Do Squirrels Eat Lettuce? [Is It Safe For Them?]

do squirrels eat lettuce

Squirrels are herbivores and forage on a variety of foods, including different types of plants and vegetables. But do they eat lettuce? 

Lettuce is not toxic to squirrels, and many animals (including squirrels) can benefit from eating it. Lettuce is a green leafy vegetable and a good source of vitamins and nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and K. 

If you’re planting lettuce in your garden, it’s essential to know that squirrels and other animals will eat it. For those of you with a pet squirrel, they won’t mind eating lettuce, romaine, and other leafy green veggies. 

Squirrels are opportunistic eaters and will take what they can get. So let’s take a closer look at why they eat these leafy green veggies. 

Why Do Squirrels Eat Lettuce?

As an omnivore, squirrels can eat both plants and animals. Their diet typically includes nuts, vegetables, seeds, fruits, and insects. These rodents are opportunistic feeders, which is how they survive in the city and people’s backyards. 

They adapt to the foods in their environment and can survive on human foods such as; cereals, pet foods, bird seeds, junk food, etc. Lettuce is one of the plants that squirrels love to nibble on. 

Ground and tree squirrels will destroy your garden by eating the plant and leaves. In addition, some squirrels may dig up the tiny seedlings before they can produce any vegetables. 

Nutritional Value of Lettuce

Lettuce has many healthy nutrients for humans and squirrels. The green leafy vegetable contains high levels of potassium and vitamins A and C. In addition, 95% of raw lettuce consists of water, which can help keep squirrels hydrated and helps with bone strength, sleep, and vision. 

Its relatively low-calorie count makes it a good food choice for squirrels that may be overweight or obese.

However, it’s important to remember that while squirrels can eat lettuce, their diet should consist mainly of seeds, nuts, fruits, and insects in the wild. Feeding them lettuce occasionally is fine, but ensure they receive a balanced diet to keep them healthy and thriving.

Can Pet Squirrels Eat Lettuce?

Yes, squirrels can eat lettuce and will eat it if they can easily access it. 

The vegetable is not poisonous or toxic to them unless it has pesticides or other chemicals.

Lettuce can be a part of your pet squirrel’s diet. It is a healthy food choice, containing essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A and C, and potassium. 

Can Baby Squirrels Eat Lettuce?

Avoid feeding baby squirrels lettuce or other solid foods until they are three months old. Baby squirrels require their mother’s milk until they are older than three months (source). 

After that, you can gradually introduce solid foods, including lettuce, into their diet.

When feeding baby squirrels lettuce, remember to:

  • Introduce it slowly.
  • Don’t overfeed them.
  • Make sure lettuce doesn’t cause any digestive issues. 
  • Consult a veterinarian.

That said, not all squirrels will enjoy eating lettuce. If your pet has no interest in eating the vegetable, don’t force them. 

Are There Any Health Benefits To Feeding Squirrels Lettuce?

Lettuce is a healthy green vegetable that is beneficial to squirrels and humans. In addition, it is an excellent source of nutrients that support the overall well-being of squirrels and helps keep them healthy in the wild.

Here’s a look at some of the benefits:

  • Vitamin A: Beta carotene is essential for maintaining vision, the immune system, and reproductive health. Vitamin A also plays a vital role in supporting proper growth and development in young squirrels.
  • Vitamin C: Squirrels need vitamin C for a healthy immune system and to maintain proper skin and coat health.
  • Potassium: As an important electrolyte, potassium helps to regulate fluid balance in squirrels, which is essential for their overall hydration and health.
  • Fiber: The fiber content in lettuce improves digestive health and helps to prevent common gastrointestinal problems in squirrels.

As with all food, moderation is the key. If you have a pet squirrel, use lettuce as an occasional treat. But, unlike wild squirrels, it’s essential to moderate the foods your pet eats. 

Your pet depends on you to feed them healthy foods to stay healthy.  

Squirrels in the wild consume a diverse diet that includes nuts, seeds, fruits, and other vegetables. By providing a variety of foods, you’ll support the nutritional needs and well-being of your furry friends.

Types Of Lettuce You Can Feed To Squirrels

As mentioned squirrels are not picky eaters and they will eat any type of lettuce. Thankfully, there are only three types of lettuce; red, green and oak. None are toxic or poisonous, and you can try feeding them several different varieties to see which one your squirrel prefers.

Here are some of the most common types of lettuce that are easy to find and plant:

  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Romain lettuce
  • Boston lettuce
  • Bibb lettuce
  • Kale
  • Arugula
  • Endives

That said, when feeding squirrels lettuce, opt for the ones with the lowest oxalates such as; bibb, romaine and iceberg lettuce.

Oxalates are a natural substance found in plants and humans. Because they aren’t a required nutrient, they can cause a host of health issues like kidney problems. If oxalates can do this to humans, they will very likely wreak havoc on squirrels as well.

Preventing Squirrels from Eating Lettuce

Dealing with squirrels in your garden can be a challenge, especially when they’re eyeing your precious lettuce. In this section, we’ll discuss some methods you can employ to protect your lettuce from these furry intruders.

Garden Protection Measures

To prevent squirrels from eating your lettuce plants, create a galvanized poultry wire cage over the plants, use blood meal for newly planted bulbs, and create an easier food source for them.

If you live in an area with a lot of trees, the best way to keep them away from your garden is to create an area for them to eat. Below are some more tips to protect your lettuce plants from these pests.

These tips can help you deter them using humane methods.

Just remember, squirrels are persistent little critters, and it will take some time to get them to stop harassing your flowers.

Cage the Plants

One of the best ways to protect your plants from squirrels and other critters is to create a cylindrical fence out of chicken wire. In addition, you’ll want to create a cage around the hibiscus plants to ensure they are adequately protected.

You’ll want to place some wood or metal stakes and place them 4-6 inches away from the plant, so they won’t harm the roots. If you put them too close to the plants, the squirrels may be able to stick their paw in the cage and pull out a flower.

Wrap the chicken wire around the posts to form a cage. Create a screen door that will allow you to enter the cage to care for your plants.

Don’t forget to enclose the top of the cage. Otherwise, the squirrels will climb the fence and access the plants from the top. They are excellent climbers and jumpers.

Take The Containers Inside

If the lettuce plants are in containers, the easiest thing to do is to take them inside. Lettuce can be grown in a container with tomatoes, corn, or other long-maturing plants. 

You can bring them out every morning or put them on a deck that squirrels won’t climb because there are always people on it.

Or you can leave them inside and place the plant near a window that gets full sun. 

You have nothing to worry about when your plants are in the house unless you have a pet squirrel. 

Dried Blood

Squirrels have a great sense of smell, which helps keep them safe from predators. For example, bloodmeal is a slaughterhouse waste product used as a natural fertilizer. 

The smell keeps moles, squirrels, and deer away.

These animals can’t stand the pungent smells of ammonia and nitrogen.

When choosing bloodmeal, opt for the organic type as it is the least toxic variety for your plants.

It’s a great way to keep squirrels away while fertilizing your plants while providing them sufficient nitrogen, other nutrients your plants require.

Spread four ounces of bloodmeal per square yard of soil or follow the instructions on the back of the bag.

You can purchase bloodmeal at a nursery or home improvement store with a gardening section.

Plant The Herb Among Thorny Plants

You can try plants that have sharp thorns to prevent squirrels from getting to your hibiscus plants. For instance, roses have sharp thorns and can help protect your hibiscus plants from critters.

You can consider planting other plants with thorns: firethorns, honey locus, bougainvillea, Barbary fig, etc. 

Make sure you do your due diligence to make sure those plants won’t attack your hibiscus plants.

You can also plant some of the plants that naturally repel squirrels.

Feed Them

After completing all the options above, consider creating a squirrel-friendly area in your yard. Choose an area away from your parsley plants and veggies, so the squirrels won’t be tempted to stray.

You can buy or make a squirrel feeder and fill it with some of the best food for squirrels we rounded up on our recommended products page.

It may take a while, but once the squirrels realize they have their own place, there’s a good chance that they will leave your parsley plants alone.

Before you know it, you won’t mind having the squirrels visit your backyard!

Other Animals That Eat Lettuce

Aside from squirrels, several other animals enjoy munching on lettuce as part of their diet. Some of these animals include:

  • Raccoons
  • Turtles
  • Rabbits
  • Pigs
  • Dogs
  • Skunks
  • Chipmunks
  • Voles
  • Deer
  • Groundhogs

Also, insects, such as; slugs, aphids, snails, etc., will damage your lettuce plants by eating the leaves. 

Final Word

Squirrels will eat lettuce in any form, including the plants, right from your garden. So if something is eating your lettuce plants, it’s likely a squirrel or any of the other animals mentioned above. 

Lettuce is a tasty and healthy treat for squirrels, and they won’t mind eating it or any other leafy green veggie such as; spinach, kale, romaine, etc. So feeding them lettuce can be beneficial, but like us, rodents need a balanced diet to get the nutrients and vitamins they need. 

Avoid feeding baby squirrels lettuce or other solid foods until they are three months old. 

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