What Do Squirrels Eat? [A Look at Their Diet & Feeding Habits]

Do you find these cute, little guys in your backyard/garden and wonder, what do squirrels eat?  

 Squirrels are omnivorous mammals which means that they eat both meat and plants. These creatures are really foodies and eat a lot. They eat Vegetables, bird eggs, plant materials, nuts, insects, and fungi. Depending on the environment squirrels can also adopt themselves by eating cheese, cereals, bird seeds, and trash. Their diet is predominantly herbivorous but they are also opportunistic eaters and can feed on anything which they find edible.

Squirrels belong to the Sciuridae family of the mammal. There are around 280 species of squirrels and are divided into three types: ground squirrels, tree squirrels, and flying squirrels. They are closely related to marmots, prairie dogs, chipmunks, and woodchucks.

Similar to foxes they roam around and feed on anything which they enjoy. If you give them something once, the next time they will try to grab your attention, and might even escort you to your car.

what do squirrels eat

 This detailed article will walk you through a squirrel’s diet, feeding habits, and much more.

What Do Squirrels Eat?

Scrolls carry a natural appetite for some food groups. These groups are discussed in detail below.

Fruits and NutsVegetables and FlowersNutsInsectsTree/Plant MaterialsFungi and Mushrooms


Pine Nuts
macadamia nuts
Winged bugs
Fresh Leaves
Stalks of Plants
Tips of Plants
Succulent Flower Buds
New Sprouts
Sunflower Seeds
Pumpkin Seeds
 Acorn Truffles


Squirrels are fond of eating fruits. Fruits carry sugar which gives them energy and helps them in forging. 

Fruits that they enjoy are:

  • Apples
  • Banana
  • Pineapple
  • Mangoes 
  • Pears
  • Plumbs
  • Peaches
  • Avocadoes
  • Citrus
  • Figs
  • Spinach
  • Citrus  
  • Fruit
  • tomato 
  • Grapes
  • Eggplants
  • Mangos
  • Melons
  • Grapefruit
  • Pumpkins
  • Raisins
  • Strawberry
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries 
  • Blackberries 
  • Cloudberries
  • Elderberries
what do squirrels eat

 Excess of fruit makes them unable to absorb calcium properly. That is why it is important to give your pet squirrel a balanced diet and not overfeed them with fruits. You should give them sugary fruits as a treat.


Nuts are the favorite food of squirrels. They carry it away to either eat it or store it. However, it is not healthy to feed them too many nuts.

 Squirrels eat nuts such as peanuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, hazelnut acorns, cashews, pine nuts, and Macadamia nuts.

what do squirrels eat

 Squirrels do not just pick any nut,  first, it smells the nut to find whether it is rotten or not, then it checks it for any cracks and finally, it shakes the nut to find if there is a seed in the pod. If it finds any cracks in the nutshell then it won’t bury that nut.

If squirrels visit your backyard then you can feed them nuts with your own hand. This way you can easily befriend them.

One cool thing about squirrels is that they can adapt themselves to any nuts that are available in the area. For example, in Rhode Island, they eat from black walnut trees, which are native to the area.


It may sound surprising to you but squirrels forage for mushrooms and fungi. These are listed below:

  • Oyster
  •  Truffles
  •  Lichens
  •  Acorn Truffles

Squirrels won’t eat just any mushroom. Those with a Greenish or Purplish tent on their top generally suit them. They can also eat some wild mushrooms, that are either poisonous or hallucinogenic for humans.

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 This has no effect on squirrels because squirrels possess a molecule in their stomach that stops amatoxins from going into their bloodstream.

Squirrels will enjoy eating fungi and mushrooms when they find them in their natural environment. But fungi do not make up a significant portion of their diet as they are more attracted to other food items.


Squirrels are not picky and will munch on anything they find in your garden. The sweet flavor of the flowers and flower buds can attract these little critters.

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They eat flower petals such as tulips and roses in order to store some fat for the winter. If squirrels are destroying your flowers then you should adopt preventative measures such as growing squirrel-repellent plants.


Squirrels are fond of vegetables and they will eat anything which they find in your garden. They also eat corn and other grains such as oat and wheat.

Squirrels also enjoy eating fresh leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and lettuce.

Besides grains and leaf vegetables, squirrels munch on roots and tubers, which include beets, potatoes, and carrots.

what do squirrels eat

Some of the vegetables which squirrels eat are:

  • Corns 
  •  Peas
  • Squishbeans
  • Carrot
  •  Leeks
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Asparagus 
  • Broccoli 
  • Beets
  • Chard
  • Lattice 
  • Spinach 
  • Arugula 
  • Radishes 
  • Kale 
  • Celery
  • Okra
  • Squishbeans

Bird Eggs

When squirrels face scarcity of food they pray on bird’s eggs. Among birds, squirrels usually steal eggs from blackbirds and robins.

Surprisingly they also prey on bird hatchlings and baby birds. They usually raid nests of different birds in the autumn and winter season.


When there is no food available squirrels will feed on cereal. They also eat grains and nuts in cereals.

Cereals are loaded with sugar. So it is not healthy to feed them too much of it.

what do squirrels eat

You can give them some sugary cereals once in a while as a treat.


When other food is scarce squirrels eat insects to meet their protein demands.

They like to eat insects such as:

  • Winged bugs
  • Caterpillar
  • Grasshoppers 
  • Crickets
  • Bettles
  • Grubs
  • Ants
  • Wasps
  • Bees

One thing you need to remember is that in the wild squirrels can eat the meat of insects baby birds & other small rodents. 

But in urban areas, they depend upon human food, seeds, and nuts.

Tree Parts & Plant Materials

Squirrels also eat tree parts and plant materials. These are listed below:

  • Roots
  • Fresh Leaves
  • Stalks of Plants
  • Tips of Plants
  • Grasses
  • Petals
  • Succulent Flower Buds
  • New Sprouts
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
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In their natural environment when no food is available, they may eat roots, tips of plants, and stalks.


Squirrels like foxes forage around and consume anything which they find edible and tasty. In urban areas, squirrels may get accustomed to some human foods and trash.

They can also eat leftover dog & cat foods. It is important to clear the trash and leftover foods because squirrels might encounter toxic things while eating. 

Cheap Squirrel Food

Squirrels are cute creatures and it is best to feed them rather than fight them. You can find food for these bushy-tailed friends online. Some of the best food that you can buy are:

You can feed squirrels and other small backyard animals with these foods. Feed the squirrels away from the bird feeders, this will distract them.

Feeding Tips

 If you want to feed these little critters with your hand then it is good to keep these things in mind.

  • Feed them a variety of food to maintain a balanced diet. You can feed them fruits, seeds, nuts, and vegetables. 
  • Use a squirrel feeder. This will protect its food from other animals out there.
  • Put the feeder in a place where the squirrel can easily access it, such as a tree.
  • Also keeps in mind the seasons. In the winter they face food scarcity and are in need of food to survive the cold winters.
  • Do not overfeed them. Give them a small amount of food at once, otherwise, they will become dependent on you.
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What is Squirrel’s Favorite Food?

The favorite food of squirrels is nuts and fruits. Among nuts, they enjoy walnuts and almonds the most.

You can also run an experiment on your pet squirrel in order to find its favorite nuts. Offer them five to six different kinds of nuts. First, it will pick walnuts and then almonds.

Their favorite fruits include apples, oranges, avocados, and apricots.

What Food is Poisonous to Squirrels?

Squirrels living in urban areas can come across human foods which contain toxic materials. Some of these harmful foods are:

  • Onion/garlic: Can cause anemia in squirrels.
  •  Alcohol: Contact with alcohol can damage the liver and can be fatal sometimes.
  • Chocolate: Theobromine in chocolate is harmful in large amounts
  • Fatty & Salty Foods: These types of things can introduce stomach problems to squirrels.
  • Spoiled Food: Contains toxic materials which are unhealthy for squirrels.
  • Caffeine: Caffeine is toxic to squirrels and can produce issues related to the nervous system.

If you have a pet squirrel, then clear all the trash and other food items from your yard. Otherwise, squirrels will consume something unhealthy.

What Do Squirrels Eat in the Wild?

Squirrels are not picky eaters and in the wild, they eat pretty much anything they find. They can eat tree parts, fruits, nuts, and almost anything they may find eatable.

 In the wild, they can also eat bird’s eggs, insects, fungi, and mushrooms. They can also prey on baby birds and babies of other rodents.

What Do Squirrels Eat in the Winter?

 In the winter season squirrels eat nuts that they have stored in the summer. Squirrels are gifted with amazing GPS for the nuts which they have buried. They even know the location of different kinds of nuts.

what do squirrels eat

Besides nuts, they eat seeds, tree parts, baby birds, and hatchlings to survive. Barks, twigs, and buds also constitute their food in winter.

What Do Squirrels Eat in the Summer?

Squirrels are found everywhere not just in green and cold regions. It can also be seen in hot deserts and rocks.

In the summer squirrels eat fruits, flowers, vegetables, nuts, and fungi. Fruits give them the energy to forage around and find nuts.

 In summer they also prepare for the winter season. Squirrels collect nuts and bury them in this soil. Before burying the nut it checks it for cracks and other qualities.

what do squirrels eat

When the summer is over then the squirrels rely on these stored nuts and seeds.

Do Squirrels Eat Dirt?

Squirrels are not fond of Dirt or soil. They sometimes dig in the soil to find some worms, but that doesn’t mean that they are eating dirt. 

However, when the food is scarce they can eat some bark, twig, and soil, which provide them with some minerals.

  Squirrels also bury nuts in the summer and take them out in the winter. This may appear to you like they are eating dirt.

Will Squirrels Eat a Bird?

Squirrels are known for eating bird hatchlings and baby birds. They can also sometimes eat babies of other rodents. 

Squirrels don’t usually prefer baby birds and hatchlings, but the food is scarce; they meet their nutritional demand with such food.

You can protect the bird feeders from squirrels by hanging a Dom on the top of the feeders from a tree. You can also attach a slinky to the feeder pole to slow them down.


What Do Red Squirrels Eat?

what do squirrels eat (

Red squirrels eat nuts, vegetables, fruits, and tree parts. Among acorns are their favorite. They try to cache as many of these in the ground and in the winter they use their road map-like memory to find them. Although their memory is not sharp like grey squirrels they still can find the nuts under the snow.

In the UK red squirrels almost went extent, because of a squirrel pox virus carried by the grey squirrels. The reds are an important asset in the country as they are more suited to disperse the seeds of the coniferous trees.

It is a popular opinion that in order to increase the population of reds you must eliminate the grey from the area. You can share your opinion in the comments.

What Do Gray Squirrels Eat?

what do squirrels eat

Gray squirrels can eat a much wider range of food than their red counterparts.  They are also good at remembering their buried food and nuts. 

 Their diet changes throughout the season and contains Acorns, Nuts, Bulbs, Buds and Fungi, and Roots.
In the summer and spring, they can even raid birds’ nests and eat their eggs and chicks.

 They do not consume everything they find. They instead cash food items throughout the autumn. In winter they do not hibernate and fresh food is in short supply. This is where the stored food comes in handy.

Gray squirrels are active during the day, and at night they hide in nests which are made of leaves, twigs, bark, and grass.

 In the wild gray squirrel’s lifespan is around two years. But in captivity and with good care they can live up to 20 years. Collisions with cars, starvation, and domestic cats are the main reasons for their death. 

What do Baby Squirrels eat?

what do squirrels eat

Baby squirrels eat milk and other food items which their mothers feed them. They stay in the nest or drey with their mothers until they become adults. 

If you find a baby squirrel in your yard and you want to help the poor guy.  First, check it the baby is dehydrated. You can find out by pinching his back up that if the skin remains wrinkled then it means dehydration. You can hydrate the squirrel by giving it Pedialyte. 

After hydration, you can feed the squirrel some milk. Feed them Esbilac Puppy Formula, which is a powder formula, and is best for baby squirrels.

However, under normal circumstances may not see baby squirrels that often because they are raised by their mothers in the nest during winter or in the balls of leaves, called a drey, in the summer. They don’t emerge from the nest until they are fairly close to adult size.

Wrapping Up

So, what do squirrels eat? Squirrels eat different types of food. Their diet can change from season to season.

They don’t pick and choose, they will eat anything which smells nice to them. While feeding them don’t give them human processed food as it may prove unhealthy for them.

I hope that you may have found this article helpful.

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