Feeding squirrels: here’s how to help rodents find food
Unlike other wildlife, squirrels don’t hibernate, they hibernate for the winter. In other words, they reduce their activities in order to save energy – and eat less accordingly. Nevertheless, they can’t avoid foraging if they want to survive the cold season carefree. Their diet includes nuts and seeds, which they hide in trees or bury in the ground. However, there is not always a sufficient variety of food for the animals: This is sometimes due to the fact that there are fewer mixed forests due to changing environmental and climatic conditions, so that squirrels are literally driven into our cities – where there are in turn many fewer trees. In addition, the earth freezes at freezing temperatures, so buried nuts no longer serve as a food source. Then your help is needed. What you can do, you will learn here.
What is suitable to feed squirrels?
Even if many think that acorns are the favorite food of squirrels because of the similarity of their names, this is a misconception. The animals certainly gnaw on one now and then or bury it – they are usually not eaten. In the wild, rodents feed more on hazelnuts and beechnuts, but these very trees and shrubs are often in short supply in urban areas. Since especially the females have a higher energy demand in winter, because they become pregnant already in January, feeding in the city is quite recommendable. Look for a balanced mixture (there are also ready to buy ) of nuts and seeds:
- Pine nuts
- Pine nuts
- Hornbeam seeds
- Sunflower seeds
Squirrels’ nail teeth are constantly growing back, so they need hard shells to grind their teeth on. For this reason, you should feed not only shelled nuts and seeds, but also those with shells. Walnuts, on the other hand, are better cut in half so that you can inspect them for possible mold infestation on the one hand – on the other hand, the shell is very difficult for squirrels to crack. Furthermore, you can do something good for the animals by offering them a small bowl with water. Because even drinking sources are hard to find in winter, when the water freezes.
Where should the food be placed?
Squirrels have an innate escape behavior, so you should not put the food just anywhere, but always near a tree – so that the animals can get to safety when danger threatens. Ideally, you attach a special feeder a little higher on the trunk, which you then fill with nuts and seeds via the flap. The special feature of the wooden construction is the rainproof roof, the seating platform for squirrels as well as the edge-free plexiglass pane including a narrow slit – through which the nimble animals can skillfully fish out their food. With the help of the pre-drilled suspension you can easily attach the house to the tree, so the rodents do not even have to leave their territory to gather food. Alternatively, you can use a classic bird house so that squirrels and birds simply share the food.
Never put the food or the water bowl on the ground. Here lurk above all cats, which have it on the young animals, which can estimate their enemies not yet so well. In addition, it is important that you clean the feeding station regularly to avoid a possible mold infestation – and along with it also diseases.