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Thread: Treating wild squirrels.

  1. #1
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    Default Treating wild squirrels.

    I have a group of maybe two dozen or more squirrels who visit my yard, some intermittently, some daily, some I've know for a little over a year now. On the other side of my backyard fence is a public walking / cycling path with lots of trees and open field, looks like a utopia for suburban squirrels. Outside of a wave of mange following the end of the worst of winter, and some minor nicks and scrapes here and there, I've never had one turn up looking injured or ill (knock on wood) and haven't had one I know on sight go missing permanently, expect for one who was hit by a car. There was the one with the ultra bad case of mange, but I got him fixed up.

    Being that there are so many, I usually treat them with roasted peanuts in-shell or unsalted sunflower seeds because of affordability and availability, and here and there almonds and walnut halves and pieces. I usually wait until evening to treat them, with the thought that they'll be forced throughout the day to eat from nature, the stuff they actually need to be healthy. I know peanuts and sunflower seeds are far from ideal but it seems like everything else is so much more expensive and less available, like how within twenty minutes I could have a kilogram of peanuts for $5, whereas a kilogram of almonds is going to run me $20 at least, I'm going to have to journey far to get it, and it'll be gone in the blink of an eye with how many squirrels show up here. Also, I've been laid off a while now waiting for the next thing to ramp up, so where they used to have me for a week and then have to fend for themselves for twenty days while I was away, I'm around daily now.

    I've been aware of the specific dangers of unroasted peanuts for a long time, and especially how dangerous peanuts are if they're a dietary staple for an orphan being raised by humans, but having browsed around here I'm reading it's a hard "NO" for peanuts in any case and that sunflower seeds are also frowned upon.

    Am I screwing up here and putting these guys' lives in danger? Has it just been luck that I've gone a year without negative side effects from what I give them as treats?

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Treating wild squirrels.

    No, youíre not putting the wilds in jeopardy by giving them peanuts and sunflower seeds. Itís OK for wilds.

    Peanuts and sunflower seeds are extremely unhealthy for pet/captive squirrels. So unhealthy in fact that I never feed peanuts to my rehabs. Only occasionally will I give my flyers a sunflower seed. I give almonds as treats. You are correct in that almonds are expensive. I buy 3# of shelled almonds at Costco for about $12 so I give them to my wilds for treats. I also give them sunflower seeds and occasionally dry corn on the cobb (also unhealthy).

    The reason peanuts and seeds are unhealthy is due to the calcium to phosphorus ratio. Here is a chart so you can see the values. Nuts and seeds are at the bottom. https://thesquirrelboard.com/forums/...7&d=1232419601

    Ideal foods have a 2:1 ratio of calcium to phosphorus. The body strives to maintain a 2:1 ratio of the two minerals. When high phosphorus foods are fed the body will attempt through metabolic processes to balance this out by pulling calcium from the bones. This is what causes Metabolic Bone Disease. In captivity itís a huge problem because they only get what we give them. Wilds eat all sorts of things that we canít duplicate so we have to be mindful to provide calcium rich foods and limit high phosphorus foods like nuts and seeds.

    These restrictions donít apply to wilds because we are only providing Ďtreatí quantities of nuts or seeds. When you have a sizable population of squirrels they are unlikely to eat enough to negatively impact them. Also, you wouldnít want to provide so much food that they stop foraging and depend on you for food.

    In the chart you will see that....
    Peanuts are 1:5.9 (Ca: P)
    Roasted sunflower seeds are 1:13.1 (Ca: P)

    So yes, they are unhealthy. This is not necessary but if it would make you feel better you could offset these bad numbers by putting a tablespoon of powdered calcium carbonate in the bag and shaking it. The light coating of calcium that sticks to the peanuts and seeds will make them healthier and your squirrels would benefit from the calcium. Your nursing moms would especially benefit. This isnít something you have to do but you can if you desire.

    Sorry this is lengthy. I just wanted to explain why we donít feed peanuts or seeds to pet squirrels.

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Treating wild squirrels.

    Thanks for the info and reassurance.

    These restrictions don’t apply to wilds because we are only providing ‘treat’ quantities of nuts or seeds. When you have a sizable population of squirrels they are unlikely to eat enough to negatively impact them. Also, you wouldn’t want to provide so much food that they stop foraging and depend on you for food.
    During winter they were probably getting enough peanuts to be on the risky side, since their natural sources were scant and I was being more liberal because I felt terrible for them. They endured several -30c / -22f cold snaps this winter, there were many days where I don't think they left their dreys, so if any were inclined to brave the cold hoping to see me, I would spoil them rotten trying to give them at least the comfort of food in their belly. I've never worried much about dependence because they live in a buffet back there when the weather is decent, they're always nibbling on something.

    This is not necessary but if it would make you feel better you could offset these bad numbers by putting a tablespoon of powdered calcium carbonate in the bag and shaking it. The light coating of calcium that sticks to the peanuts and seeds will make them healthier and your squirrels would benefit from the calcium. Your nursing moms would especially benefit. This isn’t something you have to do but you can if you desire.
    I think I'll do that. The downside of them having a nice patch of nature to live in is, despite there being so many of them, I don't see babies or juvies, they grow up in the shadows. The only juvie I've ever seen was last autumn when the leaves were dropping, and she became a regular but grew up while I was away for work, I don't know which one is her now. But there are always visibly pregnant or nursing mommas around.

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