Wild and pet squirrels require a balanced diet, which consists of a variety of foods. Calcium is an essential mineral critical in maintaining healthy teeth and bones. In addition, squirrels that don’t get enough calcium are at risk of MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease). Below are 11 cal
Why Calcium Is Important For Squirrels
Calcium plays a vital role in the health of all animals, including squirrels. It is essential for developing and maintaining strong bones and teeth and vital for other parts of your body.
Calcium deficiency in squirrels can lead to serious health issues, such as Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD), which causes weak and brittle bones and affects their ability to climb, jump, and survive in the wild.
In nature, squirrels obtain calcium from various sources, including plant-based foods and occasionally from bird eggs or nestlings, which are rich in the mineral.
However, these sources are only available for a short period every year, and squirrels remain vulnerable to low blood calcium for most of the year.
They may resort to other calcium-rich foods such as wilted greens, weeds, and eggshell discards, which can help them maintain an adequate calcium intake.
11 Foods High In Calcium For Squirrels
Spinach is an excellent source of calcium for squirrels. This leafy green vegetable is packed with essential nutrients and can be served to squirrels raw or cooked.
That said, spinach contains high amounts of oxalates, which can be damaging over time. So if you feed your squirrel spinach, it’s best to only give it to them as an occasional treat.
In addition to calcium, spinach also provides squirrels with vitamins A, C, and K, fiber, and antioxidants.
Collard Greens are another high-calcium leafy green vegetable that is safe for squirrels. However, feeding them more than 5-7 thumb-sized pieces daily can lead to unwanted health issues.
One cup of raw kale provides 100 milligrams of calcium, which is more than 100mg of whole milk.
When fed in moderation, it can make a great snack.
The leafy green veggie is a nutrition superstar packed with manganese, fiber, and vitamins A, B6, C, and K.
Broccoli is another calcium-rich food that can be given to squirrels. This cruciferous vegetable is packed with essential nutrients and can be served raw or cooked.
Besides calcium, broccoli also offers additional vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, C, and K, as well as fiber.
Almonds are a great source of calcium for squirrels, particularly when given in moderation.
You can feed them whole or crushed almonds as a treat. They provide squirrels with additional nutrients like healthy fats and protein.
Sesame seeds are another excellent option for adding calcium to a squirrel’s diet. Sprinkle the seeds on other foods or mixed into homemade treats.
This “superfood” is a great source is a great source of omega 3-fatty acids, fiber, protein, and antioxidants.
These nutrients provide energy-boosting power, which is beneficial for wild squirrels.
Oranges not only provide a great source of vitamin C but also contain calcium. You can feed them small pieces of oranges, berries, and other fruits in the summer.
Squirrels, like humans, require a balanced diet, so limiting the amount you feed them is essential, as too much citrus can cause digestive issues.
Tofu is a nutritious source of calcium for squirrels, particularly when it’s made from calcium sulfate. In addition, it is a rich source of protein and can be served to squirrels as a treat or mixed into their regular diet.
Canned salmon is another calcium-rich food that is safe for squirrels. In the wild, squirrels, rats, and other rodents consume animal bones because they contain calcium and other minerals.
Your pet squirrel won’t have a problem eating the salmon bones; make sure you don’t overfeed them.
Squirrels love sunflower seeds, and one cup contains 109mg of calcium. So feed them to the rodents alone or mix them with other seeds and nuts.
They are high in calcium and contain other essential nutrients such as; protein, fats, and fiber.
How to Safely Introduce These Foods
Feeding your pet or backyard squirrels any of these foods can be a great way to support their overall health. However, starting slowly and monitoring the squirrel’s reactions is essential when introducing new foods into their diet.
Below are some tips for introducing different types of foods into your squirrel’s diet. Consult a rodent veterinarian if you’re unsure whether to feed your squirrel high-calcium foods.
- Leafy greens: Start with small portions of dark, leafy greens such as kale or broccoli. These vegetables are high in calcium and can be chopped into small pieces for easy consumption.
- Seeds and nuts: Some seeds, like sesame seeds, are good sources of calcium. Feed them in small amounts, as feeding them too many can cause obesity.
- Tofu: Tofu with added calcium sulfate can be a valuable calcium source. Squirrels can eat small amounts of both cooked or raw tofu.
- Canned fish with bones: Sardines and canned salmon with edible soft bones are rich in calcium. The rodents won’t have a problem eating the soft bones, plus they are rich in calcium.
- Calcium-fortified foods: Some foods, like cereals, are fortified with calcium. Look for low-sugar and salt options, as too much salt and sugar can cause health issues.
- Calcium-rich fruits: Fruits such as oranges and figs are good sources of calcium. When feeding them, peel the orange and give them a small slice to see if they like it.
- Beans and legumes: Foods like chickpeas and white beans provide calcium. Gradually incorporate these into the squirrel’s diet alongside their regular diet.
- Calcium supplements: If the squirrels aren’t getting enough calcium, you can consider adding calcium supplements. Be sure to follow the recommended dosage instructions.
- Cuttlebone: Cuttlebone is an excellent source of calcium, and most healthy squirrels tend to over indulge. Cuttlebones are best when used primarily for maintaining teeth health.
Always introduce any new calcium-rich foods slowly to prevent any possible reactions. If they are not interested in eating the foods, don’t force them.
Additional Nutrients for Squirrel Health
Squirrels require a range of nutrients for maintaining their health. Though calcium is crucial, it’s equally important to take into account their other dietary needs.
Below is some other vital nutritional information to follow to ensure they are getting a well-rounded diet.
- Rodent Block: Providing a rodent block diet helps balance the right amount of calcium and wards off Metabolic Bone Disease, a nutritional disorder affecting captive wildlife.
- Calcium to Phosphorus Ratio: Ensuring that the foods provided have the appropriate 2:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio supports squirrel health.
- Vitamin D3: Adequate levels of vitamin D3 are necessary for calcium absorption, making it an essential nutrient for a squirrel’s overall well-being.
- Seeds: Squirrels can benefit from seeds like hemp, pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame, which are good sources of calcium. However, it’s crucial to avoid peanuts and other nuts as they could be toxic to them.
- Greens: Including a variety of leafy greens in a squirrel’s diet can provide essential vitamins and minerals. Foods such as kale, sprouts, and other greens can be excellent sources of calcium and other nutrients.
- Fruits: A small amount of fruit can also be beneficial for squirrels, offering vitamins and some types of minerals. Be cautious not to provide too much fruit due to their high sugar content.
By focusing on foods with suitable calcium-to-phosphorus ratios, vitamin D3 levels, and a mix of seeds, greens, and fruits, you can support squirrels’ overall health and well-being.
Remember that dietary requirements will differ between wild and captive squirrels, so always ensure you provide the appropriate nutrients for each situation.
All squirrels require a well-balanced diet. The foods above can help provide calcium and other essential nutrients for maintaining healthy bones, teeth, etc.
That said, keep snacks and treats to a minimum of 10% of their regular diet.