Everyone knows squirrels love acorns, but does that mean you should be feeding your pet squirrel cashews as well? As humans, we consider cashews to be a great snack. Tasty and full of good fats, too. But are they good for squirrels?
Can Squirrels Eat Cashews? No, like sunflower seeds, pine nuts, and dried corn, cashews contain high amounts of phosphorous which will eventually lead to calcium loss.
If a squirrel eats one or two cashews, it will likely be okay. But you should never feed captive squirrels or wild squirrels cashews of any kind.
Let’s take a closer look at why squirrels shouldn’t eat cashews, but first let’s take a look at their dietary needs.
Dietary Requirements for Squirrels
Squirrels require a good mix of:
- Minerals, like calcium
The average adult squirrel in captivity should be fed about 50 calories per day, with a strict limit on fat and sugar levels.
Wild squirrels that eat from your feeder require a balanced diet of nuts, fruits, veggies and etc that can be found in their natural environment.
Why You Should Avoid Feeding Cashews to a Squirrel
Squirrels in captivity are typically less active than their wild counterparts. While they won’t usually overeat to obesity, tasty cashews might be too much to pass up.
Do Squirrels Like Cashew Nuts?
There aren’t many foods that squirrels won’t eat. It’s not hard to find YouTube videos of squirrels being hand fed cashews, in fact, here’s one.
Unlike you and I, squirrels don’t know which foods are harmful for them. Many public places have rules and regulations against feeding squirrels and other wildlife.
Just because a squirrel eats a specific food, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for them.
Cashews are High in Fat
Cashews are high in fat, containing 12 grams of fat per 1 oz serving. Squirrels eat an average of 1.5 to 3 oz. of food per day. Typical squirrel or rodent food contains only 2.7 grams of fat per 3 oz. serving, and with good reason. Too much fat leads to obesity, which causes a lot of health issues for your squirrel.
Cashews Cause Calcium Loss
Calcium is a vital mineral to squirrels, but cashews are high in phosphorous. This high level of phosphorous causes a loss of calcium.
Squirrels with low levels of calcium are at risk of developing Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) which is a result of an improper balance of phosphorous and calcium. Calcium deficiency can be fatal. (source)
Symptoms of Metabolic Bone Disease
- Loss of appetite
It’s important to vary the type of food squirrels are getting. Providing them with a supply of cashews and other nuts will most likely lead to them ignoring other foods offered.
Do Cashews Have Calcium?
Yes, cashews contain small amounts of calcium and other vitamins. Below is the nutritional information for 1 ounce (17-18 whole cashews) of raw cashews:
- Calcium: 10mg (milligrams)
- Fiber: 0.9 grams
- Calories: 157
- Iron: 1.89 milligrams
- Potassium: 187 milligrams
- Sodium: 3mg
- Protein: 5.17 grams
- Fat: 12.43 grams
Can I Feed Cashews To Squirrels?
No, feeding squirrels cashews is not recommended. That said, I know that people will still feed both wild and pet squirrels cashews. If you do, make sure you don’t feed them more than 1-2 cashews per month.
Cashews contain high amounts of phosphorus, which will cause the bones to lose calcium and can also lead to dangerous calcium deposits in the lungs, eyes, and blood vessels.
If you do feed them cashews, make sure you monitor and watch for any unusual symptoms.
What to Feed a Squirrel Instead of Cashews
In the ideal situation, you would start feeding a young pet squirrel rodent blocks as they are being weaned. Rodent blocks contain a great mix of vitamins and nutrients for your squirrel. Other foods that are food options are:
- 5-7 thumb-sized pieces of a vegetable high in calcium each day, including arugula, Chinese cabbage, romaine lettuce, or squash.
- 2-3 pieces of other healthy vegetables per day, like asparagus, artichokes, and broccoli.
- Wild foods can be fed unlimited while in season, like Magnolia pines, roses, or plantains. If you’re getting these fresh from your garden, just make sure they haven’t been treated with any harmful substances.
- 2 pieces of animal protein per day, like mealworm or crickets. You can also feed a squirrel a hard-boiled egg.
- 2 slices of fruit like a cantaloupe, or strawberries.
- Certain kinds of nuts and seeds, two per day, excluding cashews obviously,
- Something to chew on, like an antler or tree branch. These types of things keep teeth from becoming overgrown.
Cashews Are Not a Good Squirrel Snack
The bottom line? There are much better options when it comes to feeding a squirrel than cashews. These nuts are too high in fat and phosphorous to be healthy for a squirrel to eat regularly.
Nuts That Are Safe for Squirrels
It’s no secret that squirrels go crazy over nuts. But, not all nuts are safe for captive or wild squirrels.
Here are some of the best nuts to feed your captive or wild squirrels.
Cashews should never be fed to wild or captive squirrels. If you want to give your furry rodents a healthy snack, be sure to check out some of some of the best nuts for squirrels.
I recommend buying them in bulk, as squirrels can eat a lot of nuts quickly!