Do you have a birdfeeder in your backyard? Chances are, you’re also familiar with the pesky squirrels that love to eat sunflower seeds.
But did you know that not all sunflower seeds are safe for squirrels?
In this article, We will explore which types of sunflower seeds are best for them and how to prevent squirrels from eating sunflower seeds in your backyard.
Can Squirrels Eat Sunflower Seeds?
Yes, squirrels can eat sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds are a healthy and nutritious food for squirrels, providing them with protein, fat, and fiber as well as vitamins and minerals like vitamin E, thiamin, folate, potassium and iron.
Do Squirrels Like Sunflower Seeds?
Though squirrels are among the most frequent backyard animals, not many people know what they really like to eat.
Given that they’ll try anything edible once, you might be wondering if sunflower seeds are a favorite food of theirs.
It turns out that wild squirrels are foraging for foods that contain high fat and protein content, so squirrels actually prefer nuts more than sunflower seeds.
Sunflower seeds have low levels of key nutrients that squirrels need, so they typically don’t prefer them.
Still, if a squirrel is starving, it will eat sunflower seeds.
Additionally, some squirrels enjoy the taste more than others – it’s really just a matter of personal preference in the end.
Why Do Squirrels Eat Sunflower Seeds In Birdfeeders?
The primary reason squirrels prefer to eat sunflower seeds from birdfeeders is that the food is accessible. Birdfeeders are hung on trees, which makes them simple for squirrels to locate while they are searching for nuts elsewhere on the tree.
In addition, birdfeeders provide a never-ending source of food. Squirrels can visit birdfeeders multiple times each day at their convenience for abundant food.
Lastly, birds commonly situated in areas with fewer predators nearby also provide safety for these wild animals while they’re eating since this area feels safe to them.
Consequently, sunflower seeds in birdfeeders are an ideal food source for squirrels.
What Are The Nutritional Benefits Of Sunflower Seeds To Squirrels?
Wild and pet squirrels alike reap many nutritional benefits from sunflower seeds. There are also many benefits to squirrel health.
High In Protein and Fat
Sunflower seeds are high in protein and fat, both are vital for growth and tissue upkeep for squirrels.
Sunflower seeds also contain high levels of vitamin E. This powerful antioxidant defends cells against damage.
They contain key nutrients like potassium, which is necessary for proper muscle function.
Sunflower seeds contain a small amount of iron, which is necessary for the production of red blood cells.
Together, these nutrients make sunflower seeds an important part of a squirrel’s diet.
Are Sunflower Seeds Harmful To Squirrels?
Although squirrels can eat sunflower seeds, too many of them will result in some health problems.
Low Nutrition Value
Sunflower seeds have a relatively low nutritional value; so eating too many of them can lead to malnutrition.
Squirrels prefer raw nuts rather than sunflower seeds because they provide more well-balanced nutrients.
Moderate levels of cadmium are present in sunflower seeds and can damage the kidneys if ingested.
Excessive consumption of sunflower seeds can lead to calcium deficiency, which then causes health problems such as osteoporosis. Squirrels need a calcium-enriched diet to get a well-balanced diet.
Therefore, while consuming small quantities of sunflower seeds may not have an immediate negative effect on squirrels, eating too many over time may cause health issues.
What Kinds Of Sunflower Seeds Can Squirrels Eat?
Most squirrels will consume any sort of sunflower seed, but there are some types that aren’t too healthy for them.
Shelled Sunflower Seeds
Squirrels can eat shelled sunflower seeds or raw sunflower seeds. The shell isn’t particularly nutritious, but the seed itself is a dense source of nutrients for these animals.
Hulled Sunflower Seeds
Hulled sunflower seeds present an easy option for already busy squirrels–they don’t have to waste time removing the outer layer.
Unsalted Sunflower Seeds
Unsalted sunflower seeds are popular among bird owners because they provide a good source of protein and fat.
Salted Sunflower Seeds
Salted sunflower seeds, while not as popular, are still eaten by some squirrels despite the salt content could be harmful if consumed in large quantities.
Roasted Sunflowers Seeds
Roasted sunflower seeds do not offer as many nutrients as other sunflower seed options because nutrients are lost during processing, but roasted seeds are sometimes still eaten by squirrels.
How To Prevent Squirrels From Eating Sunflower Seeds In My Backyard?
One of the most common problems that homeowners face when it comes to squirrels is their love of sunflower seeds.
While these little rodents can be rather cute, they can also do a lot of damage to your yard in their quest for a tasty snack.
If you’re tired of finding half-eaten sunflower seeds scattered around your property, there are a few things you can do to deter these pesky critters.
One option is to invest in a squirrel-proof bird feeder. These feeders are designed to keep squirrels out while still allowing smaller birds to access the food.
Another solution is to apply a hot sauce or chili powder to the sunflower seeds before you spread them in your yard.
The spicy flavor will discourage squirrels from eating them, but won’t harm them if they should happen to take a bite.
Plastic Fence to protect your sunflower plants
If you have sunflower plants in your garden, you can also put up a plastic fence around them to keep squirrels from getting to the seeds.
This is a relatively inexpensive solution that can be put in place quickly and easily.
If you’re looking for a more natural solution, you can try planting squirrel-repellent plants in your yard.
Some examples of these plants include marigolds, daffodils, and fritillaries.
Squirrel Repellent Sprays
There are also a number of squirrel repellent sprays available on the market.
These sprays usually contain a mixture of essential oils that deter squirrels from entering an area.
By taking these simple precautions, you can enjoy your sunflower seeds without having to share them with the neighborhood squirrels.
While sunflower seeds are not necessarily harmful to squirrels, they are not the most nutritious option for a well-balanced diet.
If you’re looking to deter squirrels from eating your sunflower seeds, there are a number of solutions you can try, including investing in a squirrel-proof bird feeder, applying chili powder to the seeds, or putting up a plastic fence around your sunflower plants.
With a little bit of effort, you can protect your sunflower plants without having to worry about pesky critters.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can red squirrels eat sunflower seeds?
Sunflower seeds are excellent for red squirrels not only because they’re safe to eat, but also high in protein, carbohydrates, and essential fatty acids. What’s more, sunflower seeds guard against free radical damage with their antioxidant properties.
Can Eastern Gray Squirrels eat sunflower seeds?
You can give sunflower seeds to Eastern Gray Squirrels, as they provide the little creatures with energy and nutrients. They are also good for maintaining a healthy weight, but don’t overdo it – too many could make your squirrel obese.
Can ground squirrels eat sunflower seeds?
Ground squirrels can, and do, eat sunflower seeds. These provide a range of important nutrients like protein, fat, and carbs, as well as being rich in vitamins E and B6, niacin, thiamin, and potassium.
Can squirrels eat black oil sunflower seeds?
Squirrels can certainly eat black oil sunflower seeds. These seeds are not only an excellent source of protein and healthy fats, but they also contain essential vitamins and minerals. They’re low in calories too, making them easy for squirrels to digest.
Can baby squirrels eat sunflower seeds?
Yes, baby squirrels can eat sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds are a bountiful source of nutrients like protein, fat, and fiber, as well as essential vitamins and minerals; however, they shouldn’t be fed to baby squirrels that still rely on their mother for milk and are not ready to eat solid food.