Squirrels are opportunistic feeders that will eat almost anything. However, just because they will eat it doesn’t mean that it’s good for them. If you feed your backyard wildlife, it’s essential to know what foods are safe for them and which ones aren’t. So, can squirrels eat dates?
Can Squirrels Eat Dates?
The short answer is no, dates may not be toxic to squirrels, but they aren’t good either. Squirrels need a balanced diet that contains fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals. So while eating one or two won’t kill them, it should not be a part of their regular diet, and you should avoid feeding dates to squirrels.
This is because of several reasons, some of which you may not have even considered before.
Let’s look at the reasons experts warn against dates as squirrel food.
What Are Dates?
Dates are the edible fruit of the date palm tree. They predominantly come from hot countries in the Middle East and North Africa, and they’re a staple food for many people who live in this part of the world. People have been eating dates for thousands of years.
While they are healthy human food and are used in baking, they should not be a part of a squirrel’s diet.
Isn’t Fruit Good for Squirrels?
Yes! But there are some exceptions.
You see, dates are extremely sweet. They are naturally very high in sugar, so while this makes them a sweet treat for humans, they’re far too calorific for a small squirrel.
They’re not the only fruits that are so high in sugar that experts discourage feeding them to squirrels. You should also avoid putting out figs, raisins, sultanas, plums, and prunes. They’re delicious to both humans and squirrels, but they are high in natural sugar content.
Another issue with dates is that they have to be shipped from miles away because they don’t grow freely all over the country. Because fresh dates wouldn’t last very long during transit, they’re often dried and preserved, and that’s how we buy them here.
The preservation process means adding enormous amounts of sugar to this already sweet fruit, so feeding dates to a squirrel would mean a harmful sugar overload.
Pitted dates are dates where the pit has been removed, but many dried dates haven’t been pitted. Fruit pits found in fruits like dates contain cyanide, so a squirrel may gnaw on a pit and become seriously sick.
Are There Any Benefits to Feeding Squirrels Dates?
There are several varieties of dates, with the Medjool dates being the “fruit of kings.” This is the brand that is available at most supermarkets.
While they may not be suitable for squirrels, Medjool dates are healthy for humans. They’re a great source of fiber, which is vital for digestive health, and they contain vitamins and minerals like potassium and magnesium.
They also have a low glycemic index rating, which means they won’t cause spikes in blood sugar levels.
So, if you want to treat yourself to a healthy snack, go ahead and eat some dates. But leave them out of your squirrel feeder – they’re not good for our little furry friends and don’t provide any value.
A serving of two Medjool dates contains:
- Sugar: 27 grams
- Calories: 110
- Carbohydrates: 31 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Protein 1 gram
While they are a good source of minerals such as; calcium, potassium, copper, magnesium, and selenium, they don’t provide any value to squirrels.
Why Are Dates Not Good for Squirrels?
Squirrels obviously love the sweet taste of dates, but dates are a low nutritional value food for them. They are high in sugar and contain very small amounts of protein with no fat. Like us, they require a well-balanced diet that requires a variety of essential vitamins and nutrients to help them survive.
They should not be eating foods that are full of sugar and carbohydrates. Instead, they should be fed foods that are readily found in the natural environment.
Will Squirrels Eat Dates?
Most squirrels will eat dates if given the opportunity, especially if they can’t find their regular food source. This is because squirrels are known as “opportunistic feeders.” Meaning that they will eat just about anything they can get their hands on, even if it’s not good for them.
However, this doesn’t mean that we should be feeding them the same foods we eat. Squirrels have a different digestive system and can’t tolerate the same foods we can. This is why it’s important to know what they can and can’t eat, so we can keep them healthy and happy.
If you want to give your squirrel a treat, there are plenty of other safe fruits and nuts for them to eat. Just make sure to stay away from the sweet stuff.
Should You Feed Squirrels Dates?
Some people will continue feeding squirrels dates and other foods, even though they are not good for them. If this is you, then make sure you feed them a small amount, no more than one date.
Continuing to feed them foods that are bad for them can lead to obesity and other health issues, making them vulnerable to prey. Plus, once a squirrel realizes they have an easy food source, this could make them stop foraging for food since they see you as their food source.
What Other Fruits Can Squirrels Eat?
It’s always best to avoid any dried fruit in your wildlife feeding plans because, more often than not, it will contain too much sugar.
But, just because dried fruits aren’t a great idea to feed to squirrels doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feed them other kinds of fruit and vegetables!
Squirrels are predominantly herbivores, and they love to eat all manner of fresh food, including:
Interestingly, a few insects such as mealworms and even a boiled egg can be a great occasional treat for a squirrel, particularly as we head toward wintertime. They’re a great source of protein, which can see them through the cold winter months.
There are much healthier foods to feed squirrels, and dates are NOT one of them. Instead, squirrels need access to nuts, fungi, seeds, and fruits. Unfortunately, dates are not a part of their natural diet.
If you love feeding wild squirrels, consider purchasing some wild squirrel food that can be found at most local pet stores or online retailers.
Feeding them the right foods will help them stay healthy and active so they can thrive in the wild.