Squirrels generally have a natural appetite for food grown in their natural habitat, but they aren’t exactly picky eaters. They will often push their usual diet boundaries and expand their palates to try various new foods and snacks. Unfortunately, they shouldn’t eat some of these foods, mainly processed human food with added salt and sugar.
Like most people who enjoy feeding these furry backyard visitors, you may be wondering what exactly to feed them. You’ve probably asked yourself the question, ‘can squirrels eat marshmallows, and are they safe or toxic?’ Marshmallows are toxic depending on how much and how often you feed them to the squirrels.
Marshmallows are a foam-like confectionery that typically contains sugar (corn syrup), gelatin, water, and 50% air. These ingredients are whipped to a squishy consistency that is generally used as a pastry filling, or molded into different shapes, then coated with corn starch and flavored with vanilla. Sometimes campers will roast them on a skewer for a caramelized treat.
These treats are sugar-laden and don’t do much for squirrels nutritionally. They are not toxic immediately in a small quantity but are generally not suitable food for them.
Are Marshmallows Safe for Squirrels?
One regular marshmallow contains 4 grams of sugar, which is the same as 1 teaspoon of table sugar. This means that four marshmallows (1 serving) have 16 grams (4 teaspoons) of sugar. Also, one marshmallow contains 25 calories and 0 grams of fat. Zero fat may sound like a good thing, but it’s not.
Any processed human food is bad for squirrels, especially treats like marshmallows that contain lots of added sugar, which has much the same effect as in children. Because squirrels are naturally active creatures, the sugar in marshmallows will make them even more hyperactive, which affects their overall health. All the excitement can also make them destructive.
Marshmallows are made almost entirely of sugar and provide no nutritional value whatsoever, just calories. Consuming too many calories without any nutrition leads to weight gain and poor health, not only in humans but also in squirrels.
Squirrels thrive on a balanced diet containing fat, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, which are safe for their bodies and overall health. Marshmallows are highly processed and contain corn syrup, cornstarch, gelatin, and sugar, none of which are healthy for squirrels. Eventually, these ingredients compromise their health system and may make them sick, especially if they eat them regularly.
Will Squirrels Eat Marshmallows?
Yes, these little furry guys have a sweet tooth and are capable of grabbing and devouring an unattended bar of candy. They are adventurous eaters and will eat pretty much anything you give them, including marshmallows. That explains why most people trying to trap squirrels have used this sweet treat, and it works every time.
Eating one or two small marshmallows might not harm them immediately, so they may come back looking for more. Just because they’ve eaten them before doesn’t mean you should continue feeding them marshmallows. They will happily oblige every time, but that’s not good for their health.
Why You Shouldn’t Feed Squirrels Marshmallows?
Marshmallows have a high sugar content and lack any nutrients. Continuously eating a nutrient-deficient diet will affect their health in the long-term. Think about it this way, if highly processed sugary treats aren’t good for humans, what about squirrels that live in the wild?
If you continuously feed them marshmallows, the lack of nutrients will put them at high risk for severe nutritional disorders like Metabolic Bone Disease and, consequently, deformation and disability.
Squirrels are wild animals, and their diet should mainly be food that they can find in their natural environment. Feeding them marshmallows will create a dependency on you for food and remove the natural desire to find nourishment for themselves.
You shouldn’t feed squirrels marshmallows because they will start to get lazy and become less active and overweight. The sugar also plays a role in this, and older squirrels are more at risk.
Obesity in squirrels will make them a juicy target for predators as they’ll resemble a tasty slow-moving sausage on four legs. Squirrels should be able to run around looking for natural food. This keeps them active and at a healthy weight.
Can Baby Squirrels Eat Marshmallows?
Baby squirrels cannot eat marshmallows. When they are born, like most rodents, they are toothless, hairless, and blind. They can hardly fend for themselves, let alone eat any food until they’re around 6-8 weeks old. During this time, they must only feed on their mother’s milk.
Orphaned baby squirrels should be put in the care of a professional. However, if you’re taking care of it yourself, keep it warm with a heat lamp first, then feed it some Pedialyte using a needle-less syringe before you give it any milk. Make sure the baby squirrel suckles as much as it needs.
After that, feed the baby with Ebsilac powder. It’s the most recommended milk substitute that’s safe for baby squirrels. Give it as much as it will suckle every 2-3 hours a day until it grows a full set of teeth.
Baby squirrels need Pedialyte and the recommended milk to grow strong. Never feed baby squirrels any marshmallows. They need a strictly special diet until they are at least 6-8 weeks old.
At this point, they can start nibbling on healthy food from a squirrel feeder. Feed them sweet potatoes, broccoli, kale, hard-shelled nuts, and apples.
If you like squirrels and enjoy feeding them, you want to make sure that you’re giving them safe and healthy food. The two main challenges with feeding these furry friends are; giving them foods with zero nutritional value or foods that are fatally dangerous.
A rule of thumb to note is that if it doesn’t appear natural or grow in nature, it’s probably bad for the squirrels. Marshmallows clearly fall in this category.
Instead, fill a squirrel feeder with lots of hard-shelled nuts, vegetables, and fruits for them to snack on and save for later. It also helps if you can choose a feeder with a water holder as it’s great for squirrels.