Feeding squirrels can be quite a controversial topic. Some people love these fluffy creatures whilst others have a stong dislike to them.
As most people know, squirrels love most types of nuts but they will also eat fresh fruit and vegetables. The best thing to feed these animals are either Nuts in Shells, Jumbo Peanuts or specifically made Squirrel Food.
Buying Squirrel Food is probably the more cost effective way to feed squirrels as buying fresh fruit and veg can become very costly. As most people who feed birds know, squirrels are notorious for trying to climb into and onto the bird feeders and they can destroy them. If you do feed the birds, and also the squirrels the better bird feeders to buy are the metal ones. Metal seed feeders are great when it comes to defening the squirrels as they cannot destroy the feeding ports due to the hard wearing material. They may peel off the top colour coating buy that does not affect the use of the feeder. It is best, if you are wanting to feed them, to place the squirrel food at the other end of the garden to try to distract them from eating the bird seed and getting onto the feeders.
The RSPCA recommend feeding chopped apples, carrots, celery, walnuts and hazelnuts if you cannot get hold of any peanuts. However the best way to feed squirrels is to purchase specifically made food.
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Although feeding these animals can be a nice sight, it can also be a potential danger to the squirrels. For example, encouraging them to cross the roads and also putting out food and feeders that can make them vulnerable to cats and other predators. As squirrels are very good at finding their own food, constanstly feeding and supplying it for them may cause them to stop naturally hunting. It can also cause over population in a small area which can then become a nuisance for you and others in your local area.
How to create a habitat for your squirrels
There are a few ways on which you can keep your squirrels safe. One way is to ensure that your bird feeders are 'squirrel safe' so that they dont get stuck inside any feeder. Juvenile squirrels can be rather good as getting inside caged feeders. Another way is if you can get away with it, too not cut down any tree branches that may have squirrel nests in them. If you are able to, planting trees in the garden such as oak, beech, hazel and sweet chesnut, gives the animals somewhere to nest and also protect them from the weather elements and predators.
Pros and Cons to Feeding Squirrels
- They can be very entertaining to watch
- Helping squirrels find food when there is a shortage of their natural supply
- Feeding them promotes awareness
- You provide a natural habitat for them in your garden to help protect against bad weather and predators
- Feeding squirrels can attract more than one, including any young
- You can learn alot about their behaviours
- You can attract rats and any other unwanted guests
- They may become too reliable on humans for food and not hunt for it themselves
- Dogs and cats can target the squirrels
- They are known to carry diseases
- Risking animals to possibly get hit by a car
- Your neighbours may not thank you for feeding them as they can become a nuisance