Squirrels are adorable animals to have around the backyard; as they glide from one tree to another, it feels as if we are watching a mini trapeze show, and hence we sometimes want them in our backyard to watch them all the time.
The best way to attract them is to provide them with food to keep coming. The next question is: what do you feed these squirrels to keep them coming back to your backyard?
Squirrels eat almost everything that we humans eat, too; they are omnivores who eat both plant and animal products, and hence looking for what to feed that squirrel in your backyard is not a challenge because they are not picky eaters.
However, squirrels love certain foods and will always go for them if they find them around your backyard. Today we are looking at foods that you can feed your squirrels with.
Should I feed The Squirrels In My Backyard?
There is an ongoing debate that has been there for a while on whether it is good to feed the squirrels you find in your backyard or not.
Some believe that feeding them will promote an aggressive behavior of food expectation from them and that it will affect their ability to survive in the wild by themselves because they are a ready dependent on man for food.
Others believe that feeding them is not a problem because they do not pose any danger to man apart from the little nuisance they constitute.
In fact, they believe that the fun they provide as we watch them move around in our garden and backyard is worth the food we give them.
For us, we are of the view that moderation is the watchword. You are not to feed squires every time to the point that they can’t fend themselves anymore. We should remember that though they are not aggressive, they are still wild animals that should source their food, with or without our help.
Recommended: How to Attract Flying Squirrels to Your Backyard
What’s the Best Food for Squirrels?
It will be stating the obvious if we say that squirrels love seeds and nuts; this is because seeds and nuts are delicious and nutritious and possess hard surfaces that they chew on to maintain healthy teeth and life.
It is most common for squirrels to chew on the hard outer shells of seeds and then bury the softer interior for safekeeping; afterward, they forget where they buried the seeds, and what happens is that the seed germinates and produces more seeds and nuts.
Even though we always believe that nuts and seeds are the best foods for squirrels, in reality, there are lots of food that squirrels like that we do not know. The list below is not exhaustive, but it will give you an idea of what squirrels love to eat.
1. Nuts and seeds
The nuts that squirrels love to eat are many, but some of them include Walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, and pistachio nuts.
The fruits squirrels find a delicacy includes: Apples, peaches, watermelons, strawberries, squash, plum pumpkin, and the likes.
Squirrels love the following vegetables: Cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, spinach, and asparagus,
4. Tiny animals
Squirrels also enjoy eating small animals like insects, bird eggs, fungi, and amphibians.
What Food Should Not Be Given To Squirrels?
Even though we know that squirrels can eat many things, some foods are poisonous to them; others are not good for their body whole; others are not nutritious that they may eat and yet do not add any nutritional value to them. Some of such foods include:
Sunflower seeds, raw peanuts, pine nuts, dates, raisins, dried fruits, white potatoes, figs, fresh corn, bell pepper, etc.
Squirrels’ instinct kicks when they come across such foods and so will not eat them. There are warning signals triggered by their taste buds and noses that tell them they better not eat these foods.
These foods, if they are cooked, will change in terms of their form and smell; most times, it becomes difficult for squirrels to pick up the signal that these foods might be poisonous to them; this is one of the major concerns some people have about feeding squirrels in your backyard.
Do Squirrels Eat Carrots?
Squirrels love root vegetables like their distant cousins’ rabbits, especially carrots. They will, however, not eat it from the ground like most animals, this is because the delicious fleshy part of carrots are buried underground in the garden, and only the leafy part is visible, which squirrels do not like, nor do they know that those leaves hold a delicious meal for them beneath the surface.
So if you have a garden that you plant carrots on, you can be sure that squirrels will not dig up the carrots because they don’t know they are there.
Carrots are a delicious treat for a squirrel that provides a chewing activity that ensures that their incisor ( the front teeth) does not grow it of proportion because if they do not chew with those incisor teeth for long, the teth will outgrow their mouth and makes it impossible for them to close their mouth.
So as squirrels chew on tough things with their teeth, it causes wear and tears that keep them from becoming longer than necessary and constituting a problem for the squirrels.
Related Article: How To Make A Flying Squirrel Feeder
Do Squirrels Eat Oatmeal?
We have already established that squirrels are scavengers and will eat most things they find around, including oatmeal.
It might not be their choicest option because they will pressure seeds, nuts, and fruits more than oatmeal, but they will eventually eat the oatmeal I’d they have exhausted their favorite bites.
Is Bread Good for Squirrels?
Bread is good for squirrels, but it must be given in moderation because too much bread will get them sick. A little bread now and then is okay for squirrels, but constantly feeding them with bread will leave them unhealthy.
Too much consumption of bread will cause squirrels to gain weight rapidly because bread has a lot of sugar, fillers, and fat that leading to abrupt weight gain. This will lead to low mobility and other associated conditions.
If you must feed bread to squirrels, then you must ensure the following:
1. You don’t Fred white bread to squirrels because they have no nutritional value and can do more harm than good.
2. Feed them with multi-grain or whole grain bread.
3. Ensure that the bread you are feeling is not moldy, and do not put more bread than they can finish at once because it can become moldy if it is leftover. This is a new issue because moldy bread is toxic.
4. Need feed bread to very young squires because they contain a lot of carbohydrates and not the vitamins, minerals, and proteins that thru need essentially.
5. Some varieties of bread made either some ingredients are dangerous to squirrels and so must not be fed to them. Any bread that contains cellulose, Xylitol, chocolate, garlic, and raisins should never be fed to squirrels. These ingredients can cause mild stomach problems, heart problems, and kidney failure.
Do Squirrels Eat Apples?
Squirrels love to eat a variety of nuts and seeds, but they also live to eat delicious fruits like apples that are rich in minerals and vitamins. The only problem that apples present is that their seeds are not good for squirrels.
It has been proven that Apple seeds contain cyanide, a dangerous compound that is lethal, especially to mammals. That is the reason why you should never eat apple seeds, neither should the squirrels in your backyard.
What Is The Average Lifespan Of A Squirrel?
On average, about 50% of squirrels found in a given place die within one year, and this is because they have a lot of predators that hunt them, including snakes, coyotes, bobcats, hawks, and oil.
Secondly, other disease-causing parasites attack them, leading to their death, not forgetting that human interaction with squirrels leads to their death. For example, cars usually crush some of them as they walk on the road.
The different species of squirrels have different life expectancies, and here are the life expectancies of some of the most common squirrels that there are:
1. Eastern Gray Squirrel
This squirrel has a life expectancy of 2 years at birth, but if they survive after these two years and they are living in the wild, then their expected life span is 12 years, but in captivity where they are well taken care of, they can live for up to 20 years.
2. Red Squirrel:
On average, these species of squirrels have a life expectancy of 5 years; if they ever survive their first year—the only red squirrel recorded to have lived the longest-lived for only nine years.
3. Ground Squirrel
The average lifespan of most ground squirrels is about four years if they live in the wild, but if they live in captivity as pets or in the zoo, they can live for about ten years.
4. Fox Squirrel
As usual, fox squirrels in captivity tend to live longer than those in the wild. Those that are in captivity have a life expectancy of 18 years, but great those in the wild, the females, can live from up to 13 years while the males only live for about eight year
5. Southern Flying Squirrel
These are the only flying squirrels you will find in North America and the most they can live in five years.
6. Black Squirrel
This species that are different from other squirrel is black because of the presence of melanin in their body. Most of them live for only six years in the wild, but they can live to 18 years in captivity.
Are Pecans Good for Squirrels?
Pecans are good for squirrels, whether the pecans are spelled, cracked, or in-shell pecans. Both men and squirrels enjoy pecans because they are delicious and nutritious.
You can incorporate them into the diet of the squirrels in your backyard because they are rich in good fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals salts that they need to thrive.
The Nutrient Need Of Squirrels.
Like all animals, squirrels need a given amount of different nutrients for them to grow well and reproduce, and so their foods should contain the following food nutrient:
1. High Energy and Good Fats:
Squirrels are very agile animals that require a given amount of energy to keep up with their way of life. Hence they need food that gives energy and has good fat like omega-three fatty acids that helps decrease cholesterol. Pecan is one of such foods that supply this nutrient.
2. Mineral salts:
Squirrels are very mobile animals that require good food that releases nutrients like calcium, potassium, and magnesium for strong bones and muscles.
There are other elements like molybdenum, which they require to function properly and build immunity against disease infection. Lack of these nutrient result in problems like bone diseases and the likes.
Protein is termed the building block of life; squirrels need a reasonable amount of both plant and animal protein for them to be healthy; that is why they love nuts which are not only rich n fats, vitamins, and minerals, but also contain a good amount of amino acids. Squirrels also eat small animals like fungi, amphibians, and the likes, which are good protein sources.
Squirrels require a good supply of different vitamins, which help ensure that their metabolic activities are seamless and they can fight off disease and infections.
The different fruits like apples, watermelon, and squirrels’ likes supply them with this much-needed nutrient.
Squirrels do not need more than a few spoons of water daily, enough for their body system to function properly.
They get a reasonable amount of this water from their food, like fruits; however, they also need to drink a little water daily to meet their water needs.
Never Hand-Feed Squirrels
It is always tempting for people to be carried away by how cute and docile that squirrels appear to be that they feel they can treat them like their pets, and one of the things they do is to hand-feed squirrels, some people even train these squirrels to take food from their hands.
This is a big No-No because squirrels, like all animals, carry many fleas, mites, bacteria, and pathogens that they transfer easily to a man if we interact with them in such close fashion as hand-feeding them.
You do not want squirrels to lose their fear for man as they get too familiar with people as they eat food off their hands.
The result is that they will be so comfortable with people that they will lose their guard, which is necessary for self-preservation, and the implication is that they will be preyed on easily.
Secondly, when squirrels get too familiar with people, they roll overrun your space and up residence in your deck, rafter, attic, and what have you.
Conclusion: What to Feed Squirrels in Your Backyard
Squirrels are a delight to watch as they jump from one place to the other, which makes them very attractive.
If you have them in your backyard or garden, you can feed them a wide range of food materials like nuts, seeds, fruits, and the likes; they will eat because they are not picky eaters.
They love carrots, apples, oatmeal, and most goods like these. There are other foods that you should never feed squirrels because they are not suitable for their body systems; in fact, some are poisonous.
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We trust this article helped you know what to feed squirrels in your backyard. You may also want to check out How To Make A Flying Squirrel Feeder.
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