Squirrels are some of the smallest tree-climbing animals around and one food they have always eaten has been nuts. Two of the most accessible nuts they tend to come across are acorns, walnuts, and peanuts. If you are wondering whether nuts are bad for squirrels or not, look no further. Nuts are an excellent source of nutrition for these little ones.
Foods to Avoid
Cities and towns across the country tend to have an ecosystem of squirrels leaping from tree to tree in their public parks. Over the years, these little animals not only find their nutrition in the wild, but they also have access to what people tend to leave around. These options are definitely not the healthiest for squirrels or any small animals for that matter. If you plan on feeding your local squirrels the top foods you should avoid include processed foods, fast food, and junk food.
Squirrels need a well-functioning metabolism. Highly processed foods can compromise their digestive tracts and cause major health problems. A lack of critical vitamins and minerals combined with an abundance of unhealthy sugars is detrimental to any animal’s dietary requirements.
A Squirrel’s Nutritional Needs
Now, contrary to popular belief, not all nuts are created nutritionally equal. Some nuts meet the dietary needs of a squirrel more than others. Acorns, walnuts, and pecans, for instance, provide wholesome fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals that are essential to keeping squirrels healthy.
Why do squirrels need healthy fats?
Maintaining a high level of activity requires sufficient nutrition for all the body’s muscles and organs. Good fats like Omega-3 fatty acids promote a healthy heart and brain function. Nuts are an excellent source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats help decrease bad (LDL) cholesterol while increasing the good (HDL) cholesterol. This process helps keep the arterial walls clear, thus improving overall blood flow into the heart and throughout the body.
Squirrels need a healthy circulatory system and strong muscles. Essential fats are necessary for muscle strengthening. A lack of enough good fats can cause cardiovascular issues, circulation problems, and decreased muscle strength.
Why do squirrels need nourishing proteins?
Squirrels are constantly on the move. From climbing to the treetops to dashing across a field of grass, they always appear full of energy. Consuming enough proteins are integral to their energy levels. The muscles need protein to repair themselves. This is particularly necessary after physical activity, which most outdoor squirrels get plenty of.
When muscles do not get enough protein, over time, they begin to decrease in mass. A lack of sufficient protein will result in muscle weakness and fatigue. Proteins are also crucial for the healing process and are one of the building blocks of the bones. This nutrient contributes to bone density and allows the bones to absorb much-needed calcium.
What kind of vitamins and minerals do squirrels need the most?
Climbing, jumping, and running are all taxing on the muscles and bones. Calcium is a vital mineral that is stored in the bones to keep them healthy. The bones also need adequate amounts of vitamin D and phosphorus to maintain bone strength. The body uses calcium for the muscles, nerves, and cells. A lack of calcium in a squirrel’s diet can lead to decreased bone density because the body will take the calcium it needs from the bones. Teeth play a significant role in a squirrel’s life, as a majority of the foods in their diet requires having strong teeth. Inshell nuts are difficult enough to crack without a nutcracker, but squirrels can get through them using their teeth. In addition to hard shells, they are also known to gnaw on deer antlers and bones, which are rich in calcium.
The muscles need potassium to contract, but it also needs calcium to move. The nerves use calcium to send signals between the brain and the body. Extreme calcium deficiency in squirrels can lead to metabolic bone disease, severe tooth decay, muscle weakness, and it affects brain-to-body communication.
Top Nut Choices For Squirrels
Take a look at these options for a better idea of some of the nuts that meet the nutritional needs of squirrels. These helpful options are well-known for maintaining and reducing blood glucose levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
Almonds are a great source of protein, fiber, fats, vitamin E, manganese, and magnesium. Vitamin E helps protect the cells from damage caused by free radicals because once it enters the body, it operates as an antioxidant. Consuming enough antioxidants helps keep the immune system strong.
The pecan nut contains over nineteen vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and E, calcium, potassium, and zinc. It is also a rich source of fiber which is critical for healthy digestion. Fiber helps promote the removal of waste from the intestines. Fiber is a nutrient that helps lower blood pressure, decrease inflammation, and supports cardiovascular health.
For any squirrel feed, walnuts should always be included. These nuts contain folic acid, manganese, vitamins B6 and E, phosphorus, and copper. Walnuts contain some of the highest amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids and are assumed to be in the top three favorite nuts for squirrels.