How To Use HOT Pepper Birdseed to Keep Squirrels Away!

Today, we are going to be talking about hot pepper birdseed.

hot pepper bird seed

More specifically, how hot pepper birdseed can help keep squirrels from eating all of the bird food at your feeding station! Seriously, this strategy really works. When I use this spicy food, squirrels (and other mammals) take one whiff and decide to look for food elsewhere.

In case you didn’t know, hot pepper birdseed is food that has been infused or coated with something incredibly spicy. For example, hot habanero chili peppers or cayenne pepper is often used.

hot pepper birdseed

So, why on earth would you put out birdseed that would make our mouths burn?

The reason might surprise you, and it’s not because birds have suddenly acquired a taste for spicy food. 🙂

Think of the last time you ate a hot pepper. The “heat that you feel in your mouth after eating one is caused by a compound called capsaicin. The reason we feel pain, discomfort, and burning after eating hot peppers is that capsaicin messes with specific nerve endings in our mouth.

 So here is the crazy thing:

Only MAMMALS are affected by capsaicin.

Birds don’t have much of a sense of taste or smell, so they are immune. As a result, they can eat hot pepper birdseed all day long and have no ill effects. 

Just think about this fact for a second. The list of mammals that can cause problems at your feeding station includes not only squirrels but also raccoons, chipmunks, rats, mice, and even bears! All of these creatures have SUPER sensitive noses, so all it takes is one smell, and they should start looking for food elsewhere.

YouTube video

Learn more about the LIVE cameras in my backyard HERE!

But birds won’t hesitate to eat hot pepper birdseed!

And please don’t worry about the birds eating spicy food as it’s completely safe. Products that contain capsaicin have been on the market for a long time now. There are no reports of any birders or ornithologists who have spoken on the adverse health consequences for birds.

Does this sound too good to be true?

So while using hot pepper birdseed is an effective strategy for stopping squirrels, it’s not perfect.

First, buying food that has been treated with capsaicin is EXPENSIVE when compared with regular birdseed that is not spicy. But on the flip side, you won’t be feeding squirrels anymore, so the supply of food will last longer.

Second, you have to be CAREFUL when handling hot pepper birdseed. The worst thing you can do is touch the stuff, then rub your eyes or nose. You can probably imagine how your face would feel. I have made this mistake exactly ONCE and now won’t handle it without gloves.

Ok, now that we know why hot pepper bird seed works, let’s talk about how you can get some!

In general, there are TWO ways to acquire hot pepper birdseed:

#1. Buy birdseed already coated or infused with capsaicin.

The easiest thing you can do is buy pre-made hot pepper birdseed. Just open the bag and fill your feeders!

While this is easy, it’s also relatively expensive. You are paying for convenience.

Here is the hot pepper birdseed that I use:

Coles Hot Pepper Sunflower Seeds:


#2. Make your own hot pepper birdseed!

Preparing your own spicy food is more time-consuming, but it’s going to save you money. Personally, I use the concentrated hot sauce pictured below and mix it with shelled sunflower seed.

hot pepper birdseed

Cole’s Flaming Squirrel Seed Sauce

You need to be careful using this stuff because it is hot and incredibly painful to get the concentrated solution on your face (speaking from experience). Here are three things I do which help keep the sauce on the seeds and OFF me. 🙂

  • I have a 5-gallon bucket with a lid that is dedicated to mixing and storing my homemade hot pepper seed. It’s also individually marked so nothing else ever goes into this bucket.
  • Always use gloves!
  • I have a dedicated thick wooden stake that I use for mixing the hot sauce into the seeds. The stake is kept in a special location so I don’t accidentally touch it without gloves on.

There are also many DIY recipes available on the internet that talk about mixing cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes into your bird food. Unfortunately, at this point, I have not tried any of the recipes out myself and can’t comment on how any of them work.

Have you tried using hot pepper food to keep squirrels away?

If so, please comment below to let us know your experience!

Also, please share any proven recipes for making your own hot pepper birdseed at home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. I tried for years to modify my bird feeders to keep the squirrels out. Success was finally achieved by limiting my feeders to ones placed far enough away from trees to prevent the little acrobats from jumping onto the feeders. I also mounted my large bird feeder on a 5′ tall 10″ diameter galvanized metal duct pipe set in a concrete base (set-up looks like a lighthouse). For the smaller feeder I drilled 1″ holes in the bottom of a plastic 5-gallon bucket and a plastic mixing bowl (same diameter). I glued the bowl upside-down on the bottom of the bucket & cut the lip off the bucket (removing squirrel hand holds). I then installed an 8′ long 1″ dia. stiff PVC pipe in the ground and installed 2 screws in the pipe ~2″ below the top. Then I lowered the bowl/bucket contraption onto the pole (held in place by the screws) and mounted the bird feeder on the top of the pole. Voila, no more squirrels IN the feeders!
    Problem was, I think the squirrels made deal deals with the birds to toss seeds on the ground for them to eat. The wife bought a bag of hot sauce infused seed which worked; but, was very expensive. So, I started making my own at a ratio of a teaspoon of food grade flaming hot hot sauce to 3-5 cups of sunflower or safflower seed that I buy in bulk. Word to the wise: don’t put exposed skin or your face over the mixing bucket! This works well; but, some of the squirrels still start congregating around the base of the feeders after it rains! I guess the rain is washing off the hot sauce!

  2. We purchased a couple of large seed cakes recently. They have a large variety of whole seeds and nuts including almonds, peanuts, and pepitas. When the birds finally took notice, so did the squirrels. After many angry trips to the feeder with a broom, I got the bright idea to sprinkle the “cake” with cayenne. As soon as I put it back up, squirrels were on it. Then they were off of it and have not returned.

    I have used the hot pepper bird seed in the past but have never seen the bottles of hot sauce. I only buy the bags of pepper food intermittently because of the price.

  3. Hi! Love your blog! How much hot pepper sauce do you mix with how much bird seed? Do you have a favorite recipe?

  4. Well, there were a couple of instances when I tried dousing the birdseed with some cayenne. Each time, I added a bit more since it didn’t seem to work. The three squirrels who claimed the feeder as their territory sat at the edge of the platform with their tails flinging from side to side violently, and simply continued to pack their faces. After I used up the cayenne that I had on hand, I decided, firstly, not to waste more money on pepper, and secondly, that my squirrels were not American, but were sent here from pepper-loving nations!!!! lolol Subsequently, I resorted to my usual M.O.–chasing them with my broom, or getting out the hose and giving them a healthy dose of ice water. Neither, by the way, was effective more than once a day. Since they didn’t seem to cause any other damage around the house, I then resigned myself to live with them just as I had to live with my OCD neighbor. whom I often heard from his back yard (at the top of his lungs) complaining about my dandelions and how “inefficiently” I accomplished my outdoor tasks.

  5. I used to be able to buy a porch and patio mixture that had thf hotness in it. Walmart did sell it, but that do not carry it anymore. It worked very well keeping squirrels away, but now I cannot find it anywhere.

  6. Yes it definitely slows down squirrels. I buy the big restaurant size cayenne pepper powder. I mix it with bird seed and it will cost the seed. But… Be careful you Dan breath in the powder upon mixing first time. Then I find myself sneezing as the powder gets disturbed when filling feeders. Another but… Bears don’t care and maybe even like spicy seed. They have destroyed two feeders this year!

  7. I have so many beautiful birds who visit everyday even blue jays and cardinals. I bought the hot sauce too and at first the squirrels stayed away but the black one still eats it and now the grey one does too. I bought corn cobs for the squirrels to stay away from bird feeders but when they are done eating that they go back. My husband bought regular hot sauce like Ghost pepper and tried adding that too. I’m going to try to coat the feeders with some of the hot sauce maybe that will work.

  8. I have just recently acquired Cole’s Angry Squirrel Solution (or something like that.) Anyway, I mixed some seed and put it in the normal feeder that was routinely raided by squirrels… what happened was this. This sampled some of it, and the spice was apparently getting to them, because by the time I got back from work the patio chair cushions were shredded by angry squirrel claws 😮

  9. I have tried the hot pepper suet and feel it works. It got expensive though. Can you add the hot pepper to suet as well?
    My Squirrel Buster Feeders do a good job of keeping the squirrels out of the seed at our house.

  10. I have one mature squirrel who eats my hot seed without a problem. The others won’t touch it. I wonder if it’s a genetic mutation. Also the blue jays wipe their mouth after eating and seem bothered by it.

  11. Baffles have worked for me to repel squirrels. No longer a problem. I also positioned the feeder far enough away from my deck out of their jumping range. But now I have a problem with raccoons, skunks and opossums. The latter two stay at the base and forage on the ground. The raccoon can climb the pole over the baffles–I put up several. So I started to bring in the bird feeder inside my screened-in porch at night since that’s when the critters come out but one of them tore through the screen and got at it; I assume it’s the raccoon. So I put the bird feeder in a deck bench with the rest of the bird seed, but he lifted the top. HOW? He also tipped over a plastic container with a snap-on lid and got that open. So I got metal containers with good fitting lids, but he came through his screen hole and lifted the tight lid off the cannister and got at the seed. I couldn’t believe it; it’s hard for me to take off the lid. I want to repair the screen, but what’s the point? He’ll tear it again. I’m afraid to get a someone to trap the racoon for fear they will trap the skunk and pest control will not do skunks. I’ve tried that foul-smelling spray to repel critters (Repel-All) but that doesn’t work. HELP! I don’t want to give up my birds and don’t want the cost and hassle of re-doing my screens on my porch. I primarily feed the birds sunflower chips…they all love it. My goldfinches ignore any Nyger seed I put out. Will racoons be repelled by that flaming squirrel seed sauce? I don’t want to repel the birds as some people have noted in previous comments.

  12. The hot bird seed definitely works to repel squirrels but it’s also repelling my birds. What to do?

  13. I think that I put too much liquid Cole’s in my seed. The number of birds coming to my feeder has dropped considerably. Is it related? If so, how do I fix the seed? Or, do I just have to toss it?

    1. You could probably just add some more plain seed but be sure to mix it well. It gives you instructions on how much hot oil to add to the correct amount of seed. Stir it and let it dry before putting it in the feeder. I never had a problem with the birds not coming to eat it. Just be careful wearing gloves, use an ok’d measuring spoon and keep that and your container separate. It works pretty well overall. If your feeders are where raccoons and chipmunks can easily get to it, they are not deterred by the hot sauce.

  14. I bought a 5# bag of the Cole’s Hot Meats and mixed it with a 10# bag of the Cole’s Cajun Cardinal Blend and put it out in my feeder this morning. The squirrels took just a few bites of the seed and immediately left the feeder. I’ve tried other hot pepper seed mixes but haven’t had results this drastic or immediate. THANK YOU for this recommendation; I expect I’ll be spending a lot less on seed in the future!

  15. Your link to Amazon’s Cole’s Hot Meats birdseed is for $64 for the 10 pound bag. You can buy the 5 pound bag for $27. You might consider providing a different link for this birdseed in case someone just buys off your link directly.

  16. Oh, I had squirrels alright!! I faithfully filled my feeder with safflower, sunflower seeds and hearts, and even peanuts to keep bluejays happy. My elderly mother enjoyed sitting on the patio and watching the birds feast on the fare. That is, until the squirrels showed up and cleaned out the feeder. That always prompted criticism regarding why I saw fit to feed so many “rats” along with the birds. lolol At any rate, I continued to do that ignoring all of that consternation. It dawned on me, long before I ever heard of the suggestion to use cayenne, that perhaps pepper might work. So I promptly bought the biggest container of cayenne I could find and really dusted those seeds, telling my dear mother what my plan was. I apparently was the only owner of mutant squirrels, because as we sat on that patio to watch the reaction of the creatures when they discovered all of that heat, not one, not two, but six squirrels showed up after spying the new supply. When they dug into the heap of seeds, not one single squirrel stopped chomping on the food, but their tails were a different story. Every tail went completely mad, flinging from one side to the other, up and down and banging into each other as they twitched uncontrolled. My mother sat there in absolute stitches watching the show saying it was the best laugh she had in years. For some reason, she never complained about my feeding the squirrels again. At any rate, none of them ever stopped showing up and cleaning out the feeder, but they were a source of entertainment, even though I have to admit I always felt awfully guilty when I sprinkled that pepper on the seed.

  17. I have tried mixing varying amounts of cayenne powder into seed; I couldn’t find a particular recipe online, oddly. I couldn’t get a good ratio that worked. If it was a larger amount, the birds didn’t eat it either — I suspect because of the powdery texture which is the only thing I could think would detract them. But if it was a smaller amount, the squirrels still ate it. I tried buying the Cole’s liquid that you mix in but it doesn’t seem to be in stock anywhere. Fortunately the squirrels haven’t yet figured out my Squirrel Buster, and I put safflower in my window feeder which seems to deter the squirrels from that feeder.

  18. “Birds don’t have much of a sense of taste or smell, so they are immune.”

    That is the common line about birds… but then how do you explain that if seed (Nijer seed in a Goldfinch feeder for example) has gone bad and gotten moldy, the birds avoid it like the plague. Or old sunflower seeds that have gotten wet and are rancid, nothing approaches it.

    I think that if you said “apparently birds are not affected by capsaicin like mammals” — that would be a much more correct statement.