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Lots of us love visiting the park and bringing along nuts to feed the fun-loving and acrobatic squirrels.
It’s pretty cute how excited they get scampering over for tasty treats like peanuts and almonds. But it makes you wonder – can squirrels eat almonds? Is it safe and healthy for squirrels to be eating food that’s so good for humans?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at whether these critters should be munching on almonds.
We’ll cover if baby squirrels can handle almonds, whether squirrels can break into almonds with shells if roasted almonds are okay, and how many almonds squirrels can eat in a day.
Read on to learn whether almonds should be on the menu next time you head to the park to delight our neighborhood squirrels!
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Can Squirrels Eat Almonds?
Almonds are not poisonous to squirrels and can be given to them occasionally as a treat.
However, almonds should not make up the main part of a squirrel’s diet. Feeding squirrels too many almonds could lead to weight gain or digestive problems.
It’s best to provide squirrels with a variety of nuts and seeds and to offer almonds only in moderation.
While squirrels can eat some almonds safely, these nuts should be just a small part of their overall balanced diet. Ultimately, almonds are fine for squirrels in small amounts but should not become a staple food source.
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Can Baby Squirrels Eat Almonds?
Baby squirrels have smaller jaws and developing teeth, so whole almonds can pose a choking risk.
It’s safest to wait until baby squirrels transition to solid foods around 10-12 weeks old before offering any nuts or seeds.
Once ready for solids, almonds should be crushed up or finely chopped to a size they can safely chew and swallow.
Start with just a few crushed almond pieces at a time to ensure proper digestion.
Can Squirrels Eat Almonds in the Shell?
Squirrels struggle to open whole almonds in the shell, lacking the dexterity and tools that humans use.
They may try gnawing on the shell, but it’s unlikely they can break through to access the almond inside.
The thick, hard shell also poses a choking hazard for squirrels.
For this reason, it is safest to only feed squirrels shelled almond pieces to prevent choking, dental damage, or other harm from trying to gnaw through unopened shells.
Can Squirrels Eat Roasted Almonds with Salt?
Lightly roasted, unsalted almonds are generally safe for squirrels to eat in moderation. However, avoid feeding them heavily salted, spicy, or oiled roasted almonds.
The high sodium and seasoning levels can cause digestive upset, diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration if consumed in excess.
Squirrels have some tolerance for the low levels of natural salts present in nuts and seeds, but the highly concentrated salt on roasted almonds is problematic.
Small quantities of lightly roasted, unsalted almonds are okay as an occasional treat, but their main diet should consist of fresh, raw, unseasoned nuts and seeds.
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Can Squirrels Eat Almond Butter?
Almond butter poses more risks to squirrels than whole almonds. The processing removes the beneficial fats, fiber, and nutrients – resulting in concentrated sugars and calories without the nutritional benefits.
The sticky texture also risks coating the mouth or throat, making swallowing and digestion more difficult.
Occasional tiny amounts of almond butter may not harm healthy adult squirrels, but it could cause choking or overeating issues.
It’s safer to stick to feeding squirrels whole, raw almonds rather than processed almond butter.
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Can Squirrels Drink Almond Milk?
Almond milk should not be given to squirrels, especially baby squirrels.
While almonds make an okay occasional treat, almond milk lacks the nutrition squirrels need.
The production process removes beneficial fats, protein, and fiber, leaving mostly sugar and calories.
Almond milk may also contain additives or preservatives potentially harmful to squirrels.
It cannot properly substitute for formula or mother’s milk for babies.
Some plain lactose-free dairy milk can be provided sparingly to adults, but almond milk and other plant-based milk should be avoided when feeding squirrels.
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How Many Almonds Can a Squirrel Eat?
Squirrels should only be fed a small number of almonds per day, around 2 to 4 for the average adult squirrel.
Overfeeding almonds can lead to weight gain or digestive issues. It’s important to portion treats carefully, including other foods like peanuts, seeds, or fruits along with almonds.
The goal should be to provide variety and balance in a squirrel’s diet, not large quantities of any single food item.
A few almonds can give them extra nutrition without disrupting their regular diet as long as their overall food intake stays balanced and diverse.
How to Feed Squirrels Almonds
If you want to try feeding local squirrels some almonds as an occasional treat, here are some handy tips to make sure the critters stay happy and healthy.
Shell and Chop the Almonds
- Always remove the shell first, as squirrels struggle to open whole almonds in the shell themselves.
- The almond should then be chopped or crushed into small pieces for safety.
- This prevents choking hazards and allows easy chewing and digestion.
- Make sure pieces are no bigger than a pea for easy chewing and swallowing.
Scatter on the Ground
- Avoid feeding by hand, as squirrels may accidentally bite fingers.
- Instead, scatter a few shelled, chopped almond pieces on the ground near the squirrels.
- This natural foraging method will be most appealing to them.
- Concentrate the feeding area to prevent aggressive behavior between squirrels.
Use Feeding Stations
- Designate a specific area in your yard or garden for feeding the squirrels.
- You can use a wooden platform, a tray, or even a hanging feeder designed for squirrels.
- For a more interactive and engaging feeding experience, consider squirrel-friendly feeders that challenge their foraging skills.
- These feeders often have mechanisms the squirrels must manipulate creatively to access the almonds.
- Position the feeder 3-4 feet off the ground and away from bushes to reduce territorial disputes.
Offer Fresh Water
- Make sure to give the squirrels fresh water daily when feeding them almonds.
- The water helps with the hydration and digestion of the nuts.
- Almonds contain some natural oils that can cause thirst, so having a water source available is important.
- Promptly replace the water to keep it clean and appealing for the squirrels while they snack on the almonds.
Why Do Squirrels Bury Almonds?
Squirrels have the instinct to cache or hoard food to survive cold winters and periods of scarcity.
This natural hoarding behavior is why you’ll often see squirrels burying nuts like almonds.
They dig holes and bury or “cache” their food stash, then return to dig it up later when needed.
It’s not just for winter though. Squirrels will cache food like almonds at any time of year to have reserves available in case of future shortages.
Even if well-fed by humans, their innate hoarding instinct persists.
So don’t be surprised to see your neighborhood squirrels burying some of those yummy almonds you put out just like their ancestors have for generations.
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What Other Nuts Can Squirrels Eat Beside Almond
In addition to almonds, there are many other nut varieties that can make healthy, tasty treats for squirrels.
Here are some nuts that you can give squirrels.
- Peanuts are loaded with protein and make a popular squirrel snack.
- Walnuts provide protein, healthy fats, and minerals.
- Give just a couple of shelled pieces of either nut per feeding.
- Pecans offer fiber, vitamin E, and antioxidants.
- Hazelnuts contain vitamin E, magnesium, and calcium.
- Stick to a few pieces of pecans or hazelnuts at a time.
- Cashews provide protein, iron, and zinc.
- Pistachios give fiber, potassium, and vitamin B6.
- Feed small portions of cashews or pistachios along with other nuts.
While squirrels certainly enjoy and can benefit from an almond every so often, these nuts should only be an occasional treat.
Overfeeding almonds risk weight gain or nutritional imbalances. By following proper feeding techniques and limiting almonds to a small part of a diverse diet, you can safely provide squirrels with a tasty snack.
Shelled, chopped almonds can be a fun way to delight your furry neighborhood acrobats, as long as they are just one component of a balanced feeding routine.
So next time you’re at the park or in your backyard, feel free to offer a few almonds to the squirrels—just be sure to do so sparingly and responsibly.
Are almonds safe for squirrels?
Yes, almonds are safe for squirrels to eat in moderation as an occasional treat. But too many can cause weight gain or tummy issues.
Can squirrels eat almond shells?
No, squirrels cannot easily open or eat whole almonds still in the shell. Only feed-shelled almond pieces to prevent choking.
Can I feed almonds to baby squirrels?
No, whole almonds could pose a choking risk to baby squirrels. Wait until 12 weeks old and crush pieces smaller than a pea.
Can squirrels eat almonds with salt?
Avoid salted almonds, as the high sodium content can cause dehydration and other health issues. Stick to unsalted almonds.
How many almonds can I offer squirrels at once?
Only 2-4 almonds per day for an average adult squirrel. Too many nuts at once can lead to overfeeding.
Resources – (for further reading)
University of Michigan Heritage Project – Just Nuts
Wildlife Online UK – Squirrel Food & Feeding – Diet Composition