Can Squirrels Eat Carrots?

Can squirrels eat carrots? You may be asking this if you’d like to share a tasty treat with the little critters visiting the garden daily, or maybe a pet squirrel accidentally ate some carrot chunks you dropped on the floor. We, humans love to eat carrots, so can squirrels safely have carrots, too?

The answer is yes, squirrels can safely eat carrots. In fact, with moderation, carrots offer a lot of nutrients that can benefit squirrels’ health.

squirrel-eating-carrot

Here’s what you should know about carrots for squirrels.

Do Squirrels Eat Carrots?

Squirrels are voracious eaters and they consume anything they can get their little paws on – gardeners know this all too well. Though carrots aren’t an exception, some squirrels might not like them at first and still prefer sweeter, filling treats like fruits and nuts. Pairing carrots with other veggies or fruits they love can be a great way to balance their diet.

Raw and cooked carrots can be given to squirrels. While carrots are safe and healthy, it is important to cut them into small bite-sized pieces before feeding them to the squirrels. This will prevent choking. Just be careful not to overfeed, or otherwise, they will put on weight.

Can Squirrels Eat Carrots?

Like many other fruits and vegetables, squirrels can have carrots. Every part of this root vegetable is safe for squirrels to eat. They’re a good, natural treat, without the extra calorie count associated with other treats.

Carrots are an excellent source of beta carotene, potassium, soluble fiber, vitamin K, and antioxidants. They are also low in fat which makes carrots a perfect veggie to top the squirrel food list. Furthermore, chewing on crunchy carrots can also help improve squirrel’s dental health.

Are Carrots Bad For Squirrels?

Carrots are good for squirrels. Carrots are a low-calorie, low-fat veggie; making them a super healthy snack.

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Vitamins play a key role in squirrel’s diet and are essential to keep them super active.

Carrots are rich in Vitamin A and beta-carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A. Beyond supporting eye health, vitamin A boosts the immune system and keep the skin and coat healthy.

High soluble fiber content makes carrots a healthy food choice for pets including squirrels. It will help with bowel movement regularity.

What Foods are Bad For Squirrels?

If you have a pet squirrel at home, you might want to avoid these food items.

1. Peanuts

Squirrels love peanuts but they aren’t supposed to eat peanuts. Raw peanuts do not provide much nutritional value to the animals. They contain aflatoxin, a fungal toxin that causes liver damage. Also, the trypsin inhibitor present in peanuts inhibits protein reabsorption in squirrels.

2. Processed Food

Salty, sugary foods are fillers and have no nutritional value. Too much salt and sugar are not recommended to pets like squirrels as they affect overall health. Frozen foods and canned foods are also considered bad because of the number of chemical preservatives that go into them.

3. Raw corn

You can feed squirrels cooked or cracked corn in moderation but never feed them raw corn. Corn turns sour quickly and grows mold and is fatal to the pets.

4. Animal or Human Formula

Dog, bird, or baby human formula is not suitable for squirrels. These formulas have too many preservatives, artificial flavors, and chemical additives which can cause allergy, seizures, and sudden death in squirrels.

Being a herbivore, meat isn’t a part of a squirrel’s natural diet. Mostly, they are vegetarian and can die when pet food with high meat content is consumed.

What do Squirrels Like to Eat the Most?

Usually, squirrels eat plant-based foods. However, some of the species such as the Eastern Grey Squirrel loves eating animal-based protein such as insects, moths, amphibians, bird eggs, nesting, and bones. Nuts, seeds, and tree buds from trees such as hemlock, hickory, maple, mulberry, pine, and spruce are squirrels’ favorites. Some squirrels also depend on fungi and mushrooms.

1. Grapes

Grape seeds and grapefruit are the popular snacking item of squirrels in tropical countries. They leave no stone unturned when it comes to raiding vineyards for ripe grapes.

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2. Nuts

One of the most preferred and loved food for squirrels among all other foods. We all know that squirrels love to eat nuts, you can feed any type of nuts to them. Nuts provide many healthy nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber. If you have a pet at home or you are trying to feed a few in the yard or park daily, you can add nuts to the routine and make them happy.

3. Insects

Maybe you think that squirrels only eat nuts and fruits then you are so wrong. Insects are one of the favorite foods of squirrels. Cricket, mealworm, and moths are considered their favorite meal.

Don’t worry about your pet’s health; the insects can provide a lot of healthy nutrients such as vitamin D, calcium, and minerals which will help your squirrel stay healthy and active.

4. Seeds

Another food that squirrel loves is seeds. Some of the common seeds that you might see squirrel eating include sunflower, mulberry, maple, pumpkin, and safflower seeds along with many other large seeds that are available in the garden.

5. Legumes

If you make a list of squirrels’ favorite food then legumes will be on the top 5. Besides the seeds and nuts, squirrels like to eat lentils, beans, peas, and many more. If you are keeping your pet squirrel on a balanced diet, then legumes are unavoidable. Legumes are an excellent source of plant protein which is very important for the pet’s health.

6. Fruits

This is a no-brainer. You might know squirrels jump from tree to tree to eat different kinds of fruits. They like to eat a lot of fruits including mangoes, apples, bananas, grapes, melon, papaya, and passion fruit. And as everyone knows, squirrels love berries especially blackberries cranberries, raspberries, and blueberries.

Should You Feed Squirrels in Winter?

When the temperature dips and snow falls, most animals are designed to go into hibernation. In winter, most species of ground squirrels go into hibernation. Tree squirrels don’t hibernate completely; they are active for only a few hours a day. In these hours, they find all the food they need even though they store enough food in many places around their den.

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Considering the food scarcity during the winter, giving squirrels additional food won’t do any harm. Female squirrels need a lot of food during winter days as they begin gestation in January. So put the goodies in a designated area in the garden for the squirrels to find or install a feeder.

Another important consideration is that squirrels need water, and it can be hard to get in winter. The little critters will appreciate it if you place a few water bowls in the yard.

Moreover, creating a squirrel-friendly atmosphere will give you something to enjoy while sipping a hot cup on your patio during chilly days.

What is the Best Thing to Feed Wild Squirrels?

Wild squirrels get enough food on their own. But laying out some proper healthy snacks is not all that bad. While feeding a wild squirrel it is important to note that you should give foods that align with their natural diet. Else, they might fall sick or put-on unnecessary weight.

Though they choose nuts and seeds any time of the year, wild squirrels’ diet varies by season. Squirrels prefer tree bark and buds during winter, fungi, and fruits during summer, according to the Adirondack Ecological Center.

According to the University of California, the ground squirrels love greens as their springtime food, then switch over to nuts and seeds during autumn. They are good at finding more food, and once they’ve had their fill, they will bury the food items for winter. Red and grey squirrels bury their food but it’s the grey ones that will always remember where they have put the nuts they have harvested. Red squirrels on the other hand are too forgetful, giving other squirrels or birds to steal their food stashes.

Though the Flying squirrels eat seeds and nuts they’re omnivorous. They prefer raiding bird nests for eggs, says the National Wildlife Foundation.

Install squirrel feeders and fill them with seeds and nuts, fruit slices, buds, veggies, and greens. Place a bowl of water on the ground feeding station. Don’t forget to replace and clean the water and food bowl to prevent bacteria build-up.

References:

https://www.henryspets.com/content/HealthyDietJan2014Print.pdf

http://www.treeserviceyorkpa.org/blog/what-to-feed-squirrels-in-the-winter

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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.