Squirrels and Their Love For Banana

We’ve all loved acorn-obsessed Scrat in Ice Age. But acorns aren’t the only food these little rodents enjoy. They will happily eat fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

This article aims to answer some questions about the feeding habits of squirrels, whether they like bananas and more.

brown-squirrel-eating-bananas

Can Squirrels Eat Bananas?

Squirrels aren’t picky eaters. They love nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and almost anything humans give. Speaking of bananas, squirrels will happily eat them. Eating fruits including bananas gives them the much-needed sugar-boost and energy to scramble around.

Though bananas are rich in vitamins and minerals, it isn’t good for the squirrels. Banana contains more sugar than a small animal like the squirrel can handle; too much sugar can cause health issues in squirrels.

If you are to give a banana to your pet squirrel, it should be on moderation – one to two slices a day.

Nutritional Value of a Banana

Bananas are most commonly known for being a good source of carbohydrates and potassium. As bananas ripen, some of the fiber converts to sugar i.e., a yellow banana with brown spots has more sugar and less fiber than a green banana of the same size.

Banana has three natural sugar sources: sucrose, fructose, and glucose. It provides 10x more calories than an apple.

Bananas are pretty low in fat and proteins, with less than 1.5 grams per medium banana.

Bananas also contain fiber (a medium-sized banana contains about 3 g), which helps with digestive health.

Vitamins C, D, and E in banana have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-boosting powers.

Β-carotene and vitamin a in bananas help with better vision and fight off anemia.

Bananas are a particularly good source of minerals like potassium, magnesium, iron, and zinc.

All these nutrients are beneficial to squirrels. However, as we have seen earlier eating too much banana isn’t good for squirrels. If you have pet squirrels, choose a varied diet to keep them healthy and happy.

Do Squirrels Eat Banana Peels?

Squirrels love bananas but banana peels aren’t a part of their natural diet.

Peels are edible and full of nutrients; eating peels will be beneficial to squirrels. But banana peels contain more cellulose, a substance both humans and animals cannot digest. Sheep, horses, and goats are the only animals that can breakdown cellulose as they have intestinal bacteria that produce cellulase, an enzyme that can digest cellulose.

READ:  Why Do Animals Attack Humans (and Ways to Prevent it)

Also, banana peels contain high amounts of pesticides (exception: organic bananas). When consumed, pesticides can negatively affect squirrels – starting from hormonal changes to infertility, behavioral changes to death.

To sum it up, it’s unlikely that eating a banana peel would hurt squirrel – but it won’t taste as good as the fruit. So, the likelihood of the squirrel eating the peel is low.

Do Squirrels Eat Banana Chips?

Certain types of squirrels – especially, the red and grey ones – appreciate variety in their diet and love eating dried fruits including banana chips. According to experts, banana chips can be a part of squirrel’s eating plan, but only on an occasional basis.

Banana chips taste like sweet candies for a reason — they are high in sugars (more than the actual fruit), including added sugar used to make the chips sweeter. A single ounce banana chips contain around 147 calories – about the same as a medium-sized banana. Chips also contain high amounts of saturated fat and low amounts of nutrients when compared to a banana.

If your pet squirrel is a banana fan, he is better off eating a fresh banana than chips.

Can Squirrels Eat Banana Bread?

The answer is: ‘it depends’.

Store-bought banana bread is more of a cake than a bread. It’s processed, has lots of sugars, artificial flavoring agents, and most importantly, isn’t nourishing or nutrient-rich. Meaning, they aren’t good for squirrels.

Now consider a home-made banana bread made with whole foods and less sugar. Plus, it is less processed and more nutritious than the store-bought version.

So, can squirrels eat banana bread or not is dependent on what you’re giving. An occasional slice of fresh, home-made banana bread is a perfect option to bring variety in your pet’s diet.

Do Squirrels Eat Banana Leaves?

Like all wild animals, squirrels are opportunistic, they try just about anything they feel edible. And, they are fond of banana leaves. Half-eaten banana leaves, with fruits and flower missing, are an indication that grey squirrels, striped squirrels, and fox squirrels are feasting on your backyard.

How to Protect Your Banana Trees From a Squirrel?

When the pesky critters have gotten on the last nerve, we do everything in our power to get rid of them once and for all. But this is not practical always because some are protected species and harming them may put you behind bars.

Some effective and less harmful ways to protect the banana trees include:

  • Climbing deterrents: when the reward is delicious bananas, even young squirrels can find the motivation to climb on the tree. Loosely wrapping metal flashing or using baffles prevent them from damaging the plantain.
  • Squirrel repellants: hot pepper repellants are sometimes effective. You can also try homemade remedies using garlic, vinegar, and peppermint oil. Be vigilant if you are using chemicals or detergents as they can harm kids or pets.
  • Noisemakers and sprinklers: motion-activated sprinklers, creepy decoys, faux predators, ultrasonic noisemakers, etc may help scare away squirrels.
  • Fluttering flags: it is a simple preventive measure that is not dangerous to other animals.
  • Plant plants with strong aroma: nasturtiums, marigolds, and mustard have a strong aroma. Plant them in your backyard to keep away the squirrels.
  • Get help from your dog: a dog is a great squirrel chaser. Consider getting help from your furry friend if nothing works.
READ:  Can Squirrels Eat Raisins? (And Can They Choke on Raisins)

squirrel-eating-banana

Can Flying Squirrels Eat Bananas?

Flying squirrels make adorable pets because they are super social and its quite easy to take care of their diet requirements. Pine nuts, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, pecans, walnuts, acorns, berries, broccoli, white clover flowers, corn, sweet potatoes, portabello mushrooms, etc are some of the favorite food items of a flying squirrel. They also love fresh fruits including bananas.

Because of their small size – 8 to 10 inches long – a balanced nutrition plan is more critical for flyers than other species of squirrels. Flying squirrels are more susceptible to dietary deficiencies and metabolic disorders, so it’s advisable to reduce sugary, carb-filled diet, and include more protein foods.

Since sugar levels in bananas are surprisingly higher for tiny flying squirrels, it’s recommended to give smaller slices once or twice a week.

Can Baby Squirrels Eat Bananas?

Baby squirrels have complex dietary needs. They need mother’s milk or formula until they are 7 or 8 weeks old. From the 6th week onward, they will be ready to start nibbling on solid foods like apples, kale, sweet potato, nuts, fresh fruits, etc. You can feed small amounts of banana as well, provided the pet doesn’t have any adverse reactions or sugar spike.

What Other Food is Good For Squirrels?

Most of us think that squirrels only eat nuts and seeds, but that’s not the case. They’ll eat just about anything – fruits, veggies, bugs, plants – you name it and a squirrel will eat it.

So, what are their favorite foods?

Below is a shortened list, but it’s a good place to stary with if you want to provide a balanced supply of foods for the pets in your garden.

1. Fruits and Berries

Fruits are squirrel’s favorite food. The unprocessed sugar in fruits and berries gives them a natural energy boost. But like any food groups, it’s better to aim for a balanced diet, too much fruit can prevent them from absorbing calcium. So, keep fruits to a minimum.

READ:  20+ Spectacular Facts About Arctic Fox You May Not Know About

Squirrels love eating apples, pears, bananas, plums, peaches, kiwis, avocados, nectarines, mangoes, melons, and figs.

Talking about their favorite berries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, mulberries, and elderberries top the list.

2. Vegetables

Vegetables provide nutrients not usually found in other food items. Squirrels have no problem raiding the backyards for kale, tomatoes, beets, beans, eggplant, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, celery, asparagus, spinach, and lettuce. They also love digging up root vegetables.

3. Nuts

That’s a no-brainer. High protein nuts are indeed squirrel’s favorite food. Nuts that are in shells are rich in fatty acids and protein. The fat helps squirrels to build up fat reserves for the winter when food is scarce.

Squirrels are an expert climber and their hands are perfect for removing hard shells. The nuts they usually bring home include acorns, peanuts, almonds, pine nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, cashews, and macadamia nuts.

4. Cereal and Grains

Squirrels love the grains and nuts inside cereals. Since cereals are loaded with nutrients and sugars to keep their energy in check. Some of their favorites include shredded wheat, corn flakes, and grape nuts. However, these aren’t the first choice of food for squirrels; they eat only when there’s scarcity.

5. Insects

When nuts and fruits are short in supply, squirrels feed on caterpillars, larvae, winged bugs, grasshoppers, injured butterflies, and crickets.

6. Fungi and Mushrooms

In more wild and natural environments, squirrels love foraging for mushrooms and fungi. Some favorite fungi include oyster mushrooms, truffles, Acron truffles, lichen, etc.

7. Plant Materials

Squirrels also love foraging plant parts that are of nutritive value. This includes soft twigs, grasses, roots, leaves, succulent flower buds, tulip bulbs, and more.

8. Eggs

If food isn’t readily available, squirrels tend to steal eggs from bird nests. Red and Grey squirrels often steal robin eggs and blackbird eggs.

References:

https://www.henryspets.com/content/healthydietjan2014print.pdf

https://www.avianandanimal.com/feeding-your-pet-squirrel.html

https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1846/2

Sonia Madaan

Written by Sonia Madaan

Sonia Madaan is a writer and founding editor of science education blog EarthEclipse. Her passion for science education drove her to start EarthEclipse with the sole objective of finding and sharing fun and interesting science facts. She loves writing on topics related to space, environment, chemistry, biology, geology and geography. When she is not writing, she loves watching sci-fi movies on Netflix.