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Most people have seen squirrels in their gardens or while on a walk. You may have seen them stealing nuts and bird food from your feeder, but they have a varied diet.

  • Nuts – Walnuts, white oak acorns, hickory nuts, beechnuts
  • Vegetables – Bok choy, broccoli, arugula, red or green cabbage, chayote
  • Fruit – Apricot, apple, banana, blueberries, blackberries, grapefruit
  • Seeds – Broadleaved and coniferous trees
  • Fruit – Apricot, apple, banana, blueberries, blackberries, grapefruit
  • Fungi – Any non-poisonous
  • Grains – Corn, wheat, barley

There are over 200 species of squirrels classed as tree, ground, and flying squirrels. These are agile rodents with bushy tails and can be found worldwide. Squirrels belong to the Sciuridae family, which includes marmots and chipmunks. 

Today’s article will focus on North American Squirrels, known as gray squirrels. These are medium-sized and grow up to 20 inches in length, with tails of about 9.5 inches, and weigh up to 1.5 pounds.


What Do Squirrels Eat?

Although squirrels are omnivorous rodents, their primary diets come from seeds of broadleaved and coniferous trees. Squirrels Research shows that squirrels consume bird eggs, grain, young nestlings, buds, fungi, young shoots, and the inner bark of trees. 

Squirrels also love to eat nuts in their shells, walnuts, white oak acorns, hickory nuts, and beechnuts. These are some of the favorite food items for squirrels living in a wild habitat. On the other hand, yard squirrels should consume nuts, seeds, fruit, corn, leaves, and fungi to balance their metabolism and stay healthy. 

NutsWalnuts, white oak acorns, hickory nuts, beechnuts
Seeds Broadleaved and coniferous trees
Fruit Apricots, apples, bananas, blueberries, blackberries, grapefruit
FungiAny non-poisonous
Grains Corn, wheat, barley
Vegetables Bok choy, broccoli, arugula, red or green cabbage

What Can I Feed Squirrels?

Squirrels need a healthy and balanced diet rich in proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. A balanced diet includes squirrel blocks, healthy veggies, wild food from outside, nuts, and treats. Captive squirrels are less active than their wild counterparts, meaning they need a balanced diet to optimize their body functions. 

A diet of vegetables, seeds, and nuts alone is deficient in protein, B vitamins, vitamin D, calcium, and other essential nutrients, causing dull or patchy fur and leading to the ametabolic bone disease that can cause a wide range of complications. Therefore, it is crucial to give squirrels veggies that provide fresh vitamin C, fiber, proteins, and other micronutrients. 

Which Vegetables Do Squirrels Eat?

Squirrels prefer bok choy, broccoli, arugula, red or green cabbage, chayote, cauliflower, purslane, watercress, and mushrooms. You can also feed squirrels Boston bibb, chicory, escarole, endive, loose-leaf, ice-burg, romaine, radicchio, etc. Feed these veggies and lettuces freely. 

However, you should limit avocado, asparagus, artichokes, celery, carrots, cucumber, fennel, green beans, parsley, kale, and sugar snap peas. In addition, make sure you avoid eggplant, okra, collard greens, red/yellow/green bell peppers, spinach, rhubarb, turnips, Swiss chard, and white potatoes. These food items can cause health complications. 

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What Wild Foods Do Squirrels Eat?

Wild foods are an excellent source of essential nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It also provides exercise and amusement and keeps teeth worn down. Some safe trees are apple, aspen, black walnut, birch, cherry, dogwood, locust, and maple. 

In addition, safe plants include hibiscus, dandelion greens, natal plums, lawn green, purslane, red clover, white clover, red clover, and wood sorrel. Safe flowers for squirrels are carnations, daisies, moss rose, marigold, roses, crocus, tulips, lilies, daffodils, and other bulb flowers. 

Other suitable items for squirrels are seashells, antlers, and a clean box of dirt, which will provide trace minerals, help keep teeth worn down, and exercise. Remember, wild mushrooms and acorns are toxic for squirrels, so avoid feeding them. 

Squirrels play a crucial role in maintaining the ecosystem, especially in forests. These small species shape plant composition in woods by taking seeds and burying them. Studies highlight that wild seeds are a primary source of nutrients for squirrels. 

Which Fruits Do Squirrels Like To Eat?

Giving squirrels treats is a fun way to increase trust and bonding. However, it would help if you always fed them in smaller amounts after eating healthy foods. Experts recommend fruits, including apricot, apple, banana, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, crabapples, grapefruit, grapes, lemon, honeydew, mango, lime, orange, and papaya

Squirrels also love to eat peaches, pineapples, pears, raspberries, strawberries, pomegranate, and watermelon. Avoid acorns, chestnuts, pits, and seeds to ensure squirrels stay healthy. 

Limit fruits to 2-3 pieces per day and nuts to 1-2 per day. Make sure nuts are unsalted and roasted. You can purchase crickets and mealworms live, dried, or canned from a local pet store. Because wild-caught insects include harbor parasites, make sure you avoid them. Acorns are toxic to squirrels because they contain a deadly poison known as aflatoxin. 

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What Food Do Squirrels Avoid? 

Squirrels avoid a wide range of food items, including millet, canary, canola, and nyjer seed. Bear in mind that a starving squirrel tends to eat anything to keep its stomach full and get all the essential nutrients. Captive squirrels will avoid white and black pepper, peppermint, and garlic. These food items have unpleasant smells that bother squirrels. 

How To Keep Squirrels Away From Bird Feeders

Squirrels are an acrobatic species and, given a chance, will eat all the food you put out for the birds. These small species can jump several feet to access the feeder. Therefore, keeping the feeders away from the trees, laundry lines, houses, telephone, cable wires, and other launching points is crucial. 

In addition, locate the feeder at least 12-15 feet from a tree trunk and 4-5 feet up from the ground. The purpose is to prevent these species from jumping from the tree. At the same time, when you maintain 4-5 feet up from the ground, squirrels won’t reach onto the feeder. 

On the other hand, if you hang the bird feeder off a line, keep the length at least 8-10 feet long and suspend the feeder at least 4-5 feet above the ground. You can use monofilament fishing wire to hang the feeder. Some people pole mount birth feeders. In that case, we recommend the pole is at least 6-8 feet in length. 

Thus, you can place the pole 1-2 feet into the ground and keep the feeder’s bottom 4-5 feet off the ground. You can also add a squirrel baffle to prevent the problem. A squirrel baffle is an excellent way to deter these species from reaching bird feeders. 

It has a sloped and slick surface, preventing squirrels from clinging to it. As a result, the squirrel will slide right off. You can place baffles above or below the feeder on the mounting pole. Finally, try making friends with these small species by offering them cracked corn, dried corncobs, and peanuts in areas away from the bird feeder. 

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