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Thread: The sources tree squirrels mainly rely upon in the wild for calcium

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    Default The sources tree squirrels mainly rely upon in the wild for calcium

    Though tree squirrels are known to consume varieties of edible fungi, insects (larva & adult), berries, and bird eggs (minus the shells), it is the bounty of seeds and nuts they consume going from summer's end into fall, and later from nut caches in the winter, that provides the squirrels with the highest amount of fats and proteins, and so phosphorus annually. This begs the question as to what sources of calcium tree squirrels consume in their wild habitats to maintain a healthy balance of calcium and phosphorus in their body, and bones, over the four seasons of the year?

    Among the more well-known sources consumed by tree squirrels are deer antlers, which are shed in winter, along with sun bleached animal bones.

    Among the lesser known sources of calcium in the diet of tree squirrels is a small terrestrial crustacean known as the woodlouse. Though not a blood sucking insect as its misleading name implies, this bug is known to feed on decaying plant matter beneath the litter of leaves, and decaying wood on the forest floor. Much like mushrooms, this recycler of forest litter supports the further decomposition of leaves, wood, and other plant matter down to its simple elements. From there calcium in the mulch can be easily absorbed by the roots of trees and plants. Calcium is required for growth in plants, and is key to wood production in trees and shrubs.

    With the outer shell (exoskeleton) of the woodlouse composed of calcium carbonate, this bug contains 14 percent pure calcium. Unlike the outer skeleton of insects that is made of chitin, the woodlouse stands as an excellent invertebrate source of calcium in the diet of omnivorous wildlife, like tree squirrels.

    Another source that tree squirrels consume to obtain calcium is the soil that surrounds the roots of grasses, that contains various minerals, the highest of which is calcium. This source has also been found to contain good bacteria, that is vital in supporting the digestion of the foods consumed by the squirrels, and also needful to well degrade the oxalates in their foods, which increases the bioavailability (availability to the body) of the nutrients in their meals.

    In the spring, when buds on 'food' trees are abundant and tender green shoots appear, we see tree squirrels spending allot of time eating the buds, their apparent favorite of the two. In research, buds were found to be highest in calcium content at 'bud break'. Likewise, the tender green shoots were found to be highest in calcium in immature form. After the buds open, and tender green shoots mature into leaves, the soluble calcium content in these sources drops, and calcium oxalate in them increases, making them no longer as appealing food apparently to the tree squirrels, which then move on to other sources to support their need for bioavailable calcium.

    In a study on the oxalate values of a varieties of cultivated leafy greens, the young leaves were found to be nil in oxalates, yet the mature leaves were found to be high in oxalate ratio to calcium. Vegetable sources with a (2:1) Ox:Ca ratio are noted in research to not only supply no bioavailable calcium to the body when consumed, but also rob calcium from the foods they are digested with. (See Noonan pdf). Cultivars higher in oxalic acid than calcium, as many leafy green, stalked, and root vegetables have been found to be in a numerous studies, will also readily bond with free calcium in the bloodstream. This triggers the body to release calcium from the bones to compensate for the drop in calcium, to continuously maintain calcium status in blood. Just as feeding too many nuts in the diet of tree squirrels is known to support an inverted (Ca:P) ratio in the bones over time, feeding vegetables that are over (2:1) ratio of (Ox:Ca) causes the depletion of calcium in the bones. Both of these dietary errors lead to the development of Metabolic Bone Disease in tree squrirels cared for in captivity.

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    Default Re: The sources tree squirrels mainly rely upon in the wild for calcium

    The various creative strategies that squirrels use to get nutrition sheds more light on how they get enough calcium in their wild diet to balance the high Phosphorus intake over the fall into winter. Most recently, I came across these articles on tree squirrels using another means other than tree bark striping, to get the sap from trees, that is a key source of calcium for them in their diets in the wild.

    http://northernwoodlands.org/article...irrel-sap-taps

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/n...squirrels.html

    In what is described in the article as late winter, where in regions of North America the snow begins to melt, the tree squirrels come out to get the sap as it begins to rise from the roots into the trunk of the deciduous trees, and shrubs, by puncturing the bark multiple times, that causes the sap to leak out. Perhaps it for the reason, that they have their initial fill when they puncture the bark to get the sap, that they come back for a refill of what is left to lick up the then crystalized sap?

    In decidious trees sap may rise earlier or later than others, which supports the need for the squirrels to use various sources of trees and shrubs to support the purpose of obtaining calcium and carbs from them. In mids-spring when the flow of tree sap is at its peak, is when bark stripping season begins. (See file and chart from file attachments)

    Both articles note the N.A. Red squirrel, and E. Gray squirrel have been observed using this strategic method to get the sap. Flying squirrels have also been observed licking the sap from trees, as have Abert's squirrels also. The photo posted on the first webpage is unmistakably that of an E. Fox squirrel; this species also engages in the same strategy to get calcium, potassium, and the sugars from this source. This form is readily absorbed into the bloodstream compared with calcium in cellulose sources in their diets. The more sap they consume, the more they get!

    Totally busted!!

    http://www.2010.howpeg.com/jpgs/squi...ng02282010.jpg

    http://www.woodwildpark.org/animals/2011/20110303ac.jpg

    https://anthrode.files.wordpress.com...2/image108.png

    http://www.amylpeterson.com/wp-conte...2837-Copy1.jpg

    Apparently their sap obtaining strategies extend to any open bucket of sap they find as well, the little smarties!

    http://pressnews.com/2016/03/11/from...nature-center/

    For this reason tree sap, from their choice of food trees at this time of year, may be the greatest source of calcium in their diets by volume consumed during the year. It is this along with the other sources that serves to lend balance in their diets. Perhaps those with squirrels in this area ought to gather this for their squirrels, it is freezable. Just don't feed them teh syrup that is boiled down, as it is far too high in sugar for them, sve for a drop to help get the medicine down perhaps, or aid in stopping a seisure?

    "And Carol explains that’s not the only thing that can get into the buckets. “The animals are very smart,” Carol explained. “We use bags instead of buckets sometimes and the squirrels will chew holes in the bags and drink the sap. After a while the bags are covered in duct tape.”
    It it were me I would have left two tapped tres with small buckets just for the squirrels to drink the sap from; that away from the stand of trees being harvested for sap; that way everybody is happy!

    Should you live nearby the region of the Northern woods, or are on an outing visiting them there, take time to look for these tiny marks on the bark of their food trees, as this is evidence of tree squirrels harvesting tree sap to support themselves nutritionally. And should you have the mind to take some photos, please share them here on this thread.

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    Default Re: The sources tree squirrels mainly rely upon in the wild for calcium

    I just had to include this all too cute photo of a Fox squirrel, licking a sapsicle!

    http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townn...ize=1200%2C799

    So does it taste good; it appear so?

    Just thought to share that this photo, and likely the others shown on these webpages, are under copywrite.
    Best then to enjoy them, and leave them where you see them.

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    Default Re: The sources tree squirrels mainly rely upon in the wild for calcium

    Just a follow up for the Woodlouse. The species of woodlouse noted in teh study that squirrels eat, was
    Porcellio scaber (the common woodlouse) This is one that lives in teh woods, not the roly poly that lives in gardens. I read that the woodlouse defense is an ammonia smalling spray it uses to put off predators. It may be that these bugs are not eaten till they die, as that would tend to put off most small mammals. The use of this bug as a raised food source for animals as noted in this study, should be considered to include in the diet of tree squirrels that are cared for in captivity.

    Click on download on page to access study.

    https://www.researchgate.net/publica...cationCoverPdf

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    Default Re: The sources tree squirrels mainly rely upon in the wild for calcium

    Bones, antlers and mineral deposits

    “Grey squirrels have previously been linked to ‘‘calcium-seeking” behaviour such as the gnawing of calcium carbonate rocks (Gobetz and Hattin, 2002), bone, and antlers (Allan, 1935; Coventry, 1940). A preference for de-fatted bone suggests the behaviour is likely to be driven by a need for minerals, rather than lipids (Klippel and Synstelien, 2007). Grey squirrels may gnaw bones for calcium"
    Ref: https://www.sciencedirect.com/scienc...78112716300421

    “Sciurus niger is not primarily a plant-eater, yet it and Tamias striatus may still have calcium/magnesium deficiencies during the winter and early spring months. In addition, gravid or lactating females and growing juveniles may require larger amounts of these minerals than other individuals."
    Ref: http://www.freepatentsonline.com/art.../94651647.html

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    Default Re: The sources tree squirrels mainly rely upon in the wild for calcium

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxZUyVfL50Y

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDpb7SU5WP4

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJKl_j2JSnI

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3SKjnbV614

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJKl_j2JSnI

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvMB9rMloxw

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbiAetj_p5Q

    Benefits of Eating Tree Sap
    If a tree contains sap, squirrels benefit from the sap’s nutrients. Here are some of the nutrients that squirrels need in their diet.

    Selenium and Zinc – keep the immune system strong
    Vitamin C – reduces the risk of getting a respiratory infection (helpful during the winter months)
    Vitamin E – to keep the heart healthy and maintain healthy skin
    Calcium – strengthen their bones and teeth by offering a squirrel a cuttlebone.
    Potassium – overall health and keeping the nervous system functioning
    Iron – helps make red blood cells which carry oxygen

    Raw maple water also is a prebiotic source, which is key to supporting the body's probiotics in the gut, that is key to supporting both digestion and immune health.

    https://drinksimple.com/collections/...ater-pack-of-4

    Adding a small amount to the water bottle is an easy way to support the consumption of this source for fostered tree squirrels.

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    Default Re: The sources tree squirrels mainly rely upon in the wild for calcium

    Adding (1/2 to 1 Tsp.) to a near full water bottle, is an easy way to deliver this healthy source. Tree water (sap) is a good source of potassium; yet it shouldn't be overindulged for too much can result in an imbalance of potassium to sodium.

    Another natural source of calcium common to all species of N.A. tree squirrels are shed deer antlers. Purchased deer antler pieces should never be treated.

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    Default Re: The sources tree squirrels mainly rely upon in the wild for calcium

    Quote Originally Posted by Diggie's Friend View Post
    [FONT=Arial]
    Among the more well-known sources consumed by tree squirrels are deer antlers, which are shed in winter, along with sun bleached animal bones.

    Here is my experience with antlers and reds: the only time they chewed on one was when their teeth became too long. They kept teeth chattering in-between, helping to trim them even more. I never saw them eating any of the antlers. Whatever came off, landed on the ground. Did you ever see a red or grey actually eating it?

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    Default Re: The sources tree squirrels mainly rely upon in the wild for calcium

    Quote Originally Posted by McCarthy View Post
    Here is my experience with antlers and reds: the only time they chewed on one was when their teeth became too long. They kept teeth chattering in-between, helping to trim them even more. I never saw them eating any of the antlers. Whatever came off, landed on the ground. Did you ever see a red or grey actually eating it?
    Yes, antlers are loved by my squirrels.

    At this time I have only gray squirrels. I have supplied antler bones for the last 5 years or more. They are so popular, I have had to tie them down to keep track of them so I can know when to put another out. If they are not tied down, they are dragged all over the place. I don't know if the squirrels do this, or it other opossums and skunks like them as well. I drill a hole in the antler and wire-tie it to a branch on the ground in a very secure, covered location so they can eat it in peace, and also near a tree so they have an upwards means of escape should they need to flee fast.

    I do feel it is the female grays, especially when nursing that consume these the most. They are the ones that I see most often gnawing at them. But they do so on a very regular basis, and the bones slowly disappear and I put new ones out.

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    Default Re: The sources tree squirrels mainly rely upon in the wild for calcium


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    Default Re: The sources tree squirrels mainly rely upon in the wild for calcium

    Thanks DF and MC for this reds behaviour, it seems rare to come by stuff on their secret little lives.

    For something to grind their teeth on Iíve got them lamb or beef bones from the pet store but they wonít touch them. Iíll have to find an antler somewhere. The only things we see Chippy and coco really go at are pits from cherries and whole hazelnut shell, you could hear the grinding a 1000 ft away lol.
    And chippys new thing now is ice cubes, loves to chew them up.

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    Default Re: The sources tree squirrels mainly rely upon in the wild for calcium

    You can buy antlers at pet stores or from reputable sites online. I used to buy marrow bones from the grocery store and after my dog ate the marrow and what meat was on them Iíd place them on tree limbs around my yard. Once theyíve dried the squirrels love to naw on them.

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    Default Re: The sources tree squirrels mainly rely upon in the wild for calcium

    When a piece of antler gets too small, it is best to replace it.

    Years back, a fellow member looked into the processing of the round cow bones that are offered at pet stores. To their horror, they read that the ones then available were processed with formaldehyde and bleach.

    Yet, even those without chemical processing, there is still a potential hazard with boiled bones be they from cows, chickens, lamb, etc. Even the round bones can splinter as I found they had with those we had offered to our squirrels decades back. Here below are two quotes from veterinarian websites on this same issue

    Bones that are cooked, dehydrated, smoked, air-dried, essentially processed in any way, should never be fed to your pets due to the risk of splintering.”
    Bones Splinter
    Whether cooked, uncooked, solid, or hollow, bones can and do splinter, and they're still hard enough to break teeth.

    A client brought their big tough German Shepherd mix to the clinic because he was screaming when he attempted to poop. To my surprise, when I did his rectal exam, there were two almost two-inch-long bone splinters stabbing into either side of his anal sphincter (ouch!). Following removal, he pooped a lot of watery stool filled with a lot more bone fragments — which, if left unaddressed, likely would have created a blockage.
    For these reasons, I can only recommend the unprocessed clean deer/elk antlers, which can be short term boiled (blanched) to sanitize.

    One source I know of that offers clean unprocessed antlers is from Oregon.

    https://oregonantlerworks.com/ https://oregonantlerworks.com/collections

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    Default Re: The sources tree squirrels mainly rely upon in the wild for calcium

    Marrow bones definitely donít splinter. You can see where theyíve gnawed at the ends of this marrow bone thatís on a tree limb.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    Default Re: The sources tree squirrels mainly rely upon in the wild for calcium

    I get that it's a given that 0-bones don't splinter like thin bones that can fracture into long pieces do. Sorry I wasn't more specific on that account. What I was actually referring to were small fractures (sharp chipped edges) on the sawed edges of the O-bones made by our foxers baring down on the edges of the bone like they did when opening hazelnuts. My husband once timed how long it took his girl to crack open a hazelnut at 3 seconds flat! Perhaps this may then explain the fractures occurring on the edges of the O-bones they chewed on vs. the lack of them on the O-bones you give to your grays.

    It is interesting all the same, considering that N.A. Red squirrels (pine squirrels) are known to gnaw holes in the shells to weaken the shell to crack them open; rather than gnawing grooves to support cracking them open.

    When it comes to pet store purchased O-bones, save they are labeled unprocessed or only steam processed. I would advise not giving them to any pet.
    Last edited by TubeDriver; 02-10-2023 at 06:40 PM.

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    Default Re: The sources tree squirrels mainly rely upon in the wild for calcium

    The only things we see Chippy and coco really go at are pits from cherries and whole hazelnut shell..

    Cherry pits are toxic; pitted cherries are fine. Hazelnuts are a good choice to offer. There is a smaller in shell organic hazelnut farm in Iowa that grows bush hazelnuts that are smaller in size. These are perhaps the best option for giving one hazelnut in the shell for a squirrel to gnaw on daily.

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    Default Re: The sources tree squirrels mainly rely upon in the wild for calcium

    Quote Originally Posted by Diggie's Friend View Post
    Cherry pits are toxic; pitted cherries are fine. Hazelnuts are a good choice to offer. There is a smaller in shell organic hazelnut farm in Iowa that grows bush hazelnuts that are smaller in size. These are perhaps the best option for giving one hazelnut in the shell for a squirrel to gnaw on daily.
    I have been puzzling over what is supposed to be toxic for quite a few years now. I have a peach tree, and my wilds never let the peaches get close to ripening. As soon as the tiny baby fruits appear, the squirrels take them. And they seem more interested in the kernel inside than the fruit covering it. I find here and there around my place the halves of pits of various sizes, which were opened to get the kernel inside. I also wouldn't put it past them to trash pick peach seeds which they gnaw open to get the kernel.

    I have seen in a market near me, which caters to eastern Europeans, bags of apricot kernels for sale as a snack food. I had a very Huh??? reaction. The labeling acknowledges their slight toxicity and warns not to eat too many. (Ummm, what exactly is too many???) And of course too many for a squirrel is far fewer than would be for a human. Maybe the squirrels don't eat enough peach or cherry pits to be affected? Maybe they can't eat enough because the small size means they'd have to eat a huge amount to be affected? Still, I'd have a hard time believing that when the wild cherry crop is ripe the squirrels don't just pig out and know how many they can eat safely. But maybe they do. Maybe the slight toxicity is even helpful. Maybe it acts as a wormer or something. There are still so many things we don't know about other animals.

    All parts of the yew are supposed to be toxic, yet my wilds eat the berries when they are ripe. Birds do also, but I don't trust everything birds eat since they can eat things that would kill us. (Strangely, avocado is toxic at least to psittacines [parrots] so there's one thing at least one type of bird can't eat.) Maybe in some regards squirrels are more like birds than they are like us, and can eat things we shouldn't. Or maybe the squirrels that eat the wrong things just die.
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    Default Re: The sources tree squirrels mainly rely upon in the wild for calcium

    [QUOTE=Chirps;1355578]I have been puzzling over what is supposed to be toxic for quite a few years now. I have a peach tree, and my wilds never let the peaches get close to ripening. As soon as the tiny baby fruits appear, the squirrels take them. And they seem more interested in the kernel inside than the fruit covering it. I find here and there around my place the halves of pits of various sizes, which were opened to get the kernel inside. I also wouldn't put it past them to trash pick peach seeds which they gnaw open to get the kernel.

    I have seen in a market near me, which caters to eastern Europeans, bags of apricot kernels for sale as a snack food. I had a very Huh??? reaction. The labeling acknowledges their slight toxicity and warns not to eat too many. (Ummm, what exactly is too many???) And of course too many for a squirrel is far fewer than would be for a human. Maybe the squirrels don't eat enough peach or cherry pits to be affected? Maybe they can't eat enough because the small size means they'd have to eat a huge amount to be affected? Still, I'd have a hard time believing that when the wild cherry crop is ripe the squirrels don't just pig out and know how many they can eat safely. But maybe they do. Maybe the slight toxicity is even helpful. Maybe it acts as a wormer or something. There are still so many things we don't know about other animals.

    All parts of the yew are supposed to be toxic, yet my wilds eat the berries when they are ripe. Birds do also, but I don't trust everything birds eat since they can eat things that would kill us. (Strangely, avocado is toxic at least to psittacines [parrots] so there's one thing at least one type of bird can't eat.) Maybe in some regards squirrels are more like birds than they are like us, and can eat things we shouldn't. Or maybe the squirrels that eat the wrong things just die. [/QUOTE




    My SIL who lives in Georgia has peach trees, her dog got into the pits and almost died not from them not digesting but because they are toxic.
    Same with apple seeds but that could take a lot to poison you, it's arsenic I believe 😨
    So an apple a day keeps the doctor away unless you eat the seeds🤣
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    Default Re: The sources tree squirrels mainly rely upon in the wild for calcium

    What the heck, my comment got mixed up in your Post 🤷 this stupid smart @## phone


    My SIL who lives in Georgia has peach trees, her dog got into the pits and almost died not from them not digesting but because they are toxic.
    Same with apple seeds but that could take a lot to poison you, it's arsenic I believe 😨
    So an apple a day keeps the doctor away unless you eat the seeds🤣
    Charley Chuckles gone from my arms FOREVER in my heart 8/14/04-3/7/13
    Simon, our time was too short together, but you gave us so much love, be with CC now 3/7/14


    The "CHARLEY CHUCKLES MEMORIAL RAIL TOUR" leaves the station choo chooo
    *Deland,FL. *Washington DC *Boston (Back Bay) *Boston (North Station) *Wells,Maine *Albany,NY *New York (Penn Station) *Back to Deland FL. "July 1- July 22" 2013

    http://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/s...RIAL-RAIL-TOUR Check it out here
    http://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/s...OW-A-NEW-MOMMY!!!!!
    http://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/s...RAINBOW-BRIDGE
    http://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/s...e-called-Simon
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    I'm not poof reading any of this

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    Default Re: The sources tree squirrels mainly rely upon in the wild for calcium

    Quote Originally Posted by Charley Chuckles View Post
    What the heck, my comment got mixed up in your Post 🤷 this stupid smart @## phone


    My SIL who lives in Georgia has peach trees, her dog got into the pits and almost died not from them not digesting but because they are toxic.
    Same with apple seeds but that could take a lot to poison you, it's arsenic I believe 😨
    So an apple a day keeps the doctor away unless you eat the seeds🤣
    I'd be curious if she has squirrels and what her observations have been about them eating the fruit and or pits. That was one lucky dog. Years ago we had a peach tree and our first pony learned to eat the peach from around the pit and spit the pit out.
    "I hope everyone got or gets their Baby Love today"~Shewhosweptforest

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