Squirrels can be enjoyable to watch, and one great way to encourage them to stick around a little longer is by feeding them apples. These cute critters love to eat and will eat just about anything, but sweet and sour apples are especially appealing to them.
In this post I’ll give you some good tips for feeding apples to the squirrels, and also some tips on how to keep them away from your apple trees if need be!
What type of apples do squirrels eat
Squirrels will eat pretty much any apple you feed them. Sweet or sour, ripe or unripe, on the tree or off, it doesn’t really matter to them. Squirrels will even eat crab apples! These can sometimes be too hard to eat when they’re ripe, so squirrels will eat crab apples that have fallen on the ground and begun to rot.
This can actually be a problem because rotten apples often begin to ferment and this can be toxic to squirrels! While this can be entertaining to watch, it’s unhealthy for the squirrels and can sometimes make them go crazy and tear up your yard so try not to feed them crab apples. With that in mind, there are some things to keep in mind before putting a treat out for them.
Can squirrels eat apple cores
When given the opportunity, squirrels will sometimes eat whole apples, core and all. Squirrels will eat just about anything given to them, often with no thought for their life. Eating apple cores and seeds can actually be deadly for them, but they don’t know it! The seeds of apples contain amygdalin, a harmful chemical that leads to the production of cyanide in the body. Accidentally eating a small number of apple seeds is usually safe or only causes a minor stomach ache for humans, but for a much smaller animal like a squirrel, this is often deadly.
Since they are scavengers by nature, squirrels’ feeding habits really just come down to supply and demand. One apple is a limited amount of food for a squirrel, so make sure to remove the core before placing an apple out for your squirrels because there’s a good chance they’ll eat the whole thing.
Do squirrels eat apples off of trees
When faced with more food like a whole apple tree, the squirrels will usually just take bites out of multiple different apples instead of bothering to finish a whole one. Squirrels particularly love to eat the skin of apples so when given a chance they’ll pick at it instead of really digging into the fruit. This can be a real irritation for farmers and people with apple trees because it leaves them with lots of apples ruined and lying on the ground instead of just one or two lost apples.
How to prevent squirrels from eating your apples
Squirrels are entertaining to watch in nature, but sometimes become a real pest when they’re in your own backyard especially if you’re someone who enjoys having fruit trees. If given the opportunity, squirrels will occasionally eat apples and other fruit off of trees, so you should be sure to take measures to keep this from happening.
There are a few different ways to keep squirrels away from your apple trees. In the interest of the environment you should stick to non-lethal methods whenever possible. One of these methods is putting a chemical or liquid on the tree trunk and limbs that will ward off squirrels. Hot pepper oil, capsaicin spray or squirrel repellent from any farm goods store will do the trick. By spraying these on the trunk and branches on the tree you will keep squirrels from climbing the tree and thus keep them from eating the fruit.
Another option is to use a wide metal collar around the tree trunk. These can be found at many farm goods or home improvement stores. The round metal piece blocks squirrels from climbing all the way up the tree trunk, and does so without any chemicals or substances that could be harmful to the fruit you’re trying to protect! Be sure to keep apple tree branches trimmed away from other trees or buildings, because if the squirrels can just jump from another tree or structure that will defeat the entire point of the collar.
Best way to feed apples to squirrels
On the other hand if you’re an animal lover, feeding apples to squirrels can obviously be one of the best ways to draw them to your yard. There are a few important things to remember, however:
Watch out for apple cores
First of all, be sure to remove the core from any apples you leave out because the seeds can be deadly for squirrels as we said earlier. Cut your apples into thin slices and remove the seeds for a nice easy treat for the squirrels. They’ll appreciate it!
Draw squirrels away from bird feeders
Make sure you have a space for feeding squirrels and other wildlife that isn’t too close to your bird feeders. Using apples or other food to draw squirrels away from bird feeders can help prevent them from eating the bird food and scaring away birds.
Keep feeder away from predators
Be sure to feed your squirrels out in the open where they can be well aware of any predators that might be lurking. Feeding squirrels too close to dense vegetation or scrap piles can lead to a quick and easy kill for cats, foxes, and sometimes even rattlesnakes! Clearing out those kinds of areas will also help keep those predators out of your yard to keep it from even being an issue.
So whether you’re an animal lover hoping to attract these cute creatures to your yard or an apple lover hoping to protect your trees, knowing what draws squirrels in can be helpful to you. As a final tip, if you’re looking to draw more squirrels into your yard it can be helpful to leave out other food besides apples too! Squirrels have a very broad diet, so leaving nuts and seeds out can help them want to stick around as well.