What Do Squirrels Eat?

What Do Squirrels Eat?
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What Do Squirrels Eat? Squirrels are small mammals found in almost every part of the globe except Antarctica, and Australia. These rodents are in the same family as marmots, prairie dogs, and chipmunks. Often thought to eat just nuts, squirrels are omnivores.

Squirrels feed on nuts, fruits, seeds, grains, fungi, and meat from insects such as Cicadas, small caterpillars, bird eggs, and juvenile snakes.

Table of Contents

What Do Squirrels Eat?

Type of Squirrel Diet
Black Flying Squirrel (Aeromys tephromelas) Nuts, shoots, leaves, fruits, seeds, grains, and insects such as cicadas.
California Ground Squirrel (Otospermophius beecheyi) Seeds, nuts (acorns, jimson weed, mallow, grass seeds, black walnuts, and tarweed), fruits and insects.
Western Palm Squirrel (Epixerus ebii) Seeds, fruits, nuts, grains, and insects.

Squirrels Diet by Types

Biologists have described 200 squirrel species so far. These are categorized into three types, namely: flying squirrels, ground squirrels, and tree squirrels. This section will look at individual squirrel species, classified under the three types earlier outlined.

What Do Black Flying Squirrels Eat?

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Rodentia Sciuridae Aeromys Aeromys tephromelas
What do black flying squirrels eat?
Source: Wikimedia

The black flying squirrels feed on nuts, shoots, leaves, fruits, seeds, and grains. They also obtain their protein from insects.

  • As suggested by its name, the black flying squirrel is categorized among the flying squirrels.
  • Compared to other squirrel species, the black flying squirrel is relatively larger.
  • Black flying squirrels can grow to a length of between 25.5 and 42. 6 cm and weigh at between 1.128 and 1.25kg.
  • The females of this species are slightly larger, compared to the males. The black flying squirrels mainly inhabit forests (both primary and secondary).
  • The members of this species can also be found in gardens.

What Do California Ground Squirrels Eat?

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Rodentia Sciuridae Otospermophius Otospermophius beecheyi

What do California ground squirrels eat?

The California ground squirrel dines on seeds and nuts with the examples of acorns, jimson weed, mallow, grass seeds, black walnuts, and tarweed. They also eat a vast range of fruits and insects.

  • Given by its name, the California ground squirrel is found on the ground and can thus be identified quite easily.
  • They grow to lengths of about 14 to 20 inches and an average weight of about 21-30 ounces.
  • The males of California ground squirrels are slightly larger compared to the females.
  • California ground squirrels inhabit habitats with loose soils to facilitate burrowing.
  • They can be found in open fields, pastures, mountainous rocky outcrops, grasslands, and valleys.

What Do Western Palm Squirrels Eat?

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Rodentia Sciuridae Epixerus Epixerus ebii
What do Western palm squirrels eat?
Source: Wikimedia

The Western palm squirrel feeds on seeds, fruits, nuts, and grains. The western palm squirrel will occasionally consume insects.

  • The western palm squirrel is native to the western region of Africa, and it is one of the largest species found in the continent.
  • The other names are Ebian’s palm squirrel or Temminck’s giant squirrel.
  • It can be found in wide distribution in Gabon, Congo, Sierra Leone, and Equatorial Guinea.
  • The geographic range of the western palm squirrel overlaps that of the African giant squirrel, which is its closest relative.
  • This species commonly inhabits undergrowth of thick forests.

How Do Squirrels Hunt?

Squirrels eat meat to obtain proteins and calcium, which is necessary for their bones and teeth.

How do Squirrels hunt?

  • Different hunting techniques come in handy for squirrels, and one strategy they use is raiding.
  • Squirrels raid bird nests, after which they can capture nestlings and eggs.
  • Squirrels also stalk insects and other ground-dwelling organisms like caterpillars before launching an attack after they find a suitable target.

When Do Squirrels Eat?

Most squirrel species (including the gray squirrels) qualify as crepuscular organisms. These means they tend to be active at dawn and dusk and will thus feed during these times of the day.

How Often Do Squirrels Eat?

Squirrel’s eating pattern varies depending on the season.

How often do Squirrels eat?

  • Squirrels spend a considerable portion of their finding food and eating. This especially true during the warmer days of the year compared to the harsh cold winter.
  • During winter, their activity slows down and will thus eat less frequently.
  • Interestingly, an average adult squirrel needs about a pound of food per week.

What Eats Squirrels?

Different squirrel species exist, and they are found in a vast range of habitats, making them vulnerable to many predators.

What Eats Squirrels? Owls

  • Some of the organisms that predate on squirrels include but are not limited to ferrets, hawks, owls, snakes such as rattlesnakes & gopher snakes, raccoons, weasels, coyotes, foxes, eagles, cats, dogs, and bobcats.
  • Squirrels may also fall prey to other squirrels (cannibalism).
  • Scientists and researchers have revealed that many squirrel species display infanticide.

Where Do Squirrels Fit in the Animal Food Chain?

Squirrels play an essential role in the animal food chain as prey and predators.

  • In their role as prey, they provide a good source of nutrition different organisms in their habitats, thus promoting the survival of their predators.
  • Squirrels help maintain a balance in the ecosystem by feeding on small organisms like insects and caterpillars.

Do Squirrels Eat Bread?

You should not feed squirrels bread because it has less nutritional value for them. Instead opt for nuts or grains if you need to feed them. One should go easy on how much to give them – generally 1 or 2 nuts per day.

Do Squirrels Eat Peanuts?

Do squirrels eat peanuts?

As explained earlier, squirrels are omnivores meaning they mostly eat nuts, grains, acorns, small insects such as caterpillars and small snakes. However, squirrels also love to eat all types of nuts including peanuts, pistachios, pecans, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds.

Do Squirrels Eat Carrots?

Do squirrels eat carrots?

Yes especially baby carrots. As far as other vegetables go, they also like to eat peas, zucchini, pumpkin, and squash.

Do Squirrels Eat Raisins?

Do squirrels eat fruits?

From fruits perspective, squirrels also consume strawberries, raisins, grapes, apples, and cashew fruits. As per pet industry recommendations, it is suggested to go easy on fruits as too much fruit would reduce the calcium absorption power in squirrels.

Cite this article as: "What Do Squirrels Eat?," in Bio Explorer by Jack Kirsten, May 7, 2019, https://www.bioexplorer.net/what-do-squirrels-eat.html/.

Key References

  • “File:Westafrikanisches Palmenhörnchen 2014 crop.jpg – Wikimedia Commons”. Accessed September 07, 2019. Link.
  • “ADW: Aeromys tephromelas: INFORMATION”. Accessed September 07, 2019. Link.
  • “IUCN Red List of Threatened Species”. Accessed September 07, 2019. Link.
  • “California Ground Squirrel – OVLC : OVLC”. Accessed September 07, 2019. Link.
  • “Ground Squirrel Management Guidelines–UC IPM”. Accessed September 07, 2019. Link.
  • “ADW: Spermophilus beecheyi: INFORMATION”. Accessed September 07, 2019. Link.
  • “IUCN Red List of Threatened Species”. Accessed September 07, 2019. Link.
  • “Squirrels: Diet, Habits & Other Facts | Live Science”. Accessed September 07, 2019. Link.
  • “What Eats a Squirrel in the Food Chain? | Sciencing”. Accessed September 07, 2019. Link.
  • “These Adorable Squirrels Are Also Baby-Killing Cannibals”. Accessed September 07, 2019. Link.

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