Can Squirrels Eat Corn?

Squirrels aren’t picky eaters, and some may wonder if corn can be on their pet squirrel’s treat menu. The answer is – it depends. Some experts, in fact, strongly prohibit feeding corn to squirrels despite its good nutrient profile. In this article, let’s get deep down everything about squirrels and corn.

squirrel-eating-corn

Do Squirrels Eat Corn?

Yes. Squirrels are predominantly herbivores. Raw or cracked, sweetened or salted, squirrels are fond of corn.

Can Squirrels Eat Corn?

As mentioned, squirrels are herbivores and have a general diet that consists of fruits, vegetables, plant parts, nuts, and seeds. Considering corn falls under those categories, it makes sense why they love feasting on corn.

Speaking from a wild perspective, squirrels tend to raid corn in the wild. Domesticated squirrels also enjoy all forms of corn.

Corn itself isn’t toxic to squirrels. The question of whether squirrels can eat corn or not doesn’t exactly have a clear answer. The right answer is: it depends. Because different factors affect how healthy corn is for the squirrels, including whether it’s raw or cracked.

Do Squirrels Eat Corn on the Cob?

Corn on the cob may not be harmful and taste great to humans, but potentially fatal to squirrels. Do squirrels eat corn on the cob – yes but should never be fed to them.

A squirrel’s gut is suited to break down nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. However, it’s terrible at breaking down tough fibers and the hull. The woodsy column is indigestible and the chance for impaction is high even if small pieces of the cob are eaten. Also, they are not easy to chew, and the squirrels will have to work extra hard to consume them especially if the cob is mature or dry. Moreover, the cob doesn’t provide any nutritional value to the animal.

Do Squirrels Like Cracked Corn?

Squirrels aren’t picky about what they eat, so if you offer cracked corn to the squirrels visiting your garden, he will probably give it a try. The real question is, should you be feeding cracked corn to the squirrels?

Cracked corn refers to broken dry corn kernels. Sometimes you see cracked corn mixed in with squirrel foods – you should avoid these. Because corn is way too starchy and contains high amounts of sugars and carbs. The starch in corn can cause health problems in the squirrels because it can make the squirrels gain weight unexpectedly. Many experts say that fresh or dried corn can produce the same effects in squirrels.

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An optimal squirrel food should be one low in sugar, starch and fat, and high in fiber. That said, cracked corn can be given as an occasional treat – remember to choose small or medium-sized ones to prevent choking hazards or intestinal blockages.

Do Squirrels Eat Sweetcorn?

Yes. Squirrels love sweet corn very much.

The sweet and crunchy baby sweetcorn lacks the toughness of mature sweetcorn. Does this make it safer for squirrels to eat? Of all types of corn, baby sweetcorn is probably the safest option for squirrels. However, this doesn’t make them a ‘safe food’.

Sweetcorn is high in sugar and starch, like all corn types. Regularly consuming sweetcorn introduces a large number of extra calories into the squirrel’s diet. This causes quick weight gain or obesity. Also, high sugar and starch can upset their gut. This is true even when used as an occasional treat.

Can Squirrels Eat Corn Kernels?

Yes, only when the kernel is cooked. However, experts do not recommend it.

Cooked corn kernels are safe whereas uncooked kernels pose a threat to squirrel’s dental health. The raw kernels may chip a tooth or cause a choking hazard. Be sure to monitor baby squirrels as they may choke on a kernel even if it is well cooked. Kernel stuck between teeth can cause toothache to tooth decay and gum infections.

Also, corn kernels increase the risk of obstruction leading to gastric disorders. Salted or flavored corn kernels shouldn’t be given to squirrels because of dehydration risks.

Other reasons why corn kernels are not recommended include the following:

  • There is a chance of corn having toxins especially the Aflatoxin and Fumonisin which can be fatal to the squirrels.
  • Most of the maize grown in American and European countries are genetically modified, making it hard to quantify the side effect to pets like squirrels.
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Is Popcorn Good For Squirrels?

In its pure form, without fillers and flavors, popcorn is a safe occasional squirrel food. Remember that safe and healthy aren’t always the same because there can be choking hazards or digestive issues.

The kernel can get stuck between the teeth and cause irritation or pain, especially in baby squirrels. When the corn kernels remain lodged along their gum line, they can cause bleeding to gum diseases and tooth decay over time.

Another issue with popcorn kernels is that they’re not easily digestible. If squirrels swallow one or two kernels, it’s probably not going to cause serious effects, but there’s absolutely no sense in putting your little pet’s tummy through more load than necessary.

Unpopped kernels pose a choking hazard for squirrels. If your pet gulps down too many popcorns at once, it could easily block their tiny throat and may become fatal.

Do Squirrels Eat Corn Plants?

Yes, squirrels eat corn leaves and stalks. However, corn plants are not one of their most preferred foods. They will only nibble it a bit.

In general, there is no danger with the corn plants. Usually, the squirrels prefer young tender corn leaves. As long as it is occasional and pesticide-free, corn plants do not pose any threat to squirrels.

Can Squirrels Eat Corn Husks?

Yes, but only if ‘corn husks’ refers to the soft leafy outer covering of the corn cob. They are somewhat safe for squirrels. Corn husks are a good source of fiber.

However, do not confuse them with the seed shell or coat, often known as a ‘hull.’ Hulls are not safe and may cause blockages and digestion problems in squirrels.

What is the Best Food For Wild Squirrels?

A nutritious, balanced diet is essential to keeping the squirrels healthy. Here are some of these safe and best squirrel foods.

1. Fruits

Fruits especially berries are squirrel’s favorite food item. Squirrels love apples, pears, bananas, plums, peaches, avocados, nectarines, and mangoes. The unprocessed sugar in the fruits gives them an energy boost. That said too much sugar will cause diarrhea or stomach discomfort. One or two handheld pieces twice or thrice a week would work.

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Nuts and seeds can be toxic for the little critters. Also, do not give them dates and dried fruits such as plums and prunes.

2. Vegetables

Vegetables provide a good amount of nutrients not usually found in snacks like corn. Try including high-calcium vegetables like arugula, beet greens, Chinese cabbage, collard greens, kale, radishes, squash, and turnip greens. Squirrels also love eating artichokes, avocado, sweet peppers, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. They also love digging up root vegetables such as sweet potatoes.

Do not give squirrels dried veggies, garlic, sprouts, and yams.

3. Nuts

High-protein nuts still in their shells are the best squirrel food. Nuts are naturally rich in fatty acids and protein. The fat helps squirrels to build up fat reserves for the winter season. Examples: Roasted pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, and peanuts.

Do not give dried corn, pine nuts, and cashews as they may cause calcium loss.

4. Cereal and grains

Cereals are rich in nutrients and sugars that keep squirrel’s energy in check. However, they aren’t the first choice for squirrels; squirrels prefer eating cereals and grains mostly when there’s no or less food. Example: shredded wheat, corn flakes, and grape nuts.

5. Insects

When nuts and fruits are short in supply, squirrels feed on small insects such as crickets, grasshoppers, bugs, larvae, and even moths. These insects are one of the many ways to add proteins and vitamins to the animal’s diet.

6. Squirrel supplements

Many squirrel types, especially flying squirrels need more calcium and vitamin D3. If your pet isn’t getting enough from natural sources, you should consider giving readily available squirrel pellets and supplements.

7. Bones

Squirrels love a vegetarian diet, but there are squirrel types that would enjoy animal bones or deer antlers. For example, the wild squirrels. Wild squirrels are fond of animal bones, which satisfy their calcium needs.

8. Plants and mushroom

In the wild environments, squirrels love foraging leaves, stalks, tender barks, mushrooms, and fungi. Oyster mushrooms, truffles, Acron truffles, and lichen are squirrel’s favorites. They also love eating soft twigs, grasses, roots, leaves, succulent flower buds, tulip bulbs, and more.

References:

https://www.wildlifeonline.me.uk/animals/article/squirrel-food-feeding-diet-composition

http://www.squirrelnutrition.com/what-to-feed-squirrels.html

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Sonia Madaan is a writer and founding editor of the science education blog EarthEclipse. She loves writing on topics related to space, environment, chemistry, biology, geology and geography. When she is not writing, she loves watching sci-fi movies on Netflix.