The best food to feed squirrels contains a large variety of nuts, fruits, veggies, and seeds. Just because they may willingly eat food like burgers or candy bars doesn’t mean that they should.
We’ve all seen the typical portrayal of a cute squirrel shoving a peanut in its mouth and hurrying away to his nest. But peanuts aren’t the only food that these furry little creatures enjoy.
What Can Squirrels Eat?
They are tiny scavengers who will eat almost anything. Though they are wild, their tastes have evolved due to humans invading their natural habitat. But they survive because they have a knack for survival and are wonderful at adapting. Because humans are encroaching on their environment, it can be helpful at times to supplement their food supply.
Squirrel Food Facts
Fact: Squirrels are very trusting of humans. They are quick to eat out of a human hand more so than most other animals. If you plan on hand feeding them, give them the appropriate food for squirrels to eat and not anything that can harm them.
Fact: They are intelligent and concoct plans to deter other animals away from their nests or food supply.
Fact: They waste nothing and never indulge in an over-abundance of food. Because of this, they are always on the lookout for food that can replenish their supply. If baby squirrels are orphaned, nearby squirrels will adopt them. They need to keep their food levels up to feed not only their family but any new additions they may acquire.
Fact: Squirrels can remember their human friends. If you show up to the park with pockets full of food for squirrels, they’ll associate snack time with you. They can recognize you and show excitement at seeing you.
The best food for squirrels
Nature provides the most nourishing food for squirrels. Replicate that habit in your garden, and squirrels will love you for it.
Fruit, berries, vegetables, nuts, bugs, fungi, eggs, seeds, and plants are Mother Nature’s best food for squirrels.
With limited forests, squirrels don’t always have access to these natural food sources. But we can help by supplementing their food.
What do Squirrels like to eat – Squirrels favorite food?
Squirrels favorite food by a mile is fruit and vegetables and one of the main reasons your will see squirrels in your garden. This is also a reason why squirrels are seen as a pest my farmers as it is easy pickings to forage through sweet corn and apple trees. A bit like supermarket shelves that a squirrel can pick and choose their favorite food.
Squirrels will eat virtually any kind of fruit, apples, grapes, kiwi fruit, figs, peaches, plums, bananas, strawberries – you name it and a squirrel will eat it! That’s usually the reason squirrels will come calling. Either because you are putting fruit out for them or you are growing fruit in the garden. If you try different fruit on your wildlife feeding table you will soon discover what squirrels like to eat the most.
Vegetables are an equal favorite for squirrels and this can be a real problem if you grow your own. leafy greens are particularly susceptible and they are high on the list of a squirrels favorite food. So next time you see a squirrel visiting your veggie patch beware as they will try anything – beans, cabbage, asparagus, tomatoes, radishes, cauliflowers in fact if it’s a vegetable it’s fair game for a squirrel.
the best deterrent is to provide an easier route for them – put out daily supplies of fruit and vegetables and keep them away from the ones you want to eat yourself. Not easy but worth doing. Give squirrels the food they like and hopefully they will stay away from the food you are trying to grow!
So, what can squirrels eat?
Below is a shortened list, but it’s a great starter plan if you want to provide a healthy supply of food for squirrels in your garden.
They love fruits like:
Berries grow wild in the forest and make for a great snack. The unprocessed sugar gives them a natural energy boost. That’s why they love:
- Cherries, and more
Vegetables grow wild and provide nutrients not usually found in other foods. They have no problem raiding your garden to enjoy:
- Brussel sprouts
- Other root vegetables
Squirrels go nuts for nuts.
They crave the protein that only nuts can provide, which is why this is the best squirrel food you can give them. They are expert climbers and will have their fill of your nut trees. Their little fingers are perfect for removing the shells. Their cheeks have excess skin that can stretch enormously to fit in multiple nuts to bring home, such as:
- Acorns (of course!)
- Pine nuts
- Macadamia nuts
Seeds are ample in nature and squirrels will feast on a plant’s fallen seeds. Seeds have a high nutritional value and, well, they’re just plain delicious. To them, seeds are miniature nuts. If you want to leave out some snacks for your backyard friends, the best food to feed squirrels seed-wise is:
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Safflower seeds
We’ve all seen squirrels raid our birdfeeders. What can squirrels eat when it comes to birdfeed? Everything!
Most bird food contains a mixture of seeds, grains, and nuts. Squirrels love all of these individually, but when there’s a mixture of all three nearby, they can’t resist. If you are looking for the best way to buy bird feed see my article on the advantages of bird feed bulk buying and save yourself a fortune!
Can Squirrels Eat Bread ?
Ways to Deter Squirrels
There are also ways to deter squirrels from raiding the bird feeders in your yard. You will never stop them entirely as they are exceedingly clever and resourceful. The best way is to use a deviice that prevents and an area in your yard that is aimed at feeding squirrels rather than birds – keeping everyone happy. See my article on the best squirrel proof bird feeders here…
When all else fails, squirrels will eat small insects for a protein boost. It’s not the best squirrel food they’ll enjoy, but it’s better than starving. Caterpillars, grasshoppers, crickets, and butterflies can become a meal if a squirrel is hungry enough. They’ll even eat a variety of fungi like mushrooms, acorn truffles, and lichen.
If food is really scarce, they’ll resort to stealing eggs from birds like robins, blackbirds, and even chickens. They’ve been known to snatch baby chicks or newborn hatchlings to fill an empty belly.
Food for squirrels that can harm them
Some people put out cereal for their neighbourhood squirrels. While they’ll scarf down Cap’n Crunch and Cheerios, it’s not the healthiest food for squirrels to have. They enjoy grains, but cereals abound with processed sugar which is harmful to any animal since it’s an unnatural energy source and not the best food for squirrels to eat!
The problem is that squirrels will eat almost anything. That includes things not typically found in nature. Cheese, hamburgers, French fries, and crackers will fill them up but can harm their digestive system.
Leaving an extra bowl of cat food or dog food outside isn’t a wise idea, either. It’s processed with animal byproducts and chemicals that squirrels would never normally have access to. Even though they will eat it, they shouldn’t have it.
Pennington Cedar Squirrel Snacker Feeder – Amish Made in the USA Available on Amazon here…
Why do squirrels bury their food?
Squirrels are wonderful planners. They store enough food to feed their family through the colder months when food is scarce. They bury caches of food in various places as a backup method.
When their food supply gets low, they dig up a cache and haul it home. They can find food they buried even when it’s covered in a foot of snow. How? They can smell it. They burrow through the snow and make a tunnel to retrieve their stash.
Since they can’t lock up these caches, other animals can steal them. Up to 25% of a squirrels buried food will be stolen by other animals. Birds and other squirrels are heartless thieves and think nothing of stealing food.
Squirrels will pretend to bury food (called “deceptive caching”) in one place to trick onlookers when they’re actually burying it someplace else.
But they don’t always retrieve their buried nuts. Or they don’t retrieve them before they take root. This is Nature’s way of contributing to planting new trees. Trees grow up and thus produce more nuts.
The Best Food to Feed Squirrels – Make your garden a squirrel paradise
Squirrels aren’t the pests many people think they are. They get a bad rap because they raid bird feeders. If your favorite restaurant offered you a free meal, wouldn’t you stop by for a bite?
Squirrels are curious, intelligent, hungry, and they have terrific problem solving skills. This is what makes watching them so much fun. Give them back a piece of their natural environment.
Give squirrels their own food and a challenge!
Setting up a feeder with healthy food for squirrels will guarantee they’ll pay you a visit. Keep them coming back by making your garden a fun and safe place to visit.
Set up an obstacle course so they have to work – physically and mentally – to get the food. They’ll love the challenge as much as you love watching them.
If you are looking for a squirrel proof bird feeder check out my review on five top rated squirrel proof feeders here…