What Do Squirrels Eat?

squirrel on a log

Squirrels are truly fascinating creatures and there are many things about these furry animals that people may not know. One question that we get asked often is “What do squirrels eat?” We know squirrels like to store up nuts but what else do they eat? This article will explore the squirrel’s diet and discuss the things they find appetizing.

So, what do squirrels eat?

Squirrels are known for their love of acorns which can be very abundant during the fall season. However, they enjoy a wide range of foods, including nuts, seeds, fruits, and fungi.

Squirrels also enjoy other types of tree-based foods such as buds, flowers, and bark. Squirrels tend to hoard their food, packing it away in the cracks of trees and on-ground stashes.

However, as squirrels are omnivores, they do not only eat plant-based foods; they also like meat such as insects (such as grasshoppers), bird eggs, hatchlings, mice, and lizards.

Squirrels may spend many hours each day foraging for food to always be sure they have a plentiful supply of edibles in their habitat. Some squirrels store food away while others eat as soon as they find something tasty!

Here are some of the foods squirrels enjoy:

Nuts!

Nuts are the squirrel’s favorite snack. Grey squirrels and fox squirrels love acorns, walnuts, hickory nuts, beechnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts, and almost any other kind of nut that they can get their paws on.

In the fall when nuts are plentiful squirrels will use their sharp incisors to chop up acorns before storing them in crevices of trees or under leaves on the forest floor.

Squirrels will crack open these hard-shelled snacks and hoard the delicious treats for days, weeks, and even months at a time burying them or storing them in a hidden location and then returning later to eat the contents.

Seeds

Squirrels also love to eat seeds, especially sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds which can often be found at bird feeders. When there isn’t a bird feeder around to provide them with tasty black oil or striped sunflower seeds, squirrels will forage for their own natural sources.

Nuts and seeds are the perfect squirrel food because they contain high levels of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron fat (which is necessary to help them stay warm during the winter), fiber which helps keep their digestive system running smoothly.

Fruits and Berries

Squirrels also enjoy eating fruits and berries, which are rich in carbohydrates and sugars. Squirrels feast on wild fruits like blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, mulberries, in addition to other types of fruit like apples, plums, grapes, peaches, cherries, and more!

They also munch on avocados, kiwi, mangoes, persimmons, and other types of sweet and tasty fruit that they can find.

Vegetables

Squirrels also enjoy eating vegetables! They have a wide range of veggies that they eat, including peas and beans, corn, zucchini, tomatoes, sweet potatoes. In addition to these edibles, some squirrels may eat leafy green plants as well as flowers from different types of trees such as willow branches or magnolia blooms.

They’ll also chow on cauliflower, cucumbers, potatoes, and even onions!

Fungi

Squirrels will also eat mushrooms and fungi which are packed with vitamins, proteins, and minerals like iron and potassium. Squirrels can often be found chewing on truffles (a type of fungus) as well as puffballs (another kind of mushroom).

They also enjoy eating lichens that grow flat on the bark of trees as well as clovers, ferns, or any other type of plant-based food that they can find.

Insects

Squirrels are omnivores which means their diet consists of both meat and vegetation. Squirrels eat insects like grasshoppers because it gives them the protein that they need in addition to helping supplement their vegetable diet.

However, they also munch on other types of meat like mice or rodents that can be found scurrying around on the forest floor. Some squirrels will even eat birds and their hatchlings if given the chance!

Lizards

Squirrels are known to eat lizards as well because it is a good source of protein. They will often eat skinks (a type of lizard) but will also prey on other lizards like geckos, anoles, and even snakes!

Tree Bark

Squirrels also enjoy eating bark, especially during the wintertime when the weather is cold and food is scarce. They will use their sharp incisors to strip the bark off of trees or branches that are low to the ground.

This provides them with an easy source of nutrients and fats in addition to giving their teeth a good scrubbing! Squirrels can’t eat all parts of a tree but they do find specific types of bark tasty like white birch, beech, cherrywood, willow trees that have soft bark, or even fruit trees where the bark is thin.

Eggs

Squirrels also enjoy eating eggs from other animals. They have been known to raid nests and eat the eggs that are inside! This is a good source of protein for them as well as an easy meal if they find a nest full of unprotected baby birds or ducklings.

Squirrels will often keep coming back to the same nests and eat the eggs when they are available. They will also eat the baby birds when given the chance!

Pet food

Squirrels will also eat the food that is put out for our domesticated animals like cats and dogs. They enjoy this type of food because it is easy for them to access and it tastes good!

When a squirrel finds a food dish out in the open, they will often go back to the same dish over and over again so pet owners need to keep their food containers tightly closed.

Squirrels will also eat from our bird feeders because they are a good source of seeds! They have been known to chew right through the plastic to get at all of those tasty sunflower seeds, black-oil sunflower seeds, and safflower that we put out for our backyard birds.

Food scraps

Squirrels will also eat food scraps and leftovers in the trash. They will get into garbage cans and dig around for that last bit of food.

You may even find them in your compost bin too which is a good place for squirrels to find food! They can also be found eating food scraps like apple cores, banana peels, and even orange rinds.

Plants

Squirrels will also eat plants like dandelions, clover, and other types of vegetables that grow on the ground. They are great for getting extra nutrients in their diets when food is scarce or they aren’t able to find enough insects during certain times of the year.

They can often be found burying seeds too! This is a good way for them to store food in the ground so they can eat it later and it also benefits the plant because it gives their seeds a better chance at growing and thriving.

Grubs & Worms

Squirrels will eat grubs and worms that they find underneath the surface of the dirt too! This is also good for getting extra nutrients in addition to helping them build up fat reserves during times when there isn’t as much food around.

A well-balanced diet

Squirrels are very good about eating a variety of different foods throughout the year. They will eat nuts, berries, seeds, bark, lizards, eggs from other animals’ nests, pet food, and leftovers in our trash cans! In addition to this, they also enjoy grubs and worms that can be found underground.

Is there anything squirrels don’t like to eat?

Squirrels may seem like they enjoy eating a lot of different things but there are actually some food items that they won’t eat! They don’t like raw garlic and raw onions because they emit a smell that is offensive to them.

Hot peppers such as habaneros, jalapenos, Anaheim, serrano, and cayenne peppers are also something that squirrels won’t eat. The scent and taste of these peppers are too strong and they repulse them.

Is there food that squirrels can’t eat?

Aside from the food that they don’t like there are also some things that they simply can’t eat because eating it might kill them. Chocolates are a good example of this.

The same goes for dairy like cow’s milk or soymilk. These are fatal to most wild animals because they can’t process the lactose in them so it will give them digestive issues.

Other things that are fatal to squirrels include human junk food, salty foods, high-starch foods, high-sugar content foods, and moldy foods. Feeding squirrels any of these will lead to dehydration and malnutrition that will eventually lead to death. You aren’t looking to be a squirrel exterminator, are you?

Do squirrels eat dirt?

Squirrels eat many things but they do not eat dirt or soil. This is often a common misconception because they will dig around in the ground to find grubs and worms but that doesn’t mean they are eating the dirt!

Conclusion

When it comes to food, squirrels will eat just about anything they can find. Squirrels tend to be opportunistic foragers and so if it’s moving or growing in their forest habitat or even in our backyards, you’ll likely see them eating it! So, what do squirrels eat? Almost anything!

Originally published on https://aaacwildliferemoval.com/blog/squirrels/what-do-squirrels-eat

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