I love seeing squirrel’s run along the fence or jump from limb to limb in my backyard. What baffled me was, it seemed like, at times, there were bunches of them. Then, at other times, I couldn't find any.
After some research I figured out that feeding squirrel’s a health food, regularly will keep them coming back more often. The key is, the food has to be the right food for squirrel’s.
In this article, I will share with you all that I have learned about what to feed squirrel’s in your backyard.
Why do you need to feed squirrels?
There has always been a huge debate on whether to feed squirrels or not, and it’s not because those who disagree don’t like them. Rather, it’s all a question of whether it’s safe to feed them and if it would be good for nature as a whole.
Experts from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) specifically warn against feeding human food to these animals because it could be dangerous for them. They contend that wild animals have to eat certain types of food or they will get sick and die. They also argue that animals don't know when food is wrapped. The animals will end up eating the wrappers. This can possibly make them sick and kill them.
With that in mind, there’s nothing wrong with feeding squirrels as long as you’re giving them the right food. There are actually many reasons that feeding these fur balls is a great idea.
For one, squirrels help bring an additional food source for rodents during the winter. They also play a very important role in the ecosystem because they love taking seeds, burying them for later, and then forgetting where they put them.
This means that the more squirrels there are, the more trees there will be because they’re unconsciously planting seeds.
Of course, squirrels are such fun creatures that you will love to see them rubbing their faces on their acorns or just running around.
What to feed squirrels?
Did you know that squirrels can actually remember you, especially if you feed them? These animals have a way of recognizing the people who feed them. They’ll always treat you as a friend for that.
So, now that the big squirrel debate is settled, it’s time to learn the different foods you can put out for these fur balls:
There’s no doubt that squirrels love nuts, but you have to go with unsweetened and unsalted varieties to make sure you’re keeping them safe. Some of the best nuts that squirrels love include almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts.
Fruits and vegetables
You don’t have to look far and wide to know what to feed squirrels. You just have to mimic what they usually eat within nature and that is fruits and vegetables. Squirrels definitely love munching on celery, spinach, bean sprouts, carrots, and green beans.
They also love sweet fruits like figs, grapes, kiwi, peaches, bananas, apples, and plums. Squirrels are also huge fans of berries including cherries, strawberries, mulberries, blackberries, and raspberries because the natural sugar gives them the energy that they need to run around.
Melons are very nutritious for squirrels to eat. Squirrels particularly like to eat watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew melons.
Of course, squirrels love their seeds because they offer them the nutrients they need to stay healthy and active. They actually love snacking on them because they are small and easy to eat. Some of their favorites would include pumpkin seeds, safflower seeds, and sunflower seeds.
That is also the reason you’ll see squirrels raiding birdfeeders because they contain nuts, seeds, and grains that they all love to snack on. Squirrels also need to constantly chew on something to wear down their front teeth and seeds give them that perfect texture for chewing.
When feeding squirrels, you need to remember that they should have a balanced diet that contains the right amounts of fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals. It’s also very important to know how to feed the squirrels properly to not cause any issues for them.
For instance, it would be good to shred food. This will not only make it easier for the squirrels to eat it, but also to keep them from burying that food in your garden to feed on at a later time.
You can also opt for feeders and feeding stations to get the squirrels used to feeding only from a certain area in your property. This will keep them from finding potential food in other parts of your yard and end up eating your plants and flowers. Just make sure that they are cleaned regularly to reduce the risk of diseases.
Keep in mind, experts don’t recommend feeding squirrels by hand. Feeding them by hand will make it harder for them, especially the younger ones, to survive in the wild if they’re used to being hand fed.
Squirrels love to feed on insects. Insects provide much needed protein to squirrels in their daily diet. Here are some of the insects squirrels like to eat:
- Ants - ants are a great source of protein, fat, and calcium for squirrels.
- Cicadas - squirrels can pig out on these protein rich bugs all summer long.
What should you avoid feeding squirrels?
Now that you know what to feed squirrels, you also need to learn what not to feed them:
Any salted or sugared snacks are not good for squirrels, just like they’re not for humans. That’s mostly because they don’t contain any nutrients that would help them.
Squirrels are also naturally hyperactive. Ingesting junk food could make them more hyper, which is bad for their health.
Yes, squirrels are known for being huge peanut eaters, but they are actually not supposed to eat them. This is because they are legumes and don’t have a lot of nutritional value. Although you can feed squirrels peanuts as a snack, you should only do it occasionally.
Squirrels love corn. It’s not actually bad for them except for in large quantities. It’s completely fine to feed them a cup of shredded or sliced corn, but not a whole corn. Don't give them more because squirrels have a tendency to keep feeding themselves even if they are already full. Some squirrels even die because they overfeed themselves.
Sure, you may see people feeding cereals to squirrels in movies. But just like junk food, breakfast cereals don’t contain any nutritional value. Cereal can easily cause malnutrition, even if squirrels love munching on it.
Human or pet formula
Animal or human formula is bad for squirrels. They’re not made to be part of a squirrel’s natural diet. They may contain preservatives, additives, and other chemicals that could cause seizures, nervousness, convulsions, and even sudden death.
It may seem like a good idea to feed squirrels pet food, but most of these products contain meat. Meat is not ideal for a squirrel’s natural diet since they are vegetarians. If they eat too much pet food, they might get sick and even die.
Bread is one of those debatable subjects when it comes to feeding squirrels. If you go the park with a loaf of bread, you can usually get the squirrels to eat the bread. The question arises as to how nutritional is bread for squirrels. The answer is not so straight forward. Some breads, like whole wheat, can be good for squirrels. Other breads, like white bread, are bad for squirrels.
What nutrition to feed squirrels for good health
Vitamin A is critical for good vision, healthy skin, and reproductive health among other things. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, protecting your squirrels from damage caused by free radicals in their system. It also aids in producing collagen which makes squirrels' bones, muscles, and connective tissue strong. Calcium strengthens squirrels' bones and teeth- preventing anemia and maintaining the function of muscles. Iron is a component of red blood cells, which transport oxygen from your squirrels' lungs to other parts of the body. It also helps produce energy for squirrels’ activities.
Fat is an important source of energy for squirrels during winter months when food sources are scarce. Thiamin (vitamin B1) is necessary for squirrels to have normal growth and development as well as brain health. Riboflavin (vitamin B2) aids in the squirrels' metabolism- converting nutrients into energy. Niacin (vitamin B3) speeds up metabolism as well as digestive system function which can save your furry friend from illness caused by indigestion or putrefaction in their system.
Do squirrels eat bananas?
Yes, squirrels eat bananas. You should peel the bananas before giving them to the squirrels. Also, don't give to much banana to your squirrels.
What to Feed Squirrels conclusion
As you can see, it can be fun and make your yard more lively if you feed squirrel’s. You have to be very aware of what they can and can't eat. If you use a feeder, keep it clean. Following these guidelines will keep squirrel’s health and coming back for more.