What Animals Eat Peppers? (7 Fascinating Examples)

Last updated on November 4th, 2022

You might think that your pepper plants are naturally protected from larger pests because of the capsaicin content in these fruits. I know I did! But much to my dismay, I found that several animals enjoy eating pepper plants, especially my sweet pepper plants.

Animals that eat pepper:

  • Tree shrews
  • Parrots
  • Rabbits
  • Tobacco hornworm
  • Cockatiel
  • Beet armyworm
  • Thrips

I have seen many animals, especially smaller-sized pests like aphids, caterpillars, mites, and slugs, that can wreak havoc with your pepper plants. For example, a mite infestation can destroy a healthy and flowering pepper plant.

List of animals that eat pepper:

1. Tree shrews

tree shrew 21082021

Tree shrews are animals that are native to the tropical regions of southern Asia.

It was common knowledge that human beings love the taste of spicy food. But who knew that tree shrews, love the odd chili peppers as well!

A recent study conducted by scientists found that the unlikely candidate that loved to munch on peppers was the tree shrew.

Peppers have a high content of Vitamin E and this is a necessary nutrient to build strong muscles. The tree shrews often consume peppers to supplement their requirement of Vitamin E.

However, the primary reason why these tiny creatures can seek out hot peppers is that they have a mutation of the TRPV1 ion found on the surface of their tongue which contains pain-sensitive cells.

As a result of this, tree shrews are relatively insensitive to capsaicin which means that they’re unable to identify the ‘hot’ or the spiciness of peppers that allows them to enjoy it without any burning sensation.

The Chinese tree shrew can also consume hotter peppers as it’s more resistant to the taste of this active spicy chemical called capsaicin.

This is the primary reason these creatures seek out hotter peppers in the wild when compared to their counterparts elsewhere in the world.

2. Parrots

yellow naped amazon parrot eating pepper 21082021

The primary reason why you should include pepper in your parrot’s diet is that the minerals and vitamin contents help them maintain a shiny coat of feathers.

Chilies have been known to contain nutrients such as vitamin A which helps to improve the quality of a bird’s feathers.

If you have a pet parrot, then you should include peppers in its diet. In the wild, parrots will seek out peppers and consume these as a regular part of their diet.

Chilies contain several vitamins from the B-complex group, including niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6), riboflavin (B2), and thiamine (vitamin B1).

These vitamins are essential for the parrot’s body to use for the restoration of energy while maintaining a healthy physical structure.

Indeed, parrots are unable to feel the burning sensation of this particular vegetable fruit, but if you’re planning to make peppers a part of the diet of your pet parrot, then you should combine it with birdseed.

Along with that, you must remember to give your parrot the entire pepper. There is no need to break the pepper.

Parrots can easily break apart this spicy fruit with their claws and beak to consume the whole vegetable fruit.

Also, remember to give your parrot fresh chilies and it would be best if you avoid feeding your pet parrot dried chilies.

3. Rabbits

girl feeding rabbit

For most of the animal lovers out there, you’d never think that rabbits can eat peppers.

The primary reason for this is that peppers are rich in minerals and vitamins. Peppers are also known to be rich in riboflavin.

So, if you have a pet rabbit, you can include pepper in its diet. But you have to keep in mind that you should avoid feeding your rabbit any hot pepper.

This means you can’t include jalapenos in the diet of your pet rabbit. But rather the milder ones that have a lower amount of capsaicin, such as red, yellow, and orange bell peppers.

These beautiful colored bell peppers are full of nutrients that are necessary for the growth of your rabbit.

Bell peppers also have the required amount of potassium needed to help your rabbit build strong bones.

Additionally, these peppers are known to improve blood flow while helping to maintain a healthy immune system for rabbits.

4. Tobacco hornworm

tobacco hornworm 21082021

This caterpillar is known for eating the fruits and leaves of pepper plants.

A tobacco hornworm is a caterpillar that morphs into a moth with a wingspan of four to six inches.

Don’t mistake the tobacco hornworm as a pollinator to be helpful to your vegetable garden.

It can be beneficial in the wild as a pollinator, but once it lays eggs and the eggs hatch, the caterpillars can wreak havoc on your pepper plants.

These pests can bore into the fruit while not only leaving ugly scars but making the pepper inedible.

Unlike other insects, the caterpillar chews on the leaves and slowly kills the plant.

Suppose you have an infestation of the tobacco hornworm caterpillar. In that case, it’s best to try to remove these insects physically with the use of a protective glove after which you can use an insecticide to kill all eggs by using one that’s pet and environmentally friendly.

5. Cockatiel

cockatiel 21082021

Cockatiel, a member of the cockatoo family, enjoys having peppers. Cockatiels enjoy not just the whole peppers but are also known to consume the seeds of the fruit.

However, the seeds aren’t digested since a bird’s digestive system is designed to separate the seed from the pulp of the fruit.

If you have a pet cockatiel, you can give it the hottest chilies like the habanero and the jalapeno. They enjoy the regular green chili as well.

You can easily add the seeds of dried chili with its birdseed mixture, and it’ll help your bird enjoy an excellent combination of chili seeds with its regular diet.

The primary reason you should consider including chili in a cockatiel’s diet is that chilies are rich in Manganese, potassium, and selenium.

A wild cockatiel would supplement its diet with a regular supply of chilies found in the wild. 

Similarly, the same combination of minerals and vitamins is necessary to ensure the smooth functioning of their immune system.

If you want to ensure that your pet cockatiel gets a steady supply of all of these minerals and fats, then ensure that you include chilies in its diet.

You could do it by including chili seeds, or better still, by giving your pet cockatiel whole chilies regularly.

6. Beet armyworm

beet armyworm 21082021

These are moths that feed on pepper plants throughout their lifecycle.

Unlike the tobacco hornworm that primarily feeds on pepper plants during the larval stage, the beet armyworm relies on the pepper plant throughout its lifecycle.

The beet armyworm often lays eggs on the pepper plant along with other similar crop plants like beans, broccoli, eggplant, radish potato, and many more such plants.

Once the eggs are hatched, and the larvae come out. The newly hatched larvae begin to feed on the leaves and the fruits of the pepper plant.

The larvae will feed on the fruit and the foliage of the plant, destroying it.

So if you’ve planted several pepper plants in your garden and were attacked by beet armyworm, you need to take steps to remove the infestation at an early stage; otherwise, it’ll destroy your crop.

When the larvae morph into moths, even the moths are often found to feed on the pepper plant fruit and foliage. This can ruin the leaves and, eventually, the plants.

7. Thrips

thrip 21082021

Thrips are a large category of insects that are known to cause significant infestations in and around pepper plants.

According to a study, there are five thousand different thrips species found across the world. 

This insect can infest vegetable and fruit gardens and destroy the crops.

The primary reason for this is that thrips attack pepper plants most often. If you’re an amateur gardener and enjoy planting peppers in pots in your garden, you must keep a lookout for thrips.

These are tiny insects that suck the sap out of the stems and leaves of your plant. Deprived of the necessary juices, the plants wither away.

The thrips are slender insects, and if you look through a magnifying lens, these will appear like thin threads.

You can distinguish a thrip’s attack when the leaves of your pepper plant turn splotchy and silvery.

You can then start taking steps like spraying insecticides regularly to first control the thrips and eradicate the infestation.

FAQ Roundup

Scroll to Top