The pine cone is the seed-bearing part of the confer plants. These contain flaps of wood with enclosed seeds inside them. Squirrels like to eat their green part and its seeds.
Do Squirrels Eat Pine Cones? Squirrels can eat pine cones because of their nutritious seeds, food caching behavior, presence of essential vitamins and minerals, keeping the digestive system healthy, and wearing down their teeth. An adult squirrel can eat 55 to more than 95 pine cones daily.
Pine cones grow on conifer plants abundantly present in the forests. In addition, some people also prefer to grow them in their gardens because of their appealing appearance.
Why do squirrels eat pine cones?
Squirrels eat the pine cone seeds and play an essential role in increasing the number of trees through seed dispersal. These trees are necessary to keep the mountainous regions cool and provide a nesting place for different animals.
Squirrels are attracted to pine trees because of the presence of the female reproductive parts that are nutritious for them. They separate them with the help of their sharp claws and eat the seeds that are present in them.
These seeds are considered their diet because they feed on nuts and seeds from various plants to meet their daily needs.
These seeds are rich in carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, providing energy. These plants are an abundant source of energy for these animals.
These animals eat and store abundant amounts of pine cones in winter because of their easy availability.
They store them in their nest and underground burrows. Storage under the soil is more beneficial to prevent their spoilage.
Essential vitamins and minerals
These are rich in vitamins, which can improve squirrels’ visibility and immune system. In addition, these also contain calcium and iron, which help boost their immunity, strengthening the teeth.
These animals prefer to store the green pines for winters when food sources are limited.
Keep the digestive system healthy
Pine cones contain a sufficient amount of fiber that is helpful to keep their digestive system healthy. These animals prefer to eat foods that contain high fiber content.
High fiber content is necessary for their diet because it improves the functioning of their digestive system and prevents diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal pain.
These animals’ digestive systems work smoothly when they eat a fiber-rich diet regularly. In addition, it also promotes gut health by improving the growth of beneficial bacteria.
Wear down teeth
These are beneficial for the teeth of the squirrels. These rodents gnaw on the hard material to wear down their teeth.
Their teeth keep growing during their different life stages, and they have to maintain their size by gnawing hard materials.
Pine cone scales are made of hard and woody material, and they chew them to decrease the size of their teeth. It is necessary for them to reduce the size of their teeth because it can cause eating difficulties.
They gnaw on the woody cones while removing their outer scales to extract the seeds.
How do squirrels eat pine cones?
Squirrels gather the pine cones in their nests and food storage sites before eating them. They can jump the trees and collect those that are present on the ground.
They have sharp claws, and they grasp the pine cones with them. They rotate them while applying pressure to separate them from the trees.
These animals have strong teeth and biting force and can chew hard objects. They remove the scales of the cones and throw them on the side.
The primary purpose of scale removal is to expose the seeding area of the plant. They eat the seeds; the leftover part looks like an apple core. Avoid feeding the packaged pine nuts to the squirrels because of their flavoring compounds and high fat, sugar, and salt content.
Can baby squirrels eat pine cones?
Baby squirrels eat pine cones after 10 weeks of their age. They can easily chew and digest solid food because of their developed digestive systems.
In addition, baby squirrels can eat them because of the soft texture of the seeds. Mother squirrels slowly introduce solid food into their diet after 3 months.
They develop the capability to chew solid food after 3 months. They prefer to eat green pines because they are not hard and have a soft texture.
It is necessary to feed them in moderation because of their lower dietary needs than adults. Avoid feeding the pine cones from the grounds because these can carry the excess moisture and bacteria from the floors.
What type of pine cones do squirrels prefer to eat?
Squirrels prefer to eat the female pine cones because these contain an abundance amount of seeds as compared to the male reproductive part of the trees.
They mainly eat the immature green part because it is soft and nutrient-rich. They can eat the mature brown part of the plant but do not prefer it over the green part.
However, the green part is the early stage of the plants, and they become lighter brown after their maturation process.
What type of squirrels eat pine cones?
The 3 most common species of squirrels like to eat pine cones. American red, Douglas, and southwestern red squirrels prefer to consume them when they are abundant in their natural habitat.
In addition, red and gray squirrels also consume these food sources. These are different species but have the same eating behaviors and food preferences.
Moreover, leftovers around pine trees depict the presence of squirrels. These species also gather these food materials to ensure the presence of their food stock for winter.
How many pine cones does a squirrel eat in a day?
On average, squirrels can eat 55 to more than 95 pine cones daily. They extract the seeds because these are the nutritious parts of the plant.
In addition, animals of different age groups have variability in their dietary requirements. The requirements of adult species are more as compared to babies.
It also varies according to their gender and physical activity. The specific habitat and availability of these food sources also affect the per-day consumption.
How do you stop squirrels from eating pine cones?
Many people also grow pine trees in their homes by providing suitable growing conditions. These plants are usually present in forests that have freezing temperatures.
The squirrels can also come inside your home and can damage these trees. You can keep these rodents away from pine trees by using the fake statue of their different predators.
Put the fake owl, snake, cat, or dog in their surroundings so they can identify them as a potential threat and not come there.
In addition, I prefer to use natural repellent sprays because these cannot harm these animals, and their strong smell keeps them away.
You can also use physical barriers to surround the pine cones. It is also better to create distractions and provide alternative food sources to these animals to divert their attention.