Out of all the rodents that live in our neighborhood, the squirrels are by far the most adorable ones. These hairy little critters are surprisingly quick and are fun to watch in action. But you know what’s even better? Making friends with them. But how would you do that when they have such quick reflexes and see humans as a threat? By offering them food in order to attract them to your yard. Can you use apples for this purpose?
Can squirrels eat apples? Squirrels can indeed eat apples, and do so with relish. These bright fruits are sweet, which draws the squirrels to them. However, you shouldn’t be feeding squirrels apples, or any other sweet treat, too frequently, for the high sugar content in them can be detrimental to their health.
Keep in mind that a healthy diet for a squirrel is a diet based primarily on nuts and seeds, with fruit only as an occasional snack or meal. Squirrels tempted by the sweet taste of an apple may forget their health concerns and indulge in this tasty treat too frequently.
In this article, we are going to discuss everything you must know before you use apples to draw a squirrel to your yard: their health benefits, the risks involved, feeding ideas, and more.
Do squirrels like eating apples?
Whether you are thinking of offering apples to your pet squirrel or the squirrels that visit your backyard, the first thing you need to know is whether or not will they eat it.
Like we mentioned earlier, apples should only be offered to squirrels occasionally as a treat, pet, or otherwise. And, if your little friends don’t like their treats, that certainly defeats the purpose.
Before we answer your question, let us tell you a little about the diet of squirrels in the wild.
Squirrels are not only omnivores but also instinctively scavengers, popular for always eating or collecting everything edible they can find.
Apparently, they have a diverse diet including nuts, seeds, berries, fruits, insects, small birds and animals, and even their eggs. Although they eat meat as well, the squirrels prefer having a diet that predominantly consists of plant materials.
Another fact about these little critters is that they not only love sweet things but also have a taste for all fruits. This is why they will never turn down any fruit, including apples. In other words, squirrels would love eating apples and you can certainly use these fruits to lure them to your backyard.
Are apples healthy for squirrels?
While apples would work just fine if you are trying to attract squirrels to your yard, are these fruits good for their health or not? Just like all the other animals, squirrels, too, need vitamins and minerals to live a long and healthy life.
Can apples help them in achieving it? In order to find that out, let’s first go through this table that lays out the nutritional composition of apples:
|Vitamin A||54 IU|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||0.017 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.026 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.091 mg|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)||0.061 mg|
|Vitamin B6(Pyridoxine)||0.041 mg|
|Vitamin B9 (Folates)||3 mcg|
|Vitamin C||4.6 g|
|Vitamin E||0.18 g|
|Vitamin K||2.2 mcg|
|Sodium, Na||1 mg|
|Potassium, K||107 mg|
|Calcium, Ca||6 mg|
|Iron, Fe||0.12 mg|
|Magnesium, Mg||5 mg|
|Phosphorous, P||11 mg|
|Zinc, Zn||0.04 mg|
|Dietary fibers||2.40 g|
Serving size: 100 grams
If we have learned anything from the table, it is that apples are one of the most nutrient-dense fruits that you can find. But which of these nutrients help these critters and how? Let’s find out:
- Apples contain Vitamin A, which promotes a squirrel’s eyesight, plays a key role in the smooth functioning of their respiratory system, and maintains their reproductive health.
- Apples are rich in Vitamins B-series and C, all of which promote their healthy growth and speed up the wound healing process in their body.
- Apples contain minerals like Calcium, Magnesium, and Phosphorus, all three of which work together to keep their bones strong and healthy. Calcium is most essential of all three since it is also responsible for their teeth, which keep growing throughout their lives. Their tooth growth alone requires about 40 mg of Calcium per day. If a female squirrel is pregnant or lactating, it would need twice that amount.
- Apples have protein in a moderate quantity, which the squirrels need for their muscles and hair growth.
In light of all the aforementioned pointers, it would be safe to say that out of all the treats you could offer the squirrels, apples are among the healthiest ones.
The downsides of feeding apples to squirrels
So far, we have learned that apples offer squirrels a wide range of vitamins and minerals that enhance their health. However, this doesn’t mean that every time you have extra apples at home, you can feed them to the squirrels in your yard.
Remember how we asked you to practice moderation with apples earlier? The key to making apples beneficial for a squirrel’s health lies in moderation.
This is because apples have high sugar content, as you might have noticed in the table above. Now, since the sugar is natural, not refined or processed, it is not that bad for animals and only gives them an energy boost.
But do you think critters like squirrels need more energy? Absolutely not. They’re already highly energetic as it is. Therefore, eating too many apples can over-excite them, even increase their blood pressure level, which doesn’t sound like a healthy thing for them.
Moreover, apples also have high fiber content, much higher than the amount squirrels need, and could cause digestive problems when consumed in excess or too often.
Therefore, fruits like apples should be offered to them with caution; while a couple of slices twice a week is fine, anything more than that could be dangerous for their health.
Can squirrels eat apples along with their skin?
Have you ever heard of the saying that the skin of the apples has more nutrients than their flesh? It’s true. This is why it is recommended to eat apples without peeling them. While the skin is safe and nutritious for us, what about the squirrels? Is it safe for them as well?
Although the skin itself doesn’t pose any threat to the squirrels, we would still recommend you to peel the apple off before feeding it to them. Why? Because most of the apples grown commercially are often waxed or sprayed with toxic chemicals such as pesticides and insecticides in order to protect them from insects.
Therefore, if you eat store-bought apples, it is likely they have been covered with these. And while washing them thoroughly can get rid of enough of these chemicals to make them safe for our consumption, even a small amount of it could be lethal to your hairy little friends.
If you don’t want the squirrels to be devoid of all the nutrients of the apple skin, there is a way you can feed them unpeeled apples safely: by purchasing the organic ones. They might be a little expensive, but they are much safer and healthier for both you and your little critters.
Is it okay for squirrels to eat the apple seeds?
Suppose you’re buying organic apples for the squirrels and no longer need to peel them, should you throw them the whole fruit to devour? You absolutely should not, because while the skin and flesh might be safe for them, the seeds present inside are not. And being the scavengers they are, squirrels hardly know what’s good or bad for them and would eat the fruit along with its seeds.
But why are apple seeds unsafe for squirrels? There are many fruits with seeds that contain amygdalin, but none have it in such a high concentration as apples.
Amygdalin is a naturally occurring compound that, when broken down, degrades into hydrogen cyanide. And hydrogen cyanide prevents your blood from absorbing the oxygen you breathe, ultimately killing you.
While it takes a significant amount of hydrogen cyanide to harm humans, little rodents like squirrels can suffer severely by eating merely a couple of seeds.
Can baby squirrels eat apples?
No, you shouldn’t be feeding apples to baby squirrels, because all squirrels that are younger than the age of 3 months should be strictly fed only their mothers’ milk. So, if you spot any squirrel in your yard that looks younger than the regular ones, try to avoid feeding them any solid food.
How to feed apples to squirrels?
Before you feed apples, or any other fruit or vegetable, the first thing you should do is to wash them thoroughly.
To do this effectively, you can soak them in lukewarm water for about 5 minutes and wash them off with fresh water. However, if you’ve bought organic apples, this step is not really necessary.
Once the fruit is washed, you need to peel it (not the organic ones) and cut it from the middle in order to remove all the seeds. What you need to do afterward depends on your relationship with the squirrel in your yard.
If you’re new to them, they would probably see you as a threat and wouldn’t risk coming too close. In that case, you can either throw the chopped pieces of apples around your yard and let them eat those on their own.
However, once they begin to trust you, they would start eating right from your hand.
Conclusion: Can squirrels eat apples?
Squirrels are scavengers that would eat anything and everything you throw their way.
Apples are both tasty and healthy treats for them, but shouldn’t be offered to them in excess or too frequently. Because their high sugar and fiber content can be unhealthy for these little critters.
If you are using apples to attract squirrels in your yard, you should always purchase organic ones for them, and remove the seeds beforehand.
I’m sure you’ve heard the rumors about squirrels, and you’re wondering what’s true. After all, there are so many conflicting opinions on the Internet. The next time your curiosity drives you to find out if it is safe for a squirrel to eat apples, remember this article.