Squirrels need to have a diverse diet and this, of course, includes nuts and seeds, as many of you who had to squirrel proof your bird feeder already know. However, fruits and vegetables also rank among the top choices, given the nutritional benefits they ensure, so they should not be missing either.
We are all pretty much familiar with squirrels and while some of us might think of them as pests, others think they are simply adorable. Truth be told, it’s hard not to think of them as being cute, given their expressive faces and rapid movements.
Their chewing habits might pose some problems around a property, but if you still want to know what food works best for them, this article is here to help clear things out. The first thing you should keep in mind is that, just like any other living creature, squirrels need to have a diversified diet as well.
That’s why the most suitable choices in terms of food include things such as fruits, veggies, nuts, and of course, seeds. While you might be tempted to feed them something else as well, such as candy bars, you shouldn’t. They might eat it, but this doesn’t mean that it’s beneficial for them, so it’s best to steer clear of anything that might upset their digestive system.
A few things about squirrels
You can think of squirrels as tiny scavengers, as they spend most of their time hiding or retrieving their hidden food, or looking for new and reliable sources. Even though these tiny creatures are used to living in the wild, the fact that humans invaded their habitat made them adaptable as well.
Thanks to their intelligence which is proving more surprising every day, squirrels have no problem using most of what they can find in their environment in order to survive. They really are quite skilled at adapting, even if this can sometimes mean stealing food.
One factor that definitely helps in their situation is that they are very trusting creatures, so they will end up eating out of someone’s hand much faster than other wild animals would do. Therefore, if you want to take your time and provide them with some food, given that we’ve invaded their space, you might also have a lot of fun in the process.
As we’ve mentioned, these furry little guys are very smart, which can be seen through the fact that they can deceive other animals to keep them away from the nest or food supplies. In fact, they can pretend to hide food while they are being watched, simply to actually hide it once they are alone and no one can see the real hiding spot.
It’s also good to know that squirrels never over-indulge when it comes to food, even when the sources are abundant. Instead, they plan ahead and hide it in order to use it when it’s really necessary. Needless to say, we could learn a thing or two from these fascinating creatures.
Furthermore, if baby squirrels are left orphans, other individuals are going to adopt them, so they always have to have extra food supplies. As you can imagine, they do spend a lot of time searching for food and replenishing their hiding spots.
If you’ve ever wondered why you see squirrels around your garden, the answer is because they are into fruits and vegetables. We know that people have associated them with seeds and nuts, but these little guys actually eat many other things in order to have their nutritional needs met.
On the other hand, the fact that they are constantly searching for food, especially around homes, is what makes them be perceived as a pest as well. No one is happy to have objects chewed on and damaged, so it’s understandable why some property owners and especially farmers are not happy with their presence.
When it comes to fruits, there’s little that they are not going to eat. From apples and grapes to figs, plums, peaches, or strawberries, these highly active creatures will be very happy to enjoy their good taste. If you have fruits in your garden, you might also start noticing squirrels joining the party once the fruits start forming.
Vegetables fall into the same category, especially since these also have important nutritional values for squirrels. If you grow them yourself in your backyard, the presence of these tiny visitors might become a real problem, as they really enjoy leafy greens, tomatoes, beans, cauliflower, and many others.
If you don’t want to take drastic measures, one tactic that you can try is to place fruits and vegetables on their way to your garden. This way, they will probably stop to enjoy these treats, and you can keep the ones you want to eat yourself safe.
Of course, this might not be a good idea in the long run, as squirrels also have an excellent memory, which means that if they know your home is a good and reliable source of food, they are certainly going to come back for more.
Sources of food in the wild
As we’ve seen, squirrels spend a lot of time looking for food, and this applies especially when they live in the wild. Berries are an excellent snack for them, as the unprocessed sugar they contain is a much-needed energy boost for these little guys. Furthermore, they also need and crave proteins, which goes to explain why they enjoy eating nuts and seeds.
In fact, if you want to supply them with the most nutritious food, then you should go for nuts. Of course, being experts at climbing trees, they won’t have any trouble getting the goods themselves when available. Squirrels are also quite skilled at removing shells, so nothing can stand between them and these nutritious treats.
If you want to make things easier for squirrels that are living around your home, you can simply provide them with a wide range of nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, acorns, pine nuts, walnuts, and even macadamia nuts.
Besides nuts, seeds are also a very popular choice among squirrels, so you can certainly take these into account as well. These are very nutritious as well, and they are also quite delicious, so it’s pretty obvious why squirrels won’t hesitate when it comes to eating them. The list of top preferences includes sunflower seeds, as well as safflower and pumpkin seeds.
What about things they shouldn’t eat?
There are two ways to look at this matter, namely types of food that might harm these little guys, and those choices that earned them a bad reputation, such as bird feed. When it comes to the former, if you are feeding a squirrel yourself, then you should stay away from our processed food and things such as snacks, chips, or candy bars.
As long as you go for natural types of food and you introduce any new element in a controlled manner, in order to give the digestive system a couple of days to adjust to any changes, then everything should be fine.
On the other hand, there are those food sources that we’d wish squirrels would stay away from, and the most popular example for this consists of bird feed. Anyone who owns birds knows that it’s not fun to have the feeders raided by squirrels, and this type of behavior is what makes them look like a pest.
Of course, if you simply want to make squirrels happy and you don’t have any birds, then you can save yourself some money by simply buying larger quantities of bird feed and allowing the furry friends to go ahead and have a party eating it.
When food is scarce
It’s pretty clear now what are the types of food squirrels would like to have all the time, but things might not always go as planned in the wild, and the resources might become scarce and very scarce. The great part about these little guys is that they are very resourceful and adaptable.
What they do in these situations is eat other things such as small insects, a wide range of fungi (such as mushrooms or lichen) and if things really get out of hand, they will even resort to looking into bird nests for eggs that can be stolen, or even baby chicks. It’s true that these are extreme cases, and they only apply when no other food sources are available.