How Often Do Squirrels Eat? Uncover the Fascinating Feeding Habits of These Cute Critters!

As a nature lover with several years of experience observing and interacting with squirrels all around the world, I am passionate to know everything about their fascinating feeding habits. That’s why today I want to answer the question: how often do squirrels eat?

Squirrels are generally active during the day and consume food multiple times in a day. On average, gray squirrels eat between 40g and 80g (1.5 to 3 oz.) of food per day, which is equivalent to 10% of their body weight. Red squirrels, on the other hand, eat only 18g (0.6 oz.) per day, equating to 5% of their body weight.

How Often Do Squirrels Eat?

Squirrels are generally active during the day and consume food multiple times in a day. Across different species, their daily caloric intake is based largely on their size and activity level. On average, gray squirrels eat between 40g and 80g (1.5 to 3 oz.) of food per day, which is equivalent to 10% of their body weight. Red squirrels, on the other hand, eat only 18g (0.6 oz.) per day, equating to 5% of their body weight.

The diets of Grey squirrels have been observed to have changed over time due to the availability of different foods in different geographic locations; according to Robert Kenward and Jessica Hold’s study in 1993, the Eurasian Red Squirrel is less efficient at digesting acorns than the American Red Squirrel due to their dietary habits. The morphology of Grey squirrel’s jaws has also been observed to have changed as a result of their diet switch from hard-shelled foods like nuts to softer items like peanuts.

Grey Squirrels

Grey squirrels typically consume twice as many calories per day when compared to red squirrels — they require more energy due to their larger size and more active lifestyle.

A typical diet for a healthy gray squirrel includes nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables, insects and other small animals, cheese and other dairy products, plant material such as buds and flowers, bark and sap, dog and cat food scraps, as well as waste found near places where humans live.

Red Squirrels

Red squirrels mainly subsist off of tree nuts or acorns from oak trees. Interestingly enough however — given enough food sources — red squirrels can backtrack through trees by using semelparous breeding strategies; this allows red squirrel parents to bring food for themselves and their offspring.

  • Acorns
  • Berries
  • Seeds
  • Cones
  • Insect larvae
  • Fungi
  • Leaves

They are also known to eat eggs or chicks from nests or dead animals in order to supplement their diets. During winter they store up nuts with extra insulation layers surrounding them in order to stay warm.

Fox Squirrels

Fox Squirrels predominantly feed on plants but will also snack on insects if available. They are particularly fond of seeds that come from fruit trees such as pecan trees and pine cones found in forests.

  • Nuts
  • Berries
  • Fruits
  • Seeds
  • Leaves
  • Insect larvae
  • Fungi

They may also scavenge for human leftovers such as popcorn or other snacks found outdoors. To survive during harsh winters, fox squirrels bury stores of these foods just below ground level, so they have easy access throughout the colder months.

Flying Squirrels

Like all other types of squirrels, flying squirrels will feed on a variety of vegetation depending on what is available. This includes fruits, nuts, berries, buds, leaves, mushrooms, insect larvae, twigs, bird eggs, and even small ants or spiders.

Baby Squirrels

Before weaning process happens, baby flying squirrels depend entirely on mother’s milk nutrition. Once they reach around 3 weeks old they start eating solid food which includes waxworks and prepared formula mixed with warm water. After 8 weeks baby flying squirrel becomes fully mature enough that it can be released into wild nature.

What Do Squirrels Eat?

Vegetables And Fruits

Squirrels are renowned for their diverse diets, occasionally feasting on a wide array of vegetables and fruits. These cute critters can usually be found munching on acorns, nuts, berries, grass, fungi and even flowers. In addition to these foods, many squirrels relish crunching on carrots or apples for a yummy snack!

Nuts And Seeds

Nuts and seeds are some of the most common foods that squirrels eat. Depending on the species, they may consume walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts, acorns and other types of nuts. Squirrels use their front paws to break open hard shells and also to crack larger nuts. In addition to being a great source of food for squirrels, nuts and seeds provide essential nutrients like protein, carbohydrates and fat.

Grey squirrels are known to store their food in middens or caches which are often found near trees. It is believed that they spend much of the winter months eating from these stored supplies. Red squirrels on the other hand tend to bury their food in multiple locations to ensure a constant supply throughout the winter.

Cheese And Other Dairy Products

Squirrels have been known to eat cheese and other dairy products when given the opportunity. This may be due to their sweet tooth; however it is not recommended as a regular or daily source of sustenance for them. The high content of fat in most dairy products can cause health problems for wild squirrels if consumed over an extended period.

Squirrels need protein in order to thrive, but cheese does not provide enough protein. Instead, it should be used as an occasional treat or reward for good behavior. If you want to attract squirrels to your garden with cheese then it is important that you only feed them small amounts infrequently.

Insects And Other Small Animals

Many types of insects form part of the diet of squirrels, especially during spring and summer when food availability is at its peak. Ants, worms and grubs can all provide essential nutrients such as proteins and fats that help keep squirrels healthy and well-fed. In addition to smaller animals like insects, larger creatures such as birds can also form a part of their menu.

Squirrels have sharp vision and hearing which helps them identify potential prey items quickly and efficiently. They will use this sense as well as smell to locate food sources when foraging for sustenance. In urban environments where access to natural resources may be limited, wild squirrel populations may become increasingly reliant upon scavenging scraps from human sources.

Plant Material

Different types of plant material make up a significant portion of a squirrel’s diet. In terms of fruits, they enjoy everything from apples to strawberries while vegetables such as mushrooms are also enjoyed by some species. Additionally, they will nibble on petals from flowers sometimes in order to get certain vitamins not available through other sources.

Grasses also provide essential nutrients for animals living in grasslands or meadows; however these do not generally form a major part within an urban environment.

Dog And Cat Food

Although it might seem like a tempting source of nutrition for them, dog and cat food is not particularly suited towards satisfying the dietary needs of wild squirrels. These packaged meals primarily feature meat-based proteins that are difficult for this herbivore species digest effectively due their mainly vegetarian diets.

On occasion small amounts might be consumed if there is nothing else around; however frequent consumption can lead to serious health issues due to inadequate nourishment levels stemming from an unbalanced diet.

Scraps And Waste

Squirrels are always on the lookout for tasty morsels to fuel their active lifestyles. While they may find some of their food from scraps or waste, there are certain items people shouldn’t feed squirrels as these can be potentially dangerous to their health. Foods like chocolate, bread, and processed snacks should be avoided as they provide little nutritional value and can lead to obesity. Similarly, peanuts in shells can cause choking hazards and can be difficult for them to digest.

What Do Squirrels Eat From Trees?

Tree-dwelling squirrels primarily eat nuts, acorns, seeds, and berries. They also consume insects, flowers and sap. When food is scarce, they may even gnaw on bark or turn to mushrooms and fungi as a source of sustenance. Nuts are their favorite food item, and they will often store up large stashes in underground larders for the winter months.

Identifying Squirrel Food Sources

Squirrels are most often found foraging for food in trees. They rely on a variety of foods, both from the ground and from tree crowns. A few of the main types of food squirrels eat include tree nuts and seeds, fruits and berries, insects and insect larvae, buds and flowers, and bark and sap.

Tree Nuts And Seeds

Tree nuts are a staple of the squirrel diet. From acorns to walnuts and beyond, tree nuts provide essential fats, proteins, carbohydrates, omega-3 fatty acids, and minerals that squirrels need to survive the colder months. In addition to providing nutrition, they also offer energy as they store up fat reserves to help them survive during hibernation.

  • Acorns
  • Beechnuts
  • Butternuts
  • Chestnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Pecans
  • Walnuts

Fruits And Berries

Fruits and berries are a valuable source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for squirrels. They provide crucial carbohydrates that are needed to fuel their movements with much greater efficiency. Apples, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries- all of these are favorites among many species of squirrels.

Insects And Insect Larvae

Squirrels have evolved to be highly opportunistic foragers. Their diets typically consist of a variety of nuts, grains, fruits, and fungi – but they also supplement their nutrition with insects and insect larvae. To ensure a healthy diet and plenty of energy for scurrying about during the day, squirrels rely heavily on protein-rich bugs like beetles, caterpillars, grubs and more!

Buds And Flowers

Squirrels are great foragers, and they can often be seen searching for buds and flowers in search of a meal. These small critters feed on veggies such as clover and dandelion, as well as tree-borne nuts like hazelnuts, acorns, walnuts, and beechnuts. They even eat mushrooms and fruits when available. To maximize their food intake, squirrels will typically look for sources that are both plentiful and easy to access.

Bark And Sap

Squirrels love to forage for food, and most of their diets consist of bark, nuts, fruits, and sap. Bark provides them with essential nutrition and is a great source of fiber. They also love to munch on sugary tree sap, which can be found dripping from maple trees or oozing from wounds in the trunk. Acorns, hickory nuts and pine cones are particularly popular among squirrels.

How Do Squirrels Find Food In Trees?

Squirrels are incredibly adept foragers, capable of finding food and other necessities in trees. Their ability to detect food sources is aided by multiple senses, such as their sharp eyesight, acute hearing, and an impressive sense of smell. By using a combination of these senses, they can quickly locate a tasty meal among trees or even hidden within thick foliage.

When it comes to locating food, squirrels rely heavily on their sense of smell. They use scent trails from food items that have previously been located in order to track down additional meals. This odor trail often indicates whether the food item is safe for consumption, allowing the squirrel to make a “risk-free” decision based on its prior experiences.

In addition to scent, sight and sound cues help squirrels find food with ease. Visual cues can help them determine whether a potential meal is easily accessible or requires some extra effort to obtain. Likewise, auditory signals may alert them to the presence of other animals or predators, giving them time to exit the area safely.

Finally, squirrels have an amazing knack for foraging and storing food. When faced with unpredictable weather or nutrition deficits during harsh winter months, they will store acorns, seeds and nuts in small caches scattered around their habitat in order to ensure they have access to nourishment when necessary.

Scent And Hearing

Squirrels are incredibly sensitive to smells and sounds, which helps them locate food sources that would otherwise be undetected. They use their noses to sniff out food like nuts and berries, as well as smell predators like cats or hawks. This also allows them to detect danger while they’re high up in trees. Furthermore, they use their large ears to listen out for rustling leaves, hinting at where insects or other small creatures may be hidden. Their acute hearing also helps keep track of their rivals and any predators nearby.

Visual Cues

Squirrels are masters of foraging, relying on both scent and sight to find food sources. They rely heavily on visual cues such as colors, shapes, and sizes when scanning their environment for potential meals. Grey squirrels are especially adept at using their vision to identify nut locations; they often use the colors of a nut’s shell to determine where to find it in the tree. Additionally, squirrels have been known to exhibit impressive problem-solving skills when trying to gain access to a food source.

Foraging And Storing

Squirrels are expert foragers, relying on their sharp senses and memory to find food sources. During autumn, they collect and store acorns, nuts, fruits, and seeds for winter months. Though not always successful, squirrels will often mark the location of their stores with scent or by piling leaves over them. Alternatively, they’ll bury the food itself in several locations, relying on their good sense of smell to remember where each stash is located. This strategy ensures that if some food is discovered or spoiled, there’s still a chance they can survive until spring!

What Do Squirrels Eat In The Winter?

The dietary habits of squirrels change significantly during the winter months due to the decrease in available nourishment. As temperatures drop and plants start to lose their leaves, many vegetation sources become scarce or completely unavailable. To survive through this period of scarcity, squirrels must learn how to store excess food throughout autumn and early winter.

To prepare for winter’s scarcity, squirrels collect and bury nuts and seeds throughout fall so that they will be able to sustain themselves until springtime arrives again. The nuts and seeds provide essential proteins and carbohydrates that keep the critters healthy through cold periods. Additionally, these stored goods act as fuel for squirrel metabolism throughout colder months.

However, when colder temperatures cause snowfall—which makes nut caches inaccessible—squirrels adapt by seeking alternate shelters within trees where they can take refuge while searching out whatever food is still available under the snow layer.

Storing Food For Winter

It is important for squirrels to cache enough food during the autumn months before winter sets in because plant-based materials tend not to be available during the coldest times of year. Therefore, myopic red (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) and gray (Sciurus carolinensis) squirrel populations surface feed extensively during late summer days in order gather enough nourishment for the upcoming winter season.

In addition to caching nuts and seeds, gray squirrels also place caches inside webbed nests made from leaves or twigs tucked away in larger trees. This allows them easy access throughout the coldest part of the year since these nests are often located above ground level where snow does not typically accumulate.

Winter Diet Changes

Squirrels adjust their diet to the seasons, with a focus on energy-rich nuts during colder months. During winter, they turn to acorns, chestnuts and hazelnuts, as well as cached food like mushrooms and starchy roots. Additionally, some species eat insects for extra protein and fats. By storing food during autumn, squirrels are able to survive cold temperatures.

Finding Food In The Snow

At times when snow accumulates sufficiently deep cover up buried caches or mask visual cues, eurasian red (Sciurus vulgarism) and American red (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) squirrel populations quickly adjust their behaviors accordingly. By utilizing scent trailing — which relies on olfactory receptors located near nasal cavities —they’ll travel between a series of tunnels forced into snow banks both safely away from predators while mercurially zigzagging over tracked territories towards possible meals at same time.

Tips For Feeding Squirrels

Feeding squirrels can be an enjoyable experience, but it is important to do it responsibly. The following tips will ensure you are providing the best nutritional options while minimizing the risk of negative consequences.

Feed Them The Most Healthy Foods First

When feeding squirrels, make sure that your first choices are fresh fruits and vegetables. These provide many of the vitamins and minerals they need to stay healthy and should be the basis of their everyday diets. Additionally, try to offer them a variety of different items, so they won’t get bored.

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Corn

Nuts, seeds, and dried fruit are also great sources of nutrition for squirrels and should be offered in moderation. However, since some types of nuts may be high in fat content, offering these in combination with fruits and vegetables will help maintain a balanced diet.

  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Hazelnuts
  • Peanuts

All Food And Water Must Be Fresh

Squirrels eat a variety of foods and need fresh food and water to stay healthy. In the wild, they’ll scour for nuts, fruits, vegetables, and insects while relying on freshwater sources like streams and ponds to drink. Keeping your backyard squirrels fed is important too – opt for nutrient-rich snacks like sunflower seeds and grapes! Be sure to replace their food regularly and provide access to clean water.

Foods That Are Bad For Squirrels

Squirrels may look cute and cuddly, but they require a specific diet to stay healthy. Foods that are bad for squirrels include avocados, chocolate, onions, garlic, alcoholic beverages, processed sugar-rich snacks and fast food. Additionally, corn on the cob should be avoided as it can create digestion problems if consumed in large quantities.


How long can a squirrel survive without food?

Squirrels can typically go no longer than 4-5 hours without food, as this is the amount of time needed for their bodies to digest and absorb nutrients. If left without food for much longer, they may suffer from malnutrition or become weak and unwell. However, a healthy squirrel will survive up to 8 days without food. Monitored feedings and proper nutritional intake are essential to keep them healthy, alert and thriving.

Is it necessary for squirrels to have access to water for them to live?

Squirrels require water just like humans do, as water is a key component for survival. Wild squirrels usually get their water from different sources, such as streams, ponds and puddles. For pet squirrels living in captivity, access to fresh clean water should be provided constantly.

  1. Provide water daily in a shallow bowl
  2. Make sure the bowl is not deep and non-viable
  3. Keep an eye on the quality of the water to avoid contamination

Is it possible to give a pet squirrel too much food?

It is possible to overfeed a pet squirrel. Dietary guidelines should be followed in order to ensure proper nutrition and prevent any adverse effects associated with excessive food consumption. Some warning signs that you may be overfeeding your pet squirrel are: rapid weight gain, abdominal distention, and signs of indigestion such as burping and flatulence.

  • Feed your pet squirrel no more than 5 cc (1/2 tsp*) of formula every 4-5 hours.
  • Monitor for signs of overfeeding, such as rapid weight gain, abdominal distention, indigestion, and flatulence.

What is the best way to provide water for squirrels?

To provide squirrels with water it is important to set up a watering system that suits their needs. The most efficient way to do this is to use a bottle with a metal sipper tube or a shallow bowl that can be filled with fresh, clean water every day. Water should also be available at all times and regularly maintained to avoid contamination.

Can squirrels consume liquids from a bowl?

Squirrels can drink out of bowls, though it is not recommended as the fluid may evaporate or get contaminated quickly. It is best to provide fresh water in a suitable bottle or container designed specifically for squirrels. These typically feature a nipple at the tip, allowing the squirrel to access clean fluids without having to worry about spilling them.

How frequently should squirrels be given food?

A baby squirrel should be provided with sustenance on a regular basis. Ideally, feed them every 4-5 hours to ensure they receive the proper nourishment. When feeding, do not exceed 5 cc (1/2 tsp*) of formula per session.


Squirrels are fascinating animals with unique dietary habits! As curious creatures, they need to consume food multiple times throughout the day. On average, gray squirrels eat between 40g and 80g (1.5 and 3 oz.) of food daily which is 10% of their body weight. Red squirrels have an even smaller appetite – only 18g (0.6 oz.) or 5% of their body weight.

So how often do squirrels eat? Considering the fact that they must consume food several times in a day, it’s no surprise that these cute critters spend most of their days scavenging for food! Next time you see a squirrel, keep in mind they’re likely eating up to three times a day!

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