Squirrels are omnivores and are known as scavengers of food sources because they do not bother to consume anything available in the wild, including plant seeds, bugs, fruits, and insects.
Do Squirrels Eat Bugs? Squirrels can eat bugs if no other food source is available or there is food scarcity, and they eat anything to survive. Bugs provide essential nutrients, protein, fats, and carbohydrates and are easy to prey on. Some insects can be dangerous for squirrels if they contain toxic chemicals or venom and cause the rodents to get sick or die.
However, they do not prefer to eat bugs or insects if nuts, vegetables, and fruits are available. They use their sharp teeth to break the exoskeleton of different insects and eat them without hesitation.
Why do squirrels eat bugs?
These omnivore rodents can eat bugs and different insects due to the following reasons.
Squirrels manage to find food in different weather. The food they like does not last the whole year, such as nuts, and they prefer to search for other food sources to survive in winter and hibernation.
They can eat bugs if no other food sources are available, especially in early winter when nuts and plant seeds are hard to find.
Some of their species hibernate in winter and do not roam or travel long routes in the wild to search for food. They are readily available food sources, and they consume them to survive this period.
The food sources are available according to the geographical locations and the weather conditions; therefore, these medium-sized rodents are not shy to eat anything near their habitat.
To get proteins and nutrients
Squirrels need a lot of protein and a high-nutrient diet to survive in different environments and carry out their daily activities. Protein helps them to increase their energy level and allows many body organs to work more efficiently.
Bugs provide them with a lot of protein, as the meat inside the exoskeleton is full of protein and nutrients beneficial for these rodents.
They eat these insects to boost protein and energy levels in their bodies. They break the exoskeleton with sharp incisors and get all the meat and nutrients.
They can chew and consume the bones or exoskeletons to get the calcium necessary for strong bones and muscles.
Bugs offer fats and carbohydrates
Bugs offer different fats and carbohydrates to these rodents; therefore, they eat them to maintain a healthy and strong body system.
They need carbohydrates to gain weight for hibernation and search for food rich in fats and carbohydrates. Fats and carbohydrates help them maintain healthy skin, fur, and different body organs.
They can take these insects in their bodies to get the necessary carbohydrates and fats if they are not getting the food they need to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
They provide other minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids, such as tryptophan and lysine, because these rodents need continuous food fuel to carry on their life.
Easy to prey
Insects are usually small, and it is easy for these animals to prey or catch them and have a healthy and high-protein meal. They can grab a bug from a nearby environment and have it when hungry and no other food is available.
Some rodents can also eat larger insects and feed the babies with tiny bugs if there are no other food sources for the young babies.
Insects are all around the wild, and the squirrels do not have to travel long to find them and can conveniently prey on them to eat.
Grab the bugs for fun
They can grab the tiny insects while playing in the wild and poop them in their mouth during playing.
These rodents like to play, climb trees, and chase other insects to play with them. It is not necessary that they grab the bug to eat, as sometimes they want to play with it, and they can eat and put it in their mouth as a part of the playing.
Therefore, squirrels are also considered beneficial for controlling the bug or insect infestation in the garden or yard.
What types of bugs do squirrels eat?
Squirrels consume different insects in the wild and yard to get the essential nutrients and protein. Bugs are insects with more than four legs and belong to the Hemiptera insect group.
They eat assassin, stink, boxelder, pill, June, and ladybugs if available to the rodents. They can eat these insects if there is food scarcity near their habitat and they do not find other food items to survive.
They eat beetles because beetles provide an excellent protein source for these rodents to get the essential nutrients.
They also go after aphids, butterflies, and cockroaches to get nutrients and carbohydrates, as they are rich in providing fats and minerals.
They are not commonly found eating earthworms, but they can grab them after rain because these insects come out of the holes in the soil after rain, and the rodents eat them when the food is short.
Termites are also easy prey to these rodents, as they can eat the termites when the food conditions are severe because they have to survive in changing climates.
However, some people think termites are harmful to squirrels but are actually not. The rodents can find it challenging to consume the exoskeleton of termites but can eat those anyway.
How do squirrels find bugs to eat?
Squirrels can find these insects in the wild and yard without much effort, as bugs are always present on different plants and flowers. They can also locate these insects under the landscaping rocks in the garden or stones and sand.
The rodents can also find them on the trees, leaves, and rocks in the wild and eat them instantly to fill their stomach and get some energy.
They can dig the soil under the rocks and logs to find these insects because the chances of insects in such places are high. They use their paws or feet to lift the logs and stones in the garden or wild to locate the bugs.
Aphids and butterflies are readily available because they feed the nectar from plants and flowers.
They can dig the decayed or rooted wood to find the insects.
Which bugs are dangerous for squirrels?
Bugs usually do not cause harm to them, but some contain venom, which contains toxic chemicals poisonous to the animals attacking the insects.
For example, Monarch butterflies contain venom, and squirrels and animals eating these toxic bugs, can get sick or die.
Other insects can sting them, which can cause poison inside the rodent’s body. Moreover, they can carry diseases, which can be contagious to these animals.
Most household bugs do not contain toxic chemicals, and squirrels can consume them without getting any poison, but the insects in the wild can carry some disease or venom, which can be dangerous for these rodents.
How can you stop the squirrels from eating bugs?
You can stop these rodents from eating bugs in the garden if you do not know whether they contain poison. You can also restrict pet squirrels from eating these insects by offering other food items.
For example, feed them nuts, fruits, and vegetables because they prefer to have these food items instead of insects. They will not search for other food sources if their food is readily available.
Moreover, clean the birdfeeder in your yard because the chances of insects under the birdfeeder are high.
Clean the area around the birdfeeder to avoid these insects and keep the pet and wild squirrels safe in the yard.
It is better to clean their cage if you have a pet rodent because the bugs can roam around the cage to get some food, and the rodents can eat them.