Healthy Diet for Pet Squirrels
(Revised November 2008)
Your squirrel needs a balanced diet containing protein,
fat, and vitamins and minerals, including lots of
calcium. The only way for them to get these nutrients is
to feed the diet below:
• Rodent blocks or squirrel blocks (75% of diet)
1. Rodent Block or Squirrel Blocks.
• Healthy vegetables (20% of diet)
• Wild foods and things to gnaw on (5% of diet)
• Healthy treats such as fruit and nuts (<1% of
rodent blocks provide the proper amounts of nutrients in
a concentrated form. Below are two of the best
commercially produced blocks:
Harlan Teklad 2014 and 2018 Rodent Diets. Vegetarian
formulas contain no preservatives, phytoestrogens,
or nitrosamines. The 2014 is a low-fat, low-protein
formula suitable for older squirrels. The 2018 is
for growing squirrels (under 12 months old).
Available online at:
KayTee Forti-Diet for Rats and Mice. A tasty
vegetarian rodent diet. Does contain added sugars
such as molasses, as well as preservatives for long
shelf life. Available at Petco stores and online at:
If your squirrel won’t eat commercial rodent block, you
can make nutritionally complete Squirrel Blocks by
following the recipe found in the “Squirrel Nutrition
2. Healthy Vegetables.
These are a supplement to
rodent blocks and add variety, fiber, fresh Vitamin C,
and other nutrients to your squirrel’s diet.
artichokes, arugula, asparagus, avocado*, Belgian
endive, bell peppers (green, red, or yellow), broccoli,
brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery,
cherry tomatoes, chicory, chinese cabbage (bok choy),
cilantro (fresh), collard greens, cucumber, dandelion
greens, escarole, fennel, green beans, kale, lettuce (looseleaf),
mushrooms, mustard spinach, okra, parsley (fresh),
pumpkin, purslane, radicchio, radishes, romaine lettuce,
squash (all types; raw or cooked), sugar snap peas,
sweet potato* (raw or cooked), swiss chard, turnip
greens, watercress, zucchini
*High in fat; remove the skin and pit as they are toxic
**Somewhat higher in sugars/starches
Avoid: Dried vegetables, fresh corn, garlic, onion, palm
hearts, potatoes, sprouts, yams, soybeans
3. Wild Foods.
These add nutrients, provide
amusement, and help keep teeth worn down.
Magnolia cones, pine cones, pine branches and bark,
branch tips of nontoxic trees, flowers from your garden
(carnations, chrysanthemums, hibiscus), wild rose hips,
purslane, plaintain, lambsquarters, and dandelion
greens. Look to see what the wild squirrels are eating
in your area. Make sure the area wasn’t sprayed,
fertilized, or treated with any chemicals. Antlers, tree
branches, sea shells, or a walnut-sized rock from
outdoors provide trace minerals and keep teeth from
overgrowing. A cuttlebone can also be hung on the side
of the cage. Some squirrels like rawhide chews designed
for dogs. Check first before feeding any wild food not
on the list above to be sure it isn’t toxic.
4. Healthy Treats.
Some experts recommend
limiting sweet foods like fruits to avoid overweight and
diabetes. Nuts should be limited to no more than 1-2 per
- Healthy fruits: apple, apricot, bananas,*
blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, cherries*
(sweet), cherries (sour), crabapples,* cranberries,
grapefruit, grapes,* honeydew, kiwi, kumquats,
lemon, lime, mangos,* navel oranges, nectarines,
papaya, passion fruit,* peaches, pears, pineapple,
pomegranates,* raspberries, strawberries,
*Somewhat higher in sugars/starches
Note: The pits and seeds of some fruits can be
toxic, except for berries.
Avoid: Dates, dried fruit of any kind, figs, fruit
juice, persimmons, plums, prunes, raisins, as these
are very high in sugar.
- Nuts: acorns, whole roasted pumpkin seeds,
and almonds are the healthiest, followed by
hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, English walnuts, pecans,
pistachios, and peanuts, in that order. Unlike other
nuts/seeds, sesame seeds are an excellent source of
Avoid: Cashews, sunflower seeds, dried corn, pine
nuts (can cause severe calcium loss).
Foods to Avoid
Packaged “squirrel food,” “pet treats,” or seed mixes
Processed foods: pasta, bread, grains, seeds, rice,
potatoes, “human foods”
Sweets: candy, cookies, dried fruit, banana chips, soda,
fruit juices, sweetened yogurt, granola, most breakfast
Junk food: french fries, potato chips, pretzels,
crackers, anything salted
Legumes: beans (kidney beans, lentils, etc.) and
soybeans (except for green beans and sugar snap peas in
Artificial sweeteners like Nutra-Sweet or aspartame.
Splenda (sucralose) is fine.
Also Important for Good Health
Natural sunlight. 1 hour per day in an outdoor
cage or screened porch during the warm months provides
Vit D and will help keep your squirrel healthy. An open
window screened with aluminum screening or hardware
cloth is another option. Indoors, a full-spectrum light
(FSL) for 8 hrs per day is the next-best thing; although
it does not provide Vit D, it is believed to have other
Exercise. Wild squirrels are extremely active;
most pet squirrels are not. Provide your squirrel with
things to climb and explore, and have at least one
active play session per day. This will help keep them
healthy and happy.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight. Being overweight
causes all kinds of health problems and is a factor in
diabetes in older animals. “Healthy weights” may vary:
northern squirrels tend to be heavier than southern
squirrels, and foxers are heavier than greys. In
general, your pet should look like the healthy wild
squirrels in your area. For squirrels that are older,
overweight, or less active, you should severely limit
foods that are high in sugars, starches, or fat.