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Why You Should Put Cayenne Pepper in Bird Seed

A squirrel climbs on the outside of a bird feeder.
Kev Gregory/Shutterstock.com

Putting cayenne pepper in birdseed might seem like a prank or even a cruel joke, but it’s actually a clever hack for deterring those pesky squirrels that also like to feed in your backyard. Squirrels love a good feast, but they make a mess of your feeder—that cayenne pepper is the solution.

Squirrels don’t like spicy food, and adding cayenne pepper means no more free meals.

How does this hack work? It’s all about the smell. Squirrels will smell the heat before they even start to eat your seed and will look elsewhere for food. But won’t it do the same to your birds? Nope! Birds actually don’t mind a bit of extra heat—in fact, they can’t taste the difference.

Wagner's Farmer's Delight Wild Bird Food

Spice up your seed with a sprinkle of cayenne!

Just make sure not to overdo it as too much of the spice can harm birds’ eyes. A small sprinkle will do! If you’re nervous about adding too much, some birdseed companies actually sell pre-made seed blends that contain spicy ingredients for this very reason, so you can buy with peace of mind. But, it’s often easier and more convenient to add a sprinkle of your own spice.

The only “downside” to this method is that the cayenne will dissipate quickly, especially if it rains or it’s windy, and you’ll continue to attract squirrels when they notice the smell is gone. Reapply it frequently, especially if you have a lot of feathered friends flying around to enjoy a snack.

So, if you’ve got squirrels stealing your birdseed, the answer might already be in your kitchen pantry.

Stacey Koziel Stacey Koziel
Stacey Koziel is a news writer at LifeSavvy. She's worked as a freelance writer for over ten years, focusing on family and lifestyle content. She also has a background in marketing and social media, and is always eager to talk (and write!) about the latest TikTok trends. Read Full Bio »
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