Have you ever seen a squirrel in action? These little guys are so quick that they can cross your entire backyard before you blink. Have you wondered how they manage to stay so energetic all the time? They have a diverse diet that helps them in maintaining their energy levels. The squirrels are typical hoarders, looking for food practically all the time. And there isn’t much they won’t eat. Take oranges, for instance.
If you’ve ever wondered if your pet squirrel could enjoy the sweet, juicy taste and fun playtime from one of these popular fruits, you can rest assured that yes, squirrels can eat oranges, but there are some things you should know about feeding oranges to your pet.
Oranges, along with several other fruits, are a part of squirrels’ natural diet and can benefit them a great deal when consumed in moderation. You need to be careful of how much they consume at a time because of the high sugar content of oranges.
Are you planning on using oranges as bait to lure squirrels into your backyard? Or are you merely curious about the benefits of these fruits for them? Whatever your worries are, we will provide you with their solutions in this article.
Is It Safe for Squirrels to Eat Oranges?
Whether you have a pet squirrel or you like to put out food for the squirrels that visit your backyard, their health and safety should always be your first concern. Whatever fruit or vegetable you plan on using as their treats, you must make sure that it is safe for them first.
So, is it safe for squirrels to eat oranges? Yes, absolutely. Not only do squirrels enjoy eating oranges, but these fruits are also a part of their natural diet in the wild.
Most of the vets worldwide claim that there is no harm in feeding oranges to the squirrels as an occasional treat. So, if you were worried about the safety of oranges for the squirrels, consider this as a green flag.
Are Oranges Healthy for Squirrels?
Now that we have covered the grounds of safety, let’s move ahead to talk about oranges’ impact on their health. Are oranges good or bad for these critters? What are their positive and negative effects on their health?
Don’t worry, we will answer all these questions ahead, but first, we will begin by talking about what is inside these fruits.
Nutritional Composition of Oranges
We’ve always heard our elders saying that all the citrus fruits, including oranges, are great for our health because they strengthen our immune system. The reason behind this is the abundance of Vitamin C in these fruits. But surely Vitamin C is not the only nutrient oranges have?
Take a look at all the other nutrients you can find inside oranges in the table below:
|Vitamin A||225 IU|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||0.114 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.052 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.369 mg|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)||0.328 mg|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||0.079 mg|
|Vitamin B9 (Folates)||39 mcg|
|Vitamin C||69.7 mg|
|Vitamin E||0.24 mg|
|Iron, Fe||0.1 mg|
|Calcium, Ca||40 mg|
|Sodium, Na||0 mg|
|Potassium, K||169 mg|
|Copper, Cu||39 mcg|
|Magnesium, Mg||10 mg|
|Zinc, Zn||0.08 mg|
|Manganese, Mn||0.024 mg|
|Dietary fibers||3.1 g|
Serving size: 100 grams
Health Benefits of Oranges for Squirrels
Oranges are quite the powerhouse of nutrients. But do these nutrients benefit the health of squirrels? Let’s find out:
- Oranges contain all the major vitamins (Vitamins A, B1, C, and E) that the squirrels need for the smooth functioning of their reproductive health, immune system, cell and tissue health, as well as eyesight. Moreover, Vitamins C and E also provide them with essential antioxidants to boost their overall health.
- They also have minerals like Iron and Calcium in abundance. Iron is essential for their red blood cells, and transports oxygen in their blood, while Calcium keeps their bones and teeth healthy.
- The protein in these fruits promotes healthy body hair growth, which is crucial to protect them against the cold during winters.
- Oranges are also low-fat fruits and do not add too many calories to the squirrel’s diet. In other words, they will never make your little critters obese.
Risks Involved in Feeding Oranges to Squirrels
While oranges have so many benefits for your little critters’ health, their only downside for them is that they’re fruits; and like all the other fruits, they contain a substantial amount of sugar (about 12% of 100 grams of orange is sugar).
And while natural sugar is much safer than refined one for most animals, that is not the case with squirrels. Natural sugar, when broken down, provides animals energy. And energetic critters like squirrels have no use for more energy. Therefore, the natural sugar will only disturb their blood sugar level and negatively affect their cardiac health.
However, this will only happen if the squirrels are eating too many oranges regularly. If you can feed them these treats in moderation (a couple of slices once a week), your little friends will be in perfect health.
Can Squirrels Eat Oranges Along With the Peel?
Did you know that the orange peels contain citrus oil that can be beneficial for our health? But we still don’t eat them, because they do not appeal to our taste buds and it is difficult to chew and digest them.
Since squirrels can eat almost anything, can they eat oranges along with their peels? No. Even these little guys discard the peels when they eat oranges. If you have an orange tree around, you might have found discarded peels lying around at some point.
Moreover, if you buy regular, commercially-grown oranges, chances are that their peels contain wax or other toxic chemicals to keep pests away. And if the squirrels ingest these chemicals, they can get very sick, and might even lose their lives. Therefore, if you’re serving oranges to squirrels, always peel them beforehand.
What About the Orange Seeds? Can They Eat That?
How often do you eat an orange with its seeds intact? Almost never. That’s exactly the way you should feed these fruits to your squirrels: without their seeds. In fact, you should be even more careful about the seeds with your squirrels than you are for yourself. Why? We’ll tell you.
You might have heard that the apple seeds contain a naturally occurring compound called amygdalin, which degrades into hydrogen cyanide when broken down and is lethal to all living organisms.
While the orange seeds are not as potent as the former, they still contain traces of amygdalin that might not be strong enough to harm humans, but can certainly be toxic to animals as small as squirrels. If you’re not careful, your squirrel can suffer from cyanide toxicity, and could even die.
Can Squirrels Drink Orange Juice?
The answer to this question depends on whether you use store-bought orange juices and blend them yourself at home. While home-made orange juice can occasionally be fed to the squirrels, the store-bought ones might contain refined sugar, preservatives, and additives and are, therefore, not suitable for them.
However, if you wish to offer the squirrels something liquid, always go with fresh water. Squirrels need plenty of it to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Can Baby Squirrels Eat Oranges as Well?
While oranges make fine treats for the adult squirrels, if you ever come across a baby squirrel, do not feed them oranges, or any other food item. Unlike the adults that can basically eat anything, the baby squirrels have very specific dietary needs.
In fact, they survive solely on their mother’s milk until they are about 8 weeks old. The safest way of handling abandoned baby squirrels is to contact your nearest wildlife rehabilitation center and let the experts take care of them.
How to Feed Oranges to Squirrels?
Prepping oranges for squirrels is not much different from prepping them for ourselves.
First, you need to peel them off, then remove all the seeds carefully and break all the slices apart. Now, if you have a pet squirrel, you can either serve oranges to them in their regular dish or feed them by hands.
However, in case you are trying to attract a squirrel to your yard, you should keep the slices at a place in your yard where they can easily spot them. You can also get them their own feeder and keep the oranges in there, so they can feel more at home in your yard and keep returning.
Conclusion: Can Squirrels Eat Oranges?
To wrap it up, let’s do a quick recap of everything we have learned above: oranges are both tasty and healthy treats for the squirrels. In fact, these critters eat oranges in the same way as we do: after removing their peels and seeds.
Only their orange intake should be much more limited than our own. And if we fail to maintain this moderation in their diet, they could suffer terribly for it. Therefore, we should always try to keep their diet diverse.
Squirrels are pretty smart animals and enjoy a diverse diet of nuts, berries, seeds, fruits, and insects.