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Thread: Why Are Legumes Bad for Squirrels?

  1. #1
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    Default Why Are Legumes Bad for Squirrels?

    Does anyone know why legumes are on most "Do Not Feed" lists for squirrels?

    Also, more specifically, does that restriction apply to garbonzo (chickpeas) beans (which are a legume) as well?

    I am curious to know if anyone knows what the specific issue is.

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    Default Re: Why Are Legumes Bad for Squirrels?

    I think the concern arises from the higher levels of phytic acid found in legumes. In some health circles it is referred to as an anti nutrient because it is believed to block the uptake of certain minerals like iron, zinc and calcium by bonding to them in the digestive system.

    On the other hand, the above function can also serve to remove harmful toxins from the body. Lead would be one example. The phytic acid would bond to the lead and it would be subsequently excreted, removing it from the body. Certainly, squirrels get into some stuff that contains elements that aren't healthy, good things mixed with bad things.

    One way, discussed in health circles, to deal with this issue is not to consume the calcium rich foods at the same time one is consuming foods which are high in phytic acid. That way those two are not in the digestive tract at the same time and thus will not bond to each other.

    Legumes are a stable food of many cultures and thus it is hard to imagine it being a major net negative where nutrition is concerned. Food science can be complicated and controversial, with many different opinions being expressed.

    Legumes also help with maintain healthy blood sugar levels, reduce cholesterol and blood pressure and improve colon health.

    The cooking of the legumes vastly increases digestibility and neutralizes some of the lectins found in legumes.

    In humans, the consumption of meat is part of what counterbalances some the potential nutritional negatives of phytic acid. I guess squirrels in the wild might counterbalance by the consumption of bugs, though that dietary source doesn't exist for most squirrels being rehabbed.

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    Default Re: Why Are Legumes Bad for Squirrels?

    Phytic acid is also an antioxidant and is associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers.

    Other foods that are high in phytic acid include grains and nuts, as well as the previously discussed legumes.

    Most of the anti nutrients in legumes are found in the skin of the legumes. Given a soaked and cooked chickpea, a squirrel will remove the thin layer of skin every time. It is easy enough to remove by hand.

    Green beans and fresh peas as legumes also have some phytic acid, though substantially less than the dried beans.

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    Default Re: Why Are Legumes Bad for Squirrels?

    Does anyone know if the pine nuts are okay for gray squirrels? Thanks!
    Animals are magical....Thank you everyone who tries to help them, save them tirelessly...

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    Default Re: Why Are Legumes Bad for Squirrels?

    Pine nuts are one of the worst nuts you can give a squirrel. Legumes in general have a very unbalanced calcium to phosphorous ratio. Ideally the food that is given to squirrels should have a calcium to phosphorous ratio of 2:1 or as close as possible. The following link shows that pine nuts contain a calcium to phosphorous ratio per human serving of 16:575!! eek

    https://nutrientoptimiser.com/nutrit...ne-nuts-dried/

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    Default Re: Why Are Legumes Bad for Squirrels?

    Thanks! Saw somewhere the pine nuts are good for red squirrels, maybe? So I was wondering! Never given one to Buddy but we have some at home and I know they were expensive, so if they are good, I was going to offer some to my little Buddy.
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    Default Re: Why Are Legumes Bad for Squirrels?

    Providing squirrels in the wild all those unhealthy choices isn’t the same as providing them to an indoor squirrel. Wild squirrels can balance their nutritional intake, indoor squirrels are dependent on us to balance it.

    An occasional nut, pumpkin or squash seed is fine for an indoor squirrel, but not a diet of them. If giving the occasional nut there are far better choices than pine nuts. Almonds tops the list as the healthiest.

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    Default Re: Why Are Legumes Bad for Squirrels?

    Thanks! I give 1 hazelnut, pecan, pistachio or almond a day to Buddy in a shell. Is that too much? Sometimes he buries them.

    Also, I know there's a list of healthy food choices, but not sure what a healthy diet looks like for a 4 month old or adult squirrel in captivity portion wise.

    i.e. how much avocado can I give him daily or is that also an occasional food?

    how many blocks is he supposed to eat. I know he eats at least 2-3.

    He likes carrots, should I limit that or is that fine?

    How about peas, corn or sugar snap peas?

    Basically, not only what's healthy and balance, but how much?

    Thank you all!
    Animals are magical....Thank you everyone who tries to help them, save them tirelessly...

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    Default Re: Why Are Legumes Bad for Squirrels?

    Quote Originally Posted by Buddy View Post
    Thanks! Saw somewhere the pine nuts are good for red squirrels, maybe? So I was wondering! Never given one to Buddy but we have some at home and I know they were expensive, so if they are good, I was going to offer some to my little Buddy.
    So the pine nuts you buy at the grocery store to make pesto with are a very different nut from what the red squirrels eat. If you live somewhere that you see pine cones laying on the ground, you will see., between the spikey bits, tissue paper-ish bits that have a tiny nut on them. Not the big fat ones we eat. The reds around me like the spruces a lot and those are the trees they live in and build their middens under.

    So, two different nuts. Pine nuts are on the not good list. You are trying to feed a diet that is 2:1 in calciumhosphorus. In other words, you want to feed them a diet with twice as much calcium as phosphorus. It is the way to avoid metablic bone disease (MBD). But phosphorus is in EVERYTHING. Some things are really bad though. Pine nuts have THIRTY SIX times as much phosphorus as calcium!

    So save your money!

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    Default Re: Why Are Legumes Bad for Squirrels?

    Quote Originally Posted by CritterMom View Post
    Pine nuts have THIRTY SIX times as much phosphorus as calcium! !
    Eeek!

    Thank you for the info & explanation!
    Animals are magical....Thank you everyone who tries to help them, save them tirelessly...

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