Finding a member of the rodent family in your backyard is usually an unpleasant affair. Squirrels, however, get a very different reception. Looking outside to see a cute, fluffy squirrel scampering about is a welcome sight to behold.
In fact, noticing this particular rodent will tug on the heart strings. So much so, that we rush around searching for foodstuffs to feed these furry friends. Popcorn is often given to these animals. But, can squirrels eat popcorn?
Although our intentions may be good, offering certain foods to squirrels can be extremely harmful. When we think of squirrels, we picture nuts. This popular choice is perfectly fine. But, when nuts are in short supply, we bring out the popcorn.
These little critters are partial to eating popped corn. They will devour however much you throw down. But are you causing more harm than good by giving in to their cravings?
Read on to find out if squirrels can eat popcorn. Learn whether unpopped kernels and popped corn are suitable for squirrels, and which varieties you should never feed your furry friends. This article looks at a squirrel’s eating requirements, nutritional facts, and how to feed them.
It also provides an insightful final thoughts section. After reading these facts, you can be sure your little visitor will thoroughly enjoy his stay.
What Do Squirrels Like To Eat?
Most types of squirrel follow the same eating patterns. Basically, they are resourceful omnivores who are open to eating most small foodstuffs. However, fruits, grains, nuts, and vegetables are a firm favorite. That said, they love popcorn.
Why Feed Squirrels?
Finding a squirrel in the garden is an enjoyable discovery for most people, and feeding them is just as much fun. Yet, there is another reason people feed squirrels. Should these furry friends decide to frequent your backyard and a bird feeder is present, the bird food is fair game.
Bad luck birds. Therefore, people look for alternative food stuffs to offer these formidable rodents.
What Is Popcorn?
Popcorn is a cereal grain. The popcorn kernel is made up of the shell, endosperm, and germ. Inside you will find watery starch. Popped and unpopped corn are full of nutritional benefits and without flavorings it is a super healthy choice of snack.
Can Squirrels Eat Popcorn Kernels/Unpopped Popcorn?
Popcorn kernels are highly nutritious and safe to feed to wild and pet squirrels.
Can Squirrels Eat Popped Corn?
Air-popped corn is an excellent squirrel food. Cook the corn on a stove top with a small amount of vegetable oil. This makes a perfect squirrel snack, and is also suitable for most birds too, when given in moderation.
When feeding squirrels popcorn, remember not to add any coloring or flavoring ingredients. This would be detrimental to their health.
Nutritional Benefits Of Popcorn For Squirrels
Air-popped popcorn that hasn’t been loaded with flavorings is a healthy lifestyle food choice for people and wildlife. Both pet squirrels and wild squirrels need a balanced nutritional diet to promote optimal health. The nutritional benefits for squirrels include:
1. Fiber – plain air popped popcorn provides a rich source of fiber. This greatly supports the digestive system.
2. Iron – iron helps to oxygenate blood. As squirrels are highly energetic animals, this is hugely important. An iron deficiency leads to exhaustion.
3. Minerals – popcorn includes minerals such as copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc.
4. Vitamin B1, B3, and B6 – these essential vitamins ensure squirrels can thrive.
5. Protein – Popcorn is loaded with protein to keep squirrels healthy and strong. Squirrels exert a lot of energy. Eating a balanced diet is vital for maintaining their well-being.
Disadvantages Of Popcorn For Squirrels
1. Vegetable oil – even air-popped corn can be a little harmful if given excessively to rodents. Cooking the corn requires a little vegetable oil. Balance and moderation are key considerations for an animal’s diet.
2. Additives, flavorings, seasoning – letting a squirrel eat microwaved popcorn or popped corn with added flavorings is especially damaging for their health.
3. Salt – salt increases the heart rate/ Giving a squirrel added sodium can lead to death.
Varieties Of Popcorn To Avoid
As a rule avoid giving a squirrel any popcorn that is colored, flavored, or seasoned. Squirrels can benefit from eating popcorn as long as it is plain and sir-popped.
How To Give Popcorn To A Squirrel
Placing a bowl of popcorn is areas that are highly populated with squirrels is a lovely thing to do, and these rodents will truly appreciate it.
To feed wild squirrels in your garden, it is important to choose a spot away from the bird feeder. This will prevent confusion. Designate a quiet area, that is preferably higher up. By doing so, squirrels can be free to enjoy their tasty treat in peace.
Squirrels are curious and physical animals who love a bit of adventure. You could make the task of getting a snack fun by turning it into a challenge. Place the popcorn on ledges or in squirrel feeders, dotted around your garden.
Not only would it provide entertainment for the cuddly-looking rodents, but it will be highly amusing to watch them scampering and rummaging around.
Other Foods A Squirrel Cannot Eat
Other foods that a squirrel cannot eat include:
1. Ready-made – any ready-made products/microwavable foods
2. Chips – you may think chips are a great way of supplying potassium, but they are loaded with salt (a terrible idea for a squirrel).
3. Bread – not an ideal food for squirrels or birds.
4. Anything with added flavorings, salt, spices, and sugar. These all have a negative impact.
Other Foods Squirrels Can Eat
Squirrels are happy to sink their teeth into almost anything. However, fruit, vegetables, and nuts are a healthy option.
In conclusion, air-popped corn is a great food for squirrels to eat and they seem to really enjoy the tasty treat. Always remember that microwaved, flavored popcorn is seriously bad for any rodents, squirrels included. So, caramelized, cheese, chocolate covered, salted, or sweetened popcorn products are all a big no-no.
Plain, air-popped corn offers a huge variety of nutrients that will benefit wildlife. Gray squirrels are the most common, but it is not unusual to spot red squirrels too (particularly in North America). All types of squirrel can eat this kind of popcorn.