What Do Squirrels Eat

Squirrel eating pine cone

Image by: Kathleen Christiansen / License: CC BY 2.0

Squirrels are omnivores animals which means they can eat a variety of food of both animal and plant origin. They mostly search for nuts, seeds, fungi etc. If none of them are available, squirrels will go for other alternatives such as insects, bird eggs, small animals and more.

In this article we outline the most preferred food by squirrels and what they don’t consume. So, no matter if you want to feed squirrels, learn more about what you can give them, or just want to know what attracts squirrels in your garden, keep reading.

What Nuts Do Squirrels Eat

You know Scrat from the Ice Age movie and the well-known hazelnut he chases. Well, this is almost the way all squirrels search and collect nuts in real life. Squirrels commonly feed on the following nuts:

  • Walnuts;
  • Acorns;
  • Hazelnuts;
  • Almonds;
  • Pine nuts;
  • Pecans;
  • Beech nuts and more.

On the other hand, not all nuts are good for squirrels. For example, peanuts are poor in nutritions and salted ones are not healthy so they should be avoided.

Squirrels don’t mind consuming the nuts with or without the shells. The pros of removing the shell is that it is a great chewing exercise when they can sharpen their teeth.

Also, nuts are an important food source as they provide squirrels with healthy nutrients like protein and fatty acids.

What Seeds Do Squirrels Eat

Another well-known and delicious food to squirrels are seeds. Such seeds are sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, safflower seeds and basically any seed they can get.

For those of you who have bird feeders in your backyard, note that squirrels will pave the way to get some bird seeds. Squirrels won’t be bothered even if a bird is on the feeder. They will just grab what they came for and run away to hide what they’ve got. So, if you are a bird-feeder and wonder how the food is gone in no time, squirrels are the answer. Bird seeds are preferable because they are mixed with other food squirrels love such as nuts and grains.

Do Squirrels Eat Birds

Even though squirrels are mostly herbivorous, it’s not impossible to see them eat bird eggs, baby birds or other small mammals. Usually, they resort to eating meat when they can’t find seeds, nuts and other food of plant origin.

Squirrels won’t attack a bird but they will climb to an empty bird nest where they search for a young bird, dead bird, bird seeds or eggs. So, if you are taking care of birds, you should be aware of keeping them in a safe place where squirrels are not able to reach the eggs or babies.

Do Squirrels Eat Conkers

It’s not popular for squirrels to eat conkers. They actually have a desire to collect the conker and bury it somewhere or bring it to their nest. Obviously in areas where the number of squirrels is higher, there is a lack of conkers.

However, here is a video that disproves the thesis that squirrels don’t eat conkers. This means, if other food is not available, squirrels might have a conker or two. Furthermore, there are forum discussions of people who share their experience with squirrels and conkers. They mentioned they saw the rodents collect and bury conkers in their garden.

Do Squirrels Eat Meat

Yes, as we mentioned above, squirrels are omnivorous so it's not unusual to spot them eating some type of meat. Most commonly, ground squirrels consume meat in their natural habitat. Their diet includes, small snakes, lizards, mice, insects etc. Not only that but some research studies have found that it’s common for pregnant or lactating females to eat meat as it provides them with a great amount of protein and other essential minerals. Other theories suggest that squirrels may include meat in their diet when they have to compensate for the low quality of the plant-based food.

Do Squirrels Eat Apples

Yes, sometimes squirrels consume apples. If you want to feed them with the fruit, make sure to give them small amounts. Also, some parts of the apples shouldn’t be consumed by the animals. Seeds contain cyanide which is poisonous to squirrels and can cause death as well.

Do Squirrels Eat Mealworms

Yes, squirrels can consume any bird food from seeds to live or dried mealworms. So, keep the bird feeder out of the squirrel's sight and reach or change it to a feeder with a cage.

Do Squirrels Eat Carrots

Yes, carrots can be a great source of food to squirrels. Even though squirrels cannot dig out carrots, you can feed them with small pieces. Thanks to vitamin A and K, carrots have many health benefits, they are tasty and can improve the immunity of the squirrels.

Do Squirrels Eat Bread

Yes, they eat bread. It’s not hard to see images of squirrels eating bread. Squirrels are scavengers so they will dig into the trash, take it from the ground or even steal it from you.

However, bread is not as healthy as it looks. Some types of bread contain a lot of sugar which is not healthy to the squirrels. Also, the cellulose which is found in bread is also bad for them as it’s hard to be digested. So, if you want to feed squirrels with bread you have to be careful.

Can Squirrels Eat Chocolate

Chocolate can be dangerous to squirrels. Chocolate is made of some amount of cacao. The cacao itself contains Theobromine which is a bitter alkaloid of the cacao plant. It is toxic and can be lethal to squirrels if it’s consumed in large amounts. However, squirrels have the ability not to overeat with dangerous food. For example, the grey squirrel weighs 500gr on average which means only 0.5mg of the poisonous substance can kill them.

Actually, chocolate is not safe to animals at all!

Do Squirrels Eat Mice

Yes, if squirrels get very hungry, they can eat mice. Mice will provide them with fats, protein and carbs which squirrels need in order to be healthy. Squirrels can also consume debris from the animal carcass. As you already know, squirrels would eat any type of meat from insects to small snakes if they have the opportunity to take a bite.

Do Squirrels Eat Fat Balls

Fat balls are another popular bird food. Fat balls contain dry foods such as nuts and seeds mixed with suet. This gives the answer to the question if squirrels eat fat balls - Yes, they do, as fat balls are made of their most favourable type of food. Squirrels will remove the core of the fat balls and consume it.

What Do Grey Squirrels Eat

Most commonly grey squirrels are herbivores. Their diet includes acorns, hazelnuts, fungi, shoots, berries and more. However, as any other squirrel species, grey squirrels can also consume insects, other rodents, eggs of birds etc. They can even eat each other if the food they usually consume is scarce.

What Do Red Squirrels Eat

Red squirrels can eat anything you might think of from seeds, nuts, fruit to insects, mushrooms or cones. Pines are a huge part of the red squirrels diet. So, in the beginning of fall, they will store pine cones in the ground.

Food Squirrels Avoid

There aren’t many types of food squirrels won’t consume but there are always exceptions. Here is a small list of the types of food squirrels avoid:

  • Certain flowers: squirrels will avoid daffodil, snowdrops and hyacinth.
  • Onion or garlic: yes, like many of you might not like the taste of onions and garlic, squirrels won’t go for them as well.
  • Spicy food: squirrels avoid hot food as their stomach cannot stand. So, some gardeners sprinkle chilli flakes in the bird feeding stations which will keep squirrels away. Note that birds are fine with the chilli flakes and won’t cause them any trouble.
  • Certain seeds: squirrels are not fans of canary seeds, canola seeds or nijer seeds.

Conclusion

You already know that squirrels are not picky eaters and can consume almost anything from seeds to meat. So, if you are wondering what attracts them to your garden even if it’s not that obvious, you have the clue.They might scavenge into your trash or have a snack from the bird feeder. You are now aware what to put away and how to keep them away from the bird feeding stations. If nothing helps and squirrels reach your loft, you better hire a professional squirrels control exterminator who can quickly solve your problem.

On the other hand, if you are considering feeding squirrels, now you know what they like, what they don’t and what to pay attention to.

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Disclaimer

We distribute educational information according to the experience and professional knowledge of the pest technicians. However, we don't provide any medical advice.

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