It is widely believed that squirrels bury their nuts in the fall and cannot find them again in the spring. Whether this is an old wives’ tale or not remains to be seen. What is certain is that Sciurus are finding less and less food due to the growing development of landscape areas and the clearing of forests. If you want to protect the rodents from starvation, it is best to set up a small feeding station in your own garden. But what do squirrels actually eat? And does the gardener have to adjust the feed according to the season?

Are squirrels dependent on feeding?

Usually it is the ground frost that denies the squirrels access to the food depots in late autumn. In recent years, however, very hot summers have also made it difficult to search for food, since beechnuts and hazelnuts under these climatic conditions mostly bear deaf nuts or no nuts at all.

Rodents living in urban areas have a particularly hard time. Here the supply of tree fruits is very limited anyway. These squirrels gratefully accept human support.

Of course, nobody minds when gardeners take care of the animals and offer food to squirrels. Nevertheless, experts do not yet classify the populations as endangered, despite increasingly extreme climatic conditions.

Animal researchers are now certain that the feeding of squirrels affects the population. Observations over a long period of time showed that the stocks increased significantly the more food was available to the animals. Conversely, the number of sighted squirrels decreased noticeably. In addition, the scientists noted that the rodents relocated in large numbers to areas with more abundant supply when there was insufficient supply.

Feed the squirrels – but do it right!

If you offer squirrels a feeding place in your own garden, you should be aware that you will also attract other animals. If the supplier chooses an unfavorable location, it may even be that rodents who are apparently predators benefit from the well-intentioned support.

In general, experts recommend making the food supply as natural as possible. Even better than setting up a bird feeder is to plant native trees and shrubs that carry the appropriate food. For example, these could be the following plants:

  • hazel bushes
  • walnut trees
  • spruces
  • Pine trees
  • Bucheckern
  • sunflowers

According to the expert advice, the most important thing – especially during the summer months – besides the food, is the water supply. Almost every animal, including birds and hedgehogs, appreciates clean, easily accessible drinking water on a hot day.

Note: When feeding, the gardener does not have to worry about Sciurus becoming dependent on his help. Although many people warn that animals are losing their hunting instincts and relying on humans, unlike birds, for example, squirrels do not adapt to the available food source. However, the rodents do not keep any stocks in the roost, but rather get their supplies for the winter from their hiding place again and again. When the ground is frozen, they therefore need an alternative source of food. This is where the gardener can be of great help.

Natural food of the Sciurus

Squirrels are omnivores. They mainly feed on:

  • tree fruits
  • kernels and seeds
  • Buds, shoots and leaves of various plants
  • small birds and their eggs
  • Berry
  • tree branches
  • tree bark
  • mushrooms
  • wild fruits

The animals do not have any special preferences. Rather, squirrels make their food dependent on what is available in the area and the seasons. By providing a rich supply all year round, the gardener provides the squirrels with all the important nutrients.

Appropriate feed

So that the squirrels don’t get upset and accept the food at all, the gardener has many foods available that are suitable as squirrel food:

  • bite-sized carrot chunks
  • unsweetened rusk
  • walnuts
  • hazelnuts
  • sunflower seeds
  • chestnuts
  • Zirbelnüsse
  • raisins
  • Apples and grapes in moderation
Note: Gardeners are often unsure whether to offer the hazelnuts and walnuts cracked or in their shells. It is best to observe whether there are mainly young animals or adult squirrels in the area. The former cannot break open the hard shell and are therefore dependent on cracked food. Older Sciurus need the nuts as a winter supply. The fruits have a longer shelf life when they are peeled.

Unsuitable feed

However, the following foods are not recommended:

  • bread
  • mold-forming foods

Are purchased feed mixes recommended

If you are unsure about the composition of the food, you will be happy about the support of the specialist trade. Here the gardener receives ready-made mixtures that are said to be perfectly tailored to the taste of the little rodents. Anyone who thinks they are making a good choice with such products is mistaken. Studies have shown that a large proportion of the mixtures consist of ingredients that the squirrels do not even touch. They are just cheap cores designed to increase volume while reducing production costs.

In addition, sunflower seeds from packaged goods can spread the dangerous ragweed plant, which causes severe allergic reactions in people.
Last but not least, animals also look forward to a refreshing meal in summer. It doesn’t always have to be a dry mix. Even squirrels are happy about a piece of watermelon in warm weather. In summary, the gardener should save the costs and mix the squirrel food himself from leftover food.

Adjust feed to the seasons

Squirrels don’t hibernate , they just hibernate. Since the energy metabolism shuts down, they need less food during the cold season. Sciurus then eat around 35 g of food per day. In summer, squirrels eat more than twice as much at around 80 g per day. Nevertheless, experts recommend feeding the animals mainly in winter, since the search for food is more difficult at this time. Sciurus then avoid long distances, as these cost too much energy. Anyone who discovers a kobel in the garden should set up the feeding station in the immediate vicinity.

Hint: Did you know that squirrels give birth for the first time in February? However, if the food supply is too scarce, the date is postponed to summer.

Feeding tips

  • inaccessible to cats
  • clean regularly to prevent disease
  • Do not spread food directly on the ground
  • better place on the windowsill
  • special squirrel stations are commercially available

In addition to predators, there are often other dangers that the gardener is not aware of at first. Nets used to protect fruit trees from birds act as a trap for squirrels. When rodents try to eat the fruit, they get caught in the mesh and starve. It is also not uncommon for the animals to fall into rain barrels in search of water and drown miserably. The gardener should therefore always cover them.

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