Squirrels are known for eating a variety of seeds and crops in our gardens. But do squirrels eat pumpkin seeds and what other seeds are squirrels commonly found to eat?
They are not that fussy and will actually eat the majority of seeds found in the garden with a few exceptions which include nyger and safflower feeds.
What Seeds Do Squirrels Eat?
Squirrels are not usually too fussy when it comes to their diet. They will eat whatever they can and very rarely appear to be full. Seeds are a big part of a squirrel’s diet as they appear to be a favourite treat of theirs.
Here are some of the most commonly consumed seeds by squirrels:
Squirrels love pumpkin seeds. They are best fed to squirrels when they are fully roasted. Whilst they are a big fan of this treat, these seeds are not as commonly found as other choices.
In particular, squirrels are a fan of black sunflower seeds. These seeds are a common component of bird feed which is why you may often find squirrels trying to get into your bird feeders.
Another seed that squirrels will quickly consume is the poppy seed. It’s small so they’ll consume a huge quantity in a short space of time.
Whilst these seeds rank in the top choices for squirrels, they do not limit their diet to just these three. They will eat any seeds they can – it’s why they’ll often be on your bird feeder – but will most likely be found in gardens that contain sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.
Do Squirrels Eat Pumpkin Flesh?
Squirrels will always go for pumpkin seeds over the flesh itself.
That being said, they have been known to eat the innards, or guts, of a pumpkin when it is available. They are able to eat all parts of the pumpkin, including the skin and the shell, but they will most commonly choose to eat the seeds if they can.
Are Pumpkins Healthy for Squirrels?
Despite being a favourite of squirrels, pumpkins and their seeds are not the healthiest sources of food. If you are feeding them to the squirrels in your garden, then they should be fed sparingly and as treats.
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Pumpkin seeds and their flesh do not supply the squirrel with enough protein to sustain them. The seeds are a good source of vitamin b and essential fatty acids that the squirrels require.
So, pumpkins and their seeds do provide a lot of benefits for squirrels, but it is not a food source that they should be fed in large amounts or be fed every day.
Do Baby Squirrels Eat Pumpkin Seeds?
Baby squirrels only consume their mother’s milk and if they are in captivity, they should only be fed formula.
Feeding a baby squirrel pumpkin would be very bad for it as it does not meet the specific requirements that its mother’s milk does. However, once baby squirrels get older, pumpkin can be used to wean them off of their milk.
Sometimes adult squirrels have been seen bringing pumpkin seeds back to their nest for this very reason.
If you do find a baby squirrel, unless you are experienced or the circumstances are dire, you should take it to the nearest rescue centre.
There are many wildlife rescue centres with the resources to care for orphaned animals and bringing them to these places will give them a better chance of being able to be released into the wild in the future.
Should You Feed Squirrels?
Strangely enough, you will have to look at your county’s policy on purposefully feeding squirrels. Certain areas worry about the pest problems of squirrels as well as the issues that arise from squirrels relying on humans for food.
It is for these reasons that in some areas it is illegal to purposefully feed squirrels.
You also have to question whether you want to encourage squirrels in your garden. If they are causing damage already then feeding them is only going to exasperate the problem and will do nothing for deterring them.
What Seeds Do Squirrels Dislike?
Despite their non-picky attitude and love for most varieties of food and seeds, there are actually some seeds that squirrels dislike.
This small black seed is one that squirrels very strongly dislike. Putting Nyjer seeds into a squirrel-proof bird feeder would be a good way to try and deter squirrels from coming into your garden.
Nyjer seeds, or Nyjer thistle, is great to use if you are hoping to bring goldfinches, greenfinches or siskins into your garden.
These seeds are also not enjoyed by squirrels. Many gardeners use these seeds in bird feeders to prevent attracting squirrels but also to benefit a lot of different birds such as cardinals and chickadees.
Whilst these seeds are not as popular with squirrels as pumpkin seeds, they will be eaten if necessary.
Squirrels will not choose to go after these seeds but if they are hungry, they will eat any source of food that they can find, including these disliked seeds.
To summarise what we’ve learnt, here are some key points. Squirrels like pumpkin seeds and they will also eat any part of a pumpkin that they can find.
Pumpkin should be fed to squirrels sparingly and as a treat as it does not provide them with their full nutritional requirements.
Baby squirrels should not be fed pumpkin as they require either their mother’s milk or a specialised formula and you should always take an orphaned baby squirrel to a wildlife rescue.
In certain areas, there are restrictions on purposefully feeding squirrels. To avoid attracting squirrels put seeds they dislike such as Nyjer or safflower in your bird feeders.
Ryan is a keen gardener from the UK who’s spent years dealing with countless, common pests over the years so knows the ins and outs of how to deal with pests in the garden