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Thread: Peanuts: Substandard Squirrel Food?

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    Default Peanuts: Substandard Squirrel Food?

    Hello all,

    I have found quite a bit of information about squirrel nutrition over the past few years and would like to share the information that I uncovered with the rest of TSB. Where as there are no RDA's documented for squirrels in particular, the information I have found is from reputable, published sources.

    "Peanuts, which are not native to North America, are not natural squirrel food. Peanuts aren't even nuts--they're beans! They are lacking in certain nutrients, and their flimsy shells don't make them good for hoarding. As an alternative, give out hazelnuts, also known as filberts, still in the shell. They are acorn-sized, have a sturdy shell that holds up well with hoarding (and in your pocket), and squirrels love them! Commercial hazelnuts are closely related to the ones that grow wild in the woods of the eastern U.S., so it's a type of food that squirrels have evolved with."

    "There is an article in the FORUM section of National Geographic Magazine, March 1996 claiming that raw peanuts are dangerous and possibly fatal if fed to squirrels.

    Since then I have received the following article from a newsletter put out by the State of Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife:

    No Raw Peanuts, Please!

    Don't feed raw peanuts to squirrels and other animals because it can seriously hurt them. That advice comes from fellow backyarder and Eastern Washington University history professor James K. Kieswetter, Ph.D., of Medical Lake, who found out the hard way.

    "I had been feeding raw peanuts to my backyard squirrels when I noticed they were beginning to look pretty ratty," Kieswetter says.

    A friend who works in the human nutrition field told him that raw peanuts and other legumes contain a trypsin inhibitor or substance that inhibits or prevents the pancreas from producing trypsin, an enzyme essential for the absorption of protein by the intestine. With the help of a veterinarian friend. Kieswetter reviewed animal nutrition literature and discovered similar problems.
    While the exact relationship between the trypsin inhibitor and malnutrition in rodents is not fully understood, the detrimental effects have been documented since 1917. Squirrels fed a steady diet of raw peanuts, soybeans. other legumes, and sweet potatoes could easily develop severe malnutrition.

    WDFW Urban Wildlife Biologist Patricia Thompson also reports that there are mycotoxins in raw peanuts that can cause liver, kidney, and brain diseases which unfortunately are seen in many birds.

    If you want to feed peanuts, Kieswetter found, the solution is to roast them. According to the Washington State Cooperative Extension Service, roasting hulled raw peanuts for 20 to 30 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring them frequently, will destroy the trypsin inhibitor and render them suitable for feed. If that sounds like a lot of work, buy roasted peanuts but be sure they aren't salted. (Salted nuts of any kind should never be fed to wild animals.)
    Kieswetter has become an information crusader about the dangers of raw peanuts, alerting several local backyard feed suppliers about the problem. He recently noticed an article in National Geographic advocating the feeding of raw peanuts to squirrels and wrote the magazine to set the record straight; his letter was printed in the March 1996 edition.


    Hope this information is helpful to all when feeding your little ones'.

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    Default Re: Peanuts: Substandard Squirrel Food?

    if one feeds peanuts make sure they are roasted

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    Default Re: Peanuts: Substandard Squirrel Food?


    As a general rule, TSB cautions squirrel lovers to avoid feeding PEANUTS, SUNFLOWER SEEDS and CORN. Besides their other problems, these three foods contain too much phosphorous, which damages the critical calcium-phosphorous ratio in the squirrel's blood and may then lead to MBD.
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    Default Re: Peanuts: Substandard Squirrel Food?

    My pet squirrels live outside. I have many feeders filled with roasted unsalted peanuts, walnuts, pecans, almonds, brazilian nuts all in shell and grapes. I have a few dried corn cobs hanging. I add reptile calcium powder to everything. I also have fresh water that has a vitamin supplement. They also get fresh veggies-and bread. These squirrels eat better than I.

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    Default Re: Peanuts: Substandard Squirrel Food?

    Quote Originally Posted by island rehabber

    As a general rule, TSB cautions squirrel lovers to avoid feeding PEANUTS, SUNFLOWER SEEDS and CORN. Besides their other problems, these three foods contain too much phosphorous, which damages the critical calcium-phosphorous ratio in the squirrel's blood and may then lead to MBD.
    This is insane! We looked at every local pet store in the area and the only food that was offered was a 10lb bag of SUNFLOWER SEEDS, CORN, AND PEANUTS!!!

    Our little girl was doing really good on the pecans, and gerbil food. Once we ran out I finally came across "Squirrel Food" and thought Finally we found squirrel food! Within 2 weeks I find my squirrel shaking not able to stand and struggling to walk. I'm ordering some food from the internet!

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    Default Re: Peanuts: Substandard Squirrel Food?

    Quote Originally Posted by Amathis84
    This is insane! We looked at every local pet store in the area and the only food that was offered was a 10lb bag of SUNFLOWER SEEDS, CORN, AND PEANUTS!!!

    Our little girl was doing really good on the pecans, and gerbil food. Once we ran out I finally came across "Squirrel Food" and thought Finally we found squirrel food! Within 2 weeks I find my squirrel shaking not able to stand and struggling to walk. I'm ordering some food from the internet!
    it's because those manufacturers, pet stores and a lot of vets have no clue about squirrel nutrition.

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    squirrelsrule&bunniestoo is offline Licensed rehabber specializing in squirrels and bunnies, Ohio
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    Default Re: Peanuts: Substandard Squirrel Food?

    Also, I do not think that "squirrel food" is meant for squirrels in captivity. It is a food you can put out for the wilds and it is something that they will eat. What else could they put that squirrels in the wild would actually eat? I mean if they do monkey biscuits or rodent block, it gets all soggy when it gets wet and wild squirrels typically won't eat it. They LOVE the corn, sunflower seeds, and peanuts, so there you go, squirrel food. I don't think they really consider nutrition as that is just something for people to put out to attract squirrels, it's not going to be their main diet.
    SQUIRRELS RULE AND BUNNIES TOO!

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    Default Re: Peanuts: Substandard Squirrel Food?

    I noticed sweet potatoes was mentioned in the article also. why?

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    Default Re: Peanuts: Substandard Squirrel Food?

    Maybe I need to clarify my question???

    The article states:
    "Squirrels fed a steady diet of raw peanuts, soybeans. other legumes, and sweet potatoes could easily develop severe malnutrition."

    The article explains why this happens with the peanuts and other "beans" but mentions sweet potatoes no where else in the article. Are sweet potatoes considered a "bean" also or do they just contain the same inhibitors, or is there another reason they are lightly mentioned?

    Thanks

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    Default Re: Peanuts: Substandard Squirrel Food?

    From: http://vegpeace.org/rawfoodtoxins.html

    Sweet Potato
    Sweet potato shows trypsin inhibitor activity. That means it contains an enzyme inhibitor that blocks the action of trypsin, an enzyme that digests proteins. The trypsin inhibitor prevents the digestion of protein. Sweet potatoes with higher protein levels have more of the trypsin inhibitor. This makes raw sweet potato difficult to digest. The trypsin inhibitor is deactivated by cooking.

    One way the raw food diet helps people is by supplying food enzymes. Food enzymes do part of the work of digesting the raw food. Enzyme inhibitors increase the amount of work that your body needs to do to digest foods. Enzyme inhibitors force your body to produce more digestive enzymes. This uses up resources that could be used to produce detoxifying enzymes. When animals are regularly fed enzyme inhibitors in research, they become sick. Sweet potato should not be eaten raw.


    I give Mister P COOKED sweet potato. I cut a slice about 3/2" thick, take the peel off, drop it in a glass custard dish with water to cover and nuke for about 1.5 minutes. P MUCH prefers it cooked and in fact I would say that if I set out a piece of cooked sweet potato, some wax worms and a hickory nut, his little head would explode trying to figure out what to eat first!

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    Default Re: Peanuts: Substandard Squirrel Food?

    Sorry but I must jump in here on this one. I feed my rehab squirrels TWO kinds of sweet potato every day, raw, and have never ever had an issue with them. I buy both the American orange sweet potatoes and what the Mexicans call "yama", a purple sweet potato with white flesh. The yama, I learned, are loaded with excellent vitamins and have a lower glycemic index than the orange variety, and so I'm thrilled that most squirrels prefer the yama over anything. I've been doing this for at least five years. While I do not have 'pet' squirrels or NR's, I have overwintered squirrels for 8-9 month periods and every day, raw sweet potato was What's for Breakfast. Being a starch, it provides bulk along with nutrition which is important when squirrels go through that 10-16 week "gangly teenager stage".

    Sometimes websites and articles geared toward the human consumer are not necessarily on target or even correct for rodentia -- knowwhati'msayin' ?
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    Default Re: Peanuts: Substandard Squirrel Food?

    Well, you are absolutely right...however in this case, since I can remove any doubt and simultaneously take it from his "Meh" food category to his "I'll Cut You If You Don't Gimme" category simply by passing it through the nuker, I do so. He is long term, too, so I tend to err on the side of being cautious.

    I have looked all over for the yamas and cannot find them. Perhaps I should take out a second mortgage and check Whole Foods...

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    Default Re: Peanuts: Substandard Squirrel Food?

    Quote Originally Posted by CritterMom
    Well, you are absolutely right...however in this case, since I can remove any doubt and simultaneously take it from his "Meh" food category to his "I'll Cut You If You Don't Gimme" category simply by passing it through the nuker, I do so. He is long term, too, so I tend to err on the side of being cautious.

    I have looked all over for the yamas and cannot find them. Perhaps I should take out a second mortgage and check Whole Foods...
    Oh no! Not Whole Paycheck! They are probably $4.99/lb there, vs .79cents/lb at my Mexican place. Do you have any Korean markets near you, CritMom? They also carry them, although under various names like "Korean Sweet Potato", etc.
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    Default Re: Peanuts: Substandard Squirrel Food?

    Good thread here! I'm a rehabber and I give up going to 2 different feed stores locally and try to order my Rodent Blocks These 'feed specialst' argue with me trying to see me the corn/peanut/seed mixtures. I get tired of arguing - if I wasn't such a cranky nutter I'd give in and grab bags of this stuff - they both sell the mix in 50# feed bags. Grrrrrrr. I have fed yams for 5-6 years now and have happy squirrels. Yes, its my treat for my overwinter guys too, but then again - I'm always changing all my food here - its a real Bed & breakfast here!
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    Default Re: Peanuts: Substandard Squirrel Food?

    In my local store the "Mexican Sweet Potatoes" are called Boniata. They have a dark red/burgundy/purple skin that is usually very dirty looking. My guys & Ellie too LOVE LOVE them. I clean them VERY well...scrub the skin, then peel, then rinse very well...who knows what all that dirty stuff is on the outside. I feed them raw also. They do "brown up" quickly, so if I do not feed the entire potato during a meal (I am feeding 7 squirrels right now) I wrap it very well in plastic wrap to try to keep the air away from it. The brown will not hurt them...I just do not like the way it looks.

    I also feed raw sweet potato (cleaned & peeled) daily and occasionally I do nuke it for a few seconds...I think the nuking brings out some of the sweetness in them.

    EDIT: Sometimes the "Mexican Sweet Potatoes" are called White Sweet Potatoes...just depends on the store I guess.

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    Default Re: Peanuts: Substandard Squirrel Food?

    BTW I am soooo jealous of your food selections guys! I have Walmart and Aldi!!! I dream of foreign food markets (I used to live in Chicago Proper) I dream of Whole Foods!! I think a road trip is in order!!!
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    Default Re: Peanuts: Substandard Squirrel Food?

    Quote Originally Posted by CritterMom
    Well, you are absolutely right...however in this case, since I can remove any doubt and simultaneously take it from his "Meh" food category to his "I'll Cut You If You Don't Gimme" category simply by passing it through the nuker, I do so. He is long term, too, so I tend to err on the side of being cautious.

    I have looked all over for the yamas and cannot find them. Perhaps I should take out a second mortgage and check Whole Foods...
    Hey Crit.....just have them shipped to you like I do all the pine nuts and hickory nuts and live lettuce and ....( the list goes on and on...) You can always stop by and use my money tree....its right out back!!
    I'll have to pay it a visit today to replace the
    $9 bottle of Emu oil Zappa ate.....who knew they likes Emus too!!

    Ive never been able to get my guys to eat sweet potatoes or squash...they HATE it!! Cooked...raw....doesn't matter.
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    Default Re: Peanuts: Substandard Squirrel Food?

    Quote Originally Posted by jo_schmoe
    Hey Crit.....just have them shipped to you like I do all the pine nuts and hickory nuts and live lettuce and ....( the list goes on and on...) You can always stop by and use my money tree....its right out back!!
    I'll have to pay it a visit today to replace the
    $9 bottle of Emu oil Zappa ate.....who knew they likes Emus too!!

    Ive never been able to get my guys to eat sweet potatoes or squash...they HATE it!! Cooked...raw....doesn't matter.

    It is actually sold in capsules to be ingested...but I bet he was, um, regular there for a while!

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    Default Re: Peanuts: Substandard Squirrel Food?

    WOW! So I can keep giving my girl sweet potatoes? I see they are a #3 stage and have been weaning her off of them now for like 2 months...She absolutely loves them, she would eat a whole sweet potato if I gave it to her. But has only been getting 2 little pieces maybe once a week. Since I have stopped giving them to her everyday, she seems to have gotten real picky and is not quite the eater she used to be.

    Critter...I have asked my local produce store about the Yamas, they told me they are only out in the fall season, around Thanksgiving. I did, however, try a white sweet potato and she loved it just the same.

    Really glad to have read this thread. Look out Skeeter, you're getting some sweet potatoes tomorrow.
    And to think, I just made mashed sweet potatoes the other night just not to throw them away.

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    Default Re: Peanuts: Substandard Squirrel Food?

    Quote Originally Posted by shellyb1018
    And to think, I just made mashed sweet potatoes the other night just not to throw them away.
    Well that's ok -- they're good for us, too.
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