Many people are naturally drawn to hot sauce and hot flavors. In fact, you probably know a person or two who lives up to the mantra, “the hotter the better”! It turns out, though, that people might be fairly unique to this particular attraction. When it comes to the hot sauce effect, all mammals are certainly not created equal, and almost all mammals are affected by hot sauce and hot peppers in the same way.
While humans often seek out hot flavors and hot tastes, most mammals avoid the spice altogether. Peppers are thought to actually repel animals such as deer, squirrels, and rodents. That’s why pepper-based repellents are often used in garden settings and to protect some crops. It makes sense, for otherwise, the pepper plants would likely not be able to thrive with so many threats from pesky animals. Even family pets such as dogs and cats are said to avoid the burning taste of hot peppers. While for a long time scientists believed that only humans were drawn to spicy hot flavors, just recently they uncovered another mammal that actually seems to prefer hot chili peppers to other foods, and that’s the tree shrew. It’s thought that the animal has some type of mutation, lowering its sensitivity to spicy capsaicin and thereby helping boost its own survival out in the wild.
Birds, on the other hand, aren’t repelled by hot peppers whatsoever. They’re necessary, however, to the survival of pepper plants because birds actually disperse pepper seeds. That’s good news for pepper addicts, as the more pepper plants out there the larger the opportunity for new and more flavorful pepper-based products to hit the market. Whether you enjoy a hot and spicy flavor or an over-the-top boost of spice, the hot sauce effect is certainly going strong.