Squirrels are rodents and omnivores. They survive on both plants and animals. There are a variety of squirrels found worldwide, and all the species eat different kinds of food.
Few species include red squirrels, ground squirrels, gray squirrels, fox squirrels, flying squirrels, black squirrels, striped squirrels, and many more. But what do squirrels eat?
Squirrels are not picky eaters. They are open-minded when it comes to food. We all came across squirrels and saw them eating. They eat a lot of things, but not all of them are good.
Squirrels are omnivores, meaning that they eat both plants and animals. They find food in their habitats like vegetables, fruits, nuts, bird’s eggs, insects, and food from human habitat like cereal, cheese, pet food. All these foods are safe for squirrels. However, the favorite foods of squirrels include mushrooms, corn, squash, and broccoli.
If you own a squirrel and want to know about the list and group of food that they eat, then you are at the right place.
Squirrel Diet: What Do Squirrels Eat?
As mentioned, squirrels are omnivores, and they can eat both fruits and vegetables and even nuts.
Squirrels are predominantly herbivores. But you can class them as omnivores because of the wide variety of food types they are known to feast on.
Much like foxes, squirrels tend to forage and scratch around for anything they feel is edible. Squirrels have a natural appetite for the following food groups:
- Tree parts
- Plant parts
- Human trash
Being omnivores make it easier for squirrels to have no clear boundaries while eating.
Nuts: What Nuts Can Squirrels Eat?
Squirrels love to eat nuts, and these nuts include:
- Acorns: Yes, squirrels can eat acorns as their main diet includes seeds, berries, and nuts.
- Walnuts: This is one of the safe nuts for squirrels as they provide nutrients to them.
- Pecans: Squirrels are known for eating nuts and pecans is one of them.
- Hazelnuts: Yes, squirrels can eat hazelnuts. But not salted!
- Beech nuts: Beech nuts are safe for squirrels, and they love to eat them.
- Pine nuts: Squirrels are great climbers and pine nuts are one of accessible nut for them.
- Macadamia: It is one of the safe nuts for squirrels.
They are happy to eat nuts with and without shells. However, the process of removing shells gives the squirrels a way to exercise and sharpen their teeth.
Moreover, don’t feed peanuts, also known as monkey seeds, to squirrels. They are not a good treat for them.
What Do Squirrels Eat Besides Nuts? Apart from nuts, squirrels can eat seeds, bird’s egg, plant materials like flowers, bulbs, and roots. Moreover, several fruits and vegetables are also safe for little squirrels that give them nutritional value.
Vegetables for Squirrels
Squirrels can also eat vegetables, and they are entirely safe for them. They eat a variety of vegetables and fruits that are beneficial for them. Squirrels can eat several foods that give nutrients to them like lettuce, spinach, kale, celery, radishes, tomatoes, corn, okra, beans, and peas.
Here is the list of vegetables that squirrels can eat safely:
- Lettuce: It is an excellent source of Iron in squirrels
- Spinach: It is an excellent source of Iron and calcium
- Arugula (rocket): Fresh arugula is great to treat a squirrel
- Kale: Kale contains antioxidants that fight against free radicals in squirrels.
- Celery: All green veggies including celery are great for squirrels.
- Okra: It also provides protein and minerals to little fury pet.
- Beans: Beans are a great source of protein.
- Peas: All green veggies including peas are great for squirrels.
- Yellow Squash
- Eggplant: Great source of protein and muscle power in squirrels.
- Carrots: Squirrels get Vitamin A from carrots, and it is good for their vision.
- Cabbage: Cabbage including all the green veggies are healthy treat for squirrels.
- Cauliflower: It is great for squirrels as it is rich in minerals.
- Asparagus: An amazing source of nutrients.
- Broccoli: It is a great source of Iron.
Fruits: Do Squirrel Eat Fruits?
Yes, squirrels can eat fruits too, but they should eat and maintain a balanced diet. Eating too many fruits can prevent them from absorbing calcium to keep fruits minimum in their diet.
Several fruits are available in abundance during both the summer and winter seasons. A high level of sugars in fruits helps them in gaining weight and are ready for the winters. Moreover, also add an energy boost for foraging.
Here is the list of fruit that provides nutritional value to squirrels:
- Apples: Apples contain vitamin A and it is the healthiest treat for squirrels. It helps in the maintenance of respiratory health, bone health, and boost immunity of the body.
- Watermelon: Watermelon is safe for squirrels to consume. It keeps them hydrated and improves digestion.
- Blueberries: These are only healthy for squirrels in moderation. It helps in lowering blood pressure and promotes healthy bones and digestion.
- Peaches: Peaches are a great source of Vitamins and aid in digestion
- Kiwis: Kiwis keep squirrels hydrated.
- Bananas: Bananas are high in magnesium, potassium, zinc, calcium, and iron which are essential for healthy squirrel’s body.
Squirrels can also eat a wide range of berries, including:
Seeds: Can Squirrels Eat Seeds?
Just like fruits and vegetables, squirrels can also eat seeds. Sunflower seeds are safe for squirrels, and they love to eat them. In different seasons, squirrels enjoy eating numerous seeds that also give health nutrients to them.
Following are the seeds that squirrels love to eat:
- Sunflower seeds: Sunflower seeds are great source of phosphorus that helps in maintaining and strengthening squirrel’s bone health.
- Pumpkin seeds: Pumpkin seeds provide a high dose of essential nutrients and vitamins to the squirrels.
- Poppy seeds: Squirrels prefer to eat tender seeds and poppy seeds are one of them.
- Other available seeds.
What can baby squirrels eat?
Baby squirrels mostly rely on their mother’s milk. They continue to rely on their mother’s milk for about 40 days, and they don’t leave their nest during this period.
But after reaching their age of maturity, they can eat solid foods. Then they will be able to explore different types of food groups.
However, most squirrels adopt a balanced and natural diet.
What to Avoid Feeding Squirrels?
We know that squirrels are omnivores, but still, some foods are toxic and unfavourable for them. Toxic foods are poisonous to squirrels and should be avoided entirely. These foods include:
- Avocado skin/pits
- Fruit pits/seeds
- Salted walnuts
- High-sugar foods (candy, cookies, granola, sweetened breakfast cereals)
- High-starch foods (pasta, bread, rice, potatoes)
- Salty foods
- Human junk food
- Sunflower seeds
- Dried corn
- Pine nuts
What is the best food for squirrels?
Squirrels are not picky eaters. They can eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. If you own a squirrel and want to know the best food for your little pet, then go for unsweetened and unsalted nuts like walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts.
Best foods for squirrels include:
- Bean sprouts
How Much Do Squirrels Eat?
Squirrels are survivalists, and they eat according to the weather. No matter what season it is, whether summer or winter, they adapt their diet according to that.
Squirrels Diet in Winter
In winters, most of the squirrels stay burrowed in their dens, especially gray squirrels. And they sleep 12 or more hours per day. However, when they get hungry, they snack on nuts collected during summer.
Squirrels are famous for stashing food when the supply is limited, and they can stash them for up to 3 years.
Moreover, gray squirrels eat tree bark in winter.
Squirrels Diet in Summer
As discussed in the above, squirrels love to eat, and they can eat almost everything. If we talk about gray squirrels, they predominantly survive on nuts and seeds of trees of coniferous and deciduous species.
Moreover, their diet consists of fruits, flowers, fungi, and buds.
In the summer season, squirrels mostly eat fungi. Fly squirrels especially eat fungus and lichen regularly. They also eat acorn truffles – underground fungi.
Unlike humans, squirrels can eat almost all types of mushrooms without worrying that they are toxic.
Squirrels Diet in Spring
In the spring season, squirrels eat flowers, seeds and almost everything which they find around them. Most of the squirrels come out of their hibernating period in spring, and they go for finding a fresh supply of food.
Squirrels also eat bird’s eggs fallen from the nests in the backyards.
Squirrels Diet in Fall
In the fall season, squirrels eat and collect nuts like pistachios, almonds, walnuts, and cashews. They are happy to eat nuts with or without their shell. However, the process of shell removal is an exercise for squirrels, and it also sharpens their teeth.
Other Foods Squirrels Eat
Squirrels are not picky eaters. They eat a variety of food depending upon availability. What about dog food? Can squirrels eat dog food? Yes, squirrels can eat dog food if they can’t find any other thing.
It is not any harm in feeding dog food to your squirrel. Just like humans, squirrels need certain nutrients to survive in the wild. And they get these nutrients from fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and other sources.
It is known as squirrels are omnivores, but to an extent, they are herbivores. There are several species of squirrels all around the world, and all are not picky eaters. Each of them can eat almost everything depending upon the availability.
Squirrels are among some of the safest wild animals in the world. They’re intelligent, quick, and non-aggressive, although they will bite if they feel threatened. This article has explained everything related to squirrel and their diet, even in different seasons.
SmallPetsX.Com does not provide veterinary advice. Our aim to help small pet owners understand their pets a little better so that they can provide their pets with the life they deserve. All content is therefore for informational purposes only. If you're concerned about the health of your pet you should seek medical advice from a vet.