Raisins are incredible nutritional powerhouses, packed with potassium, magnesium, and an array of antioxidants. They contain no fat, or cholesterol. Are they appetizing to squirrels? Can squirrels eat raisins? Are raisins safe for squirrels?
Here’s what you need to know about feeding raisins to squirrels.
What Are Raisins?
Raisins are dried grapes. They are naturally stable and resist spoilage due to zero to low moisture and low pH.
They are either brown or golden. Brown raisins are sun-dried, typically by laying them out in the vineyards for up to four weeks, after which they are graded, cleaned, and packed. On the other hand, golden raisins are oven-dried and treated with sulfur dioxide to preserve their color. Brown raisins are popularly used in baked foods, while golden raisins are used to cook savory dishes.
What are the Popular Types of Raisins?
Most raisins come from grape varieties such as Thompson seedless, Flame seedless, sultana, Muscat, and black Corinth.
- Golden Raisins or Sultanas: When Thompson or golden Seedless grapes, are oven-dried we get golden raisins or sultanas. They are fruitier, sweeter flavor and juicier as opposed to other types because they are dried less.
- Black raisins: Made from Black Corinth grapes, they retain a darker black color because of sun-drying. They are less sweet than the golden raisins, but with the same nutrient profile. This is also the most common type of raisins.
- Green Raisins: Slightly dense, chewy, and tart-y, they are dried in well aired but dark indoor conditions. Their pale jade hue is due to the controlled drying conditions.
- Currants: Dark raisins with sharp, tangy flavor. Also known as Zante currants they are often used in mixed dried fruit products.
- Red or Flame raisins: Made from red-skinned grapes, they have a unique sweet and tart taste.
Can Squirrels Eat Raisins?
Neither vets nor research has identified specific benefits of feeding raisins to squirrels. Also, there isn’t any concrete evidence regarding grape or raising toxicity in squirrels or how much is too much for squirrels. That means there’s no way to tell how mild or severe a squirrel can react to raisin consumption.
That being said, vets suggest not to overdo because all types of raisins contain high amounts of sugar, which isn’t good for squirrels.
Are Raisins Safe For Squirrels?
Raisins are indeed a perfect pick me up for the overly active wild squirrels. However, due to the high sugar content in them, they are best saved for 1-2 meals per week rather than feeding them every day.
Overeating raisins can cause heart problems, obesity, and certain digestive issues. These risks are not solely linked to raisins or grapes. Any sugary food is not good for your pet and is something that should be given like you would a human – as an occasional treat.
If given the choice, the critter will eat as many raisins as possible, because they, like humans, enjoy the taste. As a responsible pet owner or animal lover, you must not take this as an indicator that raisins are too good for squirrels.
So, the answer is, raisins are safe for squirrels in moderation.
Can Flying Squirrels Eat Raisins?
The flying squirrel will eat almost anything. In the wild, they dine primarily on mushrooms, truffles, berries, seeds, nuts, and tree products like saps. They are also more carnivorous than other squirrels, meaning they occasionally eat insects, moths, worms, bird eggs, and nestlings if the opportunity arises.
Flying squirrels love nuts from trees such as acorns, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, hickories. They depend on nuts for their protein and fat requirement.
Because flying squirrels are primarily vegetarians and love berries and fruits, there’s no doubt that they can eat raisins.
Can Grey Squirrels Eat Raisins?
The most common type of squirrel, the grey squirrel, will feed on practically any food that’s readily available, but they tend to prefer fruits and vegetables. Favorites include mushrooms, squash, and broccoli. They also enjoy apples, berries, oranges, apricots, and avocados.
One peculiarity of wild grey squirrels is that they will adapt their diet pattern according to the season and environment. The Eastern grey squirrels eat corn, wheat or other cereals in the winter. In the summer, they prefer eating insects and other tiny organisms.
Grey squirrels eat and store any food items they find laying on the ground. They are very likely to infest crop fields as they get easily attracted to food lying in the open.
Can grey squirrels eat raisins? The answer is easy: YES!
Can Wild Squirrels Eat Raisins?
The eating pattern of wild squirrels are connected to the environment they live in. Their omnivorous nature and opportunist eating habits allow them to eat anything and everything readily available.
They will eat all types of plant material, including buds, flowers, stems, and saps. They also strip young bark from trees and bury nuts and berries digging holes in borders and beds.
Wild squirrels can be quite destructive, chewing through feeders to get seeds, nuts, fruits, or sugary treats. That also means, raisins aren’t any exception – wild squirrels will not lose the chance to enjoy the goodness of raisins.
Can Squirrels Choke On Raisins?
Some foods can be hazardous to squirrels because they may choke on them or lack proper digestive function. Squirrels, being the tiny animals, could choke on any food item as it only takes a small piece to enter the food pipe or go down the wrong route for the animal to choke on it.
So, to answer the question directly, squirrels can choke on a raisin but the risks are minimal. However, it is advisable not to give raisins to baby squirrels.
What About Raisin Toast, Bread or Cake?
While raisins are ok for squirrels to eat and also help them with varied food, toast and bread are something squirrels shouldn’t eat regularly. Because toasts and cakes will have high sugar content, butter, baking powder or soda. Plus, they do not offer any nutritional value. For these reasons, raisin toast should be avoided completely.
Alternatives To Raisins For Squirrels
Nuts still in their shells is the absolute best food for your pet squirrels. In particular, walnuts, hickory nuts, white oak acorns, and beechnuts provides all essential nutrients. In the winter, most squirrels, except the grey squirrels will be sleeping 12+ hours a day in their den. When they get hungry, they will snack on the nuts they buried inside the den.
Fruit-based treats are another favorite food category but like most food groups, it’s better to keep everything in moderation. Too much fruit prevents calcium absorption, spikes sugar levels, and other side effects. So, keep a fruit-based diet to a minimum.
Berries make a great snack for squirrels. The unprocessed sugar gives them with energy boost required for the day. Cherries, mulberries, strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries are easy to find in the wild.
Squirrels love eating different types of fruits and vegetables. For example, watermelons, bananas, plums, kiwi’s, apples, mangoes, grapes, kale, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, and peas.
All these are an excellent source of nutrients for the critters.
In summer, grey squirrels feed majorly on nuts as well as seeds of coniferous and deciduous trees. They also eat fruits, fungi, buds, and flowers. The grey squirrels will mostly eat fungi during the summer. Flying squirrels, especially the northern flying squirrel eats fungus and lichen. They love eating acorn truffles, which are underground fungi that look like scorns.
What Food Do Squirrels Hate?
Squirrels are omnivores so technically, there aren’t many foods they don’t eat or hate. The exceptions are,
Squirrels do not like flower buds of allium, daffodil, snowdrop, and hyacinth. So, if you want to keep the critters away from your yard, these flowers may come in handy.
Squirrels cannot stomach spicy or hot smells. They hate White pepper and cayenne, for example. They also avoid Jalapeños, Serrano peppers, and Anaheim peppers. Many people use pepper plants as a means to keep squirrels away from bird feeding stations and home gardens.
Squirrels religiously avoid raw onion and raw garlic.