How to Keep Squirrels from Ruining the Pumpkins on Your Porch

How to keep squirrels from eating pumpkin displays.

squirrelNaturally awesome/Shutterstock

My parents never lost a pumpkin to squirrels (or pranksters, for that matter). Their solution: display the pumpkin in the front window. Problem solved.

Nowadays people go to greater lengths to create Halloween displays. And that means bringing the pumpkins outdoors, where they are sometimes nibbled by squirrels. There are options and the first one I’ll mention is the friendliest: feed the squirrels something else. I know, some people will say you’re inviting trouble. The trick is to do the feeding away from the house—and away from the pumpkins—and stop once there’s no need for further pumpkin protection. That way the squirrels don’t become dependent on your generosity.

Pumpkins are not a squirrel’s favorite food. They eat them because instinct tells them they need to fatten up for the winter. If you give them tastier fare—say, peanuts, sunflower seeds, stale bread, crackers—they’ll have their fill without spilling pumpkin guts all over the yard. Come Nov. 1, if you’re feeling all warm and fuzzy about marauding garden rodents with furry tails, add your discarded pumpkins to their feeding station and call it a day.

Check out our plans for an entertaining squirrel feeder.

If that’s not you, then read on for other ways to keep squirrels from eating your pumpkins.

SPRAY the pumpkin with an animal repellent. Many repel based on scent, and while the garlic or rotten-egg smell can be intense when first applied, it diminishes over time.

COAT the pumpkin with a repellent you make yourself. Mix hot pepper sauce with water, add a few drops of dish soap to help it adhere, then apply to the pumpkin.

BRUSH your dog or cat and put their fur around the base of the pumpkin. Dogs and cats are natural predators that squirrels won’t want to be around.

RUB the pumpkin with a thick coating of petroleum jelly, making for a sticky surface that is less appealing to squirrels. Some people use hairspray instead, but that needs to be reapplied frequently, while the petroleum jelly can last the season.

SCARE squirrels away with a motion detector and a sprinkler. This is really more appropriate for rural homesteads and country gardens. In town, try placing a statue of an owl or a fox near the pumpkin—silhouettes squirrels naturally recognize and avoid.

Squirrels threatening your birdfeeders? We’ve got solutions to that too.

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Luke Miller
Luke Miller is an award-winning garden editor with 25 years' experience in horticultural communications, including editing a national magazine and creating print and online gardening content for a national retailer. He grew up across the street from a park arboretum and has a lifelong passion for gardening in general and trees in particular. In addition to his journalism degree, he has studied horticulture and is a Master Gardener.