Hay is amazing fodder for farm animals and provides great crude protein for horses, cows, and goats. It is easy to obtain and versatile enough to be used for many animals. For whatever reasons that you may be wondering if squirrels can eat hay, yes they do. However, this is because squirrels eat and chew on everything. They can eat hay, but this does not mean they should.
Squirrels eat a great number of things and there are certainly healthier and tastier options for them to eat than hay. If you are wondering about the dietary habits of these animals that may be in your gardens, barns, or farms, the following article can help you out on this matter.
Do Squirrels Eat Hay?
To answer the question simply, yes squirrels eat hay. Their diet, however, ranges from general food like seeds, nuts, and fruits to eggs, small insects, fungi, and even young snakes! Contrary to popular belief, squirrels are omnivores and consume both plants and meat.
Squirrels can sometimes be found invading haystacks to simply chew and fill up on the fodder. This is normal behavior for these animals who like to gnaw at things all the time. Letting them be near hay or eat it is safe and normal.
Is Hay Good For Squirrels?
Hay is a mixture of cut and dried grass or alfalfa to make dry fodder for cattle to eat. It provides fibrous roughage for them to digest food in their heavy bodies and have a lot of its nutrients dried up as well. They are specifically made to be consumed by horses to regulate their diets.
As you may have guessed, this is food not meant for animals like squirrels who mostly like to eat fresh items like fruits and nuts that also have a higher number of minerals and nutrients. Hay lacks several nutrients like vitamins A and E, provitamins, and beta carotene.
Hence, while squirrels can eat hay, it does nothing for them. It is neither beneficial, nor dangerous for them. When a squirrel eats a lot of hay, it will feel full but it will not have the nutrients it needs. If you do not have anything to offer other than hay, it is okay to let the squirrel eat it.
Can Squirrels Bite?
It is very rare for squirrels to bite humans. They usually mind their own business and keep to their environment instead of trying to come close to people.
It is uncommon to find them in households or willingly going to humans. Certain circumstances can lead to bites – like when you are trying to feed them or if they feel threatened by you.
In the first case, you must remember that squirrels are extremely wary of humans and not all feeding sessions go well. When food is involved, they will even attack people if they think they are coming in between their treat and them.
Never try to feed a squirrel by hand. Sometimes, squirrels can try to steal food too, and in that case, they might attack you.
In the other case, in which they feel threatened, biting can happen if you harass them continuously. Squirrels are wild animals and being cornered can trigger their fight or flight instinct.
Squirrel bites have not been known to cause dangerous diseases like rabies, but they do have a high risk of causing Necrotizing Fasciitis due to the various bacteria in their saliva. If a squirrel bites you, make sure that you go and seek medical help as soon as possible.
Can Squirrels Vomit?
Unlike a lot of living beings, squirrels, along with many other rodents like mice and beavers, are incapable of vomiting. Rodent bodies are just not made to be able to throw up.
Due to their diaphragm being weaker than other species, their stomach does not allow food to move easily up their esophagus. This is why you have probably never seen a squirrel puking.
What Do Squirrels Like To Eat The Most?
Being little rodents, squirrels can eat almost anything – but if you are looking to get close to one of them, there are certain food that they prefer over others. Here are a few favorite foods that squirrels love.
- Acorns – Squirrels love gnawing at things and they love nuts! Hence, acorns and other shelled nuts like walnuts, hickory, and hazelnuts are popular among squirrels.
- Strawberries – Squirrels love sweet and juicy things. As a fruit that possesses both these qualities, strawberries are loved by these animals.
- Wild Eggs – Squirrels are not the type to hunt unless starving, but they do enjoy eating wild eggs and will take the opportunity to feed on unguarded nests. The calcium from the eggshells is required by their bodies and the eggs are just delicious to them.
- Carrots – Carrots are sugary and crunchy, so they make the perfect snack for squirrels who love the sweet and the feeling of chewing.
What Other Foods Can You Give To Squirrel?
Although they are known to eat almost all kinds of foods, we should feed squirrels keeping in mind what is not healthy for them. It should be our responsibility to make sure that the food we offer to these little creatures does not prove to be dangerous for them.
Following is a list of food items that are both safe and healthy for squirrels to eat.
Fruits are the perfect food to feed squirrels. They possess a lot of minerals, all sorts of nutrients, and a lot of juice that helps hydrate them. Berries and bananas are the best options to give these wild critters as they give potassium, energy, and vitamins.
2. Nuts And Seeds
Squirrels love all sorts of nuts and seeds and they are great food for these animals. Shelled nuts like acorns and walnuts are their favorite, as they get something to gnaw at. Nuts like almonds, pistachios, and pecans are also really enjoyable and healthy as they provide fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids.
As for seeds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds are much liked by these garden rodents. They give the squirrel the calcium and carbs they need for energy.
Fresh vegetables are a great source of nutrients for squirrels, but those with higher starch quantities must be avoided. Sweet potatoes, parsley leaves, cabbage, and carrots are a few options you can try when feeding squirrels.
What Not To Feed a Squirrel?
Squirrels might eat anything, but this does not mean that we simply give them just anything to eat. They are also extremely cute animals with a sweet tooth, so make sure to not get lured in by them into giving them desserts and candy.
Most oily, processed human foods should be avoided when feeding squirrels as they are completely wild animals, and their bodies can be damaged by the food we consume daily.
The following is a list of a few food items that you must avoid when on a squirrel feeding session.
1. Junk Food
Human junk food like burgers, fries, and chips is a big no for the diet of a squirrel. They will surely enjoy it and ask for more, but you must not feed them as they have excessive fats and can upset their stomachs.
2. Sugary and Salty food
Sugary and salty foods taste great to squirrels, but giving them these types of food can increase their heart rate. Human cakes, cookies, candy, and crisps should be kept away from squirrels.
While it is okay to feed these things once in a blue moon, you never know where the squirrel has been and how much it has eaten. Hence, it is advised that it be avoided completely.
3. Peanuts and Cashews
While squirrels love the taste of these nuts, they belong to the legume family and are not very healthy. They provide no nutritional value and instead, can make squirrels bulk up and difficult to move. They can also get moldy and poison the squirrel,
Dry corn can be toxic for squirrels as it can get moldy and harvest mycotoxins. It is loved by squirrels, but it does not have any nutritional value.
Note: Never feed squirrels fruit pits as it can be extremely toxic for squirrel bodies.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Squirrels Be Kept As Pets?
No. While it is difficult to resist the adorable faces and nature of these wild animals, squirrels are not meant to be domesticated, and keeping them as pets will not end very well. It is also inhumane as they need their freedom and space.
Is There Anything Squirrels Do Not Eat?
There are a few items squirrels do not like. Strongly scented vegetables like onions and garlic, and spicy vegetables like pepper and chillis are a few things they utterly hate.
Can I Feed Squirrels Human Snacks?
Squirrels should not be given oily and fatty human snacks. If you do not have anything easily accessible around, two human foods that squirrels can consume in small quantities are popcorn and wholegrain cereal. They are fairly plain to eat and also high in fiber.
Squirrels are wonderful critters that brighten up your backyards and also make your gardens even livelier. They may get into your stacks of hay to feed or nest on, but it is important that you remove them away immediately for the sake of not causing an infestation.
In case you want to befriend one of these little creatures, you would know that it is common knowledge that the best way to get closer to an animal is through their stomach.
Make use of healthier options available for squirrels because they would do just anything for food! Feed your squirrel friend things that will be beneficial for them rather than neglecting them nibbling at something like hay.