To humans, almonds are regarded as superfoods. What about giving them to squirrels? Is almond safe or no? Can squirrels take full advantage of the benefits these nuts offer?
Almonds are nutritious, contain proteins, fats, vitamins E and B2, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and more. They are relatively low in sugar and high in fiber. On the downside, almonds contain high fats and carbs, which isn’t good for squirrel’s digestive system. Then there’s the risk of cyanide compounds.
Sure, almonds are the closest nuts to a squirrel’s heart but feeding them these nuts often may bring nutritional imbalance to obesity and digestive problems.
The answer to this question, yes squirrels can eat almonds. The nuts are fine as a tasty treat, but shouldn’t be given too often.
Table of Contents
- Are Almonds Safe For Squirrels?
- Should You Give Squirrels Shelled or Unshelled Nuts?
- Can Squirrels Safely Eat Almonds in Large Quantities?
- Can Squirrels Eat Almond Butter?
- What About Giving Almond Milk to Baby Squirrels?
- How to Feed Nuts to Squirrels?
- What are the Alternative Nuts You Can Feed Squirrels?
- What do Squirrels Like to Eat the Most?
Are Almonds Safe For Squirrels?
Almonds are a superfood but are they safe for the critters? While almonds are not likely to be fatal to squirrels, there are certain warnings pet lovers/owners should know – especially when feeding high quantities.
If swallowed whole, the hard nuts could obstruct the esophagus or intestine in baby squirrels. As a pet parent, you do not want to run this risk.
Many packaged nuts come covered in salt, sugar, and artificial seasonings that can upset squirrel’s stomach. Too much salt can cause increased water retention, which is especially fatal for squirrels that are obese or have heart conditions.
Another concern surrounding the consumption of almonds is aflatoxin poisoning. The nuts may harbor Aspergillus mold that produces aflatoxin, a poisonous toxin.
Even if you feed plain, mold-free, or salt-free nuts, there are still dangers. Being high in phosphorous, almonds increase the risk of developing kidney stones. High-fat content can cause pancreatitis, indigestion, vomiting, or diarrhea.
As with almost any food, squirrels may face anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal allergic reaction. If you find signs including sneezing, swelling, or difficulty breathing, contact the vet right away.
Should You Give Squirrels Shelled or Unshelled Nuts?
Squirrels are crazy about shelled nuts. They have sharp incisors and can easily shell a peanut, but some baby squirrels may find it difficult to break the shell up and it takes some effort.
By chewing on shells, bark, or hard item, squirrels keep their teeth worn down at an angle, which makes them sharp. Here we’re feeding shelled nuts as a treat so, it doesn’t do much to the sharpening of teeth.
Coming back to the answer: shelled or unshelled – either way, is perfect, provided it is given as a nutty treat.
Can Squirrels Safely Eat Almonds in Large Quantities?
As we discussed above, almonds in small amounts are good for squirrels. However, eating large quantities can cause some serious side effects.
Even in small quantities, almonds aren’t digested very easily and may upset the stomach. Now, imagine the case of overeating. Also, if the nuts are salted and overeaten, the effect could be fatal.
Cyanide poisoning is a serious threat that may arise from eating almonds in large quantities. Symptoms include respiratory distress, dilated pupil, dark red gums, and quick death. Among the two different varieties – sweet and bitter almonds – bitter almonds have high cyanide content than sweet almonds. And, a handful is enough to kill your pet. So, know which variety you are using.
If the squirrels eat almonds, first consider the quantity they eat and the size and age of the animal. If they ate a couple of nuts, and aren’t showing signs of choking or any other discomfort, there’s nothing to worry about. If the situation is like, “my pet just ate a mini-bag of nuts’, get immediate help from the vet.
If you aren’t sure how much he has ingested and showing signs of illness like bloating, vomiting, breathing trouble, or tremors, seek your vet’s help as soon as possible.
Can Squirrels Eat Almond Butter?
Some squirrels do eat almond butter after all they aren’t picky eaters. If they love tasting almond butter once in a while, ensure it is made from a pure source. Still, even the almond butter is made from 100% pure almond and has no fillers, it might upset your pet’s stomach. If possible, it’s best to avoid almond butter.
What About Giving Almond Milk to Baby Squirrels?
Almond milk is made from processing almonds, which are safe in moderation in adult squirrels. Still, there are concerns about extra calories. Added unnecessary calories mean obesity and other health issues.
Some almond milk is sweetened, meaning there may be high sugar or artificial sweeteners added. This can lead to oral diseases and obesity.
Moving on if almond milk is safe for baby squirrels – No, it is not. They need either mother’s milk or vet recommended formula.
How to Feed Nuts to Squirrels?
Squirrels have a diverse diet which varies according to the habitats they live in, season, and food availability.
When feeding them in the backyard, it’s important to give them that’s close to their diet in the wilderness. That’s why pet owners and doctors suggest more nuts, seeds, and berries.
If you have daily critter visitors in the backyard, set up a squirrel feeder. Fill it with their favorite nuts, seeds, flower buds, carrots, and berries. They will be the happiest of you leave some shelled almonds, walnuts, scorns, or hickory nuts. Not only they are a tasty treat, but also give the furry friends something to gnaw on. Also, give them access to clean water.
If you have a bird feeder installed already, be sure to keep it away from the squirrel feeder. The critters won’t hesitate to sneak up and steal the bird food. Not all bird foods are suitable for squirrels, and, if they eat it all, birds will stay away from your yard. Not to mention the side effects the bird food may cause.
What are the Alternative Nuts You Can Feed Squirrels?
When it comes to nuts, squirrels aren’t picky at all. Some healthy options include:
1. Acorns: Also called oak nuts, acorns are powerhouses of protein, calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, and the vitamin niacin. Bur remember, some species of acorns contain a high amount of tannins, which make them overly bitter.
2. Hazelnuts: Red and Grey squirrels love munching on hazelnuts. Do not overdo it with hazelnuts as they can leave the critters with calcium and vitamin deficiencies.
3. Walnuts: In-shell walnuts are a good alternative. They love the process of taking the nut from its shell. It’s also a great exercise for the animal.
4. Pecans: Another favorite nut of squirrels. Pecans contain high levels of antioxidants, protein, fiber, fats, vitamins, and minerals.
Whatever nuts you choose, ensure they are plain not salted, sugared, or chemically processed. Most importantly, always stick with small portions.
What do Squirrels Like to Eat the Most?
Squirrels are expert foragers and love nothing more than rooting around in the garden or backyard for a tasty morsel.
1. Fruits and berries: The high sugar in fruits and berries gives them a quick energy boost. It’s better to aim for a balanced diet, too much fruit can interfere with calcium absorption. So, keep fruits and berries to a minimum.
2. Vegetables: Squirrels love eating kale, tomatoes, beets, beans, eggplant, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, celery, asparagus, spinach, and lettuce. They also love root vegetables like sweet potatoes.
3. Nuts: High fat, high protein in-shell nuts are indeed squirrel’s favorite food. The nuts they love include acorns, peanuts, almonds, pine nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, cashews, and macadamia nuts.
4. Cereal and grains: Cereals are loaded with nutrients and sugars to keep the critters’ energy in check. Some of the favorites are shredded wheat, corn flakes, and grape nuts. However, these cereals and grains aren’t the first choice of food for squirrels; they eat only when there’s scarcity.
5. Insects: When all other food items are short in supply, squirrels feed on caterpillars, larvae, winged bugs, grasshoppers, and crickets.
6. Fungi and mushrooms: In their natural, wild habitats squirrels love foraging for mushrooms and fungi. Favorites include oyster mushrooms, truffles, Acron truffles, and lichen.
7. Plant materials: Squirrels also love foraging plant parts including soft twigs, grasses, roots, leaves, succulent flower buds, tulip bulbs, and more.
8. Eggs: If food isn’t readily available, squirrels tend to steal birds’ eggs. Red and Grey squirrels often steal robin eggs and blackbird eggs.
Squirrel pellets and supplements are specifically formulated to ensure balanced nutrition to the pets. Many owners feed these pellets along with nuts, seeds, and fruits. Calcium and vitamin D3 pellets are another popular choice among pet owners when it comes to squirrel’s diet.