Squirrels are small rodents with bushy tails and large round eyes, known for their fast speed to jump from one tree to another. You can often find them eating nuts in your backyard, climbing and jumping around the garden near their nest.
Why Do Squirrels Like Nuts So Much? Squirrels like nuts so much because they are rich in protein, have enough calories and fats to gain weight, contain calcium, minerals, and vitamins, and are easy to store or bury. They can crack the shells easily with their sharp teeth and are abundant around their habitat. The roasted or salted nuts are toxic for squirrels, as they can disturb the metabolism and do not contain nutrients.
They love to eat various types of nuts, seeds, and insects, but they are herbivores. They also like flower bulbs, tree bark, and mushrooms.
Why do squirrels like nuts?
They like to eat nuts so much because it is their favorite food, and different types of nuts provide them with many benefits.
Rich in protein
Nuts are rich in protein, which is necessary for muscle growth and maintaining the body and muscles. Protein helps build muscles and keeps their energy level high during different activities.
Squirrels need protein because they have to maintain muscle strength and mass. They weigh between five ounces to one and a half pounds, but the right amount of protein is essential for their skin, organs, and healthy immune system.
They feel exhausted and get tired soon if the protein level is lower in their body. Therefore, they like to eat more nuts to get an adequate amount of protein and keep a healthy immune system.
Chew and remove the shell with sharp teeth
They can eat the nuts no matter with or without the shell, as chewing the nutshell with their sharp teeth is an exercise for the mouth and teeth.
They do not bother whether they are covered in a shell and use their sharp teeth to crack them to taste the inside food.
They also use another trick to crack the shell, such as dropping it on the ground and using the paws to open it. You often find these rodents in the tree shades eating and chewing the shells to eat the delicious food inside the hard shell.
This will keep their teeth sharp, and they have two teeth sets, such as incisors used for cutting and molars for grinding the shells to get the food.
However, they prefer to eat them without shells because it takes longer to crack the shell without getting extra nutrition.
Get enough calories from nuts
Nuts contain calories in high proportions and are used for gaining weight because of the fatty acids. In addition, they are loaded with large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids essential for squirrels during growing age.
They are essential for tissue metabolism, cell functioning, and energy sources. Squirrels need a lot of energy because they jump from tree to tree all day.
Therefore, they are known as excited and funny rodents, as you can observe them in your backyard when jumping on the trees and on the ground.
It helps them to put on some weight, which they use in hibernation in winter, as they do not get out of their nest during winter. Therefore, they do not spend much time foraging and resting in their nests in winter.
Contain calcium, minerals, and vitamins
They get an adequate amount of calcium, minerals, and vitamins from different types of nuts, which is the main reason for their love for them.
High calcium proportion is essential for teeth and bones, as they need to maintain their teeth and bones because they keep climbing on the trees and cracking hard nut shells.
They cannot keep a healthy life if their body lacks calcium, and their teeth become brittle over time if they consume food without calcium.
Potassium is a necessary mineral for tissue and bone growth, as the deficiency of this mineral in squirrels can lead to muscle fatigue, poor body movements, and improper tissues r cell working. Therefore, they are the most nutritious food for squirrels to live healthy lives.
Easy to find
Squirrels are usually found on the trees, such as oak, pine, and maple, and find the food source nearby. For example, the oak tree has abundant acorns, which attract these rodents to make a habitat around it and eat them.
The food is easily accessible, and they do not need to travel miles in search of food. Instead, they can make a nest near walnut trees to pluck them from the branches and eat without much exertion.
You can also find them around the maple and pine trees in the forest and backyard, as they find food from these trees’ seeds and pine cones.
Easy to store
Squirrels are small rodents that cannot carry heavy food to their nests, while nuts are easy to store.
They store the food to keep it safe from other mammals and insects and use it in the future because the food is less available for them in winter.
Some squirrel species hibernate in winter and do not leave the nest to get food. Therefore, they eat the nuts to gain weight and survive in winter when no food is available.
What type of nuts do squirrels like the most?
They like to eat different types of nuts, such as almonds, acorns, walnuts, and pecans. Almonds are rich in protein, fats, vitamin E, fiber, and manganese, which are essential for proper growth and survival.
Manganese is the mineral that helps the squirrel’s body to control its cholesterol level, starch, fats, and sugar. However, the high cholesterol concentration can cause the body to disturb the metabolism.
Acorns are the nuts from an oak tree, and these rodents can make a habitat around this tree to eat their favorite food without traveling miles.
Acorns contain potassium, vitamin B6, proteins, magnesium, and fats, attracting squirrels. Magnesium in acorns can maintain the muscles, bones, and nerves function properly, while protein and fats help increase body mass.
Walnuts are loaded with protein, iron, vitamins, calcium, potassium, and fiber. Squirrels are active and excited animals and need proper iron levels to remain active and carry the daily activities.
Iron helps to maintain the red blood cells functioning, and the deficiency can cause breathing issues and bone problems.
They also love to eat pecan, an oblong nut enclosed in a thin shell and found in hickory trees in the southern United States.
They have excessive amounts of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and more than nineteen minerals and vitamins.
In addition, they help to maintain the digestive, immune, and nervous systems in their body, as they also offer iron, magnesium, and calcium.
Why do squirrels forget their nuts?
Squirrels can forget the nuts because they bury them in the nut-burying season to eat in the cold season when the food sources are less.
They misplace or lose the hidden food, as they have the tactics to bury it under the ground. In addition, they often build false caches to confuse the thieves when they sense that the thieves are after the nuts and the food they sore or bury.
According to research, these animals forget or misplace approximately 70-75% of the nuts they bury to use later in winter. This causes the oak trees to grow from the acorn seeds and nuts buried in the soil, which regenerate an oak tree.
Their nature to forget the seeds and nuts they bury causes the forest to grow and is advantageous for other animals who find the buried food.
Are any nuts toxic for squirrels?
The salted nuts and cashews, dried corn, pine nuts, and a large number of salted peanuts are not beneficial for squirrels because they can disturb the cholesterol level and the metabolism.
The salted nuts can add salt to the young critter’s kidneys and increase the cholesterol level in their body.
In addition, raw peanuts are dangerous for some squirrel species, as they contain fungus, which is not safe for the digestive and immune systems.
The salted and roasted nuts can also cause the animals to lose calcium, which is essential for bones, teeth, and skin, and the digestive system cannot process the roasted nuts. Therefore, feeding them with the food in its natural state is better.