Hot Pepper Deters Squirrels

Special hot pepper foods deter squirrels!

Deter Squirrels with Hot Pepper

If there’s one thing that will heat up a meal, it’s hot peppers! Whether raw, cooked, chopped, seeds in or out, the variety of hot peppers and the heat and spice they add to foods and drinks is extensive.

Some peppers are so hot they can literally burn your skin while others impart just a little warmth. And some people just can’t get enough of them!  But there is one little critter that just doesn’t understand our affinity for spicy-hot peppers — the squirrel!

Extreme Trail Mix to attract a huge assortment of colorful birds--and zero squirrels.

Kick it up a notch! with cajun spices.

Hot pepper can be a very persuasive product when it comes to keeping squirrels away from bird seed. While birds don’t really have a sense of smell or taste, squirrels absolutely do! The taste and smell of hot peppers can be just as irritating to their noses and taste buds as it is to those of us that don’t appreciate hot, peppery foods.

There are many squirrel-deterring bird foods — seeds, suets and seed additives that contain hot pepper products. These are usually chili peppers, powders, flakes or derivatives and combinations of all of the above. And unless your squirrels are extremely hungry, having hot pepper mixed with the foods they’re after can really put a damper on how good those black oil seeds can taste!

If you’re a do-it-yourselver, you may ask, “why can’t I just mix cayenne pepper with my seed?” Well, you can. Except that cayenne isn’t very strong when it comes to hot pepper and the Scoville scale. The Scoville scale is the method used to rate the strength of hot peppers. Cayenne measures about 30,000 – 50,000 Scoville units, while pure pepper extracts (capsaicins) can measure between 15,000,000 and 16,000,000 units. And that’s closer to the strength you’ll find in bird foods and additives made specifically to deter squirrels. Wow!

Hot Pepper Seed with chili also deters squirrels. Another excellent solution.

An alarmingly hot bird seed blend with hot pepper seed and chili.

That should be enough to send them packing! So, although mixing up your own hot pepper seeds and suets might seem like a good idea, if you really have a squirrel problem, why not just try the “good stuff”? It just might be the solution you’re looking for.

Speaking of the “good stuff,” you’ll want to give Cole’s a chance in your bird feeder(s) first. They have several blends of bird seed with hot peppers already in them, so all you have to do is refill your feeder with their seed and the squirrels will stop visiting.

Or you can use their sauce. Add 3 tablespoons for every 5 lbs. of bird seed you have at home and you’ll be pleased to see you just made squirrel-proof bird seed. This liquid is just as effective as Cole’s hot bird seed.

But no matter if you try lacing your own seed with hot pepper, buy an additive or buy seeds or suets with hot pepper in them, always use caution!

Wash your hands well after handling any hot pepper products. And always read the handling instructions on the label. And keep all hot pepper products away from children. Happy Birding!

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  • Jan January 17, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    I love squirrels! I don’t like them in my bird feeders though. I use squirrel proof feeders and place safflower seeds on my wooden fence posts and areas on the ground for the ground feeding birds. The squirrels leave the safflower alone. I have 4 squirrel feeding stations through-out my yard. It helps to keep their minds off the bird feeders. I do hang a couple specialty feeders I bought from Duncraft. Those are hanging on hooks from the gutter on the back of our house. And they are, a woodpecker feeder, a thistle feeder, a sunflower feeder and the wire mesh shelled peanut feeder. For the most part. Feeding shelled peanuts in 4 different areas of the yard, keep the squirrels busy, and leaves plenty of time for the birds to feed at their stations without the squirrels running them off. I have a couple thistle feeders that the squirrels can reach, but they don’t care for thistle, thus they’re not bothered.

  • Linda Schneider November 11, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    why don’t you carry Cole”s “Hot Meats “and other similar products. they work and you would have many more customers..these really keep the squirrels away and I pay 14.95 at another bird store….

  • R. Brune November 11, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    Hi Linda, we do carry a whole line of Hot Pepper Foods. Here’s a link to them:
    You can also mouse over the pictures above and click to get to those products. Thanks for your comment!– Duncraft

  • Renee November 13, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    I do need have problems with Squirrels in my bird feeder but I have with Raccoons. Will the hot peppers work with them?

    • R. Brune November 15, 2010 at 9:03 am

      Hi Renee, hot pepper should help with raccoons–it’s worth a try. But the best thing to do would be to take your feeders in at night when the raccoons are most active. They can clean out a feeder pretty fast.

  • ariane June 19, 2012 at 10:39 am

    I have a problem with squirrels eating my butternut squash and corn. What can i use to deter them that weill a) not hurt them, and 2) be safe to eat?

  • Tracy April 6, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    We have doves nesting in our trellis, and have been feeding them, but the squirrels had been stealing the food, so I’m happy to see that the peppers won’t hurt the birds. We grow pequins, Scotch Bonnets, ghost peppers and Trinidad Scorpions, so we’re starting out with the pequins, since they’re known as bird peppers. They’re about as hot as a habenero, so I’m interested to see how this will work.

  • Pat Nelson May 6, 2014 at 9:39 am

    Now they are into our hummingbird feeders. (Actually unscrewed the bottom of one.)

    Is there a ‘hot pepper’ product to add to hummingbird feeders?

    • Shelby May 15, 2014 at 2:40 pm

      Hi Pat,

      No there isn’t hot pepper for hummingbird nectar. But, you could try a squirrel baffle over the feeder. This would also provide protection from the sun. Double duty!

  • Daniell February 14, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    I read on another site that pepper/chili powder can hurt birds’ eyes. I have observed that after putting my own blend of black pepper and chili powder the birds stopped coming to my feeders… along with the squirrels which was my first goal. That makes sense, even though birds cannot taste, powdered hot pepper-like can still get to their eyes. I will lay out seeds in a cookie sheet and sprinkle with Tabasco, let it dry… Let’s see if this works…

    • Heidi Babb February 17, 2015 at 11:11 am

      According to the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management, (a joint project of several large universities) birds are insensitive to hot pepper, even in very high concentrations whereas mammals don’t like it, even in quite low concentrations. It really won’t bother their mouths or digestive systems, but you’re right in that the dust from the powder can be an irritant to the birds’ eyes, just as it could bother your own. Your solution of treating them with Tabasco sauce sounds promising, but I also want to mention a great product that we’ve been carrying for years: Cole’s Flaming Squirrels. You just mix 3 tablespoons of the sauce with 5 pounds of seed. This super-concentrated coating is used in such a small amount that I think the risk of irritation to the birds’ eyes is extremely low. Hope that helps!

  • amy May 26, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    I’m going to try the pepper liquid in the hummer feeder. It’s that or I start shooting the fluffy tailed rodents, who have crossed their last line in the sand! They started eating my columns on the front porch, after 55 years of ignoring them, and now they are drinking the hummer food.

    When I put pepper on the bird food, they scoff. I think they’ve been eating too much Mexican food 🙁

    • Heidi Babb June 12, 2015 at 8:50 am

      Rather than adding hot pepper to the hummingbird nectar, why not try a baffle to keep the squirrels off the feeder all together?

  • JBQ August 29, 2015 at 12:34 am

    This is really cruel. That hot pepper gets on their hands, and then they burn their eyes if they rub them, potentially blinding them. Better solution is to put your feeder 12 feet from any trees and use guards so they can’t climb up to the food.

  • Ray Joslin September 17, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    I just had a conversation with my barber who has given up feeding her birds because she saw a rat feeding on the dropped seed. Does anyone know if the Cole’s preparation will deter these critters as well as the squirrels/raccoons? She feels guilty for not feeding the birds but can’t tolerate the possible rat attraction!

    • Heidi Babb September 17, 2015 at 3:06 pm

      Great question, Ray! Cole’s products contain capsaicin (the compound that makes hot peppers hot), and squirrels, rats, mice, and other mammals don’t like it. Birds, however, can’t even detect it. It might be just the solution that your barber needs to be able to start feeding her birds again. She might also want to try a feeder that comes with a tray to catch the seeds that the birds scratch out of the feeder ports, like our Duncraft Super Classic Tube Value or a “no mess” feeder like our new Maximizer EZ Clean Platform Feeder. Please ask her to give us a call, and we’ll be happy to talk about different options with her. Our friendly, knowledgeable customer service team is available Monday – Friday from 8:30am-5:00pm ET at 1-800-763-7878.

  • Edwina February 17, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    I use cayenne pepper all the time to keep rodents and unwanted wildlife out of my birdseed, and repel cats within 20 feet of my feeders, even ground feeders. I feed them what i want and have no concern whatsoever about unwanted guests at the feeder. In face, i noticed that chickadees actually ADORE hot pepper and they sing better too. I once put out seed with hot pepper and seed without. None of the birds cared which one they all liked both except for chickadees, who would not even taste the untreated seed. I know that cayenne is not super high on the sku, but there is something in cayenne besides capsacin that repels as well, making cayenne the preferred food to feed your birds. Try it and you will see. The hungriest rats and squirrels won’t go near it. Did you know that in nature birds eat hot peppers of all kinds as they do fruit? Try it for yourself, just use ground cayenne. moisten the seed first so the wind doesn’t blow it off and add it very liberally. Even if your seeds are red cause you used too much, the birds will be unaffected by it but other animals won’t go near it