Squirrels are incredibly resourceful creatures, and their ability to find food sources in the most unlikely places is admirable. They also have an impressive range of tastes, as anyone who has ever seen their garden gnawed away by one will know. The diet of a squirrel is incredibly diverse. They will eat anything from nuts and seeds to insects, berries, and even bird eggs. But do squirrels eat lettuce? The answer might surprise you… Keep reading to find out more!
What Do Squirrels Eat?
Squirrels are omnivores, meaning their diet consists of plant- and animal-based foods. Like humans, they also have taste preferences, which is why you’ll often see them nibbling on certain foods.
Squirrels eat a wide variety of foods, including nuts and seeds, berries, pine nuts, acorns, buds and blossoms, mushrooms and fungi (e.g., truffles), grains, corn, and anything edible in your backyard!
Many people think that squirrels only eat nuts, but they’d be surprised to learn that they consume a significant amount of their diet from non-nut sources. When nuts are in season, they make up around 50% of a squirrel’s diet.
Lettuce: A Part of a Healthy Squirrel Diet
Most people know that lettuce is a good source of fiber and vitamins. Romaine and butterhead lettuce is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, but iceberg lettuce, on the other hand, is pretty much void of nutritional value.
If you’re feeding lettuce to squirrels, it’s best to go for romaine or butterhead varieties. Both types of lettuce are high in vitamins A and C and folic acid, which is why they are often used in salads.
Do Squirrels Eat Lettuce – Benefits of Lettuce For Humans and Squirrels
Because lettuce is packed with vitamins and minerals, it can be used to treat a wide range of conditions. Here are a few examples of how lettuce can benefit humans:
- Lowers risk of cancer: Lettuce is rich in antioxidants, which can help to prevent the growth of harmful cells in the body, including those that cause cancer.
- Improves eye health: Lettuce is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, which can help to prevent macular degeneration, a common eye condition that causes vision loss.
- Boosts metabolism: Vitamin B6 found in lettuce allows the body to break down and process food, which increases metabolism.
- Improves iron levels: Lettuce is rich in iron, an essential mineral that helps regulate blood flow.
Do Squirrels Eat Lettuce – The Problem With Lettuce
You might think that lettuce is a perfect food for an animal like a squirrel, but there are a few issues with feeding it to them. Firstly, it doesn’t contain any significant amount of protein, so squirrels that take a diet rich in lettuce can sometimes suffer from malnutrition.
What Don’t Squirrels Eat?
There are also certain plants that squirrels are known to avoid altogether, including ragweed and certain sunflower family members.
The Squirrel Diet
What exactly do they eat? Let’s take a closer look at what makes up a squirrel’s diet:
Squirrels Love Nuts
Most of us think of squirrels like nuts, and they do eat an astonishing amount of this one item. Nuts are high in energy and protein, making them perfect for small warm-blooded animals. They are also extremely high in fat, which is essential for growth, insulation, and energy.
Most nuts are also high in phosphorus, calcium, and other minerals. Acorns and chestnuts are also very high in tannin, a bitter toxin removed from the squirrel’s diet by soaking or roasting. Hazelnuts, pine nuts, and walnuts are also very high in protein, and pecans, hickories, and other nuts are incredibly high in fat.
Squirrels Love Fruit
Squirrels are also known to be avid fruit eaters. A wide range of fruits is included in the squirrel diet. Apples and garden produce such as lettuce, corn, and other vegetables also make up a substantial part of their diet when available.
Squirrels are also known to eat certain flowers, such as tulips, roses, and hyacinths. In some cases, they will eat the bulbs and flowers. They also eat the tree bark and cambium (newly growing layers). Sometimes, they eat fungi, grains, seeds, nuts, bark, and insects.
Check out this article if you want to learn more about how to keep squirrels away from your fruit trees.
Squirrels Eat Seeds
Seeds are essential to the squirrel diet in two ways. The first is obvious: many seeds are a part of the squirrel’s diet. But the second is less obvious: many trees, plants, and other sources of nuts also have seeds as part of their reproductive cycle.
Most of these seeds pass through the digestive system with few ill effects and no nutritional loss. This is because of the low nutritional content of the seeds.
Squirrels Eat Shoots and Leaves
Squirrels are also known to eat the new growth that emerges from the ground. This is often called “shoots,” a significant part of the squirrel diet, along with leaves.
Squirrels Eat Insects
Squirrels eat many insects, including beetles, crickets, termites, and other arthropods. Some types of squirrels also eat small lizards, snakes, and worms.Check out this article on a baby squirrel’s diet if you want more information.
As you can see, there are a few problems with feeding lettuce to squirrels. This doesn’t mean that they won’t eat it – they will eat almost anything – but you must be mindful of their diet and ensure you are giving them a balanced meal.
If you want to feed your squirrels lettuce, go ahead, but make sure that it’s not the only thing they’re eating, and don’t forget to add a few nuts too. You might consider mixing it up with a bit of romaine, butterhead, or iceberg lettuce.
Or, if you want to take your squirrel-feeding experience to the next level, why not try feeding them a lettuce salad?