Are Cherries, Avocadoes, Peach, Apricots, and Plums OK for squirrels?
Squirrels can eat berries and fruits like cherries, avocadoes, peaches, apricots, plums, etc without any sort of an issue.
Just remember to feed them only the meaty portion of the fruit, the flesh, and never offer them the endocarp or pits of these fruits to them. Also, get rid of the outer peelings off food items like avocadoes before offering them those items.
All of these fruits are okay for their consumption provided they are not fed these items on a regular basis. Why?
Dry fruits generally are loaded with sugar and too much sugar that also on a regular basis is not something the little bodies of the squirrels can handle. Once in a while you can offer them these food items but not on a daily basis.
Why are pits of Cherry, Avocado, Apricot, Peach, and Dates bad for squirrels?
Pits or seeds of any kind of berries or fruits are bad for squirrels and for all kinds of animals including humans as they contain a substance called amygdalin in varying levels. This compound gets converted into hydrogen cyanide the moment it gets broken down in the stomach.
Excess to hydrogen cyanide in the body can be fatal. IT can lead to respiratory distress, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.
However, the incidence of the symptoms totally depends on the amount of amygdalin that has entered the body.
For humans, one or two swallowing of such pits won’t cause any distress, particularly in the case of adults. The risk of choking on the seed and having the colon obstructed(in the case of children) is more of a bigger thing to worry about than cyanide poisoning.
However chewing and swallowing multiple pits or seeds of seeded fruits like apricots, cherries, dates, etc can be a matter of concern for even humans, especially for children, and will need an immediate visit to the hospital to avoid future complications.
As squirrels are tiny in size in comparison with humans, even swallowing just one or two pits can become fatal for them.
That is why in most instances, you may find that they automatically discard the pit and seeds of the berries and fruits. However, it’s best to not directly offer them seeds or fruits with pits as the danger of them swallowing those always remains.
How do the pits and seeds affect the health of squirrels?
So when the squirrels will ingest those cherry pits, the amygdalin in the pits will be released into the stomach when the stomach acids break down the seed.
Amygdalin will then get converted into hydrogen cyanide by the action of the plant enzymes present in the seed which are released out of the seed once they are crushed. The digestive enzymes present in the stomach also play a role in converting Amygdalin to hydrogen cyanide.
Hydrogen cyanide is a lethal component and it has the capability of affecting the oxygen transport system in the body that further has the potential of seriously damaging the brain, heart, and lungs.
The seriousness of the symptoms will be based on the amount of hydrogen cyanide that has been produced i.e, it will be related to the number of pits or seeds ingested by the squirrel.
They can suffer sub-acute levels of nausea, weakness, and diarrhea whereas if it gets acute they can face breathing issues, confusion, cardiac arrest, coma, and even death.
This is why you must never feed whole berries or fruits that have got pits or seeds in them to squirrels.
Thats it from my side! IF you have any insights I would love to hear them in the comments below!