A Guide To What Squirrels Eat | Love The Garden

What Do Squirrels Eat?

LifeofRyrie's picture
By Sarah Ryrie, Gardening Enthusiast
Close up of Squirrel in the grass

Squirrels scurrying around the garden with bushy tails twitching can be a delightful sight. Or it can be the source of great ire and frustration. If you are wanting to feed the birds, is there anything you an do to stop squirrels stealing food you've put out for them?  One solution is to establish a feeding station specifically for squirrels, to encourage them to leave the rest of the garden and bird feed alone. 

Are Squirrels Carnivore or Herbivore?

Squirrels tend to be herbivores, although they are known to feast on the odd bird egg if other foods are in short supply.

What Food Do Squirrels Eat?

Generally squirrels will adapt to the conditions and food available to them and so will eat a huge variety of things. They are also expert foragers and love nothing more than rooting around in the undergrowth for a tasty morsel.

Close up of a Grey Squirrel eating a strawberry

Squirrel’s Favourite Foods

  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Fruit
  • Fungi
  • Grains
  • Vegetables
  • Roots
  • Bulbs
  • Bark

Investing in a squirrel feeder will help to create an area in the garden specifically for squirrels. Bark, twigs and soil are a good source of minerals and roughage but squirrels love dried corn on the cob. Whilst squirrels are mainly herbivores, if seasonal conditions are difficult they do also feed on a variety of insects including caterpillars, crickets and larvae.

What Nuts Do Squirrels Eat?

Close up of a Grey Squirrel eating a nut up a tree

Squirrels eat a lot of nuts and will eat any type but their favourite nuts include:

  • Acorns
  • Walnuts
  • Pecans
  • Hazelnuts
  • Almonds
  • Beech nuts
  • Pine nuts
  • Macadamia

Squirrels are quite happy to eat nuts with or without the shell, indeed it's the process of extracting a nut from its shell gives the squirrel exercise and a way of sharpening its teeth. It is worth noting that peanuts are nutritionally poor for squirrels and salted peanuts should always be avoided.

Do Red & Grey Squirrels Eat the Same Thing?

Picture of a Red Squirrel side by side with Grey Squirrel

Primarily yes, so that makes things a little easier. The main difference between them is their memory! Red and grey squirrels will bury their food supplies, but it’s the grey squirrels that will always remember where they buried it. Red squirrels on the other hand are a little forgetful, giving grey squirrels the opportunity to steal their food stashes.

Food Squirrels Avoid

To be honest, there aren’t many! Squirrels will generally try anything, however there are always some exceptions.

  • There are several flower bulbs that squirrels won’t go for and they include allium, daffodil, snowdrop and hyacinth.
  • Squirrels hate chilli, the heat and spiciness is something that they cannot stomach and will stay clear of anything containing it. Birds however are fine with a sprinkling of chilli, so many gardeners use this as a way of keep squirrels away from the bird feeding stations.
  • Raw onion and raw garlic is another food that squirrels will avoid.

Special Squirrel Food

To establish a healthy, nutritious dining experience for the squirrels in your garden, there are now special squirrel feeds available. These feeds are specially formulated and will contain favourites such as maize, sunflower seeds, wheat and oats among others.

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