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.

hot pepper bird seed keeps squirrels away

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 will start looking for food elsewhere.

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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 should 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:  View Price - Amazon 

Food That Stops Squirrels From Eating

Cole’s Hot Meats Sunflower Seed


2. Make your own hot pepper birdseed!


Preparing your own spicy food will be more time-consuming, but it’s going to save you money.


Honestly, there are 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.


8 responses to “How To Use HOT Pepper Birdseed to Keep Squirrels Away!”

  1. Tracy says:

    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?

  2. figpox says:

    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!

  3. David F Perkins says:

    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.

  4. Tacks Scherbo says:

    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.

  5. 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.

  6. Pat Chaney says:

    “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.

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