What do squirrels eat sounds like the start of a joke? Most squirrels are opportunistic in their dining preferences, meaning they will eat practically anything you give them. Their main diet consists of nuts and vegetables, but they also consume bird eggs and insects. They eat nuts, seeds, bark, vegetables, fruit, roots, and some flower bulbs like tulips and crocus in the wild. But mushrooms are an all-time favorite for squirrels.
Because most squirrels aren’t picky unless you are referring to my squirrels here at Kitty City Squirrels. I have a few divas refusing food and forage through a bowl of nuts picking up 6 or 7 before deciding on one.
What Kind of Shoes Does A Squirrel Wear?
They wear “Cashews.” I thought you would get a kick out of that one. Speaking of cashews, that is one nut you should avoid giving to a squirrel.
Why are Cashews Bad for Squirrels?
The reason is that cashews have a high phosphorus content. High levels of phosphorus block the squirrel’s ability to absorb enough calcium. They can be given in extremely limited quantities.
Cashews are not inherently bad for squirrels, but there are a few factors to consider when feeding them to these animals.
- Processing: Most cashews available for human consumption are roasted and salted. The added salt is not suitable for squirrels, as high sodium intake can lead to health issues. It’s better to offer unsalted, raw, or plain roasted cashews if you choose to give them to squirrels.
- High fat content: Cashews, like other nuts, are high in fat. Although squirrels need fat in their diet, it’s important to ensure a balance of different nutrients. Offering a variety of nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables is essential for a squirrel’s overall health.
- Moderation: Cashews can be part of a squirrel’s diet, but they should be given in moderation along with other food items. Overfeeding any single food source can lead to an unbalanced diet and potential health issues.
- High phosphorous content which can deplete calcium levels.
The proper amount of calcium is serious business and vital for a squirrel. Deficiency can cause metabolic bone disease and even death.
Symptoms of Metabolic Bone Disease
- Loss of appetite
- Lethargy (sleepiness, unresponsive, and inactive)
What Fruits are Safe to Feed Squirrels?
Squirrels can safely eat a variety of fruits, but it’s important to remember that fruit should be given in moderation, as their natural diet consists mainly of nuts, seeds, fungi, and insects. Here’s a list of some fruits that are safe for squirrels:
- Melons (cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon)
It is important to remove any seeds or pits from fruits like apples, peaches, plums, and apricots, as they can be harmful to squirrels. Also, make sure to wash the fruits thoroughly to remove any pesticides or chemicals before feeding them to squirrels.
Can Squirrels Eat Berries?
Yes, squirrels can eat berries. In fact, berries are a natural part of many squirrels’ diets, especially during the summer and fall when these fruits are abundant. Berries provide squirrels with essential nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Some examples of berries that squirrels can eat include:
It is important to remember that while squirrels can safely consume berries, their diet should be varied and primarily consist of nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, fungi, and insects. Berries, like other fruits, should be given in moderation to ensure a balanced diet.
Can Squirrels Eat Kiwi?
Yes, squirrels can eat kiwi fruit. Kiwi is a safe fruit for squirrels to consume in moderation. It contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can be beneficial to their health. However, it is essential to remember that squirrels should have a varied diet that primarily consists of nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, fungi, and insects.
When feeding squirrels kiwi or any other fruit, make sure to offer small portions and avoid making it a primary component of their diet. Too much fruit can lead to an unhealthy sugar intake and potential digestive issues.
What Vegetables Can a Squirrel Eat?
Squirrels can eat a variety of vegetables, which provide essential nutrients for their health. Some vegetables that are safe for squirrels to consume include:
- Green beans
- Leafy greens (e.g., kale, spinach, romaine lettuce)
- Bell peppers
- Sweet potatoes (cooked)
- Pumpkin and squash (in small amounts)
Can Squirrels Eat Brussel Sprouts?
Squirrels can eat Brussels sprouts, and they are safe for them to consume in moderation. Brussels sprouts are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which can be beneficial to a squirrel’s health.
When feeding squirrels vegetables, it’s essential to provide them in moderation and as part of a varied diet. Their primary diet should still consist of nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, fungi, and insects. It’s also important to wash the vegetables thoroughly before feeding them to squirrels to remove any pesticides or chemicals.
More Safe Vegetables
Boston bib lettuce
Corn (fresh only, it goes bad quickly and grows mold)
Sugar Snap Peas
Safe Nuts (Unsalted)
Do Squirrels Eat Peanuts?
Yes, squirrels will eat peanuts, but RAW peanuts are not safe for squirrels because they could contain a fungal toxin called Aflatoxin. This toxin can cause liver damage in squirrels as well as birds.
Roasted and unsalted peanuts in a shell are ok in limited quantities, but they contain little nutritional value. Also, peanuts are not “nuts.” They are legumes in the same category as lentils and soybeans.
Salt is a no-no too for squirrels. Their kidneys can’t filter out a large amount of sodium in the salted nuts.
What Foods Should You Avoid Giving Squirrels?
While squirrels can eat a variety of foods, there are certain items that you should avoid giving them. These foods can be unhealthy or even toxic to squirrels:
- Processed human foods: Avoid giving squirrels any processed or junk food, such as chips, cookies, candy, or fast food. These foods are high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats, which can be harmful to squirrels.
- Chocolate: Chocolate contains theobromine, a compound that can be toxic to squirrels and other animals.
- Caffeinated beverages: Caffeine can be harmful to squirrels and cause adverse effects on their nervous systems.
- Onions, garlic, and related vegetables: These contain compounds that can be toxic to squirrels and may cause digestive issues or other health problems.
- Avocado: The skin, pit, and leaves of avocado contain persin, a toxin that can be harmful to squirrels.
- Raw potatoes: Raw potatoes contain solanine, a toxic compound that can be harmful to squirrels. Cooked potatoes without added salt or seasonings are a safer option in small quantities.
- Fruit seeds and pits: Some fruit seeds, such as apple seeds and pits from cherries, plums, apricots, and peaches, contain cyanide compounds that can be toxic to squirrels.
- Rhubarb leaves: Rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid, which can be toxic to squirrels and other animals.
- Uncooked grains and legumes: Uncooked grains, like rice, and raw legumes, like beans, can be difficult for squirrels to digest and may cause gastrointestinal issues.
- Dairy products: Squirrels are lactose intolerant, so feeding them dairy products like milk, cheese, or yogurt can cause digestive issues.
- Salted nuts or seeds: Nuts and seeds are a natural part of a squirrel’s diet, but avoid giving them salted varieties as excessive salt intake can be harmful to their health.
When feeding squirrels, it’s essential to provide a varied diet that closely resembles their natural food sources, including nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, fungi, and insects. Always avoid giving them unhealthy or toxic foods.
So next time you see a bushy-tailed squirrel in the park or your garden-don’t get fooled and wonder what squirrels eat. Anything is a snack to a squirrel. Want more information on good foods for your squirrels? Check out our Baby Squirrel Feeding Chart which is the ultimate introduction to foods for squirrels.
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