There are very few things we eat that the squirrels in the garden won’t eat and beg for. And, bread is no exception. Most of us have probably tossed an unwanted crust anyway, but can squirrels eat bread? Is bread a safe option for them?
Read on to find out if the bread is good or bad for squirrels.
Yes, a bite or two, not more than that unless you want to see him sick. If you love feeding squirrels in your backyard, get a bag of nuts still in their shell, veggies, or fruits.
It is harmful to feed a lot of bread for a few reasons. The squirrels gain weight quite fast. There’s a lot of fillers, sugar, and fat in bread that fasten the weight gaining. Plus, it is unhealthy.
Low mobility and severe health problems are other outcomes.
Table of Contents
- Is it Ok to Feed Squirrels bread?
- Are There Benefits of Bread For Squirrels?
- Is Bread High in Sugar?
- Are There Any Toxic Ingredients in Bread?
- Why Squirrels Cannot Digest Cellulose in Bread?
- Do Grey Squirrels Eat Bread?
- Can Baby Squirrels Eat Bread?
- What is the Best Food For Wild Squirrels?
- Which Food You Should Avoid Giving to Squirrels?
Is it Ok to Feed Squirrels bread?
White bread has no nutritional value and therefore can do more harm than good. Nutritionally, it is OK to give squirrels an occasional piece of Whole grain or multi-grain bread. Be sure that it is not moldy, as bread molds are toxic. Also, do not put out more than the squirrel will eat, as it will mold quickly.
Burying or hiding excess food is in squirrel’s nature. Hiding a crust for the future won’t work due to decomposition or mold development. But the tiny critters do not get that, how can he? He might think he has stored it for later. And later he’s going to end up with nothing.
Another important thing to note is that bread is high in carbohydrates, meaning it is ‘junk’ and ‘unhealthy’, particularly if consumed too much.
If you have a baby squirrel or an injured one that you are rehabilitating, avoid feeding bread at all means. Because bread does not provide the essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals required for them to grow healthy or gain strength.
Are There Benefits of Bread For Squirrels?
Besides being a tasty occasional treat, bread has fiber, especially whole wheat or mixed grain bread, which could be a benefit to the pet squirrel’s diet if he or she is lacking.
However, you should know that bread won’t provide the other nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. So, it is better to give more natural foods.
Is Bread High in Sugar?
Most sliced bread available at stores contains 2-5% sugars. Much of this sugar comes from flour, with the remainder produced during fermentation. Then there will be ‘added sugar’ in the form of molasses, dextrose, or high-fructose corn syrup to enhance the flavor.
one slice of commercially prepared white bread has about 1.4 g sugar, says the USDA National Nutrient Database.
So, the answer is: Yes, bread has high sugar content. And, there are much better and heathy items to feed squirrels than bread.
Are There Any Toxic Ingredients in Bread?
There are different varieties of bread made with different ingredients. And, they may be dangerous to squirrels. If the bread contains any of the following, do not feed it to squirrels.
These are all toxic to squirrels on varying levels and will almost certainly make them ill. Side effects to these ingredients range in severity too. Mild cases can cause stomach discomfort, vomiting, and diarrhea, while more severe cases can lead to obesity, kidney failure, and heart problems.
Why Squirrels Cannot Digest Cellulose in Bread?
Almost all herbivores have special adaptations to digest cellulose but squirrels are an exception. Squirrels’ little bodies cannot survive completely on plants alone. and their digestive system lacks enzymes for breaking down cellulose.
Cellulose is a polysaccharide and a chief compound consisting of up to ninety percent of a plant. Most herbivores have symbiotic gut bacteria that help break down cellulose and aid in digestion. But with squirrels, it isn’t the case. That’s why they must restrict their diet to energy-packed nuts, seeds, fruits, and veggies.
Bread makers often use cellulose as a calorie reducer, fiber supplement, or thickening agent. So feed only a tiny bit occasionally.
Do Grey Squirrels Eat Bread?
Grey squirrels live in the land and they are opportunists when it comes to food. Their diet depends on what is available during a particular season. In early spring, the buds of trees like maple are their staple food. During the summer, seeds of maple and elm seeds are their favorites, together with wild berries, fruits, and nuts. In the autumn, they will be after corn, hickory nuts, butternuts, walnuts, beechnuts, or pine seeds.
They also dig tunnels underground to bury seeds and nuts for colder days. They are very likely to infest fields and gardens and love food lying in the open.
Grey squirrels do love bread and you can get thousands of stock photos showing them eating bread in the park or on the tree.
If you do feed them bread, make sure the portion is no more than 10g per day. Because their digestive system is not adapted to high-carbohydrate, high-sugar baked bread. Some bread varieties won’t hurt but it would be healthier if you feed healthy, nutritious food. They love seeds, nuts, and garden veggies.
Can Baby Squirrels Eat Bread?
Unlike other animals at birth, baby squirrels require intense care because they can’t do anything on their own. And, their dietary needs are complex. The two important steps of feeding are i) rehydrating with Pedialyte or sugar-salt-water mix and ii) feeding.
Feeding an infant squirrel the wrong thing could affect their stomach and make them dehydrated. In the worst cases, they can go into shock. The human formula, cow’s milk, and milk substitutes should be avoided.
- Day 1 to Week 7: Use milk replacer formulas available.
- Week 7 to Week 9: Continue formula and start introducing protein-rich solid foods.
- Week 9 to Week 10: Add other solid foods such as apples, grapes, nuts, broccoli stems, green beans, and other veggies.
- Week 10 to Week 12: Once the baby squirrel responds well to solid foods, add more fruits, nuts, and treats.
The special diet should be continued until the squirrel weans at around 14-16 weeks of age.
Then you can occasionally put a loaf in the feeder so they can enjoy a variety of foods.
What is the Best Food For Wild Squirrels?
The answer to this question can be complicated, but in simple words, the best food is ‘healthy food’. Having a little knowledge about the natural history of the squirrel’s species goes a long way in deciding which foods are the best. For example, the nocturnal Flying squirrels have adapted to survive on different foods than ground squirrels that are diurnal living on the prairie.
The best food includes:
- Fruits: In the wild, squirrels are opportunistic foragers and will eat wild berries, pears, apples, or plums. Vets suggest that fruit should account for at least 35-40 percent of a wild squirrel’s diet.
- Plants, Seeds, and Nuts: Wild squirrels eat almost all sorts of plants, nuts, and seeds found naturally in their habitat. And, that includes young bark of trees, nuts, leads, and stems.
- Meat: Wild squirrels do not hesitate to scavenge tiny birds, insects, mice, or eggs. They may also love to feed on mealworms for protein.
Which Food You Should Avoid Giving to Squirrels?
Squirrels are omnivores but that doesn’t mean they should be fed just anything. Never feed them:
- Salted or sugared snacks: These are fillers and have zero to little nutritional value. The salt is harmful to squirrels while the sugar has much the same effect as in kids. Squirrels are overly energetic and sugar gets them even more excited which isn’t good for their health. Junk foods shouldn’t be included in their diet.
- Corn: Feeding corn cut up in small pieces is ok but never a whole. Overeating can be fatal. Corn turns sour quickly and grows mold so make sure you don’t give raw corn to squirrels visiting your garden.
- Animal or human formula: Preservatives and chemical additives in these formulas can cause nervousness, seizures, digestive problems, or sudden death in squirrels.
- Spicy food: Squirrels cannot handle spicy or hot food – white pepper and cayenne, for example. The alkaloid in pepper cause oral and intestinal discomfort in squirrels.
- Pet food: In general, meats aren’t part of squirrel’s natural diet. Pet food containing high meat content can be fatal to squirrels.