The other day, we were sitting outside watching the squirrels play on their feeder. A friend threw a piece of bread on the ground and one of them came up and grabbed it. This got me wondering, “can squirrels eat bread” and is it good for them?
Can Squirrels Eat Bread?
Yes, squirrels can eat bread. That being said, you should avoid feeding them bread, as some bread contain more sugar than candy and is not a good diet for them. They are NOT picky eaters, however, cellulose is found in most bread and squirrels have a hard time digesting this dietary fiber.
Squirrels are members of the family Sciuridae, which includes tree squirrels, ground squirrels, marmots and etc. Some of the most common squirrels such as Fox squirrels, Eastern Gray Squirrel, and Red squirrels will eat pretty much anything.
If you’ve just started feeding squirrels in your backyard, it’s important to know what human foods are good and which ones can harm your bushy-tailed friends. Bread has very little nutritional value for wildlife and it contains little to no protein as well as too much salt. A squirrels kidneys can not filter out huge amounts of salt, that’s why it’s vital to NOT feed them a lot of human food.
Breads That Are High In Sugar
Some bread is not only bad for squirrels, but can be bad for humans as well. These are some of the worst breads to feed squirrels as they are extremely high in sugar content.
- Wonder Bread’s Classic Loaf
- Udi’s Gluten-Free Cinnamon Raison Bread
- Pepperidge Farm’s Farmhouse Oatmeal Bread
- Martin’s Potato Bread
- Vermont Bread Company’s Organic Soft White Bread
You especially want to avoid feeding squirrels white bread, as they are known to be extremely high sugar content. Always read the ingredients to ensure it doesn’t list sweeteners such as sugar, molasses, dextrose, or high-fructose corn syrup as the first ingredients.
Do Squirrels Like Bread?
Yes, they do. In fact, it isn’t hard to find pictures, or videos of squirrels stealing or eating bread. These critters are scavengers and will eat bread they find in the trash, on the ground, or will even steal it from you.
Here’s a video of a squirrel eating a whole piece of white bread.
Why Squirrels Cannot Digest Cellulose In Bread
While squirrels are herbivores, their little bodies cannot survive 100% on plants alone. Cellulose is a polysaccharide, comprising up to 90% of a plant. Many animals with a plant diet, require symbiotic organisms (bacteria) to help them break down and digest cellulose.
This is why squirrels diets must consist of energy-rich nuts and seeds. This doesn’t mean that they have a weak digestive system. In fact, squirrels can eat deadly Amanita mushrooms without getting ill or poisoned.
If you and I were to eat those mushrooms, we would not be able to survive.
Before Feeding Bread to Squirrels
We’re going to take a look at all the different types of bread that people tend to feed their backyard friends. Before putting out your bread products for squirrels, it’s important to make sure that you know whether or not it will hurt them or your other backyard wildlife.
If you do feed them bread, make sure that you don’t feed them too much. Their small digestive system has a difficult time digesting cellulose.
We’ve taken the time to find out whether or not the following types of bread products will hurt your furry critters.
- Wheat Bread
- Garlic Bread
- Cinnamon Bread
- Raisin Bread (raisins are not good for squirrels)
- Whole Grain Bread
- Rye Bread
- Bread Crumbs
- Banana Bread
While there isn’t a lot of information that says all types of bread is harmful to squirrels. However, we refuse to feed our backyard squirrels any type of bread.
We figure if white bread is bad for them, then so is all the other types, even homemade bread.
Why Moldy Bread Is Not Good for Squirrels
Moldy bread can cause harm to squirrels and birds. You should be concerned with salmonella, which can poison your backyard critters. If you have dogs, it may also make them sick.
Do Grey Squirrels Eat Bread?
We have grey squirrels in our backyard and I can tell you that these little guys eat anything. Grey squirrels are mainly herbivores and love eating acorns, berries, hazelnuts, shoots, buds, fungi.
When plant food is scarce, they will eat bark, insects, smaller rodents, bird eggs, and nestlings.
These critters are survivalists and will never go hungry. They are hoarders and are always storing food for the winter and for their hibernation period. Read this article about whether or not squirrels hibernate.
If you are feeding grey squirrels, I’d recommend feeding them wild squirrel food. You can fill houses and feeders and they will love it.
If you do feed them bread, make sure you only feed them 10 grams per day or less.
Basically, avoid feeding them bread, popcorn or any foods that contain cellulose. Another one of their favorite foods are crackers, but you need to know why squirrels shouldn’t eat crackers.
If they steal a piece from your or kids in your backyard, they won’t be harmed.
These little guys will eat pretty much anything and most of them won’t be harmed from the foods they eat. However, if you’re constantly overfeeding them the wrong foods, it can lead to sickness or can even kill a squirrel.
Can Baby Squirrels Eat Bread?
Baby squirrels need Pedialyte and puppy milk to grow up strong. You shouldn’t feed baby squirrels any bread or human food. They require a special diet until they are at least 10-12 weeks old.
At that point, you can continue supporting them by filling a squirrel feeder for them to eat from.
Is It Ok To Feed Squirrels Bread?
Some people will say no, while others will say it’s okay. If you’re out in public, you should avoid feeding the squirrels any type of food.
Wild squirrels can become dependent on people for food and will lose their fear of people. This is when squirrels attack people because they are not being fed.
Do Squirrels Eat Bread But Why You Shouldn’t Give It To Them?
I have friends and neighbors who put out stale bread for birds and squirrels because they don’t want to be wasteful. As I mentioned above, it’s not good for them in high quantities, because it contains cellulose.
There are other reasons you should not feed scraps or bread crumbs to your squirrels or birds.
As soon as a squirrel sees the bread, bagel, chicken carcass, and etc.. they’ll usually carry it away to their nest. In the process, they may end up dropping it somewhere in your yard or your neighbor’s yard.
Unfortunately, this can attract rats or cause other animals to eat food that may cause them to become ill. Dogs tend to eat anything they find as well.
If your dog eats bones from the chicken carcass, they can choke or become sick.
While I am NOT against feeding backyard squirrels, I personally think that feeding them the right foods will be better for them and your neighbors.
What Is The Best Food to Feed A Squirrel?
It really depends on what type of squirrels you have in your backyard. We tend to feed the grey squirrels and they love eating corn on the cob, peanuts we buy at Amazon, veggies, nuts and so much more.
Basically squirrels eat nuts, some of the best nuts to feed them are white oak nuts, beechnuts, butternuts, hazelnuts, pecan, and walnuts. Leave them in the shell and put them in or around the feeder and they will go nuts.
In fact, I’ve put together some of the wild squirrel food that we feed our backyard critters. They love it and visit their feeders on a daily basis. The best part is that you’ll know that you’re helping them stay healthy and are not endangering their diet.
We love it because they entertain us while we’re sitting on our back deck watching them and the birds.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is bread good for squirrels and birds? While it’s not harmful to either birds or squirrels, it doesn’t contain any nutrients that they need. Neither birds nor squirrels should be fed large amounts of bread.
What animals can eat bread? If you have chickens, ducks, sheep, or goats, they will enjoy eating left over bread or stale bread. Just remember to avoid feeding animals in public places that don’t want you feeding the animals.
Final Word On Should Squirrels Eat Bread?
Squirrels are scavengers and will eat pretty much anything. There isn’t a lot that they won’t eat. If you do happen to feed them bread crumbs, make sure you’re not making this a big part of their diet.
They thrive best when they are fed squirrel food that provides them the nutrients their small bodies require.
Related and Further Reading
Feeding Nature – Tasty Foods You Can Feed Squirrels and What to Avoid
Insider – Allie Lembo – 12 Breads That Have More Sugar Than Candy