Burn, Squirrel, Burn!

November 20, 2009 | By | Comments (27)




Feisty squirrels sizzle and pop after brainlessly scarfing down my red-hot bird seed.


Hope reigns, America. No longer must we suffer the indignity and injustice of watching stinking squirrels slug down precious bird seed day-after-day while our little, winged tweeters starve. We have an answer — one that doesn’t require a greased pole, sliding pole, fall-away perches, or tipping domes. It’ll work with the cheapest feeder you have.

Red Hots! Get Your Red Hots!

The idea is brilliant in its simplicity. Don’t waste time and money keeping squirrels away from the feeder. Instead, give them seed they’ll only eat once! Now, thanks to the fine people at Cole’s, we have just the seed we need!

Bird seedCole’s just sent me two bags of bird seed — Cole’s Hot Meats and Cole’s Blazing Hot Blend. The first consists solely of sunflower meats, while the second is a blend of sunflower meats, black oil seed, millet, and cracked corn. What do these two products have in common? They’re infused with habanero pepper oil. I can see little flames licking the bags right now!

I know what you’re thinking. Won’t habanero-infused seed burn the little birdies? The answer is no. For some strange, but marvelous reason, birds don’t react to pepper at all. They can eat all the blazing hot seed they want without ever breaking a sweat (which is good, since they can’t sweat, but you know what I mean). Squirrels, on the other hand, have sensitive lips, delicate tongues, and discriminating palates. They know when they’ve just swallowed fire.

Boy, is this going to be an exciting Thanksgiving at Grumpy’s house for people and creatures one and all! First, we’ll toast the holiday. Next, we’ll toast the squirrels.

I’ll fill that feeder with so much Hot Meats those little vermin will think they’re the Pilgrims about to sit down with the Wampanoags. After all, that first Thanksgiving dinner was surprisingly spicy and I wouldn’t want to break with tradition. Each squirrel will get a mouthful of seed and immediately combust. I’ll bask in justification. As Pink Floyd sang in “Time,” “it’s good to warm my bones beside the fire.”

Cole’s products are sold in lots of pet stores, garden centers, and other places. Go to their website and locate a retailer near you. Trust me, using this stuff will be the most fun you’ve had since watching moths ignite in the bug-zapper.


  1. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    I believe squirrels are put on Earth for us to eat. Please contact me if you’d like some recipes.

    April 20, 2012 at 12:05 pm
  2. Thomas Furlough

    all of gods creatures are put
    on Earth for his own purpose.
    Check your scriptures,that he
    that kills and destroys these
    creatures shall burn in hell!
    We as humans overbuild and are
    killing their forest and homes
    and their food supply.STOP the
    cruelty,Scotts had to settle a
    lawsuit;who’s next???

    April 20, 2012 at 10:26 am
  3. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    Let’s compromise and agree to cook and eat them.

    April 7, 2012 at 7:18 am
  4. animal friend

    I think it is hypocritical to protect birds and murder squirrels! Amazing how we can separate the two acts. I believe it is unethical to murder the squirrels when there are other repellents that work well, such as using pepper sprays directly on the tree stump and branches. We really don’t have to stoop to such violent means.

    April 1, 2012 at 1:16 pm
  5. Nikki

    South Pleasantburg Nursery is a proud supplier of this product in Greenville South Carolina. We have gotten nothing but fantastic feed back on this product. Thanks for featuring it!

    December 13, 2011 at 9:25 am
  6. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    At least your heart was in the right place.

    January 5, 2010 at 5:21 pm
  7. Cappy

    Hi Steve,
    So excited about your nifty advice for firing up the bird seed to ward off the squirrels. Not patient enough to get my order into Cole’s. I wanted to try something right away so I scrambled around the spice cabinet, looking for chili powder.
    I covered a suet cake with peanut butter, corn meal, thistle seed and loaded it up with the chili powder.
    Once I hung the treat outside, I sat by the window watching for squirrels. Pretty soon, one climbed up the trellis for a snack. I couldn’t hold back my laughter, waiting for the little guy’s eyes to start watering.
    Nothing happened, except he did pause for a moment, contemplating this new snack.
    He wiggled his lips a bit, and then went back to munching away. His nose was covered with chili powder, but he could have cared less.
    He rather enjoyed the taste sensation.
    Obviously, the chili powder wasn’t potent enough and probably out-dated (think I bought in back in 1994 the last time I made chili).
    I’ve learned my lesson. Follow instructions and buy the right stuff.
    Oh well, it’s cold out there, and all creatures need a good meal to get by.

    January 4, 2010 at 6:57 pm
  8. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Could people eat squirrels who have feasted on peppered bird seed? They’d already be seasoned!

    December 5, 2009 at 12:07 pm
  9. ksb

    I had a crazy problem with squirrels eating the bird seed until I read that birds do not have saliva glands and squirrels do. Not sure if that’s the explanation but I have been liberally sprinkling cayenne pepper into my bird seed for almost a year now: not one squirrel on the feeder.

    December 3, 2009 at 4:56 pm
  10. Grumpy Gardener (aka His Excellency)

    It was a good feast. We had squirrels with razzleberry dressing.

    November 28, 2009 at 10:44 pm
  11. helen Yoest @ Gardening With Confidence

    Happy Thanksgiving Steve!

    November 26, 2009 at 8:28 am
  12. Grumpy Gardener (aka His Excellency)

    Hmmm…..this is discouraging news. What if I added radioactive waste?

    November 23, 2009 at 4:33 pm
  13. helen Yoest @ Gardening With Confidence

    I hope they work for you Grump. Either mine ate them or there were just many coming and going once. Either way, I still had squirrels. H.

    November 23, 2009 at 1:51 pm
  14. Jim Long

    Hi Grump, I’ll be interested in your experience. I’ve not noticed any squirrel-deterring properties with the heat. Good in theory, low in results. I watched squirrels at an outdoor BBQ restaurant in Austion a few years back. They had become, seemingly, addicted to the hot sauces on the tables and would turn the bottles over and nurse the very hot, hotsauce straight out of the bottles. Watch out, they may develop a taste for the hot birdseed!

    November 23, 2009 at 1:44 pm
  15. Beth@UnskinnyBoppy

    “It’s good to warm my bones beside the fire.” LOLOLOL

    November 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm
  16. Cameron (Defining Your Home Garden)

    I have a pet bird (cockatiel) and yes, birds love hot peppers as treats. It is an ingredient in many special bird treats. Just don’t kiss a bird that’s eaten habaneros! 🙂

    November 21, 2009 at 5:41 pm
  17. Grumpy Gardener (aka His Excellency)

    The Grump is thrilled to inform you that Cole’s does indeed sell Hot Meats Suet Cakes. Don’t know if they would discourage bears. I think bears like Thai food.

    November 21, 2009 at 12:47 pm
  18. Deirdre

    Is there a suet block with pepper oil? I wonder if this stuff would discourage bears or would it just piss them off?

    November 21, 2009 at 11:55 am
  19. Grumpy Gardener (aka His Excellency)

    Hey Doomaflochee,
    Do you REALLY THINK that if this bird seed poisoned birds, it would be allowed on the market? Wouldn’t poisoned bird seed put a company that markets bird seed out of business?
    Your ignorance bores us, squirrel-lover.

    November 21, 2009 at 11:17 am
  20. Jean

    Having a lovebird, there are many seed varieties that have hot peppers in the mix. I tried sprinkling hot pepper on the greased bird feeder hanger and anywhere else I thought the little varmints would touch. I feel sure their grooming session was a bit more interesting than usual. GLEE! Living on a wooded hill I do have a major share of the furry rodents but it does seem that my 2 cats are keeping them at bay and away from the feeders and no, you cannot have my cats!

    November 21, 2009 at 7:06 am
  21. Jean

    Having a lovebird, there are many seed varieties that have hot peppers in the mix. I tried sprinkling hot pepper on the greased bird feeder hanger and anywhere else I thought the little varmints would touch. I feel sure their grooming session was a bit more interesting than usual. GLEE! Living on a wooded hill I do have a major share of the furry rodents but it does seem that my 2 cats are keeping them at bay and away from the feeders and no, you cannot have my cats!

    November 21, 2009 at 7:06 am
  22. Caroline

    (smacking forehead with palm) Of course! Birds don’t have capsaicin receptors! Why didn’t I think of this? I’ve only seen birds pecking at chile pequins about 10000000 times, and they haven’t spared a serrano I’ve planted yet. I am going to look for Hot Meats this very weekend! Now if only Cole’s could invent a cat-repelling mulch for vegetable gardens…!

    November 20, 2009 at 11:47 pm
  23. My letter to Cole’s

    Copy of letter to Coles:
    I have heard from a well known public source (humorously known as Southern Living’s ‘Grumpy Gardener’) that your company has developed or is re-selling bird food containing unpleasant amounts of pepper that turns squirrels away from this food but “does not seem to bother” the birds. According to the sources, birds do not appear to experience the unpleasant taste of the high levels of pepper that permeates the bird food that your company is selling.
    What scientific testing have you done that proves that that the extreme flavorings have no deleterious effects on the delicate digestive and other internal systems of the bird?
    I’m looking forward to hearing about the serious scientific studies on this subject that your company has performed before releasing this product into the marketplace.
    Nathan Williams

    November 20, 2009 at 11:21 pm
  24. Doomaflochee

    Are we really so grumpy that we are potentially poisoning birds so that fat bastards can enjoy a squirrel-ess world.
    Get over your petty self.

    November 20, 2009 at 10:34 pm
  25. Jeff

    Hey Grump – let us know how it turns out! The wife loves having a bird feeder and so do the squirrels.

    November 20, 2009 at 7:39 pm
  26. laurelstreet

    Well – I suppose they can’t taste it, but I hope some good science has been done on what all the pepper does to the bird’s internal systems!
    I’d hate to be giving the avian masses something that makes that may taste fine but messes them up in some unintended way…

    November 20, 2009 at 6:07 pm
  27. rebecca Sweet

    Oh how I can’t wait to buy some of this seed! I’m a squirrel hater, for sure – they’re ruined more things in my garden…plants, bird-feeders, breaking cool stuff I have hanging on my fence…revenge is mine! Thanks for the great post!

    November 20, 2009 at 5:24 pm

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