Squirrels are fairly common wild animals that we find around us, and because of how cute they are, we are always tempted to feed them like we would one of our pests.
We have to know that even though squirrels are not picky eaters and will eat anything they find if you leave for them, some foods are toxic to them, including corn, apples, avocado, and oranges.
These foods might not instantly kill them, but it is not good for their bodies. You should feed them with foods like fruits and nuts and insects too.
Do Squirrels Eat Everything
Many people think that squirrels are herbivores because most of the food we see them eat is plant-based. Many others limit the foods squirrels should eat to seeds and nuts because that is what most squirrels in the wild consume.
But the reality is that squirrels are omnivores that eat both plant and animal-based food. Squirrels can eat about anything, but that does not mean that everything is good for them.
There are species of squirrels that have been documented to eat bird eggs, amphibians, bones, bird nestling, and stuff like that, but this is not very common with the ones we find around, probably because they have other easier and more available foods.
In the wild, where squirrels do not influence what they eat, they eat mostly flowers from trees, seeds, and nuts.
Their food there also comprises tree buds of elm, hickory, cedar, dogwood, maple, mulberry, pine, spruce, and others. They consume fungi and mushrooms in the wild too.
As squirrels began to interact with people, either by people feeding them or leaving food in certain places for them or by them foraging for foods by themselves in our garbage, they started consuming foods that humans consume, especially peanut and peanut butter; they even began to consume processed foods like sweets, snacks, and cookies.
They also eat carrots, apples, sunflower seeds, pistachio, squash, pecans, strawberries, etc.
What Food Is Toxic To Squirrels
If you ask most people what they believe the best foods for squirrels are, about 70% of them will say: corn and peanut because those are foods that they usually see squirrels eat, but that does not mean it is good for them.
These foods may be great for birds, but they are not nutritionally okay for squirrels. However, they can eat just a little of some of these foods every once in a while, and they will not come into immediate danger.
Generally speaking, there are 3 ways of classifying foods that are not good for squirrels, which are :
1. Unhealthy Foods
These are not nutritious food or have very low nutritional value; these doors will not hurt the squirrels, but it does not help them either. Examples of such foods are Junk foods like sweets, pastries, etc.
2. Unsafe Foods
These foods cause injury or harm to the squirrel as they eat; a good example is pine nuts.
3. Toxic foods
These are food that is outrightly harmful or dangerous to squirrels; they include some wild species of mushrooms, florist flowers, cardboard, and cycad palms, amongst others.
Examples of Foods That Are Unhealthy, Unsafe, And Toxic To Squirrels:
1. Junk Food
This is very unhealthy food for not just humans but also squirrels. These foods have very little nutritional value for them as they are usually high in salt and sugar, which are just unhealthy fillers and can also lead to health problems.
Salty junk foods are as bad as sugary ones because they have a similar effect on humans on squirrels, especially on their young.
By squirrels’ very nature, they are very hyperactive. Eating a lot of sugar junk makes them super hyperactive, which means they can be more excited and agitated and get into lots of trouble.
Hotdogs, pizzas, tacos, and other such foods are not healthy for squirrels because they are not part of their natural foods.
It always comes as a surprise to many people when they hear that peanuts are not a healthy food for squirrels because squirrels love peanut and peanut butter.
But the fact is that peanuts are legumes and not real nuts and are not nutritious for squirrels. They can eat it as snacks, it will not hurt them if they consume it in a reasonable quantity, but it will not give them the much-needed nutrients they need.
This is another food people love to feed squirrels. Corn in itself is okay for squirrels, especially if they consume a small amount of corn that is broken or ground into small pieces.
Still, the truth is that squirrels will eat a lot of corn if they find it, and it will cause them to overeat, and overeating corn can kill squirrels.
The main concern about corn that makes it toxic for squirrels is that corn can easily grow moldy, and when squirrels eat this fungi-infected corn, they can die.
4. Human and Animal Formula
Some websites give wildlife feeding advice that is harmful to squirrels. This advice includes suggestions to feed them with infant, puppy, and kitten formula.
This is incredibly harmful to squirrels. These formula products are specifically designed for their target species, namely young humans, young dogs, and young cats.
It shouldn’t surprise you to hear some websites advise people to feed squirrels with infant, kitten, or puppy formula; this is a No-No because you will end up endangering the life of the squirrels.
These food contain chemicals, additives, and preservatives that the target consumers can consume without any problem, but this is not the case with squirrels. These chemicals have been proven to cause nervousness, induce seizures, and even death.
5. Breakfast Cereals
Like the formula for dogs and cats, which is made specifically for each group of animals, breakfast cereals are made with humans in mind and have little or no nutritional value for squirrels. Even though these foods are not toxic to squirrels, they are not healthy for them.
The tragedy is that squirrels love these cereals and will binge on them so much that they have no space for really nutritious foods. So squirrels that feed mostly on breakfast cereals soon become malnourished.
6. Avocado Skins and Fruit seed
It would be best if you didn’t feed squirrels with the seed or skins of avocado; these parts contain persin, a natural toxin, an oil-soluble compound that contains cardiac glycosides.
When squirrels eat the seeds and skins of avocado, they ingest this person with cardiac glycosides, which forces the squirrel’s heart to over-work itself by pumping blood faster than the animal can handle.
This can lead to squirrels’ digestive problems, respiratory distress, and heart failure. Unripe avocados are more dangerous for squirrels because of their high-persin content.
6. Pet Food
Pet food is specially formulated for them, putting in mind the nutrient needs of the animals. For instance, the nutrient needs of dogs differ significantly from those of squirrels, so the food you feed your dog will not satisfy the nutritional requirements of squirrels.
You also have to remember that dogs and cats are more or less carnivores, while squirrels are herbivores. Like in most pet foods, foods containing a high amount of meat can even kill squirrels. Squirrels can, however, consume insects without any issues at all.
7. Certain Seeds and Nuts
Some nuts are unhealthy for squirrels, including cashews, chestnuts, and sunflower seeds, because they contain high amounts of phosphorous, eventually leading to calcium loss.
Almond is not exactly good for squirrels, but they can consume 1 or 2 almonds that are not salted nor flavored daily. The most roasted nut fed to squirrels has little or no nutritional benefits to them.
8. Foods with Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners might be good for humans because they are low in calories, do not contain sugar, and have vitamins, but they have no place in the food of a squirrel.
Nutra-Sweet and aspartame are examples of sweeteners that could be consumed in very small quantities; otherwise, you will expose the squirrel to gastrointestinal discomfort.
Squirrels are those wild animals that are gradually interacting with humans just like raccoons, and most times, we want to feed them as they come around our homes or when we keep them as pets.
There are, however, some foods that are not good for them, including peanut and peanut butter, foods that have artificial sweeteners, and the like.
If you want that squirrel to remain healthy, then you will have to cease feeding them some of these foods that can be deadly.
- Is Chocolate Poisonous to Squirrels
- What to Feed Squirrels in Your Backyard
- How To Make A Flying Squirrel Feeder
- Can You Eat Squirrel From Your Backyard
- How to Attract Flying Squirrels to Your Backyard
We trust this article helped you know what food is toxic to squirrels. You may also want to check out What to Feed Squirrels in Your Backyard.
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