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Every Halloween is disappointing in the same way. You carve up a stunningly creative pumpkin, possibly even your best one yet — but within a few hours, a furry creature has gotten to it.

Below are five ways to keep the critters — especially squirrels — away from your masterpiece. One final tip: Horticultural educator Mary Wilson at Michigan State University Extension suggests rotating the type of repellent every few weeks, as animals become less sensitive to the effects over time.

1. DIY hot sauce concoction

Mix about a gallon of water, one small bottle of hot sauce, and a teaspoon or so of soap. Put it in a spray bottle and coat the pumpkin inside and out. Feel free to add pepper flakes — squirrels can’t handle the heat.

2. Pet hair

If your pet sheds a lot, it’s time to put it to use. Gather a layer of pet hair and put your pumpkin on top, or arrange the hair around the pumpkin. It will remind squirrels of a predator.

3. Windex + Pledge

Spray first with Windex, then finish off with Pledge. It’s not a nice smell, for you or the animals.

4. Deer repellent, or general animal repellent

Same deal — you can find various animal repellents at local garden stores. Most of them have ingredients such as peppermint, garlic or eggs.

5. Blood meal

This one is the most Halloween you can get. Blood meal is a garden fertilizer made from, well, blood. Squirrels don’t like it because they’re vegetarians. Sprinkle some around your pumpkins, but keep it limited to less than 4 ounces per square yard. Look in hardware or garden stores.

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