squirrel eating nut

Can Squirrels Eat Chestnuts?(Best Practices)

Squirrels can eat chestnuts in moderation as they are rich in fat. It should not be a daily part of their diet and should only be given as treats. Having lots of chestnuts regularly can be bad for their health in the long run.

Also when offering them chestnuts, make sure you check the nuts for signs of mold infestation first.

Let’s take a deeper look at this topic.

Squirrels love to feed on nuts and out in the wild they feast on a variety of different nuts. They also love storing the nuts they gather in their nest for the future. However, if you plan to feed them nuts make sure the nuts are organic and are totally free of preservatives, additives, flavorings, and salt.

Packaged nuts are big No-No for these little furry animals as they certainly contain additives in them. Even store-bought nuts may have been subjected to chemical fertilizers which in turn can be detrimental to the squirrel’s health.

So it’s best to only feed them nuts that are obtained directly from trees or are from absolutely organic sources. Even then you should feed them nuts in very limited amounts.

Important: Squirrels should avoid eating horse chestnuts as they contain aesculin in them which can lead to stomach distress. If consumed in large amounts it can be fatal for the squirrel. They sometimes are known to eat horse chestnuts out in the wild in the winter when there are severe food shortages.

Nutritional Value of Chestnuts for Squirrels

Total Fat1 g
Sodium1 mg
Potassium715 mg
Vitamin C44%
Vitamin B610%
Protein1 g

Source: (1)

Can squirrels eat raw chestnuts?

Squirrels should eat nuts as treats and so raw chestnuts should never be included as a regular part of their diet. Squirrels must be kept on low-fat diets but from time to time they can feed on chestnuts as treats provided the nuts are fresh and organic (not store-bought as it runs the risk of containing preservatives).

Squirrels out in the wild feed on nuts and seeds from different trees. It is best if you have chestnut trees nearby your place, obtain the chestnuts from the trees, and then feed them to the squirrels.

Even if you feed them make sure you are feeding just one nut and not more than that. A treat should remain a treat. Also, you must make sure that the squirrel has consumed its daily essential food items before savoring the nut.

How do squirrels open chestnuts?

Squirrels open chestnuts with the help of their sharp teeth. In fact, the process of biting through the chestnut shell will help them to further sharpen their teeth and is a good exercise for them. They hold the nut firmly in their hands and then steadily nibble the nutshell while moving it around at a steady pace until it breaks open wide.

Can squirrels eat chestnuts in the shell?

  • High-Calorie Snacking is bad for the squirrel’s health: Even though chestnuts contain low amounts of fat in them they pack loads of calories in them. Feeding on loads of chestnuts in one go can hurt their stomach.
  • Allergic reactions can occur: In certain instances, though it is rare, they can be allergic to nuts. In such instances, it can cause respiratory problems along with stomach and skin problems.
  • Choking Mishap: Again this is quite rare if the shells are not properly removed and especially if the squirrels are still young, it can lead to a choking accident. So you should ideally remove the shell and give the nuts to them in small pieces.

Why it is controversial to feed squirrels chestnuts?

  • Risk of developing dependence on human-provided food sources: Squirrels are wild animals who gather their own food from nature. However, if they keep getting fed with enjoyable food items by humans it can impact their food-gathering behavior particularly if they are provided with such food supplies regularly.
  • Legal problems: In some states or some local parks it can be totally illegal to feed anything to the wildlife. As squirrels fall under the category of wildlife, you should do a thorough check to make sure feeding squirrels won’t land you into any trouble.

So it’s always best to check in advance…Any kind of small dark mark within the chestnut is a sign of fungal infestation and should be discarded completely. So always check for fungal growth before feeding them.

Squirrels will eat almost all kinds of nuts on their own. However they should not be fed nuts like cashewnuts and pine nuts as those can lead to calcium loss in them in the longer run.   They should not any nuts which come in commercial packages as those will contain preservatives and salt in them.

So that’s was it !If you have any more queries let me know in the comments!

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