I love feeding the squirrels in my backyard, but the other day, I was wondering “are peanuts good for squirrels”? That’s when I decided it was time to do some research to make sure that I am not only feeding them food they love but food that won’t hurt them.
Are Peanuts Good for Squirrels?
A squirrel’s healthy diet should consist of squirrel blocks, a variety of healthy vegetables, wild foods from outdoors, and limited nuts and treats. Peanuts are a fun treat to feed and help with bonding, but they should only be fed in small amounts after they have eaten healthy foods.
Related: 3 of The Best Nuts for Squirrels
We’ve fed our squirrels the Virginia Inshell Peanuts and they absolutely love them. Just make sure that you feed them as a treat, as they will go through them quickly.
Peanut Fun Facts
Peanuts are not a healthy plant-based source of food, they are extremely high in essential vitamins and minerals. These healthy legumes can be used in smoothies, salads, crushed into butter, or just eaten as a snack.
The first peanut plant originated around 3,500 years ago in South America. Today, Texas grows the largest number of peanuts in the nation. They have grown all four varieties, including the organic type.
You need about 650 peanuts to make an 18 oz of jar of peanut butter!
Peanut Nutritional Facts
Peanuts are rich in essential nutrients like fiber, protein minerals, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, and antioxidants, which have plenty of health benefits.
A peanut is NOT technically a nut and they belong to the legume family, which means they are related to lentils, beans, and soy.
Peanuts can come in several different forms such as raw, cajun, spiced, candy, dry, roasted, and etc. We’ll be taking a look at each individual type to see if you can feed squirrels without causing harm.
As we know, squirrels will eat almost anything and are not picky eaters. However, before you feed squirrels peanuts, you need to understand what is and what are the best nuts for squirrels. Read this if you’ve ever wondered “how much do squirrels eat.”
Different Types of Peanuts
Peanuts can be purchased in many different varieties, but the four basic types are Valencia, Spanish, Virginia, and Runner.
Even though the most common ones that you’ll find are runner peanuts, let’s take a closer look at the others.
These are the largest peanuts of the peanut family and are known as the “ballpark” peanut because they are sold at baseball games. They account for about 15 percent of the peanuts produced in the U.S. Southeast Virginia, Texas, and northeastern North Carolina are the biggest producers.
These are the most popular peanuts and make up about 40% of the peanut crop in the U.S. Runner peanuts are great for roasting, but they are most commonly used for producing peanut butter. They are grown in Florida, Georgia, Texas, Oklahoma, and Alabama.
Valencia peanuts are smaller than Virginia peanuts with a sweeter taste and thinner shells. New Mexico and West Texas are the biggest producers of the Valencia peanuts, because of the dry climate.
Spanish peanuts look like small kernels with red skin. They contain a high concentration of peanut oil, which makes them great for cooking. They contain the least amount of Aflatoxin.
Nuts and Squirrels
If you’re like me, you’ve seen the movie Ice Age several times and love it when Scrat (the squirrel) chases his acorn everywhere trying to bury it and secure it. It’s no surprise to learn that squirrels love to eat nuts.
This is very accurate, and the best nuts for squirrels are the ones that are still in the shell. It’s no hard to find a squirrel eating or stashing them somewhere in your yard, their nest or other hiding places.
However, not all peanuts and nuts make good squirrel food. That’s why we’re going to look at the different types of peanuts, so you will know what you can understand more about your squirrel’s feeding habits.
Are Raw Peanuts Good for Squirrels?
No, because they contain a carcinogenic called Aflatoxin, (a fungal toxin) that can damage the liver in both squirrels and birds.
They contain a trypsin inhibitor, which is known to disrupt the pancreas production of trypsin, which is an essential enzyme that enables the absorption of protein.
If you are planning to feed squirrels in the backyard, never feed them raw peanuts as they are not safe.
Can Squirrels Eat Salted Peanuts?
When feeding wildlife, avoid feeding them salted nuts or food of any kind. While squirrels can tolerate a little bit of salt, their tiny kidneys cannot filter out the proportional huge amount of salt that is contained in salted nuts.
If you’re not sure the peanuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, or walnuts are salted, taste them yourself before feeding them. As I mentioned, they can handle a little bit of salt, but you don’t want to feed them too much.
Whenever feeding wildlife, it’s vital to have fresh water nearby, so they can drink while they are eating. You can check out my list of some of the best and most affordable squirrel feeders.
Are Dry Roasted Peanuts Bad for Squirrels
If you’re like me, you love eating dry roasted Planters peanuts, because they taste so good. In fact, I’ve given some to the critters in my backyard before doing this research. Like most anything else you feed your bushy-tailed friends, they love eating them.
There are two types of roasted peanuts, oil roasted or dry roasted. The oil roasted peanuts are roasted in oil, which adds unwanted calories.
Oven-roasted peanuts mean that they are either oil roasted or dry roasted.
The dry roasted nuts contain more sodium than oil-roasted nuts, therefore, they should not be fed to squirrels.
Is Peanut Butter Good for Wild Squirrels?
Squirrels absolutely love peanut butter, in fact, many people use it to bait and trap squirrels.
People who are not afraid of squirrels and gain their trust have been able to get a squirrel one to eat peanut butter from a spoon.
If you are going to give them some peanut butter as a treat, make sure that it’s unsalted.
However, it takes time to build up the trust of the squirrel. At first, they will be skittish, because they fear you. However, as they learn to trust you and know that you’re feeding them, it won’t be long for them to gain your trust and come closer to you.
Are Shelled Peanuts Bad for Squirrels?
In-shell nuts are the preferred nuts to feed them because it provides them something constructive to gnaw. The gnawing habit is a vital way to help them keep their teeth healthy.
It also gives squirrels chewing exercise, as well as delivering natural protein from essential fatty acids that are important for their dietary components.
However, it’s important to remember that peanuts are not nuts and contain poor nutritional value. So don’t overdo it and feed them too often, the invisible toxic mold inside the peanut shell can cause harm.
Why Are Peanuts Bad for Squirrels?
Even though squirrels love to eat them, peanuts and corn fail to provide them with any real nutritional value. That being said, it is fine to feed them these foods, but should only be done in small amounts.
Tree nuts like walnuts, almonds, and cashews are much better food for them. Salt and sugar can be especially harmful to them.
Do Squirrels Like Peanuts?
Yes, squirrels love peanuts. However, you should never feed them salted peanuts.
There isn’t much that a squirrel won’t eat. With so many of them living in cities, their diet has acclimated to living around humans.
This means that they will eat just about anything, however, this doesn’t mean that they should be fed just anything.
Can Squirrels Have Peanuts?
They should only be fed squirrel peanuts that are specifically designed for wildlife critters. You can find cheap peanuts for squirrels online or at stores like Wal-Mart, Target, and etc.
Best Peanuts for Squirrels
These bushy-tailed absolutely love shelled peanuts and they can be great for providing them exercise and sharpening their teeth.
I’ve put together a huge list of the best wild squirrel food that your yard buddies will love. Not only that, but all the food on that post is good for them and will NOT cause them any harm. Our furry friends go crazy for the Wild Squirrel Delight.
What Is The Best Food for Wild Squirrels?
These critters are not picky and will eat them anyway. As a nature lover, it’s okay to feed them some of their favorite foods which include peanuts, pistachios, grapes, pecans and other foods that they love to eat.
Just make sure that you’re allowing them to forage for their own foods, which include seeds, nuts, fruits, small insects and fungi.
They need a variety of different foods to maintain a healthy well-balanced diet. On average squirrels eat about one pound of food per week. So make sure that you’re NOT feeding them salty or sugary foods and filling the squirrel feeder with the right foods that provide them with the nutrition they need.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where to Buy 25 lb bag of peanuts in shell? If you love buying in bulk, I’d recommend searching on Amazon or other online retailers to find the best deals.
Final Word On Squirrels and Peanuts
Squirrels will gladly eat peanuts or anything you feed them. If your backyard squirrels love eating peanuts, make sure you don’t overdo it.
Instead, consider giving them walnuts, acorns, hazelnuts, pecans or other nuts that are safer for these critters.
References and Further Reading
Healthline – Peanuts 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits
Feeding Nature – Tasty Foods You Can Feed Squirrels and What to Avoid
The Squirrel Board – Peanuts: Substandard Squirrel Food
Gardening Know How – Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer – Types of Peanut Plants: Learn About Different Types of Peanut