Can Squirrels Eat Sweet Potatoes? Are They Healthy or Toxic


Squirrels are savage scavengers. They will generally grab objects, tuck it in their cheek, and bolt for cover, bobbing and weaving to find the perfect secluded place to examine the tasty object further before you can swipe it away from them. Squirrels will attempt to eat pretty much anything that you put in front of them, including sweet potatoes, but should they?

A squirrel’s primary diet consists of seeds, but right after that are vegetables. Sweet potatoes rank high on that list as a nutritious choice for your little friend.  Sweet potatoes are stocked with vitamins and minerals that aren’t found in seeds and are an ideal addition to a diet’s squirrels.

Are Sweet Potatoes Good for Squirrels?

The interesting thing about sweet potatoes is that they aren’t potatoes. They are actually sweet roots. Along with that sweet taste that makes sweet potatoes attractive to squirrels is a host of beneficial vitamins that squirrels need in their daily diet.

Let’s take a look at some of the important nutrients that can be found inside one.

Nutritional Information

One cup of cooked baked in skin without salt (200 grams) contains:

NutrientsQuantity
Calories180
Vitamin A38433 IU
Copper0.3 mg
Magnesium54.0 mg
Selenium1.0 mg
Betaine69.2 mg
Vitamin K4.6 mcg
Vitamin B6 0.6 mg
Water152 grams
Omega-38.0 mg
Omega-6 120 mg

(source)

One chunk of sweet potato fills a squirrels quota for Vitamin A. Other vitamins found in sweet potatoes are:

  • B vitamins
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Thiamin
  • Zinc

Sweet potatoes are also a good water source, giving the squirrel a little drink with every speedy chew. Although sweet potatoes are fine for squirrels, there can be too much of a good thing.

How To Feed A Squirrel Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes can be fed:

  • Raw (preferred)
  • Frozen
  • Cooked

There is nothing better than cutting a raw sweet potato into manageable chunks and handing it over to your squirrel. Whether you want to take the time to peel them or not is entirely up to you, the squirrel will do fine either way. Sweet potatoes are not something that you want to free-feed because it’s high in:

  • Fats
  • Starches
  • Oxalates

Too many sweet potatoes can increase the likelihood of an overweight squirrel, which leads to significant health problems, including diabetes. Modest portions will allow your squirrel to stay a lean, mean, foraging machine.

Sweet Potatoes Are Not Yams

One thing that should be noted is that sweet potatoes and yams are not the same thing, although squirrels will gladly eat both. Sweet potatoes are a root, while yams are a tubular vegetable and closer to actual potatoes.

Sweet potatoes are far better for squirrels because they contain both the calcium and phosphorus needed to balance the squirrel’s diet.

Sweet Potatoes Are A Great Starter Food

If you are unsure whether your young squirrel is ready to be introduced to other foods, sweet potatoes are a good way to tell. Baby squirrels have to learn to swallow solids until then they shred the food much like they do twigs.

Placing sweet potatoes in their cage with its bright orange color will let you know if they are shredding it or eating it.

Once the shavings are gone, you know your little guy is ready for the big leagues of chewing and swallowing other foods.

Are Sweet Potatoes Safe for Squirrels

As long as you are feeding your squirrel organic sweet potatoes that are completely free of pesticides, they should be fine. One of the biggest issues is when squirrels get into your garden and eat the plants and vines.

Many of them will be exposed to pesticides that are toxic. That being said, sweet potatoes should only be no more than 5% of your squirrels regular diet.

These critters do best when they are allowed to forage for their own food, which consists of vegetables, nuts, birdseed, and other foods that may not be a natural part of the environment.

Are Sweet Potatoes a Healthy Treat for Squirrels?

Yes, sweet potatoes are nutritious, high in fiber, delicious, and very filling, which make them a great snack. As a wildlife lover, it’s important to know about other foods these critters love and are actually good for them.

Here’s a list of some of the other foods you can consider adding to their feeder in your backyard.

As we all know, these critters will eat everything they can find. However, not all foods are good for them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Squirrels Eat Potatoes?

Yes, they can and they will. That being said, white potatoes are not as healthy as sweet potatoes. If you do feed your squirrel white potatoes, you should feed them the ones with the darker-colored flesh such as the Yukon Gold, Ruby Crescent, and Purple viking.

Avoid feeding them all deep fried potatoes such as french fries, potato chips or any other type of junk food made from potatoes.

Conclusion

Squirrels love eating sweet potatoes, the best part is they make a great addition to their regular food. Wild squirrels should never be fed human food on a daily basis.

If fed too often, they will become dependent on humans for food. If you have a pet squirrel, be sure to check with an avian vet for feeding guidelines to ensure you’re feeding your pet the right foods and the proper amounts.

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