Squirrels are some of the cutest animals out there. But have you ever wondered what they eat?
Believe it or not, squirrels’ diets aren’t limited to nuts and seeds. These furry critters will sometimes enjoy a protein-rich snack like meat!
In this post, we’ll be exploring the types of meat squirrels eat, where they find it, and how we can tell if a squirrel has eaten meat.
We’ll also discuss what other foods make up a squirrel’s diet and how their omnivore diet affects their behavior.
So, let’s dive into the question: do squirrels eat meat?
Do Squirrels Eat Meat?
Yes, squirrels do eat meat. They are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals.
Squirrels are opportunistic eaters, so they take advantage of any food source they can find.
They will dig up grubs, snack on cicadas, crack eggs, gobble up crickets, and even scavenge the remains of dead animals.
While primarily eating vegetarian foods, they will also take advantage of accessible protein sources like insects, eggs, and even small animals like mice and voles.
If you watch the ground squirrels in your backyard closely enough, you may even spot them snacking on a piece of meat!
What is an Omnivore?
You may wonder what an omnivore is and how it relates to squirrels. An omnivore is an animal that eats both plants and meat.
This means that as omnivores, squirrels have a diet of plants and meat. Squirrels primarily eat vegetarian foods like nuts, seeds, fungi, and fruits, but they will also eat insects, small animals, and even eggs if they come across them.
This variety in their diet helps them to fulfill their dietary needs for protein, fats, and carbohydrates.
Types of Meat Squirrels Eat
You may be surprised to learn that squirrels enjoy various types of meat in their diets. They will scavenge for grubs, cicadas, eggs, crickets, and even small rodents.
While this may shock some, it’s important to remember that squirrels are omnivores and eat plants and animals.
Therefore, if a squirrel can find an easy source of meat, it will not hesitate to take advantage of it.
Nutritional value of meat for squirrels
Regarding nutritional value, meat provides a much higher concentration of calories and protein than plants.
For example, one ounce of beef contains approximately 30 calories, but the same amount of plant-based food contains only six calories.
The protein content in meat is much higher than in plants, thus providing squirrels with a more efficient form of energy.
In addition to calories and protein, meat also provides essential vitamins and minerals that may not be available in plant-based food.
As such, meat has a higher nutritional value than plants for squirrels.
Factors that influence squirrels’ diets
In some areas, squirrels may feed on carrion, insects, bird eggs, and even small birds and mammals.
In other regions, their diets consist mainly of seeds, nuts, fruits, and vegetables.
Additionally, squirrels vary their diets based on the season, preferring high-energy, high-fat foods during winter.
In certain circumstances, such as when food sources are scarce, or predators are a threat, squirrels may hunt and consume small animals such as mice, insects, and birds.
Hunting can also affect squirrels’ diets, providing them with additional sources of protein and calcium for the winter months.
As such, it is crucial for those interested in squirrel diets to consider the potential impact of hunting on the diets of these animals.
Where Do Squirrels Find Meat?
Squirrels typically find meat in their natural environment, such as insects, frogs, and even baby birds.
They are opportunistic feeders and will take advantage of any easy meal they come across, such as an unguarded nest of baby birds or fresh carrion.
You can also see squirrels foraging for grubs, cicadas, eggs, crickets, and other small animals.
Squirrels are also known to eat the eggs of other birds and occasionally even steal from bird feeders.
Do Squirrels Prefer Meat?
While they do not necessarily prefer meat over other food types, they can benefit from it.
Meat provides squirrels with protein, fat, and other essential nutrients that can help them stay healthy and active.
So while squirrels may not prefer meat as a first choice for their meals, it certainly has its place in their diet.
Why squirrels prefer nuts to meat
Nuts and seeds are high in protein, unsaturated fat, vitamins, and minerals, all necessary for a healthy diet.
They are also a great source of carbohydrates, essential for providing energy to the squirrel’s body.
Meat, on the other hand, is lower in nutrients than plant-based foods.
It also is high in saturated fat, which can be dangerous for squirrels if overconsumed.
Therefore, squirrels prefer to eat nuts and seeds over meat.
How Do You Tell If a Squirrel Has Eaten Meat?
It is possible to see if a squirrel has eaten meat by looking for sure signs. For instance, you may visit the remains of an eggshell near a squirrel’s den or a pile of feathers from a baby bird near the base of a tree.
Other signs include empty shells of insects such as cicadas and crickets found near the squirrel’s food source.
If you observe these signs, the squirrel is likely opportunistically eating meat.
You may also find evidence of the remains of small animals in or near the squirrel’s den, such as mice and voles.
Ways to ensure squirrels have access to a balanced diet
To provide squirrels with a balanced diet, humans need to feed the animals their natural food sources.
Here are seven ways to ensure squirrels have access to a balanced diet:
- Plant various trees, shrubs, and grasses to produce nuts, fruits, and seeds.
- Place bird feeders with different bird seeds, suet, and nuts in a safe area for the squirrels.
- Leave bits of fresh fruits and vegetables in a designated area for the squirrels.
- Provide nuts, such as peanuts, almonds, and acorns, in a bowl or feeder specifically for the squirrels.
- Place small piles of hay or straw around the garden where squirrels can forage for insects.
- Keep an area wild with tall grass and weeds for the squirrels to search for food.
- Place a shallow dish of water or a bird bath in the garden for the squirrels to drink from.
In conclusion, squirrels eat meat as part of their balanced omnivore diet. They are not known to hunt, but food shortages can cause them to seek out meat as a source of nutrition.
Squirrel meat is high in protein and low in fat, making it a healthy option for those looking for leaner meat options.
However, squirrels prefer nuts, seeds, and insects as their primary food source. They will only resort to eating meat if there is nothing else available.