There are numerous varieties of squirrels existing across America, which include ground squirrels, fox squirrels, red squirrels, grey squirrels, striped squirrels, black squirrels, flying squirrels, and some more. Squirrels are mammals from the Sciuridae family that are related to woodchucks, prairie dogs, and chipmunks. What do squirrels like to eat? The most heard answer is – nuts. However, they are not fussy eaters. If you have ever observed their eating pattern, you will understand why. Squirrels like to eat many types of vegetables, fruits, flowers, fungi, trees, nuts, plants, insects, and more. But, their appetite is not limited.
What Do Squirrels Eat?
Squirrels enjoy eating different varieties of fruits. If you ever happen to stay near fruit trees, bushes or vines, you will mostly notice squirrels hoarding and munching on the delicious fruits. They can climb the trees easily to snatch the fruits. They prefer wide range of fruits that include grapes, kiwi, pears, apples, peaches, avocados, nectarines, mangoes, citrus, plums, figs, and many more. Squirrels also eat berries such as mulberries, raspberries, blue berries, blackberries, and strawberries.
Squirrels consume wide variety of vegetables and leafy greens such as arugula, spinach, kale, chard, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, asparagus, broccoli, eggplant, okra, peas, corns, beans, squash, radishes, tomatoes, and greens of all the root vegetables.
Most animal lovers feed cereals to the squirrels in their backyard. They naturally enjoy the taste of nuts and grains that are mixed together to form cereals. They include grape nuts, corn flakes, shredded wheat, Cap’n Crunch, Chex Cheerios, and more.
Squirrels, of course, do not come across cheese in the natural surroundings. However, as the humans leave all types of flavored treats behind while eating outdoors and while tossing kitchen wastes, squirrels developed an intense taste towards cheese. Though they are not picky about cheese, squirrels can munch away large amounts of provolone, Swiss, cheddar, and mozzarella. They even consume pizza and grilled cheese sandwich scraps.
Squirrels are undoubtedly passionate about eating nuts. Squirrels are spotted mostly around nut trees, carrying one or two nuts that they preserve for future consumption. Activities of squirrels are good for some tree species, because they assist in pollination that makes the trees grow and survive. So, what do squirrels like to eat from nuts family? They collect and eat almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, chestnuts, pine nuts, peanuts, acorns, chestnuts, macadamia nuts, and hickory nuts. Nuts are the main source of protein and fat for the squirrels.
Many backyard watchers stock up good amount of birdseed to feed the birds in their yards. Squirrels also enjoy eating birdseed without hesitation even in the presence of birds. They enjoy it, because it contains some of their favorite edibles such as nuts, grains and seeds.
Squirrels resort on eating small insects in order to satisfy their protein requirements when nuts and fruits are not readily available. Some insects that are often consumed by squirrels include larvae of insects, crickets, injured butterflies, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and winged bugs.
Squirrels are scavengers, and like to hunt for mushrooms. They can find wide varieties of fungi in more natural surroundings. Some of their favorite fungi include truffles, acorn truffles, and oyster mushrooms. They store fungi and mushrooms for future usage, not before making them dry.
While squirrels face the scarcity to find other types of foods, they start stealing and eating eggs of other birds and animals. In emergency, they can eat blackbird eggs, robin eggs, and other eggs.
10. Plant Material
Squirrels also eat grass, roots, leaves, plants stalks, and other plant materials. They mostly prefer consuming tender and young branches and stalks of plants, supple bark, and soft twigs. They also enjoy eating seeds from some of the plants that include safflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, poppy seeds, and sunflower seeds.
11. Cat and Dog Food
Squirrels have some strange appetite habits – they do not hesitate to take away some pieces of cat or dog kibble. They mostly come back for more if they find an established place for cat or dog food.
12. Waste and Scraps
Have you ever seen squirrels running around the garbage bins in the park or any other picnic spot? Like other scavengers, hungry squirrels as well sample on the food scraps and other wastes from the garbage. In fact, squirrels are great in recycling the food waste. Ignoring the fact that processed foods are dangerous to squirrels, they ignore the fact when they find such scraps in the garbage.
What Do Baby Squirrels Eat?
Usually, during the first 2 to 3 months after birth, baby squirrels rely on their mother’s breast milk. Gradually, they add nuts and vegetables to their food habits. Infant squirrels start eating veggies like broccoli and sweet potatoes. As they pass by 7 weeks, they will start consuming hard nuts. During the age of 9 weeks, they will feed on seeds and corns too. After they attain the age of 12 weeks, they eat almost like an adult squirrel.
Is There Any Food That Squirrels Do Not Eat?
Right now, you may be wondering if there is any food that squirrels do not like to eat? Is there any food that is not safe for squirrels? Yes, there are some foods that squirrels do not like to consume and these are raw onions and raw garlic. They also do not prefer eating hot peppers like anaheim peppers, Serrano peppers, and jalapenos. Taking advantage of this fact, many gardeners use pepper spray or garlic spray as a deterrent in their gardens.
Other than what they do not like, there are certain foods that they should never eat. They include chocolates, candies, junk foods, dairy products, and a few other processed foods. They usually hide their excess food in a buried place such as a fallen tree and other difficult-to-find locations. They come back later to feed themselves when hungry.
What Do Ground Squirrels Eat?
Ground squirrels can be classified into herbivores (eat only plants) or omnivores (which eat plants and animals). There are various species, which have different diets as per their habitat. The California ground squirrel (herbivore) usually has grasses, seeds, herbs, grains and nuts as part of its diet. Ground squirrels thriving in desert environments feed on prickly pear fruit, mesquite beans and barrel cacti.
Thirteen-lined ground squirrel (omnivores) has the same diet as the ground squirrels, but they also include animals such as insects, earthworms, small mice and insect eggs as part of their food.