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Feeding Wild Squirrels:Tips to Save You money

Updated on July 13, 2014

Cute Squirrel

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About Squirrels

There are around two hundred species of squirrels. They will eat a wide variety of different fruits and nuts among other things. The antics of squirrels can be quite amusing when you sit and watch them. They chase each other around, hang upside down on a tree, and can be very crafty when trying to get the bird food. Winter and Spring is hard on squirrels since during winter the ground is frozen so food that was buried is hard for them to retrieve, then in spring when everything is beginning to grow, their your food source is gone as it begins to grow. Keep a journal on your squirrels is a fun idea. Average life span is between three to five years.


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Types of Food Squirrels Eat

Actually sometimes squirrels will eat anything that smells good to them. Once I put some leftover baked Macaroni & Cheese out for the nighttime animals earlier in the evening but I had two squirrels eating it even though I had feed them earlier in the afternoon.

  • Pine Cones - (actually the pinenut that they eat)
  • Nuts - (almonds, English & Black walnuts, peanuts unsalted, hazel nuts, pecans)
  • Field Corn - Favorite (Don't care for sweet corn)
  • Fruits - (oranges, apples, apricots, avocado's)
  • Sunflower seeds - (favorite), Acorns, Mushrooms

May feed on these food types, more adapt to in winter months

  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Dog Food
  • Table Scrapes
  • Roman Lettuce

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Natural Habitats / Odd Foods

Squirrels build nest in tree branches. Some squirrels will make a nest in the hollow of an old tree. There are some that like to live in the city and actually follow people to try and get a little food from them. Here are some odd things squirrels will eat:

  1. Fungi
  2. Insects
  3. Bird Eggs / Young Birds
  4. Pinenuts (from a pinecone)
  5. Twigs
  6. Buds
  7. Bark / Leaves

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Simple Recipe For Squirrels

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16 ounce) jar of peanutbutter (Use crunchy peanutbutter and you have the nuts already in it)
  • 1 1/4 cups of butter
  • 1 1/2 cups of nuts (peanuts, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts) mixture or any one
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 quick oats
  • 2 1/2 cups corn meal (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups of sunflowers
  • 1 cup of whole corn kernel
  1. Melt butter and peanutbutter over low heat together.
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients except nuts
  3. Mix well
  4. Roll into balls about 3/4 size of a golf ball
  5. Roll balls in the nuts
  6. Can put extra's in baggie and freeze them, just sit out to thaw before giving them to the squirrels.

I divide them up in baggies before freezing and day before I thaw them out, since I feed about 15 to 25 squirrels a day.

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Another Simple Recipe

Use left over mashed potatoes.

  • 1 (16 ounce) Jar of crunchy peanutbutter
  • 3/4 to 1 cup of mashed potatoes
  1. Mix together
  2. Refrigerate, set some out to room temperate, spread on crackers or bread (cut bread into 4 square pieces)
  3. Place outside for squirrels.

This will make the peanutbutter go further when feeding the squirrels.

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Gathering Free Food For Squirrels

Every year I gather free food for the squirrels that I feed. Sometimes friends will help, then I'll have a cookout to say thank you for all your help. Kids seem to enjoy this activity also. I do this anywhere from two days to a week, depending on much I want to collect. Use large totes to store the food in and it keeps well over winter months. Before entering the farmers field, remember to ask first, as this is done after harvest, usually I collect a large trash bag or a little more of field corn from one field depending on the size of the field. When I gather Acorns, I walk around wooded area where the trees grow. Squirrels won't eat acorns that have worms (look for a small hole for worms). Generally I get about 2 to 4 large trash bags full for the winter months. Acorns fall in late September or October depending on the climate zone. Also I gather Walnuts by walking around wooded areas. Walnuts fall from the trees early to mid fall. In some states you may be able to collect pecans in the fall. In the Spring, I plant around 30 sunflowers for the sunflower seeds. The backs will turn brown so just cut the head off of the sunflower, place on a tarp or large piece of plastic for 5 to 7 days to dry. You can use a brush to get the seeds off or just sit the whole head of sunflower seeds outside and the squirrels will do the work of getting the seeds. When drying the sunflowers, put them where the squirrels can't get them like the garage, when dry store in totes. Each sunflower has around two thousand seeds, and birds will eat them to.

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    • Annie Wright profile image
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      Anna Haun 2 months ago from USA

      Hi FlourishAnyway,

      Thank you for the wonderful comments. Where I lived before moving here many of the elderly people knew I feed a lot of squirrels as I shared with those neighbors who also feed the squirrels and they had asked me to share my knowledge on how to cut cost in feeding them since most lived on a fixed income. I also have a peanut butter cookie recipe, just cut the sugar in half and add an extra cup of crunchy peanut butter. The squirrels love the nuts in the cookies, store in plastic, container, to give some each day but be careful, the squirrels will hog them down if they can get you to give them more. Use your basic peanut butter recipe. I also buy bird food but use the items I've gathered to make the food go further. Most of my squirrels will allow me to pet them, however; I don't recommend you trying that as it took a very long time to win their trust and yes some of the squirrels are known to come inside, good thing my rabbit don't mind as he isn't caged. Let me know if you decide to gather food or if you grow sunflowers to feed the squirrels. Right now I have about 40 sunflowers started to transplant outside.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 months ago from USA

      I LOVE your photos and your ideas for feeding squirrels. I feed plenty myself in my backyard and thought I was fairly generous, but you are absolutely incredible in your love and generosity for them. I buy mine peanuts and 40 lb. bags of birdfood that they share, but it's expensive. I love the idea of peanut butter treats. Thanks!

    • Annie Wright profile image
      Author

      Anna Haun 2 years ago from USA

      Hello Sue,

      Thank you very much. Nice to meet you. A few of my squirrels come inside and are littered trained, however it took some time getting them litter trained. Squirrels can be a lot of fun when watching as they want to get into everything, nosy little guys.

      Annie

    • Sue Harrington profile image

      Sue Harrington 2 years ago

      I love squirrels so much....I have quite the number coming to my home. thanks so much for all the awesome tips....love this article and the pictures. I started to follow you now.

    • Annie Wright profile image
      Author

      Anna Haun 2 years ago from USA

      Hi Michael Kismet,

      Thank you for the nice comments. Yes squirrels can carry rabies but there are signs to watch for. One thing is I don't recommend others to try to pet or pick them up as they can bite, since we look like giants to them. My squirrels are use to me and know their name as I can tell them apart by their actions. I've even feed wild swans out my hand, deer's, raccoons and one raccoon I had as a pet until he passed away. I even tamed a half coyote and half dog and made a pet out of it, trained it, and a friend still has her. Friends tell me I have a way with animals.

      Annie

    • Michael Kismet profile image

      Michael Kismet 2 years ago from Northern California

      These photos are amazing! I believe on some photo websites, they would generate a nice bit of income over time, really beautiful work! The squirrel enjoying the ice cream cone is my favorite.

      Also, over 200 species of squirrel?! Goes to show you learn something new everyday. However, I heard they do carry rabies, but I'm sure a veteran squirrel tamer such as yourself can more than handle yourself, just be careful!

    • Annie Wright profile image
      Author

      Anna Haun 2 years ago from USA

      Hi PegCole17,

      Thank you very much. I feed anywhere from 15 to 20 squirrels on a daily basics. Corn cost about $15 plus tax for a 40pound bag, and sunflower seeds are also expensive, so a few years back, I came up with a plan to cut cost. I've never had a problem with gathering corn from the farmers field, and generally I get a few large garage bags full from a field depending how big a field is and if I walk more than one field, I get even more. I look at it as good exercise plus my little guy Tyke (dog), loves it, he gets extra chance at running free. I just walk trails in the woods and gather the acorns and walnuts. Friends pitch in and help, so we have a cook out to say thanks, and kids really love the activity. I can pet some of the squirrels and pick them up but I don't recommend others do it since a squirrel will bite out of fear. Few of my squirrels will come up to the door for food and will come right in but they are used to Tyke as they play together.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      That little lawn chair in the tree with the squirrel is adorable, along with the other photos. You really are a friend to collect all that food and store it for your little furry visitors.

    • Annie Wright profile image
      Author

      Anna Haun 2 years ago from USA

      Hi Vicky,

      Thank you very much. Lily let me have the pics.

      Annie

    • profile image

      Vicky Moonflower 2 years ago

      Oh, I forgot to tell how you adorable the photos are of the squirrels. Especially the little squirrel sleeping in the dish.

    • profile image

      Vicky Moonflower 2 years ago

      Great article on the squirrels, Annie. I learned some new things...also about sunflowers having 2000 seeds. That's amazing. I hope to see more articles from you.

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