QUICK SUMMARY ↬ Squirrels eat just about anything. But their main diet is composed of plants, nuts, seeds, fruits, mushrooms (or fungi), and vegetables. They hate spicy food, raw onion, and garlic.
Squirrels are funny creatures. Seeing them going around in your garden, patio, or backyard is consistently an awesome sight. Or is it? Because for others, it can be a source of great ire and frustration.
Maybe you have several of these species going around your house and are curious about a squirrel’s diet because you want to feed them, or looking for an idea on how to keep squirrels away, then this article is for you.
Types of squirrels
First, let’s make sure that we’re talking about the same species here because there’s a lot of squirrel species found here in North America, including Eastern gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis), red squirrels, fox squirrels, black squirrels, gray squirrels (grey squirrels), or even flying squirrels.
All of these squirrels can be categorized into three families: tree squirrels, ground squirrels, and flying squirrels.
Regardless, these critters cannot digest cellulose, so they must rely on foods rich in protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
What do squirrels eat?
We want people to feed squirrels the right way. So, in this article, we’ll center around the fundamental sorts of food that are intended to keep a squirrel healthy while covering its dietary necessities.
Especially nuts that are still in their shell are the best for these small creatures.
Oak seeds or acorns are squirrel’s top pick. When there’s no access to acorns, squirrels will eat a wide range of nuts, including pecans, walnut, pine nuts, macadamia, almonds, hickory nuts, and hazelnuts. Nuts are the squirrels’ number one food and their number one source of protein and fats.
When a wild squirrel finds a major source of nuts, they will save some by burying them in the ground. In many cases, these buried nuts become a food hotspot for different animals.
In case you’re growing nuts in your backyard, those will be in danger. This is the reason you ought to have a squirrel-proof mesh or metal fold over your nut tree to hold a hungry squirrel back from obliterating your reap.
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Warning! Careful about feeding squirrels peanuts or peanut butter. Peanuts are legumes and the shells can get a mold that’s toxic for squirrels.
In temperate regions, early spring is the hardest time of year for squirrels because the nuts they buried are beginning to sprout and thus are no longer available to eat. During these times, squirrels rely heavily on the buds of trees.
Squirrels—being primarily herbivores—eat a wide variety of plants. They can eat the roots, plant stalks, leaves, and even bark of plants. As opportunistic omnivores, they will eat whatever is available.
They generally incline toward the delicate and appetizing branches or delicate twigs, young leaves, fledglings, and flower buds.
Squirrels additionally prefer to feed on various types of seeds that may be accessible. This consists of sunflower seed, safflower seed, pumpkin seeds, and poppy seeds.
Since they wouldn’t fret eating any piece of the plant, having squirrels in your backyard is normally a major issue. They will possibly aim for any new growth in your garden, which will ultimately put your plants in danger.
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Squirrels can readily climb fruit trees. In case you have fruits in your backyard or garden, you’ll most likely realize that close-by squirrels can be an annoyance since they feed on a collection of grapes, kiwi, apples, figs, plums, nectarine, peaches, and mangoes.
They likewise love a wide range of berries, bananas, melons, and cherries. Fruits furnish squirrels with the required sugar that supports their energy, so they can bounce around and scavenge the entire day without getting drained. In addition, fruits are full of minerals and nutrients that keep them healthy.
This is terrible news for people who grow vegetables in their backyards or gardens, as squirrels love eating a wide range of vegetables. So in case, you’re growing arugula, spinach, kale, or lettuce, you most likely realize that getting squirrels far from these veggies can be intense.
Squirrels likewise feed on root vegetables like carrots, cabbage, leeks, celery, cauliflower, okra, eggplant, brussels sprouts, squash, corn, peas, and tomatoes.
Managing hungry squirrels can be a difficult assignment for anybody attempting to grow an assortment of veggies in their garden.
Fungi and mushrooms
Squirrels are opportunistic feeders. While they ransack for plant roots and leaves, they wouldn’t fret benefiting from different kinds of fungi that normally grow in forests.
Squirrels feed on truffles, clam mushrooms, and acorns truffle. A lot of these can be found under the dirt or growing on the bark of trees or around wet regions.
Squirrels may likewise decide to store these mushrooms for later use by drying them and keeping them in their concealing spot, ensuring that no other wild animals can access their beloved mushroom.
In case you’re an enthusiastic birdwatcher and have set up a bird feeder in your backyard or terrace, you most likely realize that other creatures will likewise find this enticing. Squirrels, just as different rodents in your backyard, will most likely be keen on eating the birdseed you save for warblers and woodpeckers.
Squirrels wouldn’t fret eating grains and seeds like dark oil sunflower seeds or even nut spread that you may save for birds in winter. Most birds are open-minded toward squirrels eating at their stations, yet a few, similar to the Northern Cardinal, can get forceful. You better secure your bird feeders.
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If their primary source of food isn’t readily available, squirrels will supplement their eating regimen with various bugs insects. This generally happens in the colder time of year.
Squirrels can discover bugs and insects in the bark of trees or covered up in various cavities. They can eat caterpillars, crickets, larvae, grasshoppers, and various kinds of winged insects like butterflies and moths.
When food is scarce, squirrels have to do what’s necessary to survive. This includes taking the eggs of different creatures—especially birds.
Squirrels are known to assault the homes of birds and woodpeckers or may even eat the hatchlings or baby birds that tumble from their homes.
Bird eggs or eggs, in general, are rich in proteins and are a great substitute for nuts when nuts aren’t available.
So, if you have set up a home box in your backyard for a pair of birds for breeding, you need to ensure that the passage is appropriately hidden toward the squirrels.
Other food that squirrels find tasty
Squirrels, like pigeons, benefit and thrive from their interaction with human environments. They will check the kitchen leftovers that you throw in the trash or left in the park at the end of the day in hopes to find some meat.
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Normally, cheese shouldn’t be viewed as food for squirrels. But these mammals are sharing spaces with people who eat cheese outdoor. Not to mention that people give squirrels cheese intentionally, so they’ve come to like its taste.
Squirrels will likely eat whatever cheese you throw in their direction. This includes Swiss cheese, cheddar, gouda, or any kind of cooked cheese. They can eat cheese all alone, in a sandwich extra, or pizza scraps that you have disposed of.
These creatures don’t become ill if the cheese is somewhat old, as their stomachs are designed to withstand the molds that would somehow make us sick. Not to mention that cheese is rich in proteins and fats.
Cereals are incredibly tempting to these little vertebrates since they’re made of grains and most likely contain a few nuts. Squirrels love cereals regardless of their special flavor.
These oats and cereals are stacked with sugar, so they give the squirrel a jolt of energy. Take note that artificial colors and preservatives found in these foods can harm squirrels’ health.
Squirrels wouldn’t fret eating different sorts of food like bread and crackers. They will eat cooked veggies and other sorts of kitchen waste. They additionally like to eat dog and cat food that you set up for your pets or dispose of when not eaten.
What foods squirrels won’t eat?
Squirrels don’t like spicy or hot food, so they will keep away from any scraps that contain hot sauce or hot peppers. For this reason, gardeners use pepper spray as one of their tricks to turns squirrels off.
Another trick that gardeners use is to use garlic spray. Squirrels likewise don’t like raw onion and garlic. Use this to your advantage to protect your vegetables and flowers in your backyard.
Even though they eat flower bulbs, squirrels stay away from daffodils and snowdrops. Growing them in your backyard means that squirrels will not be happy about visiting your garden.
Still curious what do squirrels eat? Don’t stress yourself—or be worried—because they will eat just about anything.