Wild animals have over time developed different techniques to survive during colder periods. While birds migrate south to find climates more conducive to providing them with food, some species hibernate, i.e. they enter a deep sleep having previously made large stores of fat, thus making it easier to spend the winter. This is for example the case of the marmot or the turtle. Squirrels, on the other hand, have developed a completely different technique to be able to eat during the winter season.
The diet of squirrels: what do they eat?
In nature, these small red rodents have a very different diet depending on the season. In summer and spring, they feed on pulp fruits (cherries, blackberries, etc.), flowers, buds, young tree shoots, or even small invertebrates such as earthworms or various insects. More rarely, if food becomes less abundant, they sometimes steal bird eggs directly from the nests.
In autumn and winter, the behavior of the squirrel as well as its diet change. Early in the fall, he goes in search of food, but this time, he will not eat it right away. He fills his cheeks with everything that seems edible to him, to hide the whole in various points which constitute reserves, by burying the foodstuffs directly in the ground, but also by placing them in hollow tree trunks. His diet will consist of tree fruits, such as acorns, chestnuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts, and walnuts, but also mushrooms that he will let dry beforehand, tree bark, and pine cones that ‘he will peel to find the pine seeds he loves.
Should we feed squirrels during the winter?
Feeding squirrels in winter is indeed something that can be tempting. We think we are doing a good deed by potentially saving a life, and this also allows us to be able to get closer to these cute little animals, and thus observe them more closely.
However, feeding those little red hairballs is not necessarily the best thing to do. Said this way, it may sound cruel, but it is important to understand that bringing squirrels to collect their food from humans gives them a very bad habit, since by thinking that they will be fed every winter they can lose. the reflex to stock up on their own, and potentially starve when they can’t find a generous soul human to feed them.
In addition, the seed stocks that squirrels make are very important for biodiversity. Indeed, they dig so many hiding places to store their food that they forget some of them, the fruits can therefore germinate, which contributes to reforestation.
The harsh climate of winter can cause some unlucky squirrels to fail to make it through the season. It is sad, indeed, but it allows to regulate the species, thus avoiding a potential overpopulation; feeding them in winter, therefore, goes against this natural principle. Better to say to yourself that it is bad for good.
Finally, feeding squirrels can also be a danger to themselves. This pushes them to venture more and more into urban areas, where they are confronted with many dangers. They can be hunted by our pets, especially cats who see them as a simple snack. They can also be run over by a car.
In conclusion, one might certainly think that it is an act of charity to feed the squirrels during the difficult seasons, but in reality, this has consequences that we do not necessarily think of, but which can have a big impact on nature. and biodiversity, in addition to giving them a habit that could endanger them.