I was sitting outside the other day watching the birds and getting ready to fill up my squirrel feeder and I started wondering “can squirrels eat cheese?” After all, we get tons of squirrels I want to make sure that I feed them the right foods without causing them any harm.
Do Squirrels Eat Cheese?
The short answer is that squirrels will eat almost anything, even if it’s not found in nature. If you leave the cheese out for them, they will eat it. However, if you feed them too much, it can harm their digestive system. (we’ll take a closer look at their digestive system below)
Squirrels Are Herbivores
This means that they eat both food and plants. Most people believe that they are only vegetarians and that they only live on seeds, mushrooms, lichens, fungi, roots, leaves, twigs, and bark.
However, Squirrels mainly eat fruits, nuts, seeds, and fungi. However, they also eat eggs, caterpillars, small insects, and even young snakes.
You’d be surprised at what these furry little guys find tasty and will eat. Now, this doesn’t mean that all foods are good for squirrels.
Is Cheese Good for Their Digestive System?
Their digestive system is very similar to that of human beings, and are not able to digest cellulose. According to Wikipedia, it is the structural component that is found in plant cell walls. All plant foods such as grains, beans, nuts, vegetables, fruits, and seeds contain cellulose.
This is why it’s so important for squirrels to find sources of nutrition outside of plants to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Nuts are extremely good for them because they provide the proteins and fats that are needed for their survival.
Can Squirrels Eat Cream Cheese?
Who doesn’t love cream cheese, especially, when it’s spread on a bagel early in the morning. I’ve had squirrels eat it, and enjoy it.
We try not to give our squirrels a lot of scraps. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with giving them something off the wall every once in a while.
The one thing we try to do is make sure that we always have fresh squirrel food or peanuts for their feeder and their house.
Related: Best Nuts for Squirrels
Do Baby Squirrels Eat Cheese?
Baby squirrels require more attention than an adult. They are typically weened and ready to be on their own at 10 weeks of age.
If you’ve found a baby squirrel nest in your attic or are caring for baby squirrels, you will need to make sure that you understand they can’t eat the same foods that adults can eat.
Baby squirrels have the best chance of survival if it is cared for by its mother. This Wildlife Center site will show you what to do if you’ve found a baby squirrel.
Types of Cheese That Squirrels Will Eat
Squirrels are not picky about the types of cheese they will eat. They can eat:
- Marbled Jack
I have no doubt that if you left a pizza outside, they would eat that too. Our grey squirrels have a weird diet and will eat pretty much anything.
Squirrel Eating Cheese
This video will show that they love cheese. Mine always take their cheese and run up the tree.
Foods That Squirrels Like to Eat
They tend to prefer acorns if oak trees are around, but they also enjoy other types of nuts. These little guys will eat almost anything, and that includes things that are not normally found in nature. French fries, cheese, hamburgers, crackers and etc.
As I mentioned, there’s not much that these critters won’t eat. Just make sure that you don’t overfeed them or get them dependent on human food. If they are not allowed to fend for themselves they could habituate towards humans and become less fearful of predators.
Can Squirrels Eat Cottage Cheese?
Cottage cheese is not toxic to squirrels, but they are not a natural food source for them. This type of snack food is high in fat, salt, and calories, so it should be avoided at all times.
Foods high in sodium can be dangerous for squirrels. Their small kidneys are not equipped to handle large amounts of salt, and it can lead to dehydration or even death if consumed in excess.
Other Cheese Snacks to Avoid Feeding Squirrels
As mentioned above, feeding squirrels human cheese snacks in moderation is not toxic. However, it should be avoided. Other cheese snacks to avoid include:
- Mozzarella Cheese Sticks
- Cheese Puffs
- Cheese Balls
- Processed Cheese
Feeding your pet squirrel, backyard birds and squirrels can be a part of a healthy diet in moderation, but it should not replace the nutritionally rich foods found in nature.
Always monitor what they eat and provide a well-balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs.
Rules to Follow When Feeding Squirrels
Squirrels love to eat and they will eat vegetables, eggs, and some are even herbivores and will eat small birds.
When it comes to feeding them from your backyard, parks, or just in the wild, you need to stick to these rules:
- Avoid salted food items
- Foods that don’t contain added sugar
- Do not overfeed them
Can I Feed Them Waste and Kitchen Scraps?
My in-laws feed their squirrels and chickens all kinds of scraps. It’s an economical way to feed their wildlife animals different types of food, without spending more money.
The animals love it and they always come back for more. But, I am always hesitant to feed mine waste and kitchen scraps for the following reasons:
Kitchen scraps can attract different types of rodents such as mice, raccoons, rats, and other dangerous creatures that you don’t want hanging around in your backyard.
If you do feed your squirrels scraps, make sure that you feed them in small quantities. If they don’t eat it all, pick up whatever they don’t eat and throw it away.
Kitchen scraps can spoil quickly and while squirrels have a huge appetite and can eat a lot. You don’t want to be feeding them spoiled food that may cause them to get sick.
Avoid feeding them scraps in the late summer or fall when their natural food sources are abundant. You can also freeze the scraps till you can come up with some homemade recipes you can try out on your bushy wild friends.
There’s nothing wrong with trying to feed them in the winter or during their hibernation period. Although, you may have a hard time as they don’t really come out very much in the winter.
If squirrels eat nothing but scraps, their nutrition would suffer. They need to consume a healthy diet to ensure proper growth and energy. A poor diet could lead to them becoming ill or cause damage to their digestive system.
If you are going to feed them scraps and they enjoy it, just make sure that you only do it on rare occasions as well as limited quantities.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to feed wild squirrels. Some people feed birds, deer, and other animals. It may be illegal in some states, so make sure you’re not breaking any laws.
If people didn’t enjoy it, then there would be no squirrel feeders and houses. As long as you feed your squirrels the right type of food that provides them with the nutritional ingredients they require, then I say go for it.
Always make sure that you’re feeding them foods that they not only like to eat, but that is actually good for them.
Related Articles On Foods Squirrels Like to Eat
References and Further Reading
Animal – World – Pet and Animal Newsletter – Squirrels Delight, Endear
Live Science – Squirrels: Diet, Habits & Other Facts
National Geographic – Omnivore – Resource Library