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Can Squirrels Eat Sunflower Seeds? (Quick Answers)

Squirrels are bushy-tailed rodents that can be found in the wild, mainly in forest areas. Squirrels are thought to solely dwell in trees by many people. That, however, is not the case.

They can also be found in burrows, metropolitan areas, and under the ground of your yard. Squirrels are naturally omnivores. They eat practically everything, from seeds, nuts, and fungus to meat.

Let’s have a look at whether squirrels can consume sunflower seeds and learn some intriguing information about their eating habits.

Can squirrels eat sunflower seeds?

Yes, squirrels can eat sunflower seeds. Squirrels, in particular, love to eat black oil sunflower seed. It is one of their favorite. Because sunflower seeds make up only 5% of a squirrel’s diet, it’s best to combine them with other high-nutrient foods to provide squirrels with a well-balanced diet.

There are different types of squirrels that are found all over the world. Their food choices differ from one another, just as their habitat and nature.

Let’s see who likes sunflower seeds between all squirrels:

Baby squirrels:

For appropriate growth and nourishment, baby squirrels require a calcium-enriched diet. Sunflower seeds are high in carbs and phosphorus, therefore it is best not to offer them to baby squirrels.

Sunflowers have a very low nutritional value, which is insufficient for squirrels to have a well-balanced diet.

Grey squirrels:

Grey squirrels can be found in the eastern United States and southern Canada. Walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, and some other nuts are favorites of grey squirrels.

Furthermore, they enjoy a limited number of seed varieties. Sunflower seeds are also popular among them.

Wild squirrels:

Except for Australia and Antarctica, wild squirrels can be found on every continent. When it comes to food, squirrels aren’t fussy at all.

They would consume anything that satisfies their hunger. Sunflower seeds are indeed a favorite snack of wild squirrels, and if they come upon some, they will definitely eat them.

Ground squirrels:

The habitat of ground squirrels consists of open places such as rocky outcrops, grasslands, pastures, and sparsely forested hillsides. Meadows, golf courses, cemeteries, and parks are all good places for ground squirrels to dwell.

Squirrels have a highly developed sense of smell. As a result, ground squirrels can quickly detect the source of sunflower seeds, which they love to eat. 

If you want to safeguard your sunflower plants from squirrel attacks, make sure you put up a suitable fence and net around them.

Flying squirrels:

Flying squirrels are the dwellers of the northern part of the United States of America. They’re mostly found in deciduous and coniferous forests, as well as woodlands.

When it comes to food storage, flying squirrels are extremely well-organized. At night, they are believed to be able to store more than a couple hundred acorns and seeds.

Aside from hickory nuts and white oak acorns, sunflower seeds are a favorite of flying squirrels. If your bird feeder contains sunflower seeds mixed with other food items that squirrels prefer to eat, they may attack it as an uninvited guest.

Red squirrels:

Red squirrels, like flying squirrels, are native to the northern United States. They can also be found in parts of Canada, the southern Appalachian Mountains, and Arizona’s and New Mexico’s rocky mountains.

One of the best foods for red squirrels is sunflower seed. Furthermore, they enjoy nuts such as shelled hazelnuts, unsalted peanuts, and other seeds and fruits.

Throughout the wild, red squirrels eat spring buds and flowers, as well as nuts, fruits, and seeds from cones in the fall and winter. During the summer months, before their natural foods such as – nuts, fruits, and conifer seeds are ripe, it is vital to feed them.

Are sunflower seeds safe for squirrels? Will sunflower seeds hurt squirrels?

Yes, sunflower seeds are absolutely safe for squirrels. Sunflower seeds, on the other hand, have a very poor nutritional value.

Carbohydrates and phosphorus are abundant in sunflower seeds. However, they lack calcium, which is an important nutrient for squirrels’ normal development.

Sunflower seeds, on the other hand, will not harm your squirrels. They can eat as many sunflower seeds as they want because they enjoy them so much.

Because sunflower seeds lack calcium, they only make up 5% of a squirrels’ diet. It is vital to balance the optimum ratio of calcium and phosphorus in squirrels’ diets in order to maintain good bone strength.

Squirrels may develop the metabolic bone disease as a result of a calcium deficiency. Because sunflower seeds are poor in nutritional value, pair them with carrots, spinach, sliced apples, green beans, and celery for a well-balanced meal.

Can squirrels eat all sunflower seeds?

Sunflower seeds come in a variety of types and can be found all over the world. They can be either organic or processed.

Even though squirrels love sunflower seeds, they may not be the best choice for them. Let’s learn which sunflower seeds are nutritious and safe for squirrels:

Salted sunflower seeds:

Salt is bad for animals’ kidneys, hence anything with salt is bad for them. Even though squirrels can take a small quantity of salt, salted sunflower seeds should be excluded from their diet.

Black oil sunflower seeds:

Squirrels are naturally drawn to sunflower seeds. They have a particular fondness for black oil sunflower seeds. Squirrels usually enjoy eating black oil sunflower seeds. If you don’t want squirrels to get to your black oil sunflower seeds, avoid them keeping in your yard.

Roasted sunflower seeds:

Sunflower seeds that have been roasted are high in salt. It contains over 170mg of salt, which is extremely toxic to squirrels. Therefore, don’t feed your squirrels toasted sunflower seeds.

Shelled sunflower seeds:

Squirrels are very fond of items that come in shells. It’s no surprise that they’d prefer shelled sunflower seeds as well. Moreover, if you don’t want to deal with the mess of shells, squirrels can eat the sunflower seeds without the shell as well.

Unsalted sunflower seeds:

Squirrels can eat unsalted sunflower seeds. So, if you wish, you can definitely add them to their diet.

Why are sunflower seeds not good for squirrels?

Squirrels choose to eat whatever feels delicious over what is nutritionally beneficial to them. Let’s look at why squirrels shouldn’t eat sunflower seeds:

Because of its low nutritional value:

Sunflower seeds are high in carbohydrates and phosphorus. Aside from that, they don’t contain any vital nutrients for squirrels.

Squirrels require a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of nutritious items. Squirrels should not eat mainly carbohydrates and phosphorous.

Therefore, one of the reasons why sunflower seed is bad for squirrels is this.

Calcium deficiency:

Calcium is an important nutrient for squirrels’ optimal development. Sunflower seeds contain a very little quantity of calcium.

A minimal amount of calcium is insufficient to meet the calcium requirements of squirrels. In squirrels, a shortage of calcium can lead to metabolic bone disease. This is yet another reason why squirrels should avoid sunflower seeds.

How do I keep squirrels from eating my sunflower seeds?

Squirrels will typically feast on the heads of sunflowers until they are scared away if you have a sunflower garden. It’s because the sunflower seed is found in the heads of the sunflower, which squirrels can easily detect with their keen sense of smell.

Let us tell you about some of the methods you may keep squirrels away from your sunflower seeds:

Using aluminum oil to coat the stalks:

Applying aluminum oil around the sunflower stalks is one of the most effective ways to discourage squirrels from eating your sunflower seeds. The squirrels would have a hard time climbing into the sunflower heads as a result of this.

Plastic netting and fencing:

Plastic nets can be placed around your garden to keep squirrels out. Squirrels are also deterred by towering wooden fences with spikes surrounding your sunflower garden.

Adding a border with other plants:

Certain plant species are generally disliked by squirrels. As a result, you can use such plants as a border around your sunflower patch to deter squirrels.

Geranium, Daffodil, Marigold, Irises, Dragonhead, California poppy, Crocus, Alliums, and Snowdrop are just a few of the plants you may plant around your sunflower garden to keep squirrels off.

What seeds do squirrels eat?

When it comes to food, squirrels aren’t fussy at all. They will eat anything that is tasty.

The following is a list of some of the seeds that squirrels prefer to eat:

  • Acorn
  • Seeds of pumpkin
  • Seeds of sunflower
  • Sesame
  • Pinecones
  • Spruce
  • Seeds of safflower
  • Seeds of poppy
  • Bird seeds 
  • Seeds of Hornbeam

Final Thoughts

Sunflower seed is a favorite snack of squirrels. They’ll eat sunflower seeds regardless of whether they’re in the shell or not. As sunflower seeds are mostly composed of carbohydrates and phosphorus, with very little calcium, it is preferable to supplement their diet with other high-nutrient foods.