Many people find that they have somewhat mixed feelings about squirrels. Some people, especially people who choose to have bird feeders in their backyard and wish to cater toward birds, find that squirrels can be quite the nuisance as they try to get into bird feeders. Other people find that squirrels are rather lovable with their fluffy tails and their wide eyes.
If you are interested in attracting squirrels to your yard and you wish to have a dedicated feeder for the squirrels, your first step is going to be to think about what kinds of foods you should feed the squirrel. The best place to begin from here is going to be to understand the squirrel diet.
What Kind of Diet Do Squirrels Have?
Technically speaking, squirrels are considered to be omnivores. This means that they need to have a balance of both plant and animal matter to get the nutrients they need to live a comfortable life. Squirrels are also opportunistic in nature, which means that they will go for whatever source of food that they can get their hands on, such as food from a bird feeder.
Out of all the different foods that squirrels have access to, squirrels tend to prefer meat and live food. If they can manage to hunt down small mammals, insects, or recently deceased animals, they will take preference to this over plants, eggs, and other sources of food. With that being said, squirrels are not avid hunters. They primarily get their meat from eggs and recently deceased animals.
When hunting or feasting on carcasses are not options, squirrels will opt for seeds, nuts, and fruits next. These offer nutrients for the squirrel and often taste better than leaves, grass, and fungi. When all is said and done, squirrels are considerably opportunistic and will eat whatever they have access to. This makes it easy for you to concoct squirrel food that will bring them to your house.
What Should You Feed Wild Squirrels?
If you are looking to stock a squirrel feeder or simply add more food for the squirrels in your backyard, you will want to think about what your options for the best wild squirrel food are going to be. Chances are that you have seen squirrels go after the seeds that are in bird feeders, and this is an okay place to start. However, there are some foods that squirrels will prefer more and that are safe for you to put out into your backyard.
You should aim to have a wide mixture of food to satisfy the varied diet of the squirrel. This variety should include seeds and nuts. You should also include larger nuts and seeds that birds may not want to eat, as rodents have sharp and durable teeth that can break through the harder shells of these objects. You should also include corn, fruits, leaves, fungi, and bark for the squirrel in this variety of food.
If you are unsure of where you can get all of these foods, it may help you to know that there are places that sell bunches of these foods pre-packaged and designed for squirrel feeders. This will help you stock up on what you need to feed your local squirrels without causing you too much trouble scouring each store for safe fungus and the right ingredients.
How Do You Make Homemade Squirrel Food?
Some people, especially those who take great joy in being able to feed and care for animals outdoors may find themselves wanting to make a homemade version of the pre-packaged foods for squirrels. Homemade squirrel food is relatively easy and inexpensive to make, as it uses much the same ingredients as homemade bird food mixes.
You will want to include sources of nuts, berries, seeds, and other fruits, as they will enjoy this and it will be easier and more sanitary to fit into a feeder than a carcass. A good source of these ingredients is bird suet, and this can be a good place to start for the base of your homemade squirrel food. From here, you can also consider nutritious additions such as oats, unsalted peanut butter, eggs, and vegetables.
Some of these recipes make use of flour, baking soda, butter, and sugar. This helps create a good consistency for the suet-like cakes that you will be making for the squirrels. These do not provide much nutrition for the squirrels, so if you have to focus on one area of the ingredients, it should be the nuts, berries, seeds, and other sources of protein.
What Foods Should You Avoid for Wild Squirrels?
As you look into what squirrels eat and what their diet contains, you will find that they are able to eat a wide range of foods. With that being said, squirrels do have some problems with certain foods that you may not expect, much like other animals.
Foods that you should avoid at all costs include avocado skins and pits as well as fruit pits and seeds that are known to contain cyanide in them, such as apple seeds. Squirrels are small enough that the miniscule amount of toxins in these seeds can affect them if they eat too much, and their barrier for too much is far lower than that of a human’s.
Foods that can negatively affect a squirrel but will not immediately cause death include peanuts, human junk foods, corn, cereal, foods high in sugar, foods high in starch, sunflower seeds, raisins, figs, bell peppers, most dried fruits, dates, white potatoes, and pine nuts. All of these foods, if fed more than once, can begin to damage a squirrel’s health.
Squirrel Feeders and What You Should Know
When you are planning to feed squirrels, it will be important for you to make sure that you choose a feeder that is built for squirrels to feast from. If you leave the squirrel food out in the yard by itself, it will attract animals other than squirrels and may not have the squirrel-bringing results that you want.
Squirrel feeders are designed in a way that makes them easier for squirrels to feed from, although some feeders are designed to keep animals out of them. Well-designed squirrel feeders will be durable, offer opportunities for water, and protect the feeding squirrels from predators above.
Feeding squirrels in your yard can be an enjoyable opportunity as long as you know what you are doing. Squirrels have a considerably more varied diet than their frequent feasting and feeders would have you imagine, with most squirrels preferring to hunt if they have an opportunity to do so.
Squirrels are not avid hunters, though, so they tend to stick with nuts, seeds, and fruits that they come across. To make your own squirrel food, these aspects should all be considered so that you can include the most nutritious options. When feeding the squirrels in your yard, you should have a dedicated squirrel feeder that is protected from predators and kept away from the bird feeder so that your squirrel friends can enjoy the treats you made for them in peace.