If you love feeding the squirrels, there’s a good chance you’ve wondered what the best food for wild squirrels is. I know I did when I first started feeding them. We all know that squirrels love nuts, but what are the best nuts for squirrels? Well, that’s what we set out to discover and we’ll share everything we found.
Squirrels are known for eating nuts, but their diets consist of fungi, fruits, nuts, and seeds. The type of nuts they eat will depend on what they can get a hold of. Acorns are extremely popular if there are oak trees nearby that allow them to consume them.
Peanuts are actually legumes, but squirrels will eat them if they come across them.
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What to Feed Squirrels In The Backyard?
We buy nuts for squirrels in bulk for our backyard critters. We have found them to be the cheapest and our critters love them. I wanted to share a few of the options you have, all of them will work extremely well in your squirrel feeder.
Read my in-depth blog post on how to attract squirrels to your backyard. The article will give you some tips on how to improve your landscape so it will be more inviting to them.
Once you’ve taken the time to make your yard squirrel friendly, you can find all the nuts they love below and I’ve found them to be cheaper on Amazon than at Walmart, Target, or any of the local pet stores.
3 Of The Best Nuts for Squirrels Backyard and Wild
Virginia Peanuts Bulk Inshell Animal Peanuts are perfect if you want to feed or attract squirrels to your yard. As we all know, the in-shell peanuts are best for them, because they help sharpen their teeth and provide them with exercise.
These nuts will provide your bushy-tailed friends with protein, fat, and essential fatty acids. Which is perfect for these high energy critters. They are perfect for nature lovers and will feed deer, birds, Blue Jays, and other outdoor wildlife.
BlueApe Fresh Whole Black Walnuts come in the shell which is perfect for them. They are organically grown, so you can feel good about not feeding them processed foods. Each order contains about 100 black walnuts, which can last a pretty good while, depending on how many squirrels you feed. Yes, squirrels can eat walnuts and they absolutely love them.
We’ve found that it takes them around 10 minutes to get the meat out, which is amazing, considering that black walnuts are some of the toughest nuts to crack in the world. Both you and I would need a nutcracker or a hammer to get them open.
If you don’t have a walnut tree and your squirrels have never seen one, it will take them a while before they figure out what they are. Once they do, they’ll love devouring them and will even scamper off with them greedily to their nest.
Audubon Critter Crunch Food this is a specially blended mix of black oil sunflower seeds, corn, whole nuts, and peanuts, that are perfect for squirrels, rabbits, deer, chickadees, quail, and woodpeckers.
This food makes it easy to fill your feeders or just toss a handful on the ground to start attracting them. After about a month of feeding them, my neighbor was able to get them to eat out of her hand.
They seem to like this mix almost as much as peanut butter, which says a lot.
Don’t forget to check out some of the best wild squirrel feed lists that I’ve put together to help you get more ideas of what to feed your squirrels.
Best Nuts to Attract Squirrels
Now that you know what types of nuts they love eating and where to get it, let’s take a look at which nuts to use to attract them.
We don’t have huge oak trees or walnut trees in our yard. In fact, our backyard doesn’t have a lot of trees, so we didn’t think that we would be able to attract them.
However, when we saw one eating at the bird feeder one day, we knew that we could entice them. We started putting out peanuts, but at the time we didn’t know what we were doing.
If you want to attract squirrels, then put out any of the following nuts:
- Hickory nuts (are hickory nuts good for squirrels?)
- Peanuts (not really nuts, but legumes they love)
They will be skittish at first and you’ll need to keep replenishing the food to keep them coming back. Once they realize that your yard is a source of food, they will settle down and may even build their nests if you have large sturdy trees.
What Are The Best Nuts for Grey Squirrels
These are the most common kinds of squirrels that can be seen in people’s backyards. Heck, we see them everywhere, even parks, hiking trails, woods and etc. These opportunistic feeders are NOT picky and if you want to attract them to your back yard, you can put out some of the following:
Nuts Good for Grey Squirrels:
- Acorns (of course!)
- Macadamia nuts
- Pine nuts
- In-shell Unsalted Peanuts
Of course, you can attract them with other foods, as the list of what squirrels like to eat is huge. However, they can only get protein from nuts, which is why this is the best squirrel food you can give them.
Their little fingers help them remove the shells along with their sharp teeth. Once they get the nut cracked open, they can store the nuts in their cheeks, which has excess skin that can stretch enormously to fit food. (you’ve probably heard the term “squirrel cheeks”)
They will carry multiple nuts back to their den to feed their young and bury the nuts in different places for the winter when there is a shortage of food.
All the products I shared above are perfect for feeding grey squirrels in your yard or out in the wild. I’ve also put together a huge list of some homemade squirrel food recipes that you can prepare yourself for your backyard friends.
Best Nuts for Wild Squirrels
In some states, it is illegal to feed wild squirrels, so you’ll need to know what your state allows. I know in California, it is illegal to feed a squirrel, but they allow people to hunt tree squirrels.
States like Illinois allows people to feed deer, but not squirrels. I always recommend checking the wildlife website in your area to find out what is allowed. This site is a good place to start.
Most states will be fine with you feeding the squirrels that come into your backyard, garden or anywhere on your property.
But always make sure you do your due diligence first as every state is different and I am NOT an expert.
What Are The Best Nuts for Red Squirrels?
Like gray squirrels, red squirrels love eating nuts, They will enthusiastically collect and consume the following nuts:
Nuts Good for Red Squirrels:
- Pine Cones
- Macadamia Nuts
As you can see, they eat pretty the red squirrel diet is similar to that of the grey squirrel.
While they are not as common where I live. (I’ve never seen a red squirrel) You can find them if you live in coniferous and deciduous (broadleaved) woodlands.
You usually won’t see a red squirrel if you have grey squirrels. As grey squirrels can kill red squirrels because they carry a disease called squirrel parapoxvirus.
Just like grey squirrels, they will eat from feeders, so you can attract them by filling a feeder or squirrel house with their favorite nuts.
If you’re just starting to feed them, put out some of their favorite food and give them time to find it. Once they do, you’ll see them eating in your yard.
Are Salted Peanuts Bad for Squirrels?
Before you feed your backyard squirrels peanuts, make sure that you know what kind are good for them. Salted peanuts are a big NO NO.
Their little kidneys cannot handle huge amounts of salt. If you’ve fed them some of your favorite nuts like Squirrel Nut Zippers or Creme Brulee Almonds (some of our favorites), they’ll be fine.
As long as you don’t overfeed them. If they are given huge proportional amounts of salted nuts, it can eventually kill them.
What Do Squirrels Eat Besides Nuts?
Now that you know squirrels go crazy for nuts, they love eating anything. They can consume about a pound of food per week. These animals are survivors and can survive without the help of humans feeding them.
They can even survive during the winter because these little preppers store enough food to last them for several months. In fact, they bury so much food in different places, they can’t always remember where they buried it.
I personally don’t see anything wrong with helping out mother nature and feeding them. If you are going to feed them, make sure that you’re feeding them mainly seeds, nuts, and allowing them to forage for flower buds, fungi, and other natural food sources.
If they become too dependent on humans, they could end up struggling to find their own food when you quit feeding them.
Worse, they could invade your home and garden and cause havoc if they realize that you’ve stopped feeding them.
We haven’t had any trouble with our squirrels and we keep our feeder filled most of the time.
Related Articles On What Not to Feed Squirrels
Related and Further Reading
Feeding Nature – Tasty Foods You Can Feed Squirrels and What to Avoid