We independently select products & services. If you click the links on this page, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you.

Do Squirrels Eat Tree Bark? (and How To PROTECT your Trees)

As someone who has spent years observing and interacting with squirrels all around the world, I can confidently tell you that yes, squirrels do indeed eat tree bark as a part of their diet. But to more fully understand why this is so and what kinds of tree bark they eat, you need to know more about squirrels and their diets in general. So let me offer my expertise to help answer your question: Do squirrels eat tree bark? Here’s what you need to know!

Yes, squirrels will eat tree bark. It is a source of nutrients and provides them with energy when other food sources are scarce. They can strip away the outer bark layer to get to the softer inner wood. Squirrels may also chew through the bark for fun or out of boredom, and it can even help them remove parasites from their fur.

Do Squirrels Eat Tree Bark?

When you think of a squirrel’s diet, your mind probably jumps to nuts, berries and other plant-based treats. But do you know that tree bark also makes up a significant part of what many squirrels eat? Yes, it’s true! In fact, tree bark is an essential part of a squirrel’s diet in keeping them healthy and strong.

Tree bark provides a variety of nutrients and minerals that are necessary for a squirrel’s health. It contains sugars and carbohydrates which are important sources of energy. Additionally, it has small amounts of calcium and other trace minerals which help balance the pH levels in their bodies. Plus, tree bark has tannins which have antifungal properties that help ward off illnesses.

Signs of Tree Bark Damage Caused By Squirrels

Stripping The Outer Layer

In most cases, squirrels start by stripping away the outer layer of the bark from trees branches or trunks in order to get to their meal. This process involves using their sharp incisors to chew through the thin layers of wood until they reach the edible cambium, xylem and phloem located below.

Chewing Through The Bark

Once they reach this inner layer, they then use their teeth to chew through these tissues in order to extract their tasty meal. As they chip away at this nourishing treat, they also leave behind unsightly marks on trees such as divots or gouges.

Damage To The Tree

Voracious feeding by large numbers of squirrels can lead to considerable damage as well as stressful disturbances for nearby trees which can leave them vulnerable to disease and pests. This damage can vary from minor blemishes on the surface layers, all the way up to major structural problems if the inner layers of tissue are stripped away completely.

Preventing Squirrels From Eating Tree Bark

Play Video

1. Using Tin To Protect Trees

One way to guard against squirrels snacking on your backyard trees is by encircling it with metal flashing – this acts as a physical barrier they must climb over first before they can access any tasty morsels inside. Additionally, these metal sheets can be decorated with bright colors like yellow or red in order to deter them further.

  • Be sure when installing metal sheets around your trees that it doesn’t press too tightly against it – if it’s too snug then moisture will be unable to escape leading to potential rot occurring in the tree.
  • Regularly inspect your metal barriers for signs of wear or rusting – if left unchecked this could lead to holes forming in which wild animals could easily slip through.
  • You may want to consider staking down your metal barriers in especially windy areas so that it remains tightly wrapped around your tree.

2. Fence Chargers To Scare Squirrels

One of the best ways to keep squirrels from damaging your trees is by using fence chargers. Fence chargers are electrical devices that create small, harmless electric shocks whenever a squirrel tries to climb a tree. This method is effective in deterring squirrels, although it requires you to install them around every tree trunk, and they need to be checked on a regular basis.

When considering this type of deterrent, ensure that it meets all safety requirements as outlined in local regulations and that you use it responsibly. Also, be sure to take into account the height at which the fence charger is installed. If placed too low, it may not be effective against particularly agile or determined squirrels.

The Best Squirrel-Proof Barriers

3. Garlic Spray Or Other Natural Repellent

Garlic spray has a spicy flavor that is not welcome in most yards. All you need is some garlic cloves, water and liquid dish soap mixed together in a spray bottle. Be sure to apply this mix directly on the bark of the tree every few days for maximum effectiveness.

4. Scarecrow Sprinklers

Another great way to discourage unwanted visitors is by using scarecrow sprinklers in your garden. These motion-sensitive sprinklers emit a sudden burst of water when they detect movement, providing an unpleasant surprise for animals looking for a snack! If you don’t want to invest in one of these devices, you can always rig up a homemade version with some household items.

5. Ultrasonic Devices

Ultrasonic devices emit sound waves at frequencies beyond our ability to hear that have been shown to be effective at keeping many pests away from gardens. While these devices may work on smaller prey like mice and voles, larger animals such as squirrels tend to be more resistant. However, some homeowners have reported success with ultrasonic devices, so it might still be worth trying out.

The Best Squirrel Repellent

6. Remove Attractants

  • Remove Any Fallen Fruit: Fruit or nuts left underneath trees can attract curious wildlife such as squirrels. This includes fallen fruits and nuts from trees nearby such as pine cones, apples or acorns.
  • Keep Your Yard Free Of Inviting Food Sources: It’s important that you keep food sources away from areas where rodents might hide; this means never leaving pet food outdoors overnight or leaving bird feeders out during nighttime hours when rodents are most active.
  • Use a squirrel-proof bird feeder

Best Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder

7. Unappealing Plants

To make your trees unappealing to squirrels, try planting varieties of plants with a pungent smell (like garlic and onions) or different shades of green or brown.

The Anti-Squirrel Plants

8. Decoy Statues

Large decoy statues can be used to scare off squirrels from rose bushes. The presence of the statues may make the squirrels feel they are being watched and thus deter them from approaching and eating the bark of your trees. However, it is important to remember that this is not a fool-proof method, as the statues need to be placed strategically and consistently, in order to effectively frighten off the little critters.

9. Provide A Feeder

If you want to keep squirrels away from your garden trees and their bark without resorting to fencing, consider placing a squirrel feeder in your yard. Fill the feeder with seeds and nuts that the squirrels enjoy, and they’ll help themselves while staying away from your trees. That way, you can protect your trees while still letting the pesky critters enjoy a tasty snack.

Just make sure to place the feeders where the squirrels would not do any damage.

10. Encourage Natural Predators

Encourage natural predators to your garden to help keep squirrels away from your rose bushes.

One way to do this is to get a dog or a cat. Those are natural predators and they will for sure chase the squirrels out of your property.

11. Hot Pepper Spray Repellent

Using an organic hot pepper spray can also make it less attractive for squirrels and other animals to snack on your tree bark and make damages. These special sprays are made from oils derived from cayenne peppers, white pepper, chili pepper conconction and jalapeno peppers mixed with water.

Treating A Tree With Bark Removed

  • Applying Compost: Compost can help nourish depleted soils following bark removal and aid in healing wounds caused by chewing.
  • Wrap Young Trees: Placing weatherproof materials around trunks helps protect young trees from bark stripping caused by curious wildlife including squirrels.
  • Avoid Pesticides: Before applying pesticides near or on trees consult a licensed arborist. These products can only make matters worse in an environment full of tasty snacks for hungry critters like squirrels.

Preventing A Cat From Climbing The Tree

Using cats as a way to scare away squirrels from trees is often popular among gardeners. However, Cats can also cause damage to trees if allowed to climb them for too long. Therefore, it’s important that you make sure that cats can’t access your trees by installing fences or trellises around them.

You should also provide alternative sources of entertainment for your cat such as providing scratching posts and outdoor toys instead of letting them climb the tree. If these items are properly used by your cat, then there’s no need for them to bother with climbing your tree in the first place.

Nutrients Found In Tree Bark

Tree bark provides various essential nutrients for squirrels, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Additionally, bark contains phenolic compounds which can help to boost a squirrel’s immune system and fight off diseases. Most importantly, tree bark is a great source of fiber, helping to ensure the digestive health of the animals. All in all, experts agree that the bark of trees serves not just as a nesting material but provides many other benefits to squirrels.

Reason Squirrels Eat Bark

There are a few reasons why squirrels may be drawn to eating tree bark. One reason is that they enjoy the taste; another is because it helps them maintain their dental health by grinding their teeth down to the proper sharpness.

Squirrels also turn to tree bark when there isn’t much else to eat. When other plant-based snacks become scarce or unavailable, tree bark can provide an easy-to-find meal option for hungry squirrels.


How can I prevent squirrels from eating the bark on my tree?

Squirrels can be a nuisance to your bark, but there are steps you can take to help prevent them from eating it. Here are some tips:

  • Install fencing around the tree that is buried below the ground and at least two feet above the surface.
  • Apply taste deterrents like oils or spices to areas critters might chew.
  • Put colorful objects in tree branches and along the trunk, as that tends to deter squirrels.
  • Keep bird feeders away from trees, as squirrels may be attracted by them.

Why are squirrels gnawing on the bark of my tree?

Squirrels have been known to eat tree bark from trees that are easily accessible. This is often done as a means of finding food, such as sap or insects, and to sharpen their teeth. Tree bark may also provide squirrels with the necessary materials for building nests and shelters. In some cases, it is simply a way for squirrels to pass the time.

How can I prevent squirrels from damaging my trees?

Squirrels often damage and kill trees in search of food. To prevent this, there are several steps you can take. These include installing sheet metal bands around the tree’s base, closing external openings to buildings, and using plastic tubes on non-electrical service wires. Additionally, you should install chimney caps to avoid access by squirrels.

Can squirrels harm the bark of trees?

Squirrels are notorious for damaging trees by chewing away at the bark. This can permanently damage tree health, create pathways for disease and pests to enter the tree, and cause stunted growth. In addition to bark damage, squirrels may also strip away limbs, dig up seeds and bulbs, and gnaw through wiring.


In conclusion, yes, do squirrels eat tree bark. While it is not a preferred food source for them, they are more than willing to munch on it when other options are scarce or unavailable. They often strip away the outer layer of bark to get to the inner wood for nutrients as well as chew through it for fun or to help remove parasites from their fur. Tree bark can be a vital source of nutrition and energy for squirrels in times of need.

Therefore, knowing that squirrels eat tree bark can help you better protect your trees from these small creatures. You could go about doing this by trimming nearby branches or even spraying foul-smelling repellents around the base of the tree. Whatever method you choose, make sure you take the safety of both your trees and squirrels into consideration.

You may also be interested in reading: