Squirrels

Last summer I was amazed to find a squirrel sitting outside on our lounge chair amongst the plants I had set out for a few hours of extra sun. Days later I saw the squirrel again. I watched for a while then left him/her alone. I returned in time to see the squirrel crawling into my ivy's pot. That's strange I thought, until the 'lil dickens' began digging! Arrgh! "Hey!" I hollered. (Okay, that got some attention.) "You can't be doing that" I proclaimed.

No, the digging commenced once again. I actually was laughing, "Get out of there silly!"

I had to go outside before the squirrel got the message. Hmm, seems it wasn't the first time the critter had been digging in my nice bushy ivy. Gosh darn-it! Now I can't put my plants outside unless I watch them.

Later I did not hold the incident against the squirrel community and my plants were not damaged. Squirrels are animals, they do what comes naturally. "Hey there's dirt! I wonder if maybe there is a nut some other squirrel buried!"...

Squirrels are so darn cute, how could anyone hold it against them.

Time passed and I would see the squirrels once in a while. I thought about the approaching winter with all it's snow & freezing winds, and the hungry lil squirrels huddling for warmth. Well, you know what happened next I suppose, but I'll tell you anyhow.

 





I began using the bread heels, ends no one seems to want, to feed to the squirrels. I knew they were eating the bread but I didn't know how many squirrels there were. I managed to catch a glimpse once in a while, at certain times of day. Eventually, after a few days of feeding the local squirrels I did some research wondering if they had a favorite food and found that they have special nutritional requirements.

Did you know that there are about 300 varieties of squirrels, ten reside in North America. Red/brown squirrels live in evergreen trees and eat seeds & pine cones, gray squirrels live in wooded areas of oaks, ashes, and beech trees mainly eating beech nuts and acorns. I am not sure what species of squirrels we have here in Minnesota, then again I am nearly a complete novice when it comes to squirrels.

Squirrels can vary considerably in size, with a gray squirrel becoming as much as three times as large as a red squirrel yet still smaller than a fox squirrel. The largest squirrel the Ratufa sometimes referred to as the Indian giant squirrel, found in southeast Asia and parts of Nepal, can grow to three feet long. The smallest squirrel, found in Southeastern Nigeria, Cameroon, and Gabonthe, is the African Pygmy at only two and half inches long in body length with a tail approximately the same length.

It's illegal in most States to kill squirrels by poisoning and where it is allowed requires a special permit or license.  It's not a good idea to use poisons as other animals such as birds, cats, dogs, and other domestic animals may feed on the poisoned food or squirrel.

Squirrels do not normally eat meat but they will,  when faced with hunger and no other source of food, eat bird eggs and insects or pick at a carcass.  There are rare reports of male squirrels that attempt to eat infant squirrels and some squirrels have been reported to have been seen eating birds and snakes. Most squirrels eat grain, nuts, seeds, and fruit, (favoring nuts, sunflower seeds and corn), but seems they will eat almost any food when they are hungry enough.
 
My personal experience has shown that they like our multi-grain breads & baked Cheetos most. They will eat pizza crust, prepackaged instant oatmeal (dry), and Total raisin bran in that order if nothing else is provided. My rule of thumb here is to make sure they get calcium in whatever I put out for them, and I generally try to stay away from sugar. The squirrels here seem not to like sweet things, even the dried raisins in the cereal, although the one in the video seems quite happy about the one malted milk ball (strawberry).

You should never hold a nut with your fingers for a squirrel to eat. Squirrels have eyes on the sides of their head, they cannot see what's in front of their mouth and a finger could feel about the same as a shelled nut. Ouch!

Salt is also not a good item for squirrels, it can increase their heart rate and contribute to an early death. If you don't know and can't seem to find out if it is safe don't feed it to the animal.

I am going to suspend this topic for now, I am waiting for a response on hazardous foods for squirrels, I don't want to give anyone bad advice.


See all the amateur squirrel footage on my YouTube channel.

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