How to Keep Squirrels Out of Trash Cans?

Tree Squirrels and ground squirrels are much more likely to raid your herb garden or compost than they are to go after your trash bins. Vegetables and plant food are a squirrel’s preferred diet, but sometimes when times are tough, they will eat anything. 

Quick Answer:

Keep squirrels out of trash cans with tight or locking lids. Metal cans are better as squirrels can chew through plastic. Secure cans with bungee cords or weights. Minimize food waste smells by cleaning the can frequently and using sturdy bags. Consider deterrent sprays or professional services if needed.

When food is scarce or the squirrel population has swelled due to a lack of natural predators, garbage bins may be targeted. Pest destroying your bins just for a meal can leave you with a big mess on your hands. 

How to Prevent Squirrels from Eating Out of Trash Cans? 

For immediate trash bin protection, use bungee cords to hold the lid down tight and a squirrel repellent to keep them from chewing through the plastic cans. Removing food scraps and trash with a strong scent can also reduce squirrel problems and prevent lasting bin damage.

Many wild animals will try to get into your trash, including raccoons and neighborhood dogs, so using tight-fitting lids and only placing the bins out on days when there will be trash collectors can help prevent toppled trash cans and food waste disasters. 

Plastic garbage bins are not strong enough to keep a rodent that needs a meal out. Squirrels can chew through most garbage cans to get to food debris. Metal garbage cans can be useful as they keep out squirrels and other animal wildlife as long as they have tight-fitting lids and can’t be knocked down. 

Preventing access to trash bins is a great way to keep them safe from animal damage. Storing trash cans in a secure location where wildlife cannot access it can save you tons of time and hassle. Different species of squirrels can dig well or climb well, so access to squirrels must be cut off above and below to ensure completely safe trash bins. 

For species of squirrels and other foraging wildlife that climb, squirrel guards can be used to keep them off of trees and bird feeders. Food from bird feeders and food from trash cans can both attract pests, so using squirrel guards to keep them out can be extremely effective. Place the metal loops on verticle structures to prevent climbing pests from getting to the top. 

Why Are Squirrels Attracted to Trash Bins? 

There are several reasons a squirrel might decide to eat out of a trash can; understanding what is attracting them is your best chance at preventing it from happening again. In most cases, garbage cans will be a squirrel’s last choice for a meal but knowing how to keep them and other more tenacious pests out is always a good idea. 

Reason for Squirrel DamageHow To TellWhat to do
No Available Plant-Based MealsOther food sources were recently removed, and increased squirrel activity near trash cans Add more plant-based food sources for squirrels away from the garbage area
Food Scraps Tossed in Household TrashDirect chew marks to where food was in the garbage canUse a metal can with a tight-fitting lid
Strong Mysterious OdorKnocked over or damaged trash can with little or no food eatenDouble bag stinky waste and use deodorizers to cut down string scents. 

No Available Plant-based Meals

Squirrels like to eat seeds, tree nuts, leafy greens and herbs, and food scraps in that order. Tree squirrels will always try to eat food close to their nests, and ground squirrels also forage near homes when possible. 

If there are few gardens or parks where squirrels can find food, then there is a greater chance they will become pests on your property. In your own yard, you have the option to plant beneficial gardens for wildlife and put out seeds and food for birds and other critters. Without these meal options, trash bins become very appetizing.

Food Scraps Tossed in Household Trash

We also have the option to compost our food waste and reduce the biodegradable material that we each pay to send to the landfill. If food scraps and kitchen waste is composted, they can be placed further from the house and protected from pests more aggressively.

Without food waste in the black bins, squirrels will be less likely to chew through the cans to get to non-edible items. Not only will this keep out squirrels, but other scavengers will give your bins a wide berth cutting down on surprise morning messes. Food residue and food runoff can attract pests fast, so regularly clean the outside of your trash cans.

Strong Mysterious Odors

Animals like squirrels are always curious and are intrigued by strange and mysterious smells. If the food in trash cans is something particularly aromatic or pungent, then the chances of attracting pests like squirrels to your trash can are much higher. Try to double bag stinky trash and use deodorizers like baking soda to prevent wildlife from extracting the contents of your smelly trash.

What Other Problems Can Squirrels Cause in Your Yard?

Squirrel Digging in Yard

Trash cans squirrels can get into are only one of the damages they can do to your property. Building Protection against squirrels can help keep decks and structures safe from pests that chew and claw. Disposing of food waste that can become a buffet for squirrels properly can prevent pest interest in our yard, whereas leaving it exposed can lead to more damage and bigger pests. 

Squirrels can destroy gardens, nest in structures, and ransack bird feeders. Dead squirrels in the walls and attics can also be seriously unpleasant and reek for months. Damage done to flower beds and vegetables can be extensive, and baby squirrels can sometimes find their way inside your home, leading to expensive pest control bills. 

How Can You Deter a Squirrel from Causing Damage to Your Home?

Keeping squirrels from doing damage to your home is a lot easier than trying to exclude squirrels from your property altogether. Squirrels come onto your property for food most of the time, and figuring out how to deal with that is important. 

It is almost impossible to remove all food sources that attract squirrels from our homes and lawns. It is better to try and remove problems related to food sources and create areas where squirrels can find food and water and move on. A squirrel with water and food will not scavenge through your trash cans. 

In most areas with a large squirrel population, there are plenty of places for squirrels to live and nest. It is very rare for these rodents to need to move into our homes or structures. If we provide an easy meal in a place where squirrels cannot do any damage, then we can prevent unwanted messes on our lawns and driveways.

Place a bird feeder or a wildlife-friendly herb and flower garden at the edges of your property and near trees where squirrels live. Keep the plants here free of pesticides and let the squirrels forage as they please. If squirrels have an ample food source near their homes, very few will journey towards yours. 

Compost bins can attract rodents and should be placed as far from the house and garbage cans as possible. Keeping the compost far away from trash cans and structures will reduce pests entering our homes and garages. Bury food scraps and enclose composts with mesh wiring to prevent more pest problems.