Feeding Tips For An American Red Squirrel: What To Include In Their Diet

what can I feed a american red squirrel

The American red squirrel, a small and charismatic creature found in the forests of North America, has a varied and unique diet. Known for its acrobatic abilities and energetic behavior, feeding a red squirrel requires understanding its natural food preferences and providing a combination of both natural and supplemental food sources. In this article, we will explore the different types of food that are suitable for these adorable creatures, ensuring their health and well-being in our backyard or home. Whether you simply enjoy observing wildlife or have decided to adopt a red squirrel as a pet, this guide will provide valuable insights into what to feed these delightful creatures.

Characteristics Values
Scientific Name Tamiasciurus hudsonicus
Common Name(s) American Red Squirrel, Pine Squirrel
Size Small
Weight Approximately 7-9 ounces
Body Length Approximately 11-14 inches
Tail Length Approximately 6-9 inches
Lifespan Average 5-7 years in the wild
Habitat Forested areas with coniferous or mixed forests
Distribution North America
Diet Nuts, seeds, acorns, fruits, mushrooms, buds, and flowers
Food Preference Prefer conifer seeds such as pine cones
Food Storage Squirrels store food in various caches for winter
Eating Habits Diurnal (active during the day), opportunistic feeder
Predators Hawks, owls, foxes, weasels, domestic cats, and snakes
Adaptations Sharp teeth for cracking open nuts, long bushy tails
Communication Vocalizations and tail movements
Breeding Season Late winter to early spring
Gestation Period Approximately 38-42 days
Number of Offspring 1-6
Nest Dreys (ball-shaped nests made of leaves and twigs)
Conservation Status Least Concern
Interesting Fact Can jump up to 20 feet in a single bound


Natural diet for American red squirrels

American red squirrels are fascinating creatures that are native to North America. When it comes to their diet, these squirrels are mainly herbivores, which means that they primarily feed on plant-based foods. Providing a natural and balanced diet for American red squirrels is essential for their overall health and well-being. Here is a detailed guide on the natural diet for American red squirrels to help you ensure they receive the best nutrition:

Nuts and Seeds:

Nuts and seeds are a staple in the diet of American red squirrels. These small mammals have strong teeth that allow them to crack open the hard shells of various nuts. Some of the preferred nuts for American red squirrels include acorns, hickory nuts, walnuts, and hazelnuts. Additionally, they also enjoy seeds like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and pine seeds (commonly known as pine nuts).


The natural diet of American red squirrels also includes a variety of fruits. These squirrels are particularly fond of berries, such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. They also enjoy apples, pears, and cherries. Fruits provide important vitamins and minerals to support the overall health of these squirrels.

Tree Bark:

American red squirrels are known for their ability to strip tree bark to obtain nutrients. They often target the bark of coniferous trees, such as pine and spruce, which contain the valuable inner layer known as cambium. The cambium layer is rich in sugars, starches, and proteins, providing a nutritious food source for these squirrels.


Mushrooms and other types of fungi also play a role in the natural diet of American red squirrels. These squirrels eat both the caps and stems of mushrooms. Eating fungi not only provides additional nutrients but also helps to naturally balance their diet.


While American red squirrels are primarily herbivores, they are known to occasionally eat small insects. This behavior is more common during the spring and summer months when insects are abundant. Insects provide an additional source of protein and other essential nutrients for the squirrels.


Water is a vital component of a red squirrel's diet. These squirrels obtain water from various natural sources, such as puddles, creeks, and raindrops. It is important to provide a clean and easily accessible water source for captive red squirrels.

It's important to note that American red squirrels have individual preferences and dietary needs may vary slightly from squirrel to squirrel. When feeding a captive red squirrel, it is essential to provide a balanced and varied diet to mimic their natural diet as closely as possible. Avoid feeding them processed and sugary foods, as these can be harmful to their health.

In conclusion, the natural diet for American red squirrels consists of nuts, seeds, fruits, tree bark, fungi, insects, and water. Providing a diverse and balanced diet will ensure that these squirrels receive all the necessary nutrients for their overall well-being. Remember to always research and consult with experts or veterinarians to ensure that you are meeting the specific dietary needs of your American red squirrel.


Nuts and seeds as a staple food for red squirrels

As a proud squirrel lover, you may have found yourself wondering what types of food are best to feed your American red squirrel. One food that stands out as a staple in their diet is nuts and seeds. These small animals rely heavily on this food source for their daily nutrition, making it essential that you provide them with a variety of nuts and seeds in their diet.

Nuts are a great source of healthy fats and protein for red squirrels. They contain essential nutrients such as vitamin E, magnesium, and phosphorus, which are vital for their overall health. Some of the most common nuts that are safe and healthy for red squirrels to consume include:

  • Peanuts: These are a popular choice among red squirrels as they are rich in proteins, healthy fats, and fiber. However, it's important to note that feeding them raw or salted peanuts is not recommended. Instead, opt for unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts.
  • Almonds: Red squirrels can benefit from the nutritional value of almonds as they contain high levels of vitamin E, which is essential for their immune system. However, it's important to crush the almonds into smaller pieces to make them easier for squirrels to consume.
  • Walnuts: These nuts are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Red squirrels enjoy cracking walnuts open, as it provides both mental stimulation and a tasty reward.

Seeds are another essential component of a red squirrel's diet. Seeds provide crucial vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber, which helps to support their digestive health. Some types of seeds that red squirrels can benefit from include:

  • Sunflower seeds: These provide a good balance of protein, healthy fats, and fiber. Opt for unsalted sunflower seeds, as the added salt can be harmful to their health.
  • Pumpkin seeds: These seeds are rich in essential fatty acids and antioxidants. They also provide vitamins such as vitamin E and zinc, which contribute to their overall well-being.
  • Flaxseeds: These tiny seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, making them a valuable addition to a red squirrel's diet. They can benefit their fur and skin health, as well as support their cardiovascular system.

When feeding nuts and seeds to red squirrels, it's essential to do so in moderation. While they are a nutritious food source, they can also be high in calories. Providing a varied diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and other natural foods like mushrooms and berries is also crucial for their well-being.

Remember to always offer clean, fresh water alongside their meals. Additionally, it's important to avoid feeding red squirrels with any cooked or processed foods, which can harm their digestive system.

In conclusion, nuts and seeds offer important nutritional benefits for American red squirrels. By including a variety of nuts and seeds in their diet, you are ensuring their overall health and well-being. As responsible squirrel enthusiasts, it's vital that we provide them with a balanced diet and a safe environment to thrive in.


Fruits and vegetables to supplement the diet of red squirrels

American red squirrels are cute and active creatures that can be found throughout various parts of North America. These squirrels have a varied diet that consists of nuts, seeds, fungi, and even insects. However, they can also benefit from fruits and vegetables as a supplement to their diet. Not only do these provide additional nutrients, but they also add variety to their meals. Here are some fruits and vegetables that can be fed to American red squirrels.


Apples are a great option for red squirrels. These fruits are high in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. Cut the apple into small pieces and offer them to the squirrels. It's important to remove any seeds or core since these can be harmful to squirrels.


Berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, are a delicious treat for red squirrels. These fruits are packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and antioxidants. Offer a small amount of berries to squirrels, as they can be high in sugar.


Carrots are a nutritious root vegetable that can be beneficial for squirrels. They are a good source of vitamin A, which is essential for their eye health. Grate or cut the carrots into small pieces before offering them to the squirrels.


Pumpkin is not only a popular fall ingredient but also a healthy choice for red squirrels. It is rich in fiber and contains beneficial nutrients like vitamin A and potassium. Cut the pumpkin into small chunks, removing the seeds and skin, before feeding it to the squirrels.


Peas are small, green vegetables that are packed with vitamins and minerals. They are a good source of vitamin K, vitamin C, and manganese. Offer frozen or cooked peas to squirrels, but make sure they have cooled down to room temperature before serving.


Spinach is a leafy green vegetable that is rich in vitamins and minerals. It provides important nutrients like iron, calcium, and vitamin K. Tear the spinach leaves into small pieces and serve them to the squirrels. Ensure that the spinach is thoroughly washed to remove any dirt or pesticides.

Sweet potatoes:

Sweet potatoes are a nutritious alternative to regular potatoes for red squirrels. They are rich in fiber and contain essential vitamins like vitamin A and vitamin C. Peel and cook the sweet potatoes before offering them to the squirrels. Cut them into small chunks for easy consumption.

When feeding fruits and vegetables to red squirrels, it's important to remember a few essential points. First, these foods should be offered in moderation and as supplements to their regular diet. Nuts, seeds, and fungi should still make up the majority of their meals. Secondly, make sure the fruits and vegetables are fresh and free of any pesticides or harmful chemicals. Finally, always provide fresh water alongside the food to keep the squirrels hydrated.

By incorporating these fruits and vegetables into their diet, you can help provide American red squirrels with a nutritious and varied meal plan. Remember to observe the squirrels' preferences and adjust the portions accordingly. With proper care and a balanced diet, these lovely creatures will thrive in their natural habitat.


Protein-rich foods to support the health of red squirrels

The American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) is a small tree-dwelling mammal found in North America. These adorable little creatures are known for their vibrant red fur and bushy tails. While they primarily feed on a diet of nuts, seeds, and fruits, it's important to supplement their nutrition with protein-rich foods to support their overall health.

Proteins are essential for the growth, development, and maintenance of body tissues in red squirrels. They play a crucial role in muscle building and repairing, as well as providing energy. Therefore, it's vital to incorporate protein-rich foods into their diet to ensure their well-being.

Here are some protein-rich foods that you can feed to your American red squirrel:

  • Nuts: Nuts such as almonds, peanuts, and walnuts are excellent sources of protein for red squirrels. These can be offered in small quantities as occasional treats. However, keep in mind that nuts should only represent a small part of their overall diet due to their high fat content.
  • Seeds: Seeds are another great source of protein for red squirrels. Options like sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds can be provided in moderation. Be sure to remove any shells or husks before offering the seeds to your squirrel.
  • Insects: Red squirrels are natural foragers and have been known to prey on insects in the wild. Providing them with small, protein-rich insects like mealworms and crickets can be an excellent way to ensure they receive the necessary amount of protein. You can find these insects at pet stores or order them online.
  • Eggs: Hard-boiled eggs can be a nutritious and protein-packed addition to a red squirrel's diet. Ensure that the eggs are fully cooked and cooled before offering them to your furry friend. You can crumble the eggs and mix them with other foods for added variety.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables: While fruits and vegetables may not be high in protein compared to other options, they still contribute to a well-rounded diet for red squirrels. Foods like apples, carrots, and berries can be offered as occasional treats, providing additional vitamins and minerals to support their overall health.
  • Squirrel-approved commercial diets: High-quality commercial diets specially formulated for squirrels can be a convenient and reliable source of protein. These diets often contain a combination of nuts, seeds, and proteins, ensuring that your red squirrel receives a balanced nutrition.

It's important to remember that while protein-rich foods are essential for red squirrels, they should be provided in moderation. A well-rounded diet should consist primarily of their natural food sources, including nuts, seeds, and fruits. Additionally, always ensure that the food you offer is fresh and free from any contaminants.

Feeding protein-rich foods to your American red squirrel will help support its overall health and well-being. By incorporating these options into their diet, you can provide them with the balanced nutrition they need to thrive in captivity.

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