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Old Tuesday 3rd August 2010, 21:54   #1
New Daddy
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Question Does cayenne pepper really deter rodents?

I've done some research on the internet and learned that rodents hate cayenne pepper.

But do they really?

Attached is a photo of a platform feeder that I placed right below my tube feeder hanging from a tree, to be used as a debris collector. The platform feeder is covered with cayenne pepper, as can be seen in the photo. The picture is worth a thousand words; the chipmunk doesn't seem deterred or displeased by cayenne pepper. In fact, it is happily collecting sunflower hearts mired in cayenne pepper under the metal mesh.

So, is this particular chipmunk a mutant that is somehow immune to cayenne pepper?

More importantly, does this mean vermins like mice or rats may not be deterred by cayenne pepper? I'm not so much worried about squirrels/chipmunks raiding my birdfeeder as mice/rats. I cover the birdfeeders at night but there is always the inevitable seed spillage on the ground that rodents just love to forage. Much as I like watching birds eating from my feeders, I'd rather do away with the feeders if I can't rest assured that mice/rats are being kept at bay with cayenne pepper.
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Old Thursday 5th August 2010, 18:58   #2
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My squirrells love hot pepper suet.
If you want to feed the birds, and you have a rodent problem, you need to use squirrel proof feeders and put them on wires or long pieces of 8 inch slick pvc pipe. A dog helps!
I feed Hummers, and the tree-rats have learned how to empty them. I swear, I need to either get a BB gun or fix my slingshot. Dynamite?
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Old Thursday 5th August 2010, 20:53   #3
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My squirrells love hot pepper suet.
If you want to feed the birds, and you have a rodent problem, you need to use squirrel proof feeders and put them on wires or long pieces of 8 inch slick pvc pipe. A dog helps!
I feed Hummers, and the tree-rats have learned how to empty them. I swear, I need to either get a BB gun or fix my slingshot. Dynamite?
Sigh..

I use a squirrel-proof tube feeder from Brome. It has worked as it's supposed to so far, preventing rodents from getting to the seeds.

But the debris that fall out from the feeder on to the ground is what I'm concerned about. I was hoping cayenne pepper would deter rats/mice from coming to the debris, but I guess not.

Time to seriously think about removing the feeder now.
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Old Thursday 5th August 2010, 20:58   #4
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Sigh..

I use a squirrel-proof tube feeder from Brome. It has worked as it's supposed to so far, preventing rodents from getting to the seeds.

But the debris that fall out from the feeder on to the ground is what I'm concerned about. I was hoping cayenne pepper would deter rats/mice from coming to the debris, but I guess not.

Time to seriously think about removing the feeder now.
Why so worried about a few small rodents?
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Old Thursday 5th August 2010, 22:03   #5
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New Daddy, you have no idea what I wouldn´t give to have a chipmunk in the garden! My kids love ´em, there´s a mini-farm 60km away where we go and they love to feed the captive chipmunks (obviously not native here!). Do they do any harm?
Grey Squirrels (considered here an introduced pest) come to the garden feeders occasionally. I hang feeders on very thin branches - this usually deters them, but we also have a small terrier X dog in the garden that ensures they don´t alight on the ground. Buy a Jack Russell? They´re great company!
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Old Thursday 5th August 2010, 22:14   #6
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I removed my feeders because of rodents. The rats moved in and while there decided to decimate my garden. My neighbor had rats in their attic and walls so I didn't want to encourage their presence for that reason as well. The squirrels also got out of control and my dog was injured chasing them.

Fleas on rodents in SoCal carry plague. We also have a little thing called Hantavirus in these here parts, carried in rodent feces.

I would think that you Sancho, being a European, would have an innate hatred for the critter that has such an infamous reputation. Chipmunks and squirrels are rats with a fur coat.
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Old Thursday 5th August 2010, 22:25   #7
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I would think that you Sancho, being a European, would have an innate hatred for the critter that has such an infamous reputation. Chipmunks and squirrels are rats with a fur coat.
I kind of admire their tenacity. And my kids seem to think all Chipmunks can sing like Pinky and Percy, based on some stupid movie they saw....
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Old Thursday 5th August 2010, 22:34   #8
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I kind of admire their tenacity.
Yeah, I kind of do too. They are pretty clever as well. Still, I don't especially want them in my neighborhood.
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Old Friday 6th August 2010, 00:16   #9
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I’m always surprised at the fear & loathing with which many people regard rodents, particularly “rats & mice”. I occasionally get House Mice at my feeders, but have never worried about them. In fact, I enjoy seeing the little creatures. Bird seed attracts rodents—which are everywhere by the way no matter what one does—and rodents can carry diseases, but I know of no case of hantavirus or plague(!) being contracted from backyard feeders, at least in suburbia. Ground squirrels (no tree squirrels in Reno, unfortunately), can be a problem sometimes, not because they “carry disease” but because if unchecked they can clean out a feeder in a couple of hours.

Maybe if I got large numbers of mice & rats at my feeders I would feel differently, but I don’t get that many & the ones that I do see I simply enjoy as remnants of an otherwise sadly depleted fauna. Mountain Cottontails in my vegetable garden, on the other hand, are an entirely different matter, and I would run them all off if I could figure out how to do so.
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Old Friday 6th August 2010, 02:20   #10
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I’m always surprised at the fear & loathing with which many people regard rodents, particularly “rats & mice”. I occasionally get House Mice at my feeders, but have never worried about them. In fact, I enjoy seeing the little creatures. Bird seed attracts rodents—which are everywhere by the way no matter what one does—and rodents can carry diseases, but I know of no case of hantavirus or plague(!) being contracted from backyard feeders, at least in suburbia. Ground squirrels (no tree squirrels in Reno, unfortunately), can be a problem sometimes, not because they “carry disease” but because if unchecked they can clean out a feeder in a couple of hours.

Maybe if I got large numbers of mice & rats at my feeders I would feel differently, but I don’t get that many & the ones that I do see I simply enjoy as remnants of an otherwise sadly depleted fauna. Mountain Cottontails in my vegetable garden, on the other hand, are an entirely different matter, and I would run them all off if I could figure out how to do so.
If you have no disklike for rats & mice, then good for you. But people loath them for sound reasons. Hantavirus is just one thing -which, by the way, is deadly once contracted. As someone mentioned, they carry fleas, can in turn attract snakes, and damage the structure of one's home.

Last but not least, rats and mice being nocturnal, unlike diurnal squirrels, I doubt the rats/mice you witnessed during broad daylight and described as "enjoyable" even remotely represents the rats/mice population that are actually drawn to your feeder at night. Would you still maintain the same attitude if you saw 8-10 rats at your feeder at night?
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Old Friday 6th August 2010, 02:22   #11
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New Daddy, you have no idea what I wouldn´t give to have a chipmunk in the garden! My kids love ´em, there´s a mini-farm 60km away where we go and they love to feed the captive chipmunks (obviously not native here!). Do they do any harm?
Grey Squirrels (considered here an introduced pest) come to the garden feeders occasionally. I hang feeders on very thin branches - this usually deters them, but we also have a small terrier X dog in the garden that ensures they don´t alight on the ground. Buy a Jack Russell? They´re great company!
Well, I'm not worried a bit about squirrels or chipmunks. I've made it clear in my posts. I worry about rats and mice. I'm just seeing squirrels as proxy of rats/mice.
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Old Friday 6th August 2010, 02:35   #12
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It's not an irrational fear IMO, it's a matter of concentrations. Having a reliable food source will bring them to your personal environment and they will breed, fast. That is my experience anyway. Normally populations are kept in check by limited food sources and predation, etc. I have noticed that when these populations go up, their brazenness and willingness to expand their habitat (read: your attic, garage, shed) go up with it.

"Getting" Hantavirus or the Plague won't be directly from that backyard feeder, it will come from breathing feces dust it that little-visited shed or getting bit by fleas because of an infestation. The former might kill you, the latter is treatable with anti-biotics.

Two summers ago, in an attempt to save my vegetable garden from total destruction, I was setting rat traps most every evening. I could catch a rat every night and occasionally two. This went on all summer and there were still plenty of rats. The fresh carcasses were tossed in the arroyo behind my house and were usually gone within an hour. Fresh meat still radiating IR I guess. Again, it's a matter of concentrations that's the concern. If you don't have a problem, then no problem.
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Old Friday 6th August 2010, 04:30   #13
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If you have no disklike for rats & mice, then good for you. But people loath them for sound reasons. Hantavirus is just one thing -which, by the way, is deadly once contracted. As someone mentioned, they carry fleas, can in turn attract snakes, and damage the structure of one's home.

Last but not least, rats and mice being nocturnal, unlike diurnal squirrels, I doubt the rats/mice you witnessed during broad daylight and described as "enjoyable" even remotely represents the rats/mice population that are actually drawn to your feeder at night. Would you still maintain the same attitude if you saw 8-10 rats at your feeder at night?
No they don’t, they loathe them for unsound reasons, biological in origin, perhaps, rooted deep in our evolutionary history, or maybe just cultural, I really don’t know. But in any case, in the United State hantavirus is carried by deer & white-footed mice & cotton & rice rats, not by the kinds of “rats & mice” that typically infest yards and houses—house mice & Norway & black rats (http://cguilleb.tripod.com/reportnews/transmit.htm).

And, yes, “rats & mice” of all kinds (or most kinds, I’m not sure) are nocturnal, & the ones I see in my yard are doubtless only a small fraction of the ones actually attracted to my feeders. But so what? Nobody’s got sick--& I’ve lived & fed birds at my present address for over 30 years--& as far as I can tell they’ve caused no other harm. And snakes, you don’t like those either? I only see snakes in my yard once in a blue moon; and wish I saw them more often.

But, it’s your yard, so do as you please.
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Old Friday 6th August 2010, 04:56   #14
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It's not an irrational fear IMO, it's a matter of concentrations. Having a reliable food source will bring them to your personal environment and they will breed, fast. That is my experience anyway. Normally populations are kept in check by limited food sources and predation, etc. I have noticed that when these populations go up, their brazenness and willingness to expand their habitat (read: your attic, garage, shed) go up with it.

"Getting" Hantavirus or the Plague won't be directly from that backyard feeder, it will come from breathing feces dust it that little-visited shed or getting bit by fleas because of an infestation. The former might kill you, the latter is treatable with anti-biotics.

Two summers ago, in an attempt to save my vegetable garden from total destruction, I was setting rat traps most every evening. I could catch a rat every night and occasionally two. This went on all summer and there were still plenty of rats. The fresh carcasses were tossed in the arroyo behind my house and were usually gone within an hour. Fresh meat still radiating IR I guess. Again, it's a matter of concentrations that's the concern. If you don't have a problem, then no problem.
Of course, hantavirus & plague aren’t transmitted “directly” by feeders, but indirectly in some of the ways you’ve specified. Everybody knows that. And, large concentrations of Norway & Black rats near (or worse, in) human habitations are obnoxious for all kinds of reasons, including hygiene. Nobody would disagree with that either. But a few rats or mice under the feeders now & again needn’t be a problem, at least in my experience. As I said in a previous post, I’ve had the occasional house mouse/Norway or black rat (as well as chipmunks & whole families of ground squirrels) at my backyard feeders for many years now with none of the dire consequences you mention. (Well, except for periodic house mouse incursions into the house, but these have been easily trapped out).
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Old Friday 6th August 2010, 09:45   #15
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I kind of admire their tenacity. And my kids seem to think all Chipmunks can sing like Pinky and Percy, based on some stupid movie they saw....
Hi Sancho.
Are you sure your kids weren't hallucinating on too much cayenne powder in thinking that chipmunks sound like Pinky & Perky?

Si.
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Old Friday 6th August 2010, 11:35   #16
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Hi Sancho.
Are you sure your kids weren't hallucinating on too much cayenne powder in thinking that chipmunks sound like Pinky & Perky?

Si.
LOL! True. Pinky and Perky were in a totally different league. I´m surprised Alvin and the Chipmunks ever got a contract.


On the rats issue, I´m currently engaged in a game of cat-and-mouse (pun kind of intended) with a rat (or rats) under my garden shed. They appear there once or twice a year. I gave up using rat-poison (when you reminded me of the damage it does, Monahawk!), so I set a trap every evening. Every morning, it´s sprung, the food is gone, and there´s no dead rat. The dog keeps them more or less at bay, but what worries me (not paranoaically) about rats here is Weil´s Disease. As far as I understand, it´s transmitted in rat urine in water or wet vegetation through contact with cut or grazed skin, The kids don´t play much in the garden ´cos it´s tiny, so I reckon the risk is very low. (As regards squirrels, the local greys seem to be in decline, and amazingly the reds are back in local woods. I imagine there´s some kind of control programme going on, although a Pine Marten was seen locally too, so that could be having an effect on the greys).
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Old Friday 6th August 2010, 17:00   #17
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I had a similar experience with sprung traps for rodents. It seems that some rats or squirrels have a notion of what could befall them if they are over zealous on the trap and can work out a way to get the bait without being nabbed and that's even after the spring mechanism on the trap has been very delicately primed. I also have a cage trap to catch rats and squirrels and one day I found it trashed by a rat that had got inside. In its obvious panic it managed to break some welded bonds holding the grills together on the main frame and escape. Its luck ran out a couple of days later when my labrador which had been tracking it for a while, got hold of it and quickly killed it.
I tried cayenne powder many years ago to deter squirrels when I lived in England. It failed to do its deterent task miserably. I went back to using it on cooking instead just as it was intended.

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Old Friday 6th August 2010, 17:57   #18
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"so I set a trap every evening. Every morning, it´s sprung, the food is gone, and there´s no dead rat."

"It seems that some rats or squirrels have a notion of what could befall them if they are over zealous on the trap and can work out a way to get the bait without being nabbed and that's even after the spring mechanism on the trap has been very delicately primed."


On this topic I can speak with some expertise.

If you're using a trap like this, here's what you do.

Take emery cloth, or similar fine sand paper, and polish any burr from the stamped "trigger" (E) and the wire end (B). You want a hair trigger.

Drill a hole in the base (D) and tether with a wire to something heavy. Big rats, if not struck well, can make off (trap in tow) and suffer a slow demise in a place you might not be able to get to.

Put a light oil on B, E, and C.

Use a small amount of peanut butter worked into the underside of the plate (A). You want them to work to get to it.

Last, and this is important, put the trap in a place where birds or other critters won't get to it. I install mine under a plank of wood with other wood stacked around it leaving small crawl spaces. An upside-down box with a clearance hole or two will work as well. You get the idea. Be sure to leave enough headroom for the wire to swing.

My dog alerts me when we have a rat in the yard so I know when to set a trap. She also alerts me when the trap goes off and I check it straight away. Her reward is I show her the fruits of the effort and she's happy.
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Old Friday 6th August 2010, 19:57   #19
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Many thanks for the tips and the photo, Kevin. I´ll set to work with sandpaper and oil tonight!
Another tip - I don´t drill a hole in mine and wire it. I nail the trap to a three-foot length of 4"x2" wood. When the trap is set, I slide the whole contraption along a "rat-run" behind the shed, where it´s safe from dog, birds or kids. Then I place a small brick on the plank of wood. Even a Popeye Rat wouldn´t be able to drag the plank/trap away, it would get stuck. I usually catch ´em in the end, but the little beggar currently visiting is proving to be smart. I especially like the Peanut Butter trick, which I´ll try tonight!
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Old Monday 9th August 2010, 21:24   #20
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Quote:
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My squirrells love hot pepper suet.
If you want to feed the birds, and you have a rodent problem, you need to use squirrel proof feeders and put them on wires or long pieces of 8 inch slick pvc pipe. A dog helps!
I feed Hummers, and the tree-rats have learned how to empty them. I swear, I need to either get a BB gun or fix my slingshot. Dynamite?
I'm inclined to think that maybe cayenne pepper is not hot enough. For testing purposes, I sniffed the cayenne pepper bottle I bought at a local Wholefooods store, and indeed it wasn't too painful.

So, I've ordered Habanero pepper from a local store. According to a Wikipedia article, it is about 7 times hotter than cayenne pepper. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scoville_scale)

If it fails, I'm going to go all the way and order Bhut Jolokia (Naga Jolokia), which is the hottest pepper on earth and available only online. (http://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Pepper-F.../dp/B003I188XY)

Stay tuned.
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Old Monday 9th August 2010, 22:04   #21
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You're a wacky guy, "Daddyo".

I don't suggest you snif any of that Bhut Jolokia, you might be taking a trip to the hospital.
Birds, you expect, will be unaffected by this stuff?
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Old Tuesday 10th August 2010, 00:52   #22
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Birds, you expect, will be unaffected by this stuff?
That's the first thing I checked, and birds do not have the receptor for capsaicin, which is the chemical responsible for the burning sensation. Therefore, birds eat pepper without problem and help disperse the seeds. All from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capsaicin .
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Old Tuesday 10th August 2010, 20:00   #23
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Regarding:

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Sigh..
I was hoping cayenne pepper would deter rats/mice from coming to the debris, but I guess not.
Time to seriously think about removing the feeder now.

[and also]

Well, I'm not worried a bit about squirrels or chipmunks. I've made it clear in my posts. I worry about rats and mice. I'm just seeing squirrels as proxy of rats/mice.
I'm going to approach your question from a slightly different angle because, really, its not that you want to keep rodents out of the feeder - you just want to avoid attracting "pest" rodents. Unfortunately, what the seed tastes like has nothing to do with attracting mice/rats. Its the smell. They smell it in storage, they smell it as they run through the yard. If they smell it they'll find it, and if they find enough of it for a long enough period of time they will start making homes near the reliable food source.

A large debris pile will attract any rodent currently living within a small radius of your house. If there are no rats in that radius, there will be none coming to your feeder. If there is little debris, there is little attraction.

Capsaicin treated seed will taste unpleasant to a mammal that tries to eat it. But, treated seed won't keep the rodent from coming to the feeder in the first place. And, you aren't really treating the seed, you're treating the tray it falls into.
Furthermore, food-grade ground pepper is variable in intensity, cannot be applied evenly to the seed, and cannot even really adhere to the seed hull(unless you make some liquid treatment and coat the whole business). Outside in the sun and rain it will loose its potency, be blown or washed away. So, no. I do not think what you are doing with pepper will keep rodents out of your yard.
Here's what will help:

Keep your seed stored in tightly sealed plastic containers.
Do not let stray spilled seed sit on your garage floor.
Do not buy in quantities so large that it sits around a long time.
Clean your debris tray, and under your feeder frequently.
If you are truly paranoid about it - buy the "no-mess" seed mixes that have no hulls, only seed meats. This is practically 100% consumed and leaves no debris behind in the first place.
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Old Thursday 12th August 2010, 11:38   #24
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I have used habanero pepper/paste with some good results (I have grown my own habaneros). Just make sure you get the habanero seeds into the paste/sauce to add to the 'hotness'. My problem was more with storing dog food outside, than seeds though. I also put habanero on my food if I don't want my kids to 'try it'....survival of the fittest, you know. Oh, and the dog knows about habanero also.
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Old Saturday 1st October 2011, 17:58   #25
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way to deter rodents from birdfeeder area

after lots of frustration over the rodents coming for free lunch at the bird feeder, my daughter researched ordered predator pee. it seems to have worked. we spray the predator pee around the ground where the rodents would come to feed. haven't seen any since. we use bobcat pee.
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