Do Squirrels Eat Pepper Plants? | 10 Ways to Stop Them

If you have peppers planted in your garden, squirrels will not eat them, but that doesn’t mean they’ll leave the plants alone. Squirrels love to dig underground and munch on the roots, and they’ll often steal the peppers and take them home with them.

Because of this, you might want to take some action against these squirrels to keep them away from your peppers, and there are some effective ways to do just that.

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10 Ways to Protect Pepper Plants from Squirrels

There are some very effective and simple ways to protect your pepper plants from squirrels, and they include the following:

1. Capsaicin

Capsaicin is a compound found in foods such as pepper plants, and it is what gives these plants their spiciness. Fortunately, squirrels hate capsaicin, so if you sprinkle ground chili peppers, garlic, cayenne pepper, or pepper flakes around your pepper plants, you can keep them away.

You can sprinkle some on the leaves of the plants as well.

I like to grow habanero peppers in my raised garden beds with tomatoes.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is another natural repellent that works great. You can put some in a spray bottle and spray the entire plant with it, and it won’t hurt any of your other plants, either. Try to spray it often to keep squirrels and other animals away.

3. Peppermint Essential Oil

Squirrels detest the smell of peppermint, so if you place some peppermint essential oil onto several cotton balls and place them strategically around your plants, they should do a great job of keeping the squirrels at bay.

4. Install Motion Detector Lights

Motion detector lights will flash on as soon as the squirrel gets into the general vicinity, and most of them will flee as soon as this happens. It may not get rid of all of them, but most of them will stay away because they hate the light.

5. High-Frequency Sound Machines

These machines are an annoyance to squirrels and other animals because they have very sensitive hearing. The machines can be difficult to find, but once you find one, you’ll be surprised by how well it works.

Check out these squirrel deterrents from Amazon.

6. Fake Statues of Animals

Placing statues of certain animals in your garden can keep squirrels away, especially snakes and owls. You can also use a scarecrow, but the owl and snake will work better. Make sure the statue is large enough for the squirrels to see regardless of where they are in your garden.

7. Coffee Grounds

Rely on squirrels’ strong sense of smell to keep them away from your pepper plants. Coffee grounds are one of the many smells squirrels hate, so if you place some around your plants, they will cause the squirrels to stay away for good.

Used coffee grounds can be scattered around your garden to deter squirrels and feed earth worms.

8. Irish Spring Soap

Of all the smells they hate, squirrels seem to hate Irish Spring soap the most. Take your kitchen grater and shred the soap, then place it all around your plants to keep the squirrels away.

9. Certain Spices

If you sprinkle certain spices on the leaves of your pepper plants, you’ll chase away the squirrels because they hate certain scents. The most effective spices seem to be cinnamon, garlic salt or powder, and thyme, but you might find others that work just as well.

10. Dryer Sheets

This one may sound silly, but it works. Once again, it’s the scent of the dryer sheet that squirrels hate. Just place them around your plants by taking small twigs or something similar and staking them into the ground in various places.

Check out this great video on how to keep squirrels out of your yard.

4 Other Animals That Eat Pepper Plants at Night

Besides squirrels, other animals will come into your garden at night and eat your pepper plants, which include the following:

1. Birds

Birds don’t usually come out at night but often come out early in the morning, and the bright colors of the peppers attract them easily. Putting up bird protection around your plants is usually your best bet for getting rid of the birds in your pepper garden.

2. Deer

Deer usually eat the leaves of the pepper plants first. If they’re hungry enough, they’ll eat all other parts of the plant as well. This includes the spicy peppers themselves, but they only do it to get food in their stomachs.

3. Rabbits

Rabbits are notorious for eating all parts of the pepper plants. Like deer, they do not like the spicy peppers but will find a way to eat them if they’re hungry enough.

4. Rats/Rodents

Different areas have different types of rodents, so talk to your local gardener to learn which ones are prevalent where you live. Once you do this, you can easily learn to eliminate them from your garden.

I like to grow my pepper plants in raised garden beds to keep them out of reach of mice and rats.

What Bugs Eat Pepper Plants?

More than animals, numerous bugs can wreak havoc on your pepper plants, and below are some of those bugs:

  1. Aphids: These bugs suck sap from the leaves and leave behind black goo.
  2. Caterpillars: They mostly eat holes in the leaves, but they can also eat the stems and the fruit.
  3. Hornworms: These are 4-inch-long, fat bugs that will eat almost every part of your pepper plant.
  4. Pepper Weevils: They have a long trunk-like mouth and are black in color; they make small holes in the peppers.
  5. Slugs and Snails: These leave behind a trail of slime and are easy to locate and remove by hand.
  6. Spider Mites: They come in many different types and can be identified by the tiny webs they leave behind.
  7. Thrips: They will suck the juice from the plants and leave behind leaves with white or silver speckling or brown stripes.
  8. Tree Shrews: These are difficult to control because they love the spiciness of your pepper plants.
  9. Whiteflies: These tiny white flies are usually located on the underside of the leaves and leave behind a sticky residue.


Squirrels usually do one of two things with your pepper plants: munch on the roots underground or steal the peppers and bring them home with them. Either way, once you learn which animals and bugs love to bother your plants, it’s a lot easier to know what to do next.