Can Squirrels Eat Oranges? And Is It Good For Them?


You walk outside on a cool summer evening only to notice a squirrel eating an orange from the tree. It’s cute to see them rolling it around, but it makes you wonder can squirrels eat oranges and how can I protect my trees?

Can Squirrels Eat Oranges?

Yes, it seems that these furry critters don’t mind adding some sugary citrus to their diet. They will eat pretty much anything they can get their paws on. That being said, you shouldn’t go out of your way to hand feed them oranges as they don’t necessarily need it in their daily diet.

Whether you live around gray, gray, or flying squirrels, they will gladly eat oranges from the ground or in trees. In fact, they will gladly go after the fruit on the tree.

Are There Any Benefits To Feeding Squirrels Oranges?

can squirrels eat oranges
Squirrels love eating fruits and love eating oranges because they are attracted to the sugary taste.

No, squirrels are omnivores and thrive best when their diet consists of nuts, plants, eggs, fungi, fruits, insects, and vegetables they can find in their habitat.

That being said, squirrels have grown accustomed to living around people and have adapted to eating foods they find in human habitats like pet food, pizza, chocolate, birdseed, cheese, and trash.

These critters are not picky eaters and chances are you’ve seen a YouTube video or social media post of a squirrel eating an orange and now you’re thinking it’s okay to feed them this fruit.

Well, let’s take a closer look at this fruit and why you should avoid feeding oranges to them.

But first let’s take a closer look at the introduction of the orange and what’s inside.

Fun Orange Facts

The growth of oranges originated in Southeast Asia around 4000 B.C. Today, there are over 600 different species of oranges around the world.

Orange trees are evergreens and a citrus plant can have as many as 60,000 flowers, but only 1% will actually produce fruit.

Pummelos are the largest of the citrus fruits and the Chinese believe that consuming them will bring good luck, which makes them popular during the Chinese New Year.

Americans consume about 9 pounds of oranges per year, but drink nearly 4 times more orange juice.

70% of the oranges are produced in Florida and 90% of the oranges are used to produce juice.

Nutritional Facts

One medium orange contains:

  • Fat: 0%
  • Sodium: 0%
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Vitamin C: 70 milligrams
  • Calcium: 60% RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance)
  • Sugar: 12 grams
  • Vitamin A: 14 micrograms

While oranges have many benefits for us, they do not have any benefits for small mammals like squirrels.

Are Oranges Safe For Squirrels?

can squirrels eat mandarin oranges
Oranges are not toxic to squirrels, they do not provide any health benefits for them.

It seems like squirrels can eat anything and everything and be just fine. If you think about it, it’s like they are a garbage disposal that eats everything that goes down.

Like us, squirrels need to consume foods that provide them the nutrients their bodies need. Oranges are high in sugar, which will make a poor diet for them, similar to how candy is bad for us.

Even if your squirrels love eating oranges, keep them out of the squirrel feeders.

Can Baby Squirrels Eat Oranges?

If you’ve found a baby squirrel and nursing it back to health before you release it into the wild, you shouldn’t feed them oranges. Baby squirrels can’t nibble on solid food until they are at least 6 weeks of age.

That’s when they should be fed a good quality rodent diet. You can even feed them kale, broccoli, apples, sweet potatoes, and hard-shelled nuts. (source)

Can Squirrels Eat Orange Peels?

do squirrels eat oranges
Most squirrels prefer the sugary flesh part of the fruit and will not consume the peel.

Humans don’t eat the peel, so squirrels shouldn’t be fed peels. If you’ve ever noticed a squirrel in a fruit tree, you’ll notice that they usually leave the peel uneaten.

Just like we peel the orange before we eat it, squirrels prefer to eat the sugary flesh without the peel.

Can Squirrels Eat The Seeds?

It’s normal to think that squirrels love eating orange seeds, especially since they love seeds and nuts. Orange seeds contain small amounts of cyanide compounds that can be toxic to small mammals if eaten in large amounts.

Not only that but they are bitter when chewed and most squirrels won’t like the taste. There’s no reason to feed squirrels the seeds, as they do not provide any health benefits to them.

Can Squirrels Drink Orange Juice?

No, absolutely not. If you have a fountain and feeder for your squirrels, make sure they have access to fresh cold water daily. They do not need anything but water to stay properly hydrated.

How To Keep Your Orange Trees Safe?

protect orange trees from squirrels
You can take some humane methods to protect your fruit trees from squirrels.

If you have orange trees, you’re likely to find a squirrel perched on a limb eating your hard grown fruit. Most people will turn to inhumane methods to rid squirrels from their yard.

However, there are some steps you can take to welcome squirrels in your backyard and keep your trees safe. For instance, you can grow plants, bushes, or trees that squirrels love, in hopes that they’ll leave your orange trees alone.

Some squirrel friendly trees you can consider are:

  • Maple
  • Oak
  • Walnut
  • Hickory

Alternatives To Oranges For Squirrels

Now that you know you shouldn’t feed squirrels oranges, what do you feed them? If you love watching the squirrels eat while you relax on your patio, you’re not alone.

There are thousands of people who love feeding squirrels and birds from their backyard. If you are planning on feeding your backyard squirrels, you should consider buying some wild squirrel food that is safe and nutritious for them.

You can also get your backyard squirrels used to eating veggies, by feeding them small amounts of raw vegetables and some fruits such as:

  • Apples
  • Broccoli
  • Yellow Squash
  • Peas

Final Word On Feeding Squirrels Oranges

We love feeding squirrels in our backyard and think it’s okay. But if you’re going to feed the wildlife, you want to make sure you’re feeding them the right things.

If you’re going to feed your backyard squirrels, make sure you’re feeding them foods that help them live a happy healthy life!

References And Further Reading

Reference – Are Orange Seeds Edible?

Live Science – Squirrels: Diet, Habits & Other Facts

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