Feeding squirrels is a fun past time for some, while others might prefer to do whatever they can not to attract these furry friends. If you are a part of the group that loves to see squirrels having fun in your back yard, you might have wondered what the best food is to attract them, as well as what nutrients they require to stay healthy and disease free.
Before You Start
A few things to consider, however, before laying out a sumptuous squirrel buffet:
- Once you start, you can’t stop. Squirrels become dependent on the steady food source and in turn will cease to seek out alternatives.
- Squirrels can be destructive and destroy power lines, gardens and can even get in chimneys and attics which can pose a danger to homeowners.
- Squirrels attract squirrels, so you can expect a steady stream of their friends once you put out the feed bag which can cause overpopulation leading to increase in diseases dangerous to pets and humans.
- Squirrels are not cute and cuddly despite their playful, chubby cheeked appearance and have been known to attack humans with their sharp teeth and nails.
If, even after all known downsides, you still would like to invite the squirrels in for a bite, the question of what to feed them is one that you want to have a definitive answer to before taking on the task of feeding this backyard scamp.
What Do Squirrels Like?
If you have bird feeders set up in the backyard chances are the squirrels are already helping themselves to what is there – usually a combination of sunflower seeds, millet and various grains. Squirrels are satisfied to steal this food from their feathered friends, but this alone will not sustain a hungry squirrel.
A common myth about squirrels is that they are not meat eaters, which is simply not true. Many squirrels, especially the Eastern Gray, enjoy dining on insects and bird eggs. This doesn’t mean you have to provide the protein source for squirrels but rather just be aware that some do eat meat!
So, what exactly do squirrels eat? They aren’t super picky because they need to eat about one pound of food per week to stay in top squirrel shape. That is a lot of foraging and hoarding for the leaner times.
Natural Squirrel Foods
Providing squirrels with steady sustenance doesn’t have to be complicated or fancy at all. Just start with these common foods and soon you will see how easy it is to attract them to your yard.
Peanut Butter – A fun project for the whole family is collecting pinecones to smear with peanut butter and roll in bird seed to place around the yard for the squirrels to feast on.
Nuts – Peanuts, walnuts, hickory nuts, it really doesn’t matter what kind because all squirrels love to eat nuts.
Fruit – Cut up pieces of fruit provides a real treat for the squirrels. Cherries, oranges and strawberries are a great source of nutrients and a welcome treat.
Greens – Kale, lettuce and spinach are all good choices.
Pumpkin – If you have ever left your pumpkins on the porch a little past their prime on Halloween, you no doubt have seen the squirrels descend upon it in a frenzy. Pumpkin is a squirrel favorite year-round.
Bagged Squirrel Foods
If all of this sounds like too much prep work, there are plenty of commercially prepared foods available to use for feeding.
These bagged options are perfectly balanced and readily available at your local pet stores or online. If you choose to use one of the premade mixes look for preparations with common ingredients that squirrels like this Wild Delight Crunch N’ Nut Squirrel Food that has the added bonus of vitamins and electrolytes. Or try this Kaytee Squirrel & Critter Blend Wildlife Food that has whole pieces of corn and shelled peanuts.
Attracting squirrels to you yard is a great way to have a front row seat to their daily antics of jumping from branch to branch or sprinting from shrub to tree. Feed the squirrels and sit back and enjoy the show!