Nuts and seeds are not the only things squirrels eat. Most of the time squirrels can be seen around nuts and people assume that’s what squirrels eat or like to eat. While most part of their diet revolves around plants, they also eat a variety of fruits like apple, banana, orange and favorites of the squirrel diets are corn, mushrooms, squash, and chocolate (Here’s can squirrels eat chocolate).
But that’s not all to what they eat. Despite most plant-based, squirrels enjoy nuts, seeds, flowers, tree buds, and maple, hickory, pine and cedar. But what about pine cones? Do squirrels eat pine cones? Do they like it? Here’s why or why not.
The Simple Answer…
Not picky, squirrels eat pinecones favorably. In fact, if you happen to have a pine tree, you may probably know that squirrels love pine cones. But just because squirrels eat something doesn’t mean it is good for them. However, is pine cones good for squirrels? According to Aroma Chaitea, pine cones is a tasty medicine which boosts immune system, removes stoamch problems, and detoxifies.
What Are Pine Cones? How Does It Look Like?
Ever wonder what a pinecone does? Here is what it is and how does it look like.
Why Do Squirrels Eat Pinecones? Do They Like It?
No doubt, nuts in the shells are the absolute best food but that’s only a portion of their diet. There are many nuts and seeds squirrels snack on such as sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, safflower seeds, and pine cones. Most people don’t know if squirrels eat pinecones and what does it do to their health.
Without surprise, pine cones are one of the favorite snacks of squirrels. Just like it’s appearance, pinecones are sharp, hard, and far up on the tree. No matter where it is and how hard it is, squirrels will still hop on when they see it. With their sharp teeth and nimble paws, squirrels tear pinecones skin until approach the seeds that are in the middle of the pinecones just like raccoons do to squirrels.
Not only enjoying pinecones, but squirrels happen to store pinecones for later. Different types of squirrels practice different types of food storage methods. While North American red squirrels store food in a central location that is typically larder-hoarding. This is often in a tree cavity, under leaves, or in branch forks similar to places where they poop. If you’re curious how squirrels remember where they bury their food, here’s how.
What is Inside Pinecones & What Does It Do?
To some people, pines are amazing fire starters, other people use it for golf, broom handle, or simply shooting when they pass by. But that’s not actually what it is made for. The main function of a pine cone is to keep pine trees seeds safe which is why pinecones are ridiculously sharp. Pinecones are actually close their skills to protect the seeds from the cold, temperatures wind, and even animals that might try to eat them.
Once it warms up, the pine opens which makes it easier for the seeds to be released into the soil. When it’s connected to the trees, the trees treat and protect it like their babies. When it’s really cold out and windy and stormy and the tree protects its seeds by closing up like this and then when it dries out a bit the pine cones open up into this which allows the little seeds inside the pinecones to be released into the habitat.
Interestingly, pinecones can stay in a pine tree for more than 10 years before they follow the ground and can sometimes take that long for the seeds to grow underneath the skills of a pinecone. Part of the reason pinecones seals up when it’s like cold and wet and rainy and snowy is because the seeds won’t grow. The outside of the pinecone dries and opens up the seeds drop when it’s the perfect time for the soil to be most fertile for the seeds to grow. Some people say, even after that even after a pinecone falls to the ground. It will still open and close depending on the weather conditions.
Do Squirrels Eat Brown or Green Pinecones?
When it comes to pinecones, squirrels eat both brown (male) and green (female) pinecones. But if they were to choose between, squirrels would probably opt for green ones. Not only female pinecones are larger but they are also tastier and more nutritious seeds than brown ones which is why squirrels treat green pinecones whenever they get. Moreover, when squirrels find a pinecone, they usually make a sound for their mate to come and eat together.
With pinecones mature, the cones expand and become accessible to seeds that are pretty compressed other times. But that doesn’t happen to female pinecones. When squirrels find enough pinecones especially green ones, they will definitely store some. Because green pinecones are pretty active and do not ruin in different conditions even storms.
Which Type of Squirrels Eat & Store Pine Cones?
Different types of squirrels have different types of diets. Not so much different but still some difference. There are mainly three types of squirrels which eats pine cones, eastern gray squirrel, American red squirrel, and flying squirrel. But these are not the only squirrels that eat pinecones. In fact, the Douglas squirrel primarily lives in the coniferous forests for its preferred diet of seeds which comes from Douglas firs, Sitka spruces, and shore pine trees. But that’s not the whole what they eat and they will also eat acorns, mushrooms, berries, and bird eggs when available.
Nonetheless, the Douglas squirrel will typically use one location to store as much food as possible especially green pine cones. As squirrel peels scales off of pinecones to reach the seeds, the scales start to collect on the ground. However, over a period of a long time, it’s common for squirrels to pile over several meters wide. If you see one of these piles of discarded pine scales, it’s probably a sign of a squirrel nearby.
Unfortunately, sometimes people use their storage location to steal their pine cones. These burglars then sell those pine cones to the nurseries that want seeds to plant. Sometimes they even hunt, eat or sell squirrel’s meat.
Other than these, Abert’s squirrels, Arizona gray squirrel, and western gray squirrel love pine cones. Remarkably, a single squirrel can eat the seeds of up to 75 pine cones a day. During the winter season, Abert’s squirrels eat the inner bark of the tree and twigs but where do they get water from? Here’s where.
What Are The Perks of Pine Cones? What Does It Do To Their Health?
There are many pros and nutrition to pine cones. They are tasty, convenient, and can enjoy every type of squirrel. Aside from decorating uses, pine cones are first of all a part of the food, not only for the squirrel but humans as well. That said, pine cones plays an important role in the squirrel diet. But pine cones are just more than a portion of food, they are a great source of thiamine (B1), Vitamin K, magnesium, and protein.
Not only that but pine cones are also one of the best natural sources of manganese, phosphorus, and zinc. The pineal glad in the brain is taken from pinecones due to its shape. The pineal gland controls the body’s sense of light and sleeping and waking patterns. Still, it is considered to be the third eye.
Green pine cones contain more nutritional value and are tastier than brown cones. That is why squirrels prefer green cones more than brown ones and store most green pine cones when they get. But that doesn’t mean squirrels will not eat brown pine cones. If they find brown ones anywhere, they won’t miss it.
While people don’t eat and care much, and most of the time pine cones are on the ground, for squirrels, pine cones are perfect source of food and nutrition. Next time when you see a pine cone, take it to the squirrel and you will be pleased to see the squirrel enjoying it.
What Else Do Squirrels Store For Winter?
As the winter nears Gray, red, and many types of squirrel store seeds, nuts for the winter. With that though, squirrels also collect more treats like mushrooms and pine cones, and other food. As for winter, squirrels dry out mushrooms by placing them in trees, conifers or near their stashes of pine cones. Not only squirrels but chipmunks, bears, hamsters, rooks, and woodpeckers also store food for winter.
Do Baby Squirrels Eat Pine Cones?
At about 6 weeks old, baby squirrels will be ready to start nibbling on solid food. These food may include kale, apple, grapes, sweet potato and hard-shelled nuts and pine cones, and a rodent diet. At this age, baby squirrels may seem large but they are not still wise enough to choose what to eat. However, pine cones are perfect food but make sure that are clean and a bit soft.
Importantly, if you are feeding baby squirrels regularly or often, they may make their den inside your home. Make sure to not feed too often and make dependent on humans. And that’s all to there it is!