While squirrels will excitedly devour sweet peppers, jalapeno peppers are the last thing they would consider on their menu. Jalapenos are medium-sized chili pepper pods of the species Capsicum annuum. A fully grown jalapeno chili is 2–4 inches long with a firm, round, smooth flesh of 1–1.5 inches wide.
Can squirrels eat jalapeño Peppers? No, Squirrels do not like jalapeños because of the smell and taste of capsaicin, which is the alkaloid that gives them their spicy quality. Their pungency varies depending on the type of jalapeno pepper. The Scoville heat units, which is a measure of pungency, for a traditional jalapeno ranges between 3,500 and 8,000. When jalapeños are growing, they start green then ripen, turning red, orange, or yellow.
It’s important to know which foods squirrels can and cannot eat. You never want to feed them toxic food that can poison and even kill them. We’ll take a closer look at the different types of jalapeños and whether or not they are edible by squirrels.
Do Squirrels Like Jalapeno Peppers?
Squirrels are mammals and have the same taste receptors as humans. The smell and taste of jalapeños can be just as irritating to their taste buds and noses as it is to humans that don’t appreciate spicy, hot foods. This explains why some passionate bird-lovers lace birdseed with peppers to deter squirrels.
Some people confuse jalapeños with bell peppers. Read this if you want to know if squirrels can eat bell peppers.
Are Jalapenos Safe For Squirrels?
The pungency in jalapenos may vary, but they are generally not safe for squirrels. Some peppers may leave a little warmth on the squirrels’ paws and mouth, while other peppers are so hot, they can seriously burn them and cause immense pain.
The Dangers of Feeding Squirrels Jalapeno Peppers?
When you feed squirrels jalapeno peppers, it will cause burning and irritation. The squirrels could harm themselves while trying to stop the irritation. There’s a possibility of them gnawing their paws off to stop the pain from the pepper.
Mammals can become desensitized to the unpleasant taste of pepper and can eventually develop a preference for it. So, it’s safe to say that squirrels could experience the same if they continued to eat mild peppers. However, quieting these receptors can have adverse effects on a squirrel’s health.
Over time, consuming capsaicin disrupts the thermoregulatory system. High temperatures activate the receptors, and studies indicate that capsaicin-desensitized animals cannot regulate body temperature properly. This puts them at an increased risk of accidental overheating, which can be fatal, especially during summer.
Are All Jalapeno Peppers Bad for Squirrels?
All Jalapeno peppers have a level of capsaicin. Some may be mild while others are hot. Either way, capsaicin causes irritation and long term negative effects in squirrels. Therefore, all Jalapeno peppers are bad for squirrels.
Here are some of the most common jalapeños that can be found throughout the world.
Purple Jalapeno Peppers
The Purple Jalapeno Pepper originated from Mexico and is a beautiful, ornamental, and smaller version of the jalapeno pepper. They look like the typical jalapeno but are more colorful. Its plant is highly productive, with fruits that grow from 3 – 5 inches in length and a Scoville range of 2500 to 8000 Scoville heat units.
The peppers start with green color, mature into a beautiful shade of dark purple, staying that way for long, and eventually ripening to deep red. It’s normal to see the plants displaying peppers with different colors simultaneously and beautiful lavender flowers.
Yellow Jalapeno Pepper (Jaloro)
The Yellow Jalapeno pepper was the first of its kind released by the Texas AgriLife Research pepper-breeding program in 1992. This early maturing compact plant produces fleshy fruit starting a golden yellow, then turns orange, and finally red. While it can be consumed at any stage of its maturation, it is generally sold while yellow.
This disease-resistant pepper is generally larger than the typical green jalapeños at 3 inches long and 1 ½ inch wide, with a Scoville range of 2500 to 8000 Scoville heat units. In grocery stores, they are usually labeled “Yellow Peppers.” The flavor and heat are mild, with a slightly fruity finish.
Billy Biker Jalapeno
These peppers are named after Jalapeno enthusiast and TV personality Billy Hufnagle. The plant grows up to 24 inches tall and does best under full sun. It is high yielding and produces larger and hotter peppers than the traditional Jalapenos averaging 5000 to 10,000 Scoville heat units.
The fruit grows to 3.5 inches long and 2 inches at the shoulder. This spicy pepper starts with a green color and then matures to red at its spiciest with a sweetness hint. Billy Biker Jalapenos can be consumed green or red.
Black jalapenos are simply what their name suggests: peppers with black pods. This pepper is an eye-catching variety that starts with green color, gradually changes to black, and finally turns red as it matures. One black jalapeno grows up to 3.5 inches long.
They are as mild as the traditional jalapeno though their dramatic appearance may suggest otherwise. A black jalapeño ranges from 2,500 to 10,000 Scoville heat units.
NuMex Pinata Jalapeno
This colorful jalapeno pepper was developed in 1997 at the New Mexico State University. These fat and juicy pods have a thick wall and grow up to around 6-8 cm long and 3 cm wide. As it ripens, it features all the colors of the sunset.
The NuMex Pinata Jalapeno fruit turns from green to yellow, then to orange and eventually red when ripe. The color transformation of this pepper is a sight to behold. You could call it a multicolored Jalapeno like the purple jalapenos. It comes with a Scoville heat rating between 1,000 and 5,000.
Mucho Nacho Jalapeno
The Mucho Nacho Jalapeno is an early maturing hybrid that tends to be longer and wider than most varieties of jalapeno peppers, as it grows up to 4 inches long –a big size for a jalapeno. This plant is easy to grow, high-yielding, sturdy, and disease resistant.
These thick-walled peppers start with a green color (and are generally used this way), then turn deep red at maturity. Both colors are much hotter than mild jalapenos. Mucho Nachos are typically flavorful compared to other jalapeno varieties. The Scoville range for this pepper is between 4,000 and 8,000 Scoville Heat Units, putting it at the higher end of the typical.
This popular type of jalapeno gets its name because it fruits earlier than most standard jalapeno types. These jalapenos grow to around 3 – 4 inches long and 1.5 inches wide at the shoulder. The plant produces an abundant yield (30 per plant) and grows to a height of about 2ft when erect.
The peppers are usually consumed green, but when left longer on the plant, turn red with a sweeter and bolder flavor. This medium-hot pepper ranges between 2500 and 5000 Scoville heat units.
Can Baby Squirrels Eat Jalapeno Peppers?
No. Baby squirrels cannot eat jalapeno peppers. They should only drink their mother’s milk or formula until 6 weeks old.
Even after weaning, when they start nibbling on food, do not feed them jalapeno peppers. If these peppers are dangerous for grown squirrels, imagine what they would do to the babies. Instead, give them sweet peppers and other healthy food like low sugar fruits, low carb vegetables like broccoli, and sweet potatoes.
You might enjoy the occasional jalapeno peppers, but your little bushy-tailed friends won’t appreciate them. Their smell and taste can irritate and may consequently harm them. Keep your backyard squirrels safe by feeding them with nutritional food, healthy fruits, veggies and snacks that contain essential vitamins and minerals.