Feeding your backyard squirrels can be fun and exciting. But along with feeding nature, comes the responsibility of knowing what you can and cannot feed them. Can squirrels eat pumpkins? What part of the pumpkin can they eat? What about the leaves, and vines of the pumpkin plant?
Can Squirrels Eat Pumpkins?
Squirrels can eat pumpkins. Pumpkins are high in essential vitamins and nutrients that will benefit both humans, pets, and rodents. Squirrels are attracted to the plants and fruit, especially, if it is cut open to reveal the soft and delicious fruit.
They will gladly visit your garden and chomp on the plants and chew gnaw through your pumpkin harvest. If you’re wondering what type of seeds they won’t eat, read why they don’t like safflower seeds.
However, there are some things to consider when feeding squirrels pumpkin. Let’s take a closer look at what you should consider before you start feeding them this yummy fruit.
What Is Pumpkin?
Pumpkins are considered a fruit because they contain seeds. They belong to the Cucurbitaceae family, which also includes cucumbers, bananas, berries, and tomatoes.
This fruit is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which makes it an extremely healthy fruit for both animals and humans.
100 grams of raw pumpkin contains the following:
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
|Lutein + zeaxanthin
Is Pumpkin Safe for Squirrels
It’s good to know that pumpkin is safe for squirrels, especially, since they love it eating it.
Is Pumpkin a Healthy Treat for Squirrels?
Like us, squirrels require certain vitamins and nutrients to stay healthy. This veggie is full of many benefits for animals, even rodents.
Here are just a few of the benefits of pumpkins for squirrels.
Pumpkins are high in carotenoids, which act as antioxidants, which are known to remove free radicals from our bodies. Like us, squirrels can become ill and can according to this forum, they can get cancer.
Carotenoids are usually found in yellow and orange foods. They have strong cancer fighting properties that may be able to help protect squirrels while living in the wild. There are no case studies that show whether carotenoids work the same for squirrels as it does for us.
But since it’s a healthy treat for dogs, I’d like to believe that it can be beneficial for squirrels too.
Vitamin A in pumpkin can help protect a squirrels eyesight. It helps protect the surface of the eye (cornea) and is essential for good vision in all mammals.
Vitamin K is vital for all animals as it is aids in bone health and helps wounds heal. This fat-soluble is responsible for producing proteins for healthy bones and normal blood clotting.
Squirrels have about 78 bones and are constantly jumping, climbing, and running and healthy bones are vital. (source)
What Parts of The Pumpkin Can Squirrels Eat?
What part of the pumpkin can squirrels eat? They can eat every part.
The pumpkin is the umbilical cord of the pumpkin plant and the fruit. These green vines are extremely healthy for both humans and squirrels.
While they are not toxic for squirrels, most of them won’t eat it.
The ribs are the indented ridges that run from the top to the bottom and squirrels will gladly eat them.
Squirrels have sharp incisors that will make eating the outer shell extremely easy.
Don’t throw away the rind, instead give it to your backyard squirrels. The rind is full of potassium for squirrels and they love it. If pesticides were sprayed on your pumpkins, do not feed it to the squirrels.
To be safe, only give pumpkins that are you are sure are free from pesticides.
The pumpkin brain aka fibrous strands and seeds. The seeds are a great source of B vitamins, iron, protein, and magnesium. They also contain a high level of fatty acids that can help maintain healthy blood vessels while lowering unhealthy cholesterol.
The fibrous strands aka pulp contain amino acids, polysaccharides, pigments, minerals, and active proteins that are extremely healthy. (source)
Can Squirrels Eat The Leaves of a Pumpkin Plant?
Squirrels love to eat the leaves of the pumpkin plant. It is completely edible, in fact, it is eaten in many different parts of the world. Some say that the dark green leaves taste like a combination of broccoli, spinach, green beans, and asparagus.
They are rich in water, Vitamins A, K, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and folate, which makes them extremely healthy for squirrels.
The biggest concern comes about when squirrels raid a pumpkin harvest and come into contact with poisonous pesticides that can harm or kill them.
People who grow their own gardens have a tendency to use pesticides to keep insects, rodents weeds, and germs. These pesticides are poisonous to all animals, even squirrels.
How to Feed Squirrels Pumpkin
Squirrels are not picky eaters, they may be cautious when you feed them something new. Before feeding them pumpkin, wash it thoroughly to ensure it does not contain any harmful pesticides.
Slice the pumpkin in half or small wedges and drop it next to their feeder and walk away.
At first, they may be scared of it, but after a few minutes they will eat it.
Even though squirrels love pumpkin, there are a few instances you shouldn’t give it to them.
Pumpkin Treats You Can Make
Some people love cooking for their backyard critters. It may seem weird to make homemade food for your squirrels, but there are plenty of squirrel foods that contain pumpkin, nuts and other healthy foods they will go crazy for.
I’ve put together a list of some of the best homemade squirrel foods you can make that will attract your squirrels and keep them healthy.
When Not to Feed Pumpkin to Squirrels
If It’s Rotten or Moldy
Never feed squirrels rotten food of any kind. While squirrels are scavengers and eat garbage and pretty much anything else. You should never feed squirrels anything you would never eat.
Never give a Baby Squirrel Pumpkin?
If you’ve found a baby squirrel, do not give them anything other than formula. Mother squirrels may take portions of the pumpkin back to their nest if she is trying to wean them.
Don’t Feed Them Everyday
Like us, squirrels require certain foods and proteins. These rodents require an extensive diet to survive in the wild. If you are going to give them some pumpkin, make sure you’re feeding them other squirrel food that provides them with the vitamins and nutrients their bodies need.
Whether you have a pet squirrel or are feeding wild squirrels, you don’t want to feed them just one type of food everyday.
Squirrels are small mammals that can eat insects, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fruits, including every part of a pumpkin. Your backyard squirrels will love you if you give them pumpkin treats.
Make sure you only give them pumpkin as a treat as their small bodies require protein for energy and development. Make sure you never give squirrels rotten pumpkins!
References and Further Reading
Health Benefits Times – Health Benefits of Pumpkin Leaves
National Pesticide Information Center – Pesticides and Animal Health