it but birds are not bothered by the hot taste.
Make sure you wear gloves when handling hot peppers and keep your hands away from your face or eyes after putting up your hot pepper covered holiday lights.
Also, you may want to reapply the spray every week or so, especially if it rains.
If you don’t have a pepper garden to make your own spray, try using Coles Hot Pepper sauce on Amazon.com.
Protect Engine Wires With an Electronic Device.
Car and truck engine wires seem to be a favorite for squirrels and other rodents such as mice.
It’s not entirely clear why they really like engine wires but some say it is because manufacturers are using a soybean-based rubber to insulate the wires and rodents mistake it for a food source.
Personally, I believe it’s because squirrels and mice just like to chew on engine wires, engine compartment insulation and even plastic reservoirs for the windshield wiper fluid.
They use the material to help build their nests and keep those teeth nice and sharp.
Whatever the reason, they sure do like to chew on engine wires, which can lead to expensive repairs to your car or truck.
So what can you do to stop those darn squirrels?
While I don’t recommend spraying your engine wires with hot pepper spray, you could use the spray on your hood insulation or the plastic reservoir if you find evidence of damage.
As for your engine wires, I would try installing an electronic device that deters rodents from nesting in your engine compartment and chewing on wires.
The devices emit ultrasonic waves and LED flashing lights to deter animals from entering your vehicle.
They are fairly simple to install: just connect 2 wires to the vehicle battery to provide power to the device.
A good electronic unit will have low voltage protection to automatically stop the device and prevent the vehicle’s battery from dropping below 10.5 volts to ensure you can always start your car.
Also, try and get one that has an auto standby, that shuts the unit off when the car is running, and will automatically resume working 20 seconds after the car is parked.
Here is a link to one with the extra features for Under Hood Animal Repellers on Amazon if you are interested.
Protecting Engine Wires With Rodent Tape
If you have a reoccurring issue with squirrels or mice damage wires under the hood, try wrapping the wires with rodent tape.
A few years ago, every time I was driving my wife’s car, it was always out of windshield washer fluid. It was a bit annoying, and I thought it was weird how fast she was using it. And, like a good husband, I always refill the fluid.
However, this time, something was different: the fluid had spilled all over the ground. After investigating the issue, I found out that a rodent was visiting the car and had eaten a large hole in the plastic washer fluid reservoir.
In addition to being a huge inconvenience, it was also a costly repair, as the whole fender had to come off the car for the reservoir to be replaced.
The Honda dealer recommended I wrap the surrounding engine wires with rodent tape as a precaution.
The tape is made with hot pepper inside the plastic and worked well as I didn’t have any additional damage to the car.
Although I purchased the product from a Honda Dealer, to my surprise it is available on Amazon as well.
Here is a link to the Honda Rodent Tape I used to wrap my engine wires.
Protect Power and Telephone Lines With a Conduit
In the map below, each marker represents a documented power outage caused by a squirrel.
In 2018, squirrels were responsible for over 1,200 power outages. Pretty crazy, right?
If you’re having trouble with squirrels chewing on Power wires or Telephone lines, then you may want to look into putting the wires into a conduit.
A conduit is basically a hard outer tube protecting the wire inside from the external environment.
Conduits come in many materials such as metal, PVC or even flexible plastic tubing.
Be aware that running electrical wires, especially the main power line feeding your home, may require a licensed electrician.
If you are running outdoor landscape lighting, you may need to have a permit for that as well, so be sure to check with your local laws before starting your project.
Use Direct Bury Wires
Another option instead of wire in a conduit is to use a cable designed to be buried underground.
Although not protected by a hard outer conduit, direct bury cables are rated to be waterproof and when buried properly, squirrels will not be able to get to them.
If you need to get an internet connection, phone line or outdoor camera setup and don’t want to run the cable in a long conduit, you can get something like this Outdoor Ethernet Cable on Amazon and bury it in the ground.
Or, if you’re installing a power cable then I would go with a Direct Bury Power Cable like this one.
Check with an electrician if you are not sure of which cable to use and always follow local building codes.
Use a Live Trap to Relocate Squirrels
Live trapping squirrels is another way to thin out the squirrel population and keep them under control.
One thing to consider is that when removing squirrels from around your home, eventually new ones will move in, so you may have to repeat this process.
Make sure you check your local laws for relocating nuisance wildlife in your area.
Find out what the guidelines are before starting to live trap squirrels.
Releasing wild animals on land you don’t own or don’t have permission to do so could get you into trouble, so make sure you have a legal place to release them before trapping.
If your looking for a good live trap then check out The Squirrelinator on Amazon.com.
It’s large and can catch multiple squirrels at a time.
Use a Lethal Trap to Kill Squirrels
If you don’t have a place to relocate squirrels, then lethal traps may be the way to get rid of squirrels that are chewing on wires.
As with any kill trap, there is always a chance that you actually kill the wrong animal.
The best way to limit your chances is to get a trap that you can mount on a tree trunk high off the ground to avoid killing the wrong animal.
The one that I recommend that is very effective against squirrels is the Tube Trap For Squirrels available on Amazon.
Secure the trap to a branch with tie wraps or a wooden shelf nailed to the trunk of the tree.
The squirrel enters the tube to get the bait and “bam”, it’s an instant humane kill.
I recommend using birdseed and peanut butter mixed placed on the trip pad for best results.
Conclusion-Stop Squirrels From Chewing Wires
There is no best way to stop squirrels from chewing on wires as they all have different pros and cons.
However, In my experience, using pepper spray is the fastest and easiest way the deter squirrels.
It is great to use in the garden and on holiday lighting but is not always 100% effective all the time since a light rain shower can wash it away.
Under the hood, the engine tape also works well to keep rodents from chewing on engine wires.
As for trapping, although The Squirrelinator is a great trap to use, I’m not a big fan of live trapping since it’s a huge hassle to relocate animals when you don’t have a legal place to release them.
Tube traps are very effective at killing squirrels, and the dead animal can be used to feed other wildlife.
Be sure to mount the tube traps higher up on a tree to give some protection from targeting the wrong animals.
Finally, if you are interested in more information on squirrels and how to get them out of your attic or other ways to deter them from your garden, read the post on The Best Ways To Get Rid Of Squirrels.
Please, leave a comment below to share what worked best for you!