What do Squirrels Eat in the Winter?

Squirrels are active only for a few hours during the winter. They come out in search of food which they have stored in places before winter. But sadly, they can’t remember all the hiding places well. So, it is nice of you to feed them. For that, you need to know what do squirrels eat in the winter.

Squirrels are genuinely omnivorous. So, they eat everything from plants to meat. But their main diet consists of nuts and seeds. They gather these and stock them for the winter. Squirrels have amazing hoarding ability and they keep their food making a pile somewhere underground. 

Although squirrels eat insects, fungi, plants, cereals too, they mainly eat nuts and seeds in the winter because these are the kinds of food they can store. When food becomes scarce in winter they slowly start eating from their stock.

What do squirrels eat in the winter?

As mentioned earlier, squirrels are truly omnivorous creatures. But as they are less active in the winter, their options for food also shrink. As a last resort, they start to depend on the stock of food they have piled up before winter. Here is a list of food squirrels will generally eat during winter…

What do Squirrels Eat in the Winter?
  • Hazelnuts

This is one of the most preferred foods by squirrels. Hazelnuts contain almost all the nutrition a squirrel needs. Also, they can find these nuts easily in a garden or in the woods. It’s really fun to watch them handle a hazelnut and eat it.

  • Walnuts 

Red and grey squirrels love walnuts. They can find them in the woods. They contain a good nutritious value for squirrels. Grown squirrels know how to gnaw the outer shell and get the real stuff inside!

  • Peanuts 

If you think carefully, a squirrel will be able to find that easily. It’s not even a real nut! But squirrels still eat peanuts although they lack enough vitamin and calcium squirrels need. 

  • Almonds 

Squirrels love almonds very much. But eating too many almonds creates a nutritious imbalance in their bodies. It becomes a reason for their obesity. So almonds are good but too many almonds are bad. 

  • Monkey nuts

They are basically peanuts in their shells. Same as peanuts they don’t get to find some monkey nuts very often. They love monkey nuts but they lack some necessary nutrition. 

  • Pumpkin seeds

Both red and grey squirrels love pumpkin seeds. These seeds have very high nutritious value and provide the squirrels with all the vitamins and minerals they need. 

  • Sunflower seeds 

Squirrels love sunflower seeds. They even steal them from gardens. But they are not incredibly good for the squirrels. They lack the essential vitamins and minerals the squirrels need. 

  • Pecans 

Squirrels absolutely love pecans. One single squirrel can eat up to 50 pounds of pecans a year. They readily find them in the gardens. Squirrels are practically a problem for pecan gardens. 

  • Chestnuts

Squirrels surely eat chestnuts. Horse chestnuts are poisonous. But other ones if they are fresh and not treated with any chemicals, squirrels absolutely devour them. Squirrels mainly store them for the winter. 

  • Hickory nuts

Squirrels love to eat them ripe and sweet. They quickly go through the green outer shell and tackle the harder inner shell to get the ultimate prize. No problems have been recorded to occur to squirrels for eating hickory nuts. 

  • Pistachios 

A few pistachios are just fine for squirrels. Pistachios are very rich in sodium which can be toxic for a little creature like a squirrel. They can safely eat white pistachios but don’t give them red ones.

  • Cashews 

Squirrels can have one or two of them. But a lot can really cause severe problems as cashews contain high amounts of phosphorus which will lead to calcium loss for a squirrel. 

  • Pinecones 

Squirrels love pine cones especially the green ones rather than the brown ones. Green pine cones contain good nutritious values. They store these cones for winter as they last a long period of time. 

  • Carrots

Although squirrels love mainly nuts and seeds, they also eat vegetables like carrots. Carrots have a lot of health benefits and squirrels can benefit from them. But they should have carrots in moderation.

  • Corn 

Squirrels love corn and they can eat it without any problems. They can eat all the parts of the corn. But you shouldn’t feed them every part. Feed them the grains. 

  • Celery 

Celery is full of vitamins and minerals that the squirrels need. They can have celeries but should be given in moderation.

  • Insects  

When squirrels don’t find grains, they don’t mind trying out some insects. But in the winter, squirrels don’t eat insects that much because they don’t get to catch enough insects by that time.

How do they find food?

Squirrels mainly find food using their really fine olfactory capabilities. They can smell a minute scent of grains and seeds from a distance. They will follow it and will even steal from other squirrels if possible. If squirrels can find a constant source of seeds or nuts, they will continuously return to the source to collect as much food as possible.


Still have some questions in mind? Then check the section below. You may get your answer.

What is the best thing to feed squirrels in the winter?

The answer is nuts and seeds. Among nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans are good for them as they contain necessary vitamins and minerals. In seeds, pumpkin seeds are the best seeds for squirrels. They can also have some fruits and vegetables like carrots and apples. 

What foods are bad for squirrels?

Any kind of starchy food like pasta, rice, potatoes, bread is not good for squirrels. The same goes for any sugary food like candy, cookies, granola. All the junk foods like chips, French fries, anything salted should absolutely be avoided. Although squirrels love nuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios should be fed in very low amounts.

Where do squirrels sleep at night in the winter?

Depends on the type of squirrel. Ground squirrels always live on the ground or underground. But grey squirrels live on the trees. Instead of hibernating they just stay in their nests for most of the day during winter. They have their food stored near them.

What is the best food for wild squirrels?

Squirrels of all kinds love nuts and seeds as their food. They also have fruit, vegetables, fungi, corn, and leaves. To help wild squirrels with food, you can give them a mixture of different kinds of nuts, seeds, fruits, corn, and some vegetables. Make a pile of food near a tree or bush and the squirrels will be happy to find it. 

Is it OK to feed squirrels peanuts?

There is no problem in feeding the squirrels some peanuts. But it’s not something they would naturally eat because they can’t find peanuts easily. If we give them some, they can have it. But peanuts lack enough nutritious values needed for squirrels.

More squirrels related article at rocwildlife

How To Befriend A Squirrel

How to Fill Ground Squirrel Holes

How Long Can a Squirrel Live Without Food and Water

Do Squirrels Eat Mealworms?

How Far Do Squirrels Travel

What Does Squirrel Poop Look Like?


Squirrels are a blessing to the nature around us. These furry little fun balls are a joy to watch. At the same time, they are a great help to the environment. From their hoardings that they can’t find, trees grow from those seeds. In return, we can help them with some food when they can’t find it easily.

That’s why we need to know what do squirrels eat in the winter. We have discussed the topic with great details above. Now we know they mainly eat nuts and seeds in the winter as they can stock them easily. They eat some fruits and vegetables too.

Squirrels love all kinds of nuts and seeds but some are really good for their health, some are not so good and some are quite bad for them. When you give squirrels some food for the winter, keep this information in mind. 

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