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Thread: Need Help With Acorns

  1. #1
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    Default Need Help With Acorns

    This will probably seem like an odd question, but last year we just didn't have many acorns here for the squirrels. I noticed they were everywhere near my doctors office so I gathered them up and carried pails full of them and washed, sorted and tossed them out here.

    Did I mention that I raised a squirrel and released it in the trees out back? Ok, that's my motivation.

    So back to the acorns. Clearly some acorns are good and some are bad. Of the ones I picked up most were orange inside and my squirrel ate them.

    This year we had a lot of rain and a lot of acorns, some round some oblong. When I look inside the acorns a lot of them are not orange or yellow inside but are kind of mealy brown looking. I have seen some with the hole from the weevil and the worm inside (the lizards like those) but a large amount are not orange. So whats up with that? Do the squirrels only eat the orange or yellow ones or will they also eat the mealy looking ones?

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    mamaardilla (10-23-2020)

  3. #2
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    Default Re: Need Help With Acorns

    Quote Originally Posted by robert574 View Post
    This will probably seem like an odd question, but last year we just didn't have many acorns here for the squirrels. I noticed they were everywhere near my doctors office so I gathered them up and carried pails full of them and washed, sorted and tossed them out here.

    Did I mention that I raised a squirrel and released it in the trees out back? Ok, that's my motivation.

    So back to the acorns. Clearly some acorns are good and some are bad. Of the ones I picked up most were orange inside and my squirrel ate them.

    This year we had a lot of rain and a lot of acorns, some round some oblong. When I look inside the acorns a lot of them are not orange or yellow inside but are kind of mealy brown looking. I have seen some with the hole from the weevil and the worm inside (the lizards like those) but a large amount are not orange. So whats up with that? Do the squirrels only eat the orange or yellow ones or will they also eat the mealy looking ones?
    I'm sure Hrt won't mind so rather then repeat I'm just going to copy and post the explanation as explained in another forum here.

    Quote Originally Posted by HRT4SQRLS View Post
    Yes, acorns are risky. Acorns are moist inside and can grow mold. Some of these molds produce aflatoxins. These aflatoxins are deadly. I would NEVER just collect acorns and give them to caged squirrels. It is much too risky. I do selectively collect fresh acorns. I take knife and cut each acorn to visually inspect them. If the meat of the acorn is perfect, they will get that acorn. Needless to say they donít get many acorns.
    Some rehabbers wonít even do that due to the risk. You would be surprised at the number of fresh, perfectly appearing acorns are totally brown/spoiled on the inside. It is easily 25% of those that I cut.

    Of course, you never want them stashing acorns in their cage. It is a recipe for disaster.
    Step-N-Stone
    State Licensed
    Wildlife Master Rehabilitator


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  5. #3
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    Default Re: Need Help With Acorns

    Interesting. I have a pretty good source for fresh acorns near our hardware store and have been getting those. They appear to be ok when you cut them open, which wasn't true with what I've found around the trees here. I have a screen box with about an 18" x 18" top that I put the peanuts or other treats in to keep the birds from raiding them. It keeps everything up out of the sand and water on the ground and I put the acorns on the top so I get to see what choices they are making with the opened shells. If they toss some out I get rid of those. I keep a fresh water bowl there also.

    With that said, I have noticed that the squirrels aren't as picky as I would have guessed. They also seem to like a little variety with the fruits and veggies.

    Edit: Giving the wild squirrels some credit for making good acorn decisions, I wonder how they are able to bury acorns and stash them without having them all go bad?

  6. #4
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    Default Re: Need Help With Acorns

    So many acorns later, I have noticed that some of the acorns will completely dry up without rotting and turn into something that is extremely hard, kind of a yellow-gray color, much harder than a peanut, and will rattle inside the acorn shell. Does anyone know if maybe that's what the squirrels are hoping for when they store or bury acorns? Keep in mind I'm just observing what's happening in the wild. Perhaps there is an Acornologist amoung us?

  7. #5
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    Default Re: Need Help With Acorns

    Hi! You have hit upon exactly what I have been pondering for years now. If acorns are so risky, why would squirrels devote so much energy to their collection and storage? And how is burying them in the damp ground anything more than a recipe for disaster? I have wondered if there is a "magic depth" that deters the bugs/weevils/etc., but what about the dampness of the earth itself?

    We have I think an English walnut tree. We knew/know next to nothing about them, and never got walnuts. (Usually the squirrels harvested them first, since they could get right up there to pick them.) But we did get some sometimes. A friend told us about laying them out on a screen to dry inside. It reminds me of what you describe with the acorns. Now my next question is, do the squirrels know a method to dry the acorn meats, or do they just cache tons and hope that enough cure properly to get them through the winter? I'd have to think the squirrels know how to cure them somehow, or at least do something that optimizes the chances of the meat drying instead of spoiling. Otherwise the energy expenditure seems pretty pointless.

    SOMEONE NEEDS TO RESEARCH THIS NOW!!! Inquiring minds want to know! Seriously, if this has been studied and someone out there knows the answer, they need to share.
    "I hope everyone got or gets their Baby Love today"~Shewhosweptforest

    https://www.henryspets.com/1-baby-squirrel-care-guide/

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