Can squirrels eat walnuts? This question has piqued the curiosity of many wildlife enthusiasts and squirrel lovers alike. The short answer is yes, squirrels can eat walnuts, and they actually love them. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the relationship between squirrels and walnuts, the nutritional benefits, and various types of walnuts that squirrels eat. We will also discuss alternative nuts that can be offered to squirrels and where to buy walnuts for squirrels. So let’s dive right in and uncover the nutty world of squirrels and walnuts.
Table of Contents
Can Squirrels Eat Walnuts?
Yes, squirrels can eat walnuts. Squirrels are omnivorous creatures, which means they consume a variety of food sources, including plants and meat. However, their primary diet consists of nuts, seeds, and fruits. With their four front teeth that continuously grow, squirrels can effortlessly crack open nuts, including walnuts, to enjoy their nutritious contents.
Do Squirrels Love Walnuts?
Squirrels not only can eat walnuts, but they absolutely love them. They have a particular fondness for English walnuts, pecans, and other nut varieties found in their natural environment. Squirrels eagerly search for and consume walnuts, often carrying them away to stash for later consumption. Black walnuts are another variety that squirrels are fond of. They can spend up to 10 minutes trying to extract the tasty nutmeat from a single black walnut, using their nimble paws and sharp teeth to crack open the tough shells.
Are Walnuts Good for Squirrels?
Feeding walnuts to squirrels is beneficial as they are rich in fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. When you offer walnuts to squirrels, it encourages them to exhibit their natural foraging behavior in your backyard. Squirrels may also share the walnuts with their offspring by taking them back to their nests, or they may hoard the walnuts to save for winter. Overall, walnuts can be a nutritious and enjoyable treat for squirrels.
Walnut Nutritional Information
Approximately one ounce (14 halves) of walnuts contains the following nutrients:
- Fat: 18.5 grams
- Water: 4%
- Sugar: 0.7 grams
- Protein: 4.3 grams
- Fiber: 1.9 grams
- Carbs: 3.9 grams
- Calories: 185
Why Do Squirrels Crack Walnuts?
Have you ever observed a squirrel munching on a walnut and wondered how they manage to crack open the hard shell? The secret lies in their teeth and jaw structure.
Specialized Front Teeth (Incisors)
Squirrels have four front teeth and eight molars that help them grind and chew their food. Their front teeth, or incisors, are sharp and curved, making them perfect for cracking open hard shells like walnuts.
Squirrel Incisors Never Stop Growing
Interestingly, squirrel incisors never stop growing. To keep their teeth at an optimal length, squirrels need to continuously gnaw on items such as nuts. This constant gnawing helps prevent dental problems and maintain their incisors at a manageable size.
Once the outer layer of the nut is cracked, the squirrel’s molars get to work. These teeth are located towards the back of their jaw and are perfect for grinding and chewing the softer parts of the nut. It’s like a nut-cracking assembly line in their mouths!
What Kind of Walnuts Do Squirrels Eat?
Squirrels have a preference for three different types of walnuts. Each variety is packed with antioxidants and omega-3 essential fatty acids essential for maintaining good health.
English walnuts are the most commonly found and consumed walnuts in the United States. They have a smooth, gnarled shell that’s easy for squirrels to crack open, revealing the ivory-colored nutmeat inside.
Black walnuts are native to North America, specifically the Mississippi Valley and Appalachian area. These nuts have thick, hard shells that are difficult to crack open, but that doesn’t stop squirrels from trying! They seem to enjoy the challenge of getting to the tasty nutmeat inside.
White walnuts, also known as butternuts, are a rare and endangered species found in specific regions, including the Mississippi Valley, the Appalachian area, and parts of Canada. These nuts have a sweet and oily flavor and can be identified by their light-colored, jagged shells. Squirrels love all kinds of walnuts, whether they’re English, black, or white.
Where To Buy Walnuts for Squirrels
If you’re looking to buy walnuts for squirrels, you have several options. Local pet stores and retail stores catering to backyard wildlife may carry walnuts suitable for squirrels. Additionally, popular online marketplaces like Amazon offer a variety of walnuts for purchase. Some people also recommend natural walnut butter and websites like Anuts.com as alternative sources for squirrel-friendly nuts.
What Alternatives Are There to Walnuts?
If you want to offer squirrels something other than walnuts, they also enjoy various other nuts, such as pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, and hickory nuts. Squirrels will also happily snack on unsalted peanuts from time to time. Providing a variety of nuts ensures that squirrels receive a diverse range of nutrients and keeps them interested in coming back for more.
The Nutty Conclusion on Walnuts for Squirrels
Feeding squirrels walnuts is an enjoyable way to support their natural foraging behavior and provide them with essential nutrients. It’s a rewarding pastime that benefits both you and your furry friends. Just remember to be respectful of your neighbors if they’re not keen on having squirrels in their yard. Feeding squirrels in an area away from their property is always a good idea.
Q: Can squirrels eat walnuts?
A: Yes, squirrels can eat walnuts, and they love them.
Q: Are walnuts good for squirrels?
A: Walnuts are beneficial for squirrels as they are rich in fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Q: What kind of walnuts do squirrels eat?
A: Squirrels enjoy various types of walnuts, including English walnuts, black walnuts, and white walnuts.
Q: Where can I buy walnuts for squirrels?
A: You can buy walnuts for squirrels at local pet stores, retail stores that cater to backyard wildlife, and online marketplaces like Amazon.
Q: What alternatives are there to walnuts for squirrels?
A: Squirrels also enjoy pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, hickory nuts, and unsalted peanuts as alternatives to walnuts.