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Those of us who attract squirrels to our yards know that these curious creatures enjoy rich diets. They are famously unfussy about what they eat! However, we’ll most likely see them eating nuts, seeds, and fruit. But, do squirrels eat mealworms if they’re really hungry?
Yes, squirrels eat mealworms if they are readily available. Believe it or not, the squirrel is an omnivore, not a herbivore – meaning it will happily munch on animals smaller than itself if they wish.
Why do squirrels eat mealworms?
Squirrels eat mealworms simply because they like the taste of them! They will eat them fresh and alive, or dried and dead – if there is food available, a squirrel is unlikely to turn it away. This is also because squirrels are born foragers and hoarders – meaning that if they don’t eat their food straight away, they will store it for colder days ahead.
Squirrels also seek out mealworms for protein. Protein is especially important for squirrels during breeding and gestation, meaning you may find squirrels visiting your yard hungrier for mealworms during their mating season.
It’s not unheard of to see squirrels eating bird eggs, too – for the same reason. It’s a quick burst of protein and calories, and the opportunist squirrel is going to take a free meal at face value.
However, squirrels eating mealworms can prove to be frustrating for those of us who are leaving these protein-filled snacks out for specific birds we want to attract to our yards. Therefore, if you notice your mealworms are feeding squirrels more than your feathered friends, you may have to take action.
How do I get squirrels to stop eating the mealworms I put out for the birds?
Thankfully, there are a few ways that you can keep the squirrels off of your bird feeders and away from the mealworms you leave out for local birds.
Consider moving your bird feeders out of reach
Try keeping any bird feeders you set up away from trees and high bushes where squirrels are likely to have easy access. Instead, try to keep them on perches, poles, or in birdhouses away from the trees. You could also place baffles beneath and above the bird feeders so that only birds can access them. Many birds won’t be fussy about flying a little further into your yard to feed.
Set up a squirrel-deterrent bird feeder
Squirrel-deterrent feeders are small cages with holes only big enough for smaller birds and are therefore too tight for squirrels to get into. Therefore, your local rodents are likely to look elsewhere for the odd snack.
Feed your squirrels separately – and regularly
Squirrels will only really head for bird feeders if they do not have enough of their own food source – providing they have access to enough nuts, fruit, seeds, and more elsewhere, they are unlikely to go much further afield.
Therefore, consider filling up a squirrel feeder and setting it up far away from your bird table or feeding station – the opposite ends of your yard is likely to be a good idea!
What else do squirrels eat?
In the wild, squirrels will normally forage for and store a variety of nuts, seeds, and even corn that they can easily save for colder days. That said, very hungry squirrels will happily chow down on the odd piece of fruit if it is desperate for quick-release energy. In fact, you may even find squirrels coming out in the rain to feed if it’s desperate enough.
You can feed mealworms in dried or live form to your squirrels if you wish, however, it’s normally a good idea to offer them a recommended mix of squirrel feed. You’ll be able to find such mixes in your local food stores, pet retailers, and online.
What else might be eating my mealworms?
If you’re noticing your mealworm supply decreasing around your bird table, it may not necessarily be squirrels to blame for their disappearance. If you’re noticing a decrease in bird visitors and squirrels aren’t regularly popping by either, you may find that mice or rats are chowing down on these treats.
Believe it or not, it’s also thought that snakes enjoy eating mealworms, too – as do frogs and certain other amphibians. Therefore, don’t be too hasty to lay blame on the squirrels in your area!
Some people swear by adding spices to their mealworms to deter anything besides birds to the feeding table. However, even this carries risks – be sure to stick to raw, natural food wherever you can.
If you want to attract squirrels to your garden, be sure to offer a balance to other wild guests, too. Otherwise, there might not be enough food to go around!