Squirrels are omnivorous animals that eat a variety of things, including dog food. Some people believe that squirrels will eat dog food in order to get the nutrients that the food provides, but this is not always the case. In fact, most squirrels will not eat dog food and will instead eat things like nuts, seeds, and insects.
With over 200 species of squirrels, including grey tree squirrels, red tree squirrels, ground squirrels, fox squirrels, flying squirrels, striped squirrels, and black squirrels, you may have wondered what do squirrels eat.So, I went out to find the answers for you.
Squirrels, in fact, have a voracious appetite for many native flowers, vegetables, fungi, plants, flowers, and insects found in their natural habitat.
They are not picky eaters and will eat almost anything they can get their hands on. The other day, they grabbed some sugary snacks that our kids had left on our front porch.If you want to feed squirrels in your backyard, you should read our squirrel feeder article.
We'll look at some of their favorite foods, foods you should avoid feeding them, and other important information about their diet.
Related: Attracting Squirrels to Your Yard
Are Squirrels Carnivore or Herbivore
Squirrels are rodents that belong to the Sciuridae family and are primarily herbivores, eating a variety of plants, nuts, and seeds.(sesame, safflower, poppy, and pumpkin seeds)
Their diet changes depending on the season; the majority of ground squirrels hibernate each winter, and when they emerge, they eat herbs, grasses, vegetables, flowers, and pretty much anything else they can find.
They are not picky eaters and will eat almost anything.
In the wild, what do squirrels eat?
Some people believe that feeding wild animals is never a good idea because they can become a nuisance or it is illegal, but this hasn't stopped people from doing so.
Even if you don't feed them, a squirrel is likely to visit your property in search of scraps, waste, or other items to bring back to their nest.
However, if food is plentiful where they live, you may not see them on your property, and you may be able to keep them from causing damage by feeding them the best squirrel food at their feeders.
They tend to eat wherever they can get their chow with minimal effort.
Fruits and Veggies
What do wild squirrels eat?
If you have a vegetable garden, you will find their bushy-tailed critters happily eating your veggies, which include watermelons, bananas, plums, kiwis, apples, mangoes, nectarines, grapes, sweet potatoes, peaches, kale, broccoli, peas, carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, and pease.
Fruits and vegetables are both excellent sources of nutrition for these creatures.
Squirrels love berries that grow in the wild because the unprocessed sugar gives them an energy boost that keeps them going.Cherries, mulberries, strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries are among the berries that can be found in the wild.
They'll gladly raid your garden if they can't find them in the wild.
In Your Garden
Squirrels will eat dried corn on the cob, tomatoes, pumpkins, freshly planted seedbeds, beans, squash, cucumbers, eggplants, sunflowers, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, celery, asparagus, and other root vegetables, despite the fact that many people complain about squirrels eating out of their gardens.
They'll only eat red tomatoes and ignore green ripe ones.
Depending On The Season
In the winter, what do squirrels eat?
These creatures are true survivalists, adapting their diets to what nature provides and where they live.
Except for grey squirrels, most squirrels spend the winter burrowed in their dens sleeping 12 or more hours per day, snacking on the nuts they buried during the warm months.Squirrels have been observed storing enough food to last them when food is scarce.
Squirrels are known to store enough food to last up to three years. Squirrels love to eat and can eat a lot.
In the winter, grey squirrels have been observed eating tree bark.
Grey squirrels primarily consume nuts and tree seeds from coniferous and deciduous trees, but they also consume fruits, fungi, buds, and flowers.
In the summer, grey squirrels primarily consume fungi, while flying squirrels, particularly the northern flying squirrel, consume fungus and lichen on a regular basis.They prefer acorn truffles, which are underground fungi that resemble acorns in appearance and smell.
Unlike humans, squirrels can consume almost any type of mushroom without fear of being poisoned by the deadly amanita-toxins that cause mushroom poisoning.
They eat flowers, seeds, and pretty much anything else they can get their little paws on in the spring, when most of them are just emerging from their nests after hibernating and foraging for a fresh supply of food.
This is an excellent time to visit backyard bird feeders; in fact, I just saw the first grey squirrel in my backyard the other morning looking for bird seed on the ground.It's critical to understand that squirrels will eat birds and bird eggs.
They can't get to my bird feeder because I bought a squirrel-proof bird feeder.
Its diet shifts to nuts and acorns in September, when they are plentiful, and it will eagerly eat and collect other nuts such as pistachios, cashews, hickory nuts, macadamia nuts, walnuts, chestnuts, pine nuts out of pine cones, almonds, magnolia cones, pecans, hazelnuts, and beechnuts.
Related: Can Squirrels Eat Walnuts?
They are content to eat nuts with or without the shell, and extracting the nut from the shell gives them exercise and sharpens their teeth.
Grey squirrels, on the other hand, are survivors and cannot go without food for long periods of time; if they can't find food, they will raid a bird's nest for eggs, steal from bird feeders, and dig up plants.
They will then bury extra goodies beneath the soil's surface, which they will discover by smell.
Foods to Never Feed Squirrels
Foods to never feed squirrels
If you like squirrels, you've probably fed them food, either by hand or by laying it out for them to find; we all enjoy seeing how close they'll get for food.After all, they enjoy eating, and as you can see, there isn't much they won't consume.
There are some foods, however, that you should never feed them because they have no nutritional value and may even harm their digestive system.
Breakfast cereals, oats, potatoes (french fries), rice, pasta, bread, and other grains such as rye and barley are examples of starchy foods that have no nutritional value and can harm the digestive system.
Squirrels enjoy sugary snacks and would steal candy from a baby if they could, but these foods should be avoided; these include candy, cookies, chocolates, soda, fruit juices, sweetened yogurt, banana chips, and any other sugary snack.
Squirrels are notorious for stealing food, so just because these foods are bad for them doesn't mean they won't steal them.
In this video, a squirrel enters a store and steals a chocolate bar from the candy counter.
We love junk food, and I'm sure squirrels do as well. Avoid feeding them salted pretzels, crackers, french fries, pizza, hamburgers, or any other type of salted food.Basically, if squirrels can't find it in the wild and we eat it, you shouldn't feed it to them.
The list of what they will consume is extensive, and there isn't much that they won't eat. Heck, just the other day, a grey squirrel ate cheese that was meant for my cat.If you have a lot of brave squirrels approaching your deck, be mindful of what you leave in their path.
Squirrel Feeding Guide
I've broken it down into a simple table that you can look at to see if it's something you can feed to your backyard squirrels; if you have a pet squirrel, make sure you're feeding them the right foods.FoodNutritional ValuePumpkin and pumpkin seedsOkayBread and other starchy foodsBadButternutGreatBeechnutGreatCornOkayCheeseOkayHickory NutsGreatPeanuts, rawBad (never feed raw peanuts to squirrels)Roasted PeanutsOkay (as long as they are unsalted)PistachioOkaySunflower seedsOkayBroccoliGreatCarrotsGreatPe
Feeding squirrels in moderation is important because you don't want them to become too reliant on humans and stop foraging for their own food.
Wild animals must be able to find their own food in order to survive, and when they become attached to humans, they can become prey to hunters and other predators who wish to harm them.
Some of Their Favorite Consumables
As previously stated, these creatures' palates have expanded beyond what they can find in the wild, but they, like you and me, have some favorite foods that we would NEVER turn down.
Because these bushy-tailed guys enjoy eating so much, they will never pass up the opportunity to eat nuts, seeds, bark, vegetables, grains, fungi, seeds, fruit, roots, and bulbs.
What Do Grey Squirrels Eat?
These are the most common types of squirrels found in people's yards, and they primarily eat nuts as well as tree seeds from both coniferous and deciduous species.However, they also consume fruit, buds, fungi, flowers, bird seed, and enjoy some human foods.
They, like all other types of squirrels, will eat pretty much anything they can get their little paws on. Grey squirrels, also known as tree squirrels, will eat from feeders.
What Do Flying Squirrels Eat?
Flying squirrels, also known as "gliding squirrels," are omnivores who eat a variety of foods such as insects, seeds, nuts, fungi, and fruits, whereas Southern flying squirrels are carnivores who supplement their diet with carrion, small birds, and eggs.
They are typically found in the eastern United States, from Minnesota to Texas and Maine south to Florida.
They, like the grey squirrel, have a varied diet and will eat almost anything; they can also be enticed to eat at feeders if your bird food contains a combination of sunflower seeds and peanuts.
They have also been observed eating from suet feeders. For more information on these amazing creatures, visit the National Wildlife Federation website.
What Do Red Squirrels Eat?
American red squirrel
These are not as common as grey squirrels, but if you're fortunate enough to have red squirrels feeding in your garden, here are the foods they enjoy.
They enjoy a wide variety of foods and will forage for seeds and nuts that are naturally found in gardens.Some of their favorites include chestnuts and sweet nuts.
They also enjoy unsalted peanuts, shelled peanuts, and other types, but make sure you know which types of peanuts to give squirrels. Carrots and apples are excellent calcium supplements to include in your feeder.
If there is no natural source of water nearby, remember to provide a source of water for your squirrel.
The red squirrel, unlike the grey squirrel, does not like maize (sweet corn). Learn more about the Red Squirrel on the Nature Works website.
What Do Fox Squirrels Eat?
Eastern Fox Squirrel
The Eastern Fox squirrel (Sciurus niger), also known as Bryant's Fox Squirrel, is one of the largest tree squirrels, growing to be 10 - 15 inches long and found in the Eastern and Central United States.It is primarily found west of the Dakotas, in Colorado, and in Texas.
They are usually found in open piney areas with a lot of trees, where they will build their nests in hollow trees or in the crotch of a tree.
They eat hickory, beech, acorns, mulberry, and Hawthorne seeds, as well as fruits, berries, corn, moths, beetles, and green shoots.
They are solitary creatures, but they will share their feeding area with other squirrels, as evidenced by the distinct black marking on their head.
The Big Cypress fox squirrel, a subspecies of the fox squirrel, is federally protected because it is in danger of extinction due to the clearing of forests and overhunting.On this website, you can learn more about the fox squirrel.(Sciurus niger avicennia) which is a subspecies of the fox squirrels. They are federally protected because they are endangered due to the destruction of forests and overhunting. You can read more about the fox squirrel on this website.
What Do Baby Squirrels Eat?
These animals typically breed once or twice a year, with the pregnancy cycle lasting about 39 days and the babies being blind for several weeks after birth.The mothers will breastfeed their babies for approximately seven weeks.
She will supplement the milk with vegetables and nuts after seven weeks, until she can wean them completely off the milk.
Is there anything they don't like about you?
While they don't eat much, there are a few things that repel them, and many people use some of these items to keep them away from their gardens, bird feeders, and attics.They despise hot peppers, including jalapeos, cayenne peppers, habaneros, capsicum, anaheim peppers, and any other type of hot pepper that can be grown in the garden.
They will simply ignore your garden plants; in fact, hot pepper sprays and Tobasco sauce are commonly used to keep squirrels away from people's fruits, vegetables, and other plants.
Garlic and black pepper smells tend to keep hungry brazen squirrels away, and some homeowners will even get a large dog or cat to assist them in keeping these critters away.
Some homeowners have even secured their gardens and bird feeders with plants that squirrels despise, such as daffodils, hyacinth, geraniums, Lilly-of-the-valley, alliums, fritillaries, and Galanthus, which most squirrels will avoid.
Best Foods for Squirrels
The best squirrel food contains a variety of fruits, vegetables, and seeds, which you can easily find at your local pet store or online at Amazon for your squirrel feeders.
If you're going to feed them, give them the kind of food that gives them the nutritional substances they need, not just because they love eating french fries, hamburgers, and other junk food.
These guys consume a lot of food and expend a lot of energy, so it's crucial that their diets are balanced and include calcium, fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals.
How Frequently Should I Feed Them?
There's nothing wrong with regular feedings and having a squirrel feeder in your yard, but make sure you're not feeding them so much that they stop foraging for natural food.
Feeding them food is a great way to supplement their food supply, especially when their natural food sources are scarce; feed them more frequently during the summer months when natural food is scarce.
They are among the safest wild animals to feed because they are intelligent, quick, and non-aggressive, though they will bite if threatened.Setting up a squirrel feeder or squirrel house in your yard is the best way to feed them.
If you've decided to feed squirrels in your yard, let us know in the comments below; I'd love to hear your experiences.
Which animals will consume dry dog food?
Crows, ravens, grackles, bluebirds, jays, starlings, pigeons, doves, sparrows, finches, cardinals, titmice, siskins, thrashers, chickadees, and other birds have been observed eating dog food., and more have all been known to eat dog food when it is offered.
What is the favorite food of a squirrel?
Acorns, walnuts, hickory nuts, and Osage orange fruits are among their favorite foods, and they may also feed on wild tree fruits, nuts, and tree buds when food is scarce later in the winter.acorns, walnuts, hickory nuts and Osage orange fruits. They may also feed on wild tree fruits, nuts, and tree buds when food is scarce later in winter.
Can squirrels consume cat or dog food?
Squirrels enjoy almost any type of kibble, especially since they have sharp incisors that allow them to eat nuts and other foods. Although cat food does not contain vegetables, they enjoy dry cat food.Just because they eat cat food does not mean it is healthy for them.they love dry cat food. Just because they eat cat food, doesn't mean that it's good for them.
What can't a squirrel eat?
Pasta, bread, grains, seeds, rice, and potatoes are examples of starchy foods; sugary foods include candy, cookies, dried fruit, banana chips, soda, fruit juices, sweetened yogurt, granola, and sweetened breakfast cereals.French fries, potato chips, pretzels, crackers, and anything salted are examples of junk food.