Are Walnuts Poisonous to Squirrels? The Surprising Truth

If you love feeding squirrels in your backyard, chances are you’ve probably wondered whether walnuts are safe for them to eat. After all, these cute little critters have a habit of nibbling on just about anything they can get their paws on. But are walnuts really a safe and healthy snack for squirrels? The truth is, this is a topic that has been hotly debated by experts and enthusiasts alike for years.

In the world of backyard wildlife, squirrels are some of the most beloved creatures. People love watching them climb trees, chase each other, and munch on acorns in the autumn sunshine. But when it comes to feeding them, some foods are definitely better than others. So, where do walnuts fit into the equation? Are these tasty little nuts a safe and nutritious option for squirrels to munch on? The answer is a bit more complicated than you might think.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent countless hours observing the habits of squirrels, marveling at their acrobatic skills and cute little personalities. But when it comes to feeding them, safety and nutrition always have to come first. So, if you’re wondering whether walnuts are poisonous to these furry little beings, keep reading to find out the truth behind the myth. Whether you’re a seasoned squirrel enthusiast or a curious newcomer to the world of backyard wildlife, understanding the science behind squirrel nutrition can help you make the best choices when it comes to feeding these adorable creatures.

Characteristics of Squirrels

Squirrels, members of the family Sciuridae, are small to medium-sized rodents that are commonly found in woodlands, forests, and urban parks all over the world. There are over 200 species of squirrels, ranging in size from the tiny African pygmy squirrel to the large Indian giant squirrel. Some of the key characteristics of squirrels include:

  • Slim, agile bodies and bushy tails
  • Sharp and sturdy claws for climbing and running
  • Large, keen eyes that are positioned on the sides of their head for panoramic vision
  • Excellent senses of smell and hearing
  • Diurnal creatures that are most active during the day

Squirrels are herbivorous animals, meaning that they feed primarily on plant matter. Their diet includes a wide variety of nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables, which they are able to locate using their excellent sense of smell. Some species of squirrels, such as the American red squirrel and the Eurasian red squirrel, also feed on insects and other small animals.

Foods that Squirrels Regularly Eat

Squirrels are well-known for their love of nuts, but they actually eat a wide variety of foods to meet their nutritional needs. Here are some of the most common foods that squirrels regularly eat:

  • Nuts: Squirrels are famous for their love of nuts, especially acorns and various types of tree nuts like walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds.
  • Seeds: Squirrels also enjoy eating seeds like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds.
  • Fruits: Squirrels will eat a variety of fruits when they are in season, including apples, pears, berries, and grapes.
  • Insects: Squirrels are omnivores and will occasionally eat insects like grasshoppers and caterpillars for protein.
  • Bird eggs: Although not a common food source, squirrels will sometimes raid bird nests and eat the eggs.

Are Walnuts Poisonous to Squirrels?

Walnuts are a popular nut that many humans enjoy eating, but some people believe that they are toxic to squirrels. However, this is a common myth and is not true. In fact, walnuts are a favorite food of many squirrels and are a good source of protein and nutrients.

Food Nutritional Benefits
Walnuts High in protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids
Acorns Good source of carbohydrates, protein, and fats
Sunflower seeds High in protein, healthy fats, and vitamin E

In conclusion, squirrels are omnivores and will eat a variety of foods to meet their nutritional needs. Walnuts are not poisonous to squirrels and are actually a favorite food of many of these furry creatures. It is important to note, however, that human foods like chocolate and caffeine are toxic to squirrels and should never be given to them.

The Effects of Eating Poisonous Foods

Eating poison can have dire consequences for squirrels, just as it can for humans. Poison can result in organ damage, brain damage, and even death in both species. Some of the common symptoms of poisoning in squirrels include lack of coordination, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, and rapid or shallow breathing.

Signs That Your Squirrel is Sick After Eating Walnuts

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration

If your squirrel is displaying these symptoms, it is essential to take them to the vet as soon as possible. The quicker you act, the higher the chances of a successful recovery. Poisoning in squirrels is far more common than most people think, and there are many sources of harmful substances in our environment, including pesticides and toxic foods.

What to Do If Your Squirrel Eats Walnuts

If your furry friend has eaten walnuts, it is crucial to determine how much they have ingested and how long ago. If it happened within the last few hours, call your vet right away, who may recommend inducing vomiting, administering activated charcoal, and offering IV fluids. The vet will know the best way to proceed and what treatment options to recommend based on the severity of the situation. In severe cases, a blood transfusion may be necessary to help the squirrel recover.


In conclusion, walnuts are indeed poisonous to squirrels, and it is crucial to be vigilant about what our furry friends eat. Squirrels are very curious creatures, and their inquisitive nature can get them into trouble if harmful items are within their reach. Always consult with your vet if you suspect your squirrel has eaten something poisonous, as prompt action is essential for their recovery and well-being.

Poisonous Foods to Squirrels Non-Poisonous Foods to Squirrels
Walnuts Pecans
Cherries Hickory Nuts
Avocado Apples

The table above shows a comparison between poisonous and non-poisonous foods to squirrels. It is important to note that while some foods may not be toxic to squirrels, they may not be suitable for daily consumption and should still be given in moderation to avoid unnecessary weight gain or other health issues.

Natural Predators of Squirrels

As with many other animals, squirrels have natural predators that keep their population under control. These predators are known to prey on squirrels and their young, and include:

  • Hawks and other Birds of Prey: Squirrels are easy prey for hawks and other birds of prey due to their size and slow movement. These birds will swoop down and snatch squirrels off the ground or out of trees.
  • Coyotes and Foxes: Both coyotes and foxes are known to hunt squirrels in wooded areas. They will usually sneak up on squirrels from behind or wait for them in trees before attacking.
  • Snakes: Snakes are another predator of squirrels, particularly younger ones. Snakes can climb trees and will sometimes wait for squirrels to come down to the ground before attacking.

While these predators may seem like a threat to squirrels, they actually play an important role in maintaining the balance of nature. Without these predators, squirrel populations could become out of control and cause damage to the environment.

It’s important to note, however, that humans can also be a threat to squirrel populations. Habitat loss, pollution, and hunting can all have a negative impact on squirrel populations. As with all animals, it’s important to respect their natural habitat and take measures to protect them from harm.

Predator Prey
Hawks and other Birds of Prey Squirrels and their young
Coyotes and Foxes Squirrels and their young
Snakes Youthful squirrels

Ultimately, while squirrels do face many natural predators, they are able to adapt and thrive in a variety of environments. As we coexist with these animals, we must strive to do so in a way that ensures their continued survival and well-being.

Types of Nuts that are Safe for Squirrels to Eat

If you are a squirrel lover and enjoy feeding them, you need to be aware of which nuts are safe for them to eat. Some nuts are toxic and can cause damage to their little bodies. Below are types of nuts that are safe for squirrels to consume.

  • Walnuts: Walnuts are a very healthy snack for squirrels. They are high in protein and fats which can provide them with the nutrients they need.
  • Almonds: Almonds are another nut that is safe for squirrels. They are low in saturated fats and can provide your squirrel with a good source of protein.
  • Pecans: Pecans are another safe nut for squirrels to eat. They are full of vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to their health.

It is important to note that all nuts should be given to squirrels in moderation. An excess of any type of nut can cause health problems such as obesity and could lead to various health issues.

Additionally, it is important to understand that while some nuts are safe for squirrels to consume, they may not all be given the same way. For instance, peanuts are not toxic to squirrels, but eating too many can cause them to choke. Thus, before giving peanuts to your furry friend, make sure they are shelled or crushed into smaller pieces.

Here is a quick table of nuts that are safe to feed your squirrels:

Nut Type Description
Walnuts High in protein and fats, provides essential nutrients for squirrels
Almonds Low in saturated fats and provides a good source of protein for squirrels
Pecans Full of vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to a squirrel’s health

As a squirrel feeder, it is important to be knowledgeable about the types of foods you are providing them. Stick to the safe nuts in moderation, supplement with fruits and vegetables, and your little friends will be happy and healthy.

Nutritional Value of Walnuts

Walnuts are among the most nutritious foods on earth, with a wide range of essential nutrients that are beneficial to the health of both humans and animals. Below are some of the key nutritional components found in walnuts:

  • Protein: Walnuts are a surprisingly good source of protein, containing around 4 grams per ounce. This makes them a great snack option for vegetarians and vegans looking to boost their protein intake.
  • Fiber: With around 2 grams of fiber per ounce, walnuts are a good source of this essential nutrient that helps to promote digestive health.
  • Healthy fats: Walnuts are loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which can help to reduce cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease.

However, while walnuts are a great source of nutrition for humans, there has been some debate about whether or not they are safe for squirrels to eat.

One of the primary concerns regarding feeding walnuts to squirrels is their high fat content, which could potentially lead to weight gain and related health issues. However, some experts believe that the nutritional benefits of walnuts outweigh these potential risks, and that they can be a safe and healthy snack option for squirrels as well as humans.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to feed walnuts to squirrels should be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account factors such as the individual squirrel’s overall health and dietary needs.

Nutrient Amount per 1 oz (28g) serving
Calories 185
Protein 4g
Fiber 2g
Total fat 18g
Monounsaturated fat 3.5g
Polyunsaturated fat 13g

Overall, it is clear that walnuts are an incredibly nutritious food with a wide range of health benefits. While there may be some concerns about feeding them to squirrels, with proper moderation and consideration for the specific needs of individual animals, walnuts can be a safe and healthy snack option for these furry critters as well as for humans.

Foods that Can Cause Health Problems for Squirrels

Squirrels are natural herbivores and eat a wide range of foods. However, not all foods are suitable for their consumption. Some foods can even cause health problems. Below are some foods that can cause health problems for squirrels.

  • Avocado: Avocado is toxic to many animals, including squirrels. It contains persin, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and heart problems in squirrels.
  • Caffeine: Caffeine is not suitable for squirrels and can cause restlessness, rapid heartbeat, and even death. Squirrels can consume small amounts of caffeine, such as that in chocolate, but they should avoid caffeine-rich foods and drinks.
  • Chocolate: Chocolate contains theobromine, which can cause chocolate poisoning in squirrels. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and even death in severe cases.

In addition to the above, some other foods that can cause health problems for squirrels are:

  • Alcohol
  • Garlic and onions
  • Raw beans
  • Bread and pastries

Squirrel owners should avoid feeding these foods and drinks to their pets. Instead, they should provide them with a healthy and balanced diet that includes a mix of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains.

Are Walnuts Poisonous to Squirrels?

Walnuts are a popular snack among humans and animals alike. However, there is a common belief that walnuts are poisonous to squirrels. The truth is that walnuts are not poisonous to squirrels, but they can cause health problems if consumed in large quantities.

Walnuts are high in fat and can cause obesity and digestive problems in squirrels. They are also rich in phytic acid, which can hinder the absorption of minerals in their diet. Additionally, walnuts can become rancid and moldy, which can cause liver damage in squirrels if consumed.

Pros Cons
Good source of protein and healthy fats High in fat and can cause digestive problems if consumed in large quantities
Contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds Rich in phytic acid, which can hinder the absorption of minerals in their diet
Can help prevent heart disease and improve brain function Can become rancid and moldy, which can cause liver damage if consumed

Therefore, while walnuts are safe for squirrels in moderation, they should not be a staple food in their diet. Squirrels should have access to a variety of foods to ensure they get all the nutrients they need.

FAQs: Are walnuts poisonous to squirrels?

1. Can squirrels eat walnuts?

Yes, squirrels can eat walnuts. However, nothing should be given to them in excess. Walnuts should be given in moderation.

2. Can walnuts cause harm to squirrels?

Walnuts should not cause harm to squirrels if given in moderation. Large amounts of walnuts can cause digestive problems for squirrels.

3. Can raw walnuts be bad for squirrels?

Raw walnuts can be bad for squirrels because they contain tannins that can prevent the absorption of nutrients. It’s recommended to give squirrels roasted walnuts instead.

4. Do walnuts contain any toxins that can harm squirrels?

Walnuts are not toxic to squirrels. However, moldy walnuts can be harmful because they contain toxins that can cause seizures and other health problems.

5. Should I feed squirrels walnuts with shells or without?

It’s best to feed squirrels walnuts without shells as they can cause choking hazards. Squirrels can also easily crack open the shells on their own.

6. Can squirrels develop a taste preference for walnuts?

Yes, squirrels can develop a taste preference for walnuts. It’s important to provide them with a varied diet and not give them walnuts too often.

7. Is it okay to feed squirrels walnuts from human food sources?

It’s okay to feed squirrels walnuts from human food sources as long as they are fresh and not moldy. However, it’s preferable to give them unsalted and unseasoned walnuts.

Closing Thoughts:

Thank you for reading this article on whether or not walnuts are poisonous to squirrels. It’s important to provide squirrels with a varied diet and not give them walnuts too often. Remember to always give them fresh walnuts without shells and avoid moldy walnuts. Keep visiting us for more informative articles about wildlife!