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No success here deterring squirrels with capsaicin

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Old Monday 18th February 2019, 18:10   #1
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Location: Bloomington, MN
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No success here deterring squirrels with capsaicin

Hello from from the Twin Cities, Minnesota.

We don't usually do feeders - and when we do, it is usually just a simple block of plain suet. Chickadees, woodpeckers, nuthatches, and blue jays all take it. Our mammals don't touch it. Works great.

Last week my wife bought some seed and put that out and so, of course, the squirrels went on a rampage.

I'd then remembered some advice about adding chili pepper seeds or cayenne pepper or any other natural capsaicin source as a way to repel mammals but not birds. So I started by simply putting some red pepper flakes in with the seed and then went back inside to watch the proceedings.

The first SQ approached it, got his nose within a few inches, and took off. He was clearly not amused. He came back a few times but never got closer than a few inches. Ha! I thought my work was done.

So I was surprised that an hour later I looked out to find a SQ gorging himself at the feeder. Same one? Not sure. Since I had used very little I figured they might have been shaken out, so I went back and loaded it up with more.

A day later, Mr. SQ was back, feeding there happily.

So I decided to start upping the game a bit. I have a bag of dried peppers that are extremely hot, which I use to make enchilada sauce. You don't need many. I ground some of these up and mixed it with a little canola oil and applied that to a new batch of trial seeds and put them on a dish, just to make access easy. I did the taste test myself. Lots of heat.

The first SQ came and had a sniff and then literally ran out of the yard. Another one came a had a nibble and was then seen running up a tree and wiping his/her maw against a branch, and then also departing the yard. Good! Victory at last.

Later that day I was horrified to see a fat SQ pigging out on these same seeds. Not bothered at all.

Today I went about as far as I care to go with this - I made up a batch of Tabasco-flavored black sunflower seeds and put it in their dish. It is their dish after all, now.

What do you think happened? At one point this SQ was sitting in the dish itself. He ate them all. Through my bins, I could swear that I saw red sauce on his whiskers. Maybe just my imagination. I'm also starting to feel a strange empathy for Bill Murray's character in Caddyshack.

I give up. Apparently I would have add so much spice that it would significantly add to the cost. If we did not have so many trees I'd try the Slinky on a pole trick. The Yankee spinner type feeder is a bit too pricey for me.

Back to suet only I think.

But I have to ask....

Has anyone had consistent success with pepper?
-Michael Hurben, Minneapolis / Bangkok
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Old Wednesday 20th March 2019, 13:50   #2
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Canada
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The only solution I've found is to use a squirrel excluding feeder, in fact I now have 4 of them incorporating 3 different designs, having retired one other because the squirrels had found ways to defeat it plus it was rusting out and the added taped-on aluminum shields plus the rust had made it look like something that might be found in a Taliban encampment. Meantime the largest feeder, the one accessible by all birds but baffled against squirrels had to be isolated from aerial attacks as well as ground based ones. It unfortunately will have to be taken down in the summer or I'll lose a significant part of my tomato plot. It's war I tell you! :)
Sun coffee bad for birds, shade coffee good for birds. Insist on traditional shade-grown coffee.

Last edited by Ruff : Wednesday 20th March 2019 at 13:52.
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