What kinds of food do squirrels eat?

Updated November 21, 2016

Squirrels are part of the rodent family, which contains over 1600 species and is the largest group of mammals in the animal family. Of these, there are over 365 different types of squirrel species alone. The average adult squirrel must eat an average of a pound of food every week in order to survive. Squirrels generally eat a diet consisting of nuts, seeds and fruit, with a few other types of foods thrown in the mix.

Nuts and Seeds

One of the most common types of foods that a squirrel eats is nuts. Squirrels rely heavily on a diet consisting of nuts and seeds like sunflower seeds, acorns, pine nuts, almonds, walnuts and other types of tree nuts and seeds. Squirrels engage in an interesting habit when eating many nuts and seeds: they break the shells of the nuts with their teeth, then clean and bury the nuts for later use. During the cleaning process, they mark the food with a scent, helping them find buried food even in harsh conditions such as snow.

Tree Bark and Roots

Since many squirrels spend much of their time in trees, it makes sense that they would derive much of their food from tree-based sources. Squirrels eat twigs and roots and also chew on tree bark to help sharpen their teeth. Some squirrels even chew on power wires to sharpen their teeth.

Fruits and Vegetables

Squirrels also eat fruits and vegetables when they can find them. Some example of fruits and vegetables that squirrels eat are apples, oranges, avocados, corn, beans and apricots. If you have a garden, squirrels may steal your tomatoes on occasion for a tasty meal as well.

Other Animals

Most squirrels are vegetarians, but there are some squirrels that eat animal-based foods. The flying squirrel, for example, will eat small birds, insects and bird eggs. The grey squirrel will eat bird eggs, insects, animal carcases when no other food is available. Squirrels will also eat human food waste and other animal food like dog food when they are hungry, so be sure to seal those bags up tightly.

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