Feeding Squirrels What You Need to Know to Get Started

Welcome to the world of feeding squirrels, I started this website because I had no clue what to feed squirrels in my backyard. I’ve ventured on the journey to finding out about these amazing creatures and will share everything I know with you.

Squirrels will eat anything, but that doesn’t mean that it is the right food for them. Like you and I, they need to consume food that provides them with the proper nutrients they need to survive.

So what do you feed them, is it legal, and will it attract rats to my yard? Don’t worry, I am going to help you learn everything you need to know about the squirrel’s diet and so much more.

Related: How to Attract Squirrels to Your Yard

Pros and Cons of Feeding Squirrels

There are many people who say that you should never feed them because they will take over your home, yard, and garden. Then there are people who say that they love feeding them and will never stop.

Personally, I think it’s a personal choice on whether you want to feed wildlife or not. The best part is that it is something that can be done from the comfort of your own home.

All you need is a backyard, the right feeder, or squirrel house and the right food to attract them. (don’t worry, they’re not picky eaters)

I wanted to share some thoughts to help you decide if supplying squirrels with food is something you want to do. It’s NOT for everyone and these thoughts will you decide what you want to do.

I’ve put together a huge list of the best wild squirrel food that we feed our backyard friends.

What Do Squirrels Eat?

The question should be what do squirrels not eat? I’ve dedicated a post to what squirrels eat because it is lengthy. You’ll find out what all the different types of squirrels love to eat.

They are not picky animals and you won’t have a problem getting them to eat. Getting them to stop, well that’s a different story.

Pros

Feeding wildlife promotes awareness.

People who enjoy direct contact with nature are more open to it.

You help squirrels find food when there is a shortage in their natural supply.

They’ll keep your entertained just by watching them eat and their behaviors.

Cons

Your neighbors may not appreciate the increase of squirrels in your neighborhood.

Waste and scraps may encourage other rodents or vermin.

Predators, especially cats and dogs are known to target squirrels.

They may lose their natural fear of humans and become easier targets to predators.

Is It Bad to Feed Them?

There is no right or wrong answer as to whether you should feed them. As long as you take precautionary measures to protect your home, garden and bird feeders, I personally don’t see anything wrong with it.

Don’t worry, I’ll be sharing tips with you to help you do that as well. There’s a lot of things that you can do to protect your property from squirrels, while still feeding them.

Now that we’ve taken a look at the pros and cons of feeding them, let’s take a look at how to get started. It doesn’t require a lot and it’s not even that expensive.

Some people have even learned how to make homemade squirrel food, which can save you money. You can also buy in bulk, that’s the secret to saving money on items you buy for your home.

Is It Illegal?

Before you buy a squirrel feeder for your backyard, I suggest that you take the time to do some research. Every state has different rules and regulations about feeding wildlife.

This site will help you start researching the laws in your state about providing food to the squirrels in your backyard.

Most states and the Humane Society generally say harmless to feed squirrels and birds in your own backyard. But you still want to make sure that you won’t be fined for putting out a squirrel feeder.

How to Feed Squirrels

Now that you’ve decided that you want to feed them, let’s take a look at what you’ll need to get started. I will be listing the basic items that you need to help you get started, be sure to come back often as I’ll be adding more ideas as I find them through my research and personal experience.

#1 Get A Squirrel Feeder or House

get a squirrel feeder
squirrel eating in a squirrel feeder in the backyard

If you want to attract squirrels, then you need to invest in a feeder. These can be found online at Amazon, Walmart, Target, or any local pet store. You can expect to pay around $20 – $100 for the feeder.

A pet habitats squirrel house will range around $50 – $150. However, these make great nesting boxes for squirrels.

If you’re just venturing into the world of feeding wildlife, then I recommend getting started with a feeder.

Where to Place The Feeder

Place the feeder away from your home, garden and bird feeder. I’d recommend putting it as close to your property line as possible, while still being able to enjoy watching the squirrels.

Most of them will mount to a tree or the side of the house. (don’t mount it to your house)

Where to Put The Squirrel House

A squirrel house should be placed at least 10 feet above ground on a pole or a tree. Squirrels love branches so you’ll have better luck attracting them if it’s on or near a tree.

Avoid putting the house on the side or near your home. This is just an invitation to your home. Preferably, I would put the house at the edge or your property facing the wooded area. Or as far away from your home as possible, as long as you can see it while you’re sitting on your deck.

Depending on the type of feeder you get, it will vary how far off the ground you mount it. Squirrels can jump high and if you’ve filled it with the right food, they will get to it.

#2 Fill The Feeder

You’re probably thinking okay, what do I put in the squirrel feeder? Well, you can start by putting some pecans, corn, sunflowers, and a variety of nuts and seeds.

Get on Amazon and you’ll find tons of different times of critter food which include sweet corn squirrel logs, a gourmet mix of a healthy formulated diet and etc.

If you’re feeding a lot of squirrels, you may even want to consider making your own homemade squirrel food. Squirrels eat a lot and the money you spend on their food can rack up quickly.

Either way, you’re going to to have to experiment and see what attracts them to your feeder. That’s why it’s so important to know what type of squirrels you have in your backyard.

We have grey squirrels and their diet is pretty simple.

#3 Wait for Them To Find It

If they are not already coming onto your property, it may take some time to attract them. However, if you live in a wooded area and put out the right foods, I have no doubt that they’ll find it.

They are brilliant critters and will eventually find it. They can be a bit nervous of predators, so make sure that you give them plenty of distance to make a quick getaway.

Pro Tip: With over 200 squirrel species, it’s important to research the types of squirrels that live in your area. This will help you determine what type of food to put in your feeder. Although, as I mentioned, squirrels will eat almost anything.

Don’t Forget The Water

If there is not an easy source of natural water for them to access, you may want to consider putting out some water by their feeder.

These small mammals are a part of the Sciuridae family. They require a daily intake of water to survive. They drink a lot of water and need to consume more in warm weather, pregnancy, and lactation.

Steps to Take to Protect Your Property

While squirrels are not aggressive, they are bold bushy-tailed critters. Meaning that once they realize there is a new food source, YOUR home. You will need to take some precautionary steps to protect your home.

Squirrels are notorious for eating things you don’t want them to. So here are some steps to take to keep squirrels away from the areas you don’t want them.

Garden

squirrel in the garden
squirrel getting ready to eat from a backyard garden

Squirrels love eating their fruits and veggies. If you have a vegetable garden, then you need to know that they will be tempted to go into it and eat.

Their very smart creatures and they won’t be bashful eating your full grown tomatoes while leaving the ripe ones hanging. We’ve had to deal with this before.

There are things that you can do to keep them out of your garden, like using hot spices as deterrents, using plants they hate as boundaries, getting a dog or cat to help you protect your garden.

Once we started using some of those techniques, they stopped bothering our garden.

Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder

If you’re like me, you love feeding the birds. However, bird seed is one of their favorite foods. One of the best investments you can make is investing in a squirrel proof bird feeder or baffle.

This will allow you to continue feeding the wild birds while not having to worry about the squirrels eating it all. Trust me, they will eat it a lot faster than the birds eat.

Oh and don’t place the squirrel feeder near the bird feeder. This will just be an invitation for them to have at it along with their food.

Attic

We’ve all heard those horror stories about squirrels getting into people’s

squirrel getting into attic
squirrel sitting on top of a house roof trying to get into attic

attacks and tearing up electrical wires, and causing a lot of damage. We’ve never had to deal with that, thank goodness.

However, we do have a friend who found baby squirrels in her nest. If you ever do find baby squirrels in your attic, make sure that you know what to do.

Babies are fragile and are dependent on their mothers. If they are not properly cared for, they will die.

Squirrels usually don’t try getting into attics until the weather gets cold. The best thing you can do is put the feeder and house as far away from your house as possible, as long as you can still see it.

How to Feed Squirrels Without Attracting Rats

Whether you feed birds, squirrels, deer, or any other type of wildlife, you might attract rats. The best thing you can do is to put your feeders up high and make sure you clean up any food that falls on the ground.

We had mice problems about a year ago, from our bird feeders. We had to put out some mice problems and cleaned up all the bird seed on the ground.

That’s why it’s so important to place the feeders far away from your home, so rats won’t be tempted to go in. Also, make sure that you’re storing the squirrel food in tight containers that rats can’t get into.

The best way to avoid rats is to keep the brush cleared out of your hard, clean up all snacks and treats from your yard. Unfortunately, rats like nuts as much as squirrels.

Keep the feeders away from fencing and the edges of gardens. Place them in an open area but far away from your home.

Do Not keep Them As Pets

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with feeding the wildlife, but some people take it too far. Once they realize that they can feed squirrels, they start looking for ways to domestic squirrels.

Squirrels are wild animals and they will bite if they feel threatened. While I’ve personally never tried to domestic a squirrel, most of the stories that I read online or find on YouTube is usually someone who has:

  • Rescued the squirrel from a cat or dog
  • Found baby squirrels in their attic and raised them
  • Came across an injured squirrel and nursed it back to health
  • or … put your response here

Regardless, I don’t think that they would make great pets. But of course, I am a dog person and truly believe that squirrels are wild animals. But here’s a video from someone who rescued a squirrel (Quavo) from a construction site.

She nursed him back to health with puppy replacement milk. Now, he is the perfect pet.

You can decide for yourself if you would ever want to have a pet squirrel. Me, I think I’ll stick with dogs.

As these animals start to trust you, they may even eat out of your hand. We’ve hand fed ours a few times and it’s actually very exciting to see them eating out of our open palm.

Getting The Squirrels To Eat Out of Your Hands

Some nature lovers have had luck with getting a squirrel to eat out of their hands. Yes, it’s totally possible to get them come close enough to eat of your hands, but it’s going to take time to take the time to form a relationship with them. Once a squirrel starts to remember you and knows that you’re there to feed them not hurt them, they will start responding differently to you.

They’ll start picking up nuts 2-3 feet in front of you. They may even start coming close to your hand as you stretch it out in front of them. You’ll want to avoid making any quick movements that can scare them off.

It’s going to take time, but you can form a bond with these bushy-tailed critters if that’s what you really want to do.

Bottom Line

I realize that there are mixed feelings about providing food for squirrels. However, if you follow these steps, you should be fine and not run into any trouble.

People feed squirrels and birds and never have trouble. Of course, not all squirrels are the same. Some may venture into areas that you don’t want.

Pay attention to your surroundings and if they’re starting to become a nuisance, then you may have to stop feeding them.

 

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