squirrel herbivore

Are Squirrels Herbivores?

Yes, squirrels are primarily herbivores.

While they may occasionally consume small insects, eggs, or even small vertebrates, their diet mainly consists of plant-based foods such as nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. In this article, we will explore the dietary habits of squirrels and delve into their herbivorous nature.

Understanding Squirrel Diets

Squirrels belong to the family Sciuridae, which includes various species such as tree squirrels, ground squirrels, and flying squirrels. While their specific diets may vary slightly depending on the species and their habitat, the majority of squirrels are herbivorous.

Let’s take a closer look at the different components of a squirrel’s diet:


Squirrels are well-known for their love of nuts. They have strong jaws and sharp incisors that allow them to crack open the hard shells of nuts like acorns, walnuts, and hazelnuts. Nuts are a rich source of fats, proteins, and essential nutrients, making them a vital part of a squirrel’s diet.

Here’s a table summarizing some common nuts that squirrels consume:

Nut TypeExamples
AcornsOak, chestnut
WalnutsBlack walnut, English walnut
HazelnutsFilbert, cobnut


In addition to nuts, squirrels also consume a variety of seeds. They have a remarkable ability to locate and bury seeds, which serves as a natural storage system for future consumption. Seeds provide squirrels with essential nutrients, including healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.

Here are some common seeds that squirrels include in their diet:

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Chia seeds

Fruits and Vegetables

Squirrels have a fondness for fruits and vegetables, especially when they are in season. They are known to raid gardens and orchards, feasting on a wide range of produce. Fruits and vegetables provide squirrels with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Here are some fruits and vegetables that squirrels enjoy:

  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots

Occasional Non-Herbivorous Behavior

While squirrels are primarily herbivores, there are instances where they exhibit non-herbivorous behavior. These instances are relatively rare and usually occur due to specific circumstances or scarcity of their usual food sources.

Some examples of non-herbivorous behavior in squirrels include:

  • Consuming small insects, such as caterpillars or beetles, for additional protein.
  • Feeding on bird eggs or nestlings when other food sources are scarce.
  • Occasionally scavenging on small vertebrates, like mice or baby birds.

It’s important to note that these non-herbivorous behaviors are exceptions rather than the norm for squirrels.


In conclusion, squirrels are primarily herbivores, with their diet consisting mainly of nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. While they may occasionally consume small insects, eggs, or small vertebrates, these instances are relatively rare. Understanding the dietary habits of squirrels helps us appreciate their role in seed dispersal and their impact on the ecosystem.

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