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Frequently Asked Questions with Answers

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is capsaicin?
A: Capsaicin is the natural, organic active ingredient in chili peppers that gives them their "hot" taste. Mammals have special neural receptors (similar to taste buds) for capsaicin and therefore, experience the "heat." Birds either lack these receptors or have receptors that are insensitive to capsaicin. Most botanists and ornithologists believe that chili peppers evolved this way so that small mammals would avoid the hot taste, while birds freely eat the pungent pepper pod. This adaptation/coevolution would result in wide ranging dispersal of the undigested seed to ensure the natural propagation and long term survival of the chili pepper plant.
Q: Does capsaicin cause physical damage?
A: No. The burning sensation that comes from capsaicin is a result of neuropathic signals, not physical damage. When eating chili peppers or "hot" chicken wings, people will experience a burning sensation in their mouths. However, approximately thirty minutes after eating, the membranes in the mouth have returned to normal, experiencing no lasting discomfort. While its effects can be highly irritating, they are temporary. Capsaicin is non-toxic and has been used for many years in a wide variety of products to include arthritis medicines, as well as pepper sprays used by police. The number one use of oleoresin of capsicum is still as a flavor additive (spicy seasonings) in cooking.
Q: How do SQUIRREL FREE products keep squirrels out of the bird feeder?
A: Scientists at SQUIRREL FREE, INC. have developed a proprietary blend of oleoresin of capsicum and ground cayenne pepper, which we refer to as PEPPER TREAT. This patent protected technology is applied to wild birdseed under stringent controls in manufacturing. Many animal behavior studies were performed at Cornell University by the Department of Natural Sciences to determine the exact amount needed to discourage most squirrels from eating. Tests also validated that PEPPER TREAT does not have any negative effects on birds or squirrels. Squirrels, as well as all mammals with capsaicin receptors will taste the "heat" from the pepper, while birds will not. Squirrels are very smart and will very quickly begin to look elsewhere for food.
Q: How do you know that the birds are not harmed?
A: Chile peppers are rich in vitamins A and E, as well as contain carotene. There is even a pepper know as the Bird Pepper because they are eaten so often by birds. We also conducted toxicological tests at Covance Laboratories in Madison, Wisconsin and found no permanent damage to animals as a result of capsaicin exposure. Tests were done in accordance with EPA guidelines 81-4 and 81-5.
Q: How long does it take for SQUIRREL FREE products to work?
A: Many factors can impact the feeding habits of both squirrels and birds. Squirrels must experience the "hot" taste of PEPPER TREAT to learn to look elsewhere for food. Normally it will take at least two weeks before your feeder will be for the birds only. Many different pesky squirrels may be visiting your bird feeders. Squirrels usually live in colonies of up to twenty. Your patience will be rewarded with more bird visits once the squirrels are no longer feeding there.
Q: Are there safety issues for humans?
A: Yes. Pepper can be irritating. SQUIRREL FREE products should be kept out of the reach of children. Ideally, you should wear rubber gloves when handling our products. You should always wash the gloves and your hands after handling PEPPER TREAT coated birdseed. Special care should be taken when filling feeders. Always position yourself up wind so that you do not get pepper blown onto you. Always fill your feeder well below eye level.
Q: What should I do if I happen to get product in my eyes or on my skin?
A: Immediately flush with of water. Use soap to wash it off of your skin. Baby shampoos that do not irritate the eyes can be added to the water used to flush your eyes. The effects are temporary and should subside quickly (generally in 30 minutes or less). If irritation persists, consult a physician.
Q: Is it true that I will get more bird visits by using SQUIRREL FREE products?
A: Yes. Once the squirrels are not eating the birdseed, there will obviously be more feed available for the birds. In addition, the presence of squirrels in the feeder scares away some birds. A SQUIRREL FREE feeding environment will be more appealing to most birds. SQUIRREL FREE wild birdseed mixes also have been scientifically formulated to maximize their attractiveness to birds.
Q: I have used SQUIRREL FREE wild birdseed and I still see squirrels in my feeder.
A: First and foremost, it must be remembered that squirrels must first eat SQUIRREL FREE birdseed to experience the "heat" from the chili pepper. In some cases, the squirrels will visit the feeding site a second or third time before they get the message. Only then will they seek food elsewhere.

Secondly, squirrels will continue to check known sources of food, but will be driven away after a brief period once they perceive the presence of "heat" from visual and/or aromatic queues.

The presence of a squirrel in a feeder containing SQUIRREL FREE birdseed may be the result of any one of the following:

All squirrels in the surrounding area (up to 20) have not sufficiently experienced the "heat" to be discouraged from feeding there. Two weeks of using PEPPER TREAT coated birdseed should be sufficient to clear the area.

SQUIRREL FREE birdseed was mixed with untreated seed in the feeder, reducing its effectiveness.

Exposure to the elements (e.g. severe rain) may lessen the "heat" in SQUIRREL FREE birdseed.

There is an acute shortage of food from alternative sources. It has been observed that a squirrel will eat SQUIRREL FREE birdseed to avoid starvation. SQUIRREL FREE birdseed is non-toxic and the discomfort from the "heat" lasts a short time with no permanent negative effects on squirrels.
Q: Where can I buy SQUIRREL FREE products?
A: Check out our online locator by typing in your zip code or state and you will get a list of the stores nearest you. We also invite you to review our online catalog for exciting gifts and more specialty products.

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