How to Keep Squirrels from Chewing Through Your Outdoor Light Wires

Outdoor lighting can add beauty and security to your home. However, squirrels chewing through the wires of outdoor lights is a common and frustrating problem for many homeowners. As someone who has dealt with this issue personally, I want to provide helpful tips on how to keep squirrels from ruining your outdoor lighting.

Why Squirrels Chew Wires

Understanding squirrel behavior is an important first step in solving this problem. Squirrels are constantly gnawing on things to keep their teeth worn down. Their teeth grow continuously throughout their lifetime. Electrical wires probably feel good on their teeth and also attract them out of curiosity.

In addition, female squirrels will chew on wires and other items to gather nesting material. They use this material to build warm, soft nests for bearing and raising their young. So for squirrels, your outdoor lighting wires prove an attractive chewing and gathering spot.

Tips to Prevent Squirrel Chewing

Fortunately, there are some fairly easy and inexpensive ways to thwart squirrels and protect your lighting. Here are some of the most effective tactics I have found:

Wrap Wires in Protective Casings

Wrapping outdoor wire connections in protective casings is your first line of defense. You can find plastic wire or cable protectors at most hardware stores. Flexible metal conduits also work well. Chewing through the tough plastic or metal deters squirrels. It also prevents them from touching the actual wires.

Use Hot Pepper Spray Deterrents

Applying hot pepper sprays to the wires makes them unappetizing. The irritation and bad taste drives squirrels away. I've had success with liquid concentrates containing capsaicin, the chemical found in hot peppers. Some brands designed for deterring chewing pets, like Chewfix, also work on squirrels. Reapply these frequently, such as once per week or after rain.

Install Flexible Tubing on Wires

For a more hands-off solution, encase connections in flexible plastic or metal tubing. Install tubing that is smooth and small in diameter to prevent squirrels from getting traction. Ensure tubing fits snugly over the wires to block access. Check periodically for holes, as very persistent squirrels may chew through eventually. Replace tubing if needed.

Use Dual Wall Adhesive Lined Heat Shrink

Dual wall adhesive lined heat shrink tubing provides another protective barrier. Once heated, it forms a tight seal and the inner adhesive layer keeps squirrels from penetrating to the wires. The dual wall thickness gives added durability. Completely cover any vulnerable wire connectors and joints.

Apply Squirrel Repellent Oils

Natural squirrel repellent sprays containing ingredients like clove oil, peppermint oil, or garlic oil can also make wires less appealing. Apply these organic oils near any problem areas and re-spray every few days or after rain. Avoid skin contact when applying.

Use Expanding Foam Filler

For wires located in boxes or control panels, inject expanding foam filler fully around the wires. The foam hardens to prevent chewing access. It also weatherproofs connections. Monitor for any gaps or holes periodically. Refill gaps if needed to thwart determined squirrels.

Set Up Motion-activated Sprinklers

Motion-activated sprinkler deterrents like the ScareCrow can help startle squirrels away before they damage wires. Position the sprinkler near vulnerable lighting runs and set the motion sensor to detect squirrel movement. A quick spray of water surprises them and deters chewing.

Apply Bird Mess Prevention Gel

Clear, non-toxic bird repellent gel formulas make wire insulation slippery and sticky. Squirrels dislike the texture and may be discouraged from gnawing further once they encounter it. Re-apply gel every few weeks or after significant rain. Exercise caution to avoid skin or eye contact.

Use Bitter-tasting Anti-chew Sprays

Apply bitter-tasting anti-chew sprays made specifically for the types of damage squirrels cause. These are formulated to have an unpleasant, bitter taste to repel chewing. Spray liberally on any unprotected wires or cabling. Reapply frequently for best results. Keep sprays away from skin and eyes.

Install a Squirrel Baffle/Guard

Squirrel baffles or guards can block access to wires. Install them on poles, posts, or other surfaces the wires attach to. Select smooth, rounded baffle designs that don’t allow squirrels to climb over or shimmy under. Ensure all wire connections are fully enclosed within the baffle’s protective housing.

Use Electronic Pest Repellers

As a last resort, installing electronic high-frequency pest repellers may deter squirrels from patios, gardens, or other areas where lighting is installed. These devices emit varying sound/ultrasound frequencies designed to drive away rodents. Effectiveness is questionable, but may be worth trying for difficult situations.

When to Call a Professional

If you have tried these DIY remedies without success, don't give up. Calling a professional wildlife control expert or electrician is the next step. A pro has specialized tools, materials and knowledge to remove squirrels and fully protect your lighting wires.

Professionals can install tough commercial-grade wire protection products. They also know how best to exclude squirrels from certain vulnerable areas. Though hiring pros costs more upfront, it saves time and frustration in the long run.

Preventing squirrels from ruining your outdoor lighting takes some work. But staying vigilant and using multiple deterrents at once improves your chances of success. Protect those wires and enjoy your beautiful outdoor lighting! Let me know if you have any other squirrel control tips I missed.