What Can You Feed Squirrels In Your Backyard? 10 Safe Options!

What can you feed squirrels in your backyard 10 safe options!

Squirrels are incredibly adorable animals, and it can be a lot of fun to watch them sprint from tree to tree, looking for nuts, as their feathery tail bounces up and down.

If you’re lucky enough to live near a woodland or park area, you might even get the occasional squirrel visiting your backyard, in which case you can place yourself by the window and watch them for a while! 

If you want your backyard to become an even more welcoming place for these visiting squirrels, then what you can do is place some food out for them, whether it’s scattered around, or in permanent feeding containers that will always be there for them. 

But…what exactly should you feed the squirrels in your backyard? It is very important to do the research and to ensure that you are giving them food that is safe and healthy for them, so that you are not causing them any harm.

The go-to is to simply feed squirrels local nuts, as this is what they would usually look for anyway, but there are other options that you might not know about, so we’re here to help you out! 

We have compiled a list of 10 of our favorite safe and healthy food options that you can give to the squirrels, which are sure to make your backyard a welcoming place for these little furry animals. Let’s get right into it! 

What Do Squirrels Usually Eat?

Squirrels love to eat nuts and seeds above all else, and this is the go-to food that most people associate with them, as it is their main source of nutrition!

This is why they are always searching around the base of trees, where nuts and seeds will fall. And they will especially love finding some fallen acorns! 

The reason why squirrels love nuts and seeds so much is not only because it provides them with the nutrition they need, but also because they have to bite into the hard surface, and this actually helps them keep their teeth healthy! 

Oh, and fun fact about squirrels and seeds, they will often get rid of the hard outer shell with their teeth, and will then bury the seed inside, so that it is safe.

In their minds, it is so that they have a stash of food to go to when they are hungry. However, squirrels almost always forget where they buried the seeds, meaning they end up forgotten, they germinate, and they grow into new trees! 

So really, squirrels are like gardeners, and welcoming them into your backyard can be quite beneficial! 

All that being said, squirrels don’t just eat nuts and seeds. They also like to eat some vegetables and fruits, and we have included some in our list of things to feed them. 

Top 10 Safe And Healthy Foods To Feed Squirrels

Now that we’ve talked a little bit about what squirrels usually eat so that you could have a better idea of their natural diet, it’s time to get into our list of the top 10 safe and healthy things that you can feed them. 

Here they are! 

  1. Almonds
  2. Apples
  3. Cabbage
  4. Carrots 
  5. Hazelnuts
  6. Peaches
  7. Pecans
  8. Walnuts
  9. Watermelons
  10. Zucchini

All of these 10 foods are completely safe for squirrels and will contribute to a natural and healthy diet for them. So if you want to feed a squirrel, choose something from this list!

What NOT To Feed Squirrels

Knowing what to feed squirrels is important, but some might argue that it is even more important to know what NOT to feed them, so that you make sure to avoid any and all foods that are harmful to these small furry animals, and that might be poisonous to them. 

Here is a list of the main foods that are harmful to squirrels, and that you should therefore never use for feeding them

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pine nuts
  • Raw peanuts
  • Dates
  • Dried fruits
  • Figs
  • Raisins
  • Bell peppers 
  • White potatoes
  • Fresh corn
What can you feed squirrels in your backyard 10 safe options! (1)
What can you feed squirrels in your backyard 10 safe options! (1)

If a squirrel encounters these in the wild, it will instinctively know not to consume them, because they are not safe. However, if a squirrel sees you offering these, along with other foods that they can eat, then they will get confused and give them a try, which can be super dangerous! 

So make sure to always avoid these types of foods when feeding squirrels, and make sure to let others know when needed too! 

How To Feed Squirrels In Your Backyard

Now that you know what to feed squirrels (and what not to feed them), it’s time to talk about how to feed the squirrels in your backyard, in order to make it a welcoming and safe space for them. 

The truth is that there are many different ways in which you can feed squirrels in your backyard. For example, you could simply scatter the food on the ground for them to find, or throw it in their direction whenever you see them.

Or alternatively, you could set up squirrel feeders around your backyard, which come in many different shapes, sizes, and designs.

Or you could just plant the types of foods that are good for squirrels around your garden in a natural way, so that there is always a fresh source of food for them there, much as how they would find it in the wild! 

But…which method of feeding the squirrels is the best? How should you go about it? 

Let’s go through them all and find out! 

Scattering Food On The Ground

This is an alright method if you want to do it once or twice, leaving out some safe food to see if the squirrels will actually come into your backyard and find it.

However, it won’t be the best for actually getting to enjoy the sight of the squirrels, and it might not be a reliable way of getting them to appear, as they might feel as though they just happened to stumble across some food as a one-off lucky find. 

Trying To Hand-Feed Squirrels

This is fine if you go to a park full of squirrels that are used to humans, and there are plenty of other people feeding them by hand.

Because those squirrels will be highly accustomed to humans and will have adapted their lifestyle to get most of their food in this manner, as it is a recurring thing that does not depend solely on you. 

However, when it comes to squirrels visiting your backyard, we wouldn’t recommend feeding them in this way. 

Firstly, because the squirrels are wild animals, and although you might feed them every now and then, you are not their primary food source.

They still have to fend for themselves out there. You socializing them by slowly getting them to eat off your hand will make them lazy, and it might also make them more vulnerable to human dangers. 

Using Squirrel Feeders Around The Garden

This is one of the most popular methods, especially for people that want to be able to see squirrels in their backyard as often as possible.

You can get squirrel feeders, that have been designed especially for these furry little animals, from many animal stores, and they come in all sorts of designs, shapes, and sizes, depending on what you would prefer.

They can then be installed in various locations of your backyard, on trees, walls, or stood upright on a pole, or similar. 

This is probably the best method for observing squirrels from the window, as you can place the feeders somewhere where you will have full view, and they will also require the squirrels to jump up, climb, or perform various acrobatics.

Some people have even created full-on obstacle courses with their squirrel feeders! 

The problem with squirrel feeders, however, is that they are an incredibly easy food source for the squirrels, which can cause them to become lazy.

What can you feed squirrels in your backyard 10 safe options!
What can you feed squirrels in your backyard 10 safe options!

Squirrels can end up relying on the feeders if there are too many of them or they are always full, which will then cause the squirrels to lose natural abilities and skills, making them vulnerable out in the wild. 

So you can use feeders, but make sure you’re not just creating a massive free for all feast, as squirrels should consume from these feeders in moderation!

Growing The Safe Foods Within Your Garden

This is by far the best way to feed squirrels within your backyard. It is the healthiest and safest for squirrels, as you are simply growing a natural food source within your area, which they would naturally seek out and consume from. And it is also the best for the ecology and local ecosystem. 

Basically, if you plant the right kind of things in your garden, that produce food for your squirrels to eat, you will be allowing the squirrels to find their food source as they would normally, only that it is conveniently located in your backyard so that you can watch them from the window!

This is a great way of feeding them without actually interfering with their normal feeding habits, and it also requires the squirrels to find the food and feed themselves, as you aren’t just handing the food over to them, it’s simply there, in its natural state. 

If you want your backyard to be a welcoming space to squirrels, in a natural and healthy way that does not interfere with their wildness, this is by far the best way to go about it, and the one that we recommend! 

Can You Feed Baby Squirrels

If you’re hoping to feed some baby squirrels in your backyard, we have some bad news: you won’t. The only situation in which you would end up feeding a baby squirrel is if that baby squirrel is in need of help and no longer has a mother, and even then, the feed you give it would be different from what you give to adult squirrels. 

This is because, for the first 6 weeks of life, baby squirrels do not eat solid foods. Instead, they drink their mother’s milk in order to be nourished.

So what you should do is make sure that the mother squirrel is getting a good amount of food, so that she can produce the milk for the babies! 

After those first 6 weeks, baby squirrels can start to eat the same food as adult squirrels, but they will eat much larger quantities, so don’t try to overfeed them! 

After 12 weeks, baby squirrels leave the mother’s nest and start to forage their own food and to eat as adults. So if you have been caring for a baby squirrel, you should release it back into the wild at 12 weeks of age!

If you do find a baby squirrel, don’t instantly assume that it needs help. It could be that the mother is gone for a while, but comes back.

And if possible, it is very important to leave the baby as it is and to have the mother take care of it. Not only because it is healthier, but because the mother will teach the baby all of the squirrel life hacks so that it can survive in the wild once grown!  

If the squirrel’s mother never returns, and the baby truly needs your help, then it is okay to take it in. Make sure to ask an animal professional or veterinarian for tips on how to best care for it and feed it! 

Final Thoughts

Squirrels love nuts and seeds, most people are pretty aware of this. They are a food source full of nutritional value, and the hard outer shell that the squirrels have to bite through keeps their teeth nice and healthy! 

However, if you’re going to feed a squirrel, you have to make sure you are giving it the right types of nuts and seeds, as well as vegetables and fruits that are safe for them since they also have these in their diet! 

Always make sure that the food you are giving to a squirrel in your backyard is safe, and avoid the foods that are harmful or poisonous to them! 

As for actually feeding them, you can do so with squirrel feeders, by leaving food out on the ground, or by growing the kinds of foods that they are able to eat within your backyard (this last one is the best way to go about it, as it is the most natural for the squirrels!)

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