Is It Safe for Squirrels to Eat Cherries? Unveiling the Facts

In many urban and suburban areas, squirrels are common visitors to our gardens and yards. Their curious and playful nature often catches our attention, leading us to wonder about their dietary habits. One such question that arises is, can squirrels eat cherries?

Cherries, known for their sweet taste and nutritional benefits, are easily accessible to squirrels, especially during the cherry season.

In this guide, we delve into the relationship between squirrels and cherries, exploring the nutritional implications, potential dangers, and the best practices for feeding cherries to squirrels, whether in the wild or in captivity. 

Our analysis is rooted in extensive research, aiming to provide a thorough understanding of this topic for squirrel enthusiasts and curious readers alike.

Can Squirrels Eat Cherries?

Squirrels, with their adaptable dietary habits, find a variety of foods palatable, and cherries are no exception. However, the type of cherry may influence a squirrel’s interest. Sweet cherries tend to be more appealing to squirrels due to their sugar content, providing a quick energy boost. 

On the other hand, sour cherries might not be as enticing, though they are not harmful. 

The nutritional aspect of cherries can be quite beneficial for squirrels. Cherries are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which can support the overall health of squirrels, aiding in better fur quality and immune system support.

The Dangers of Cherry Pits to Squirrels: 

While cherries themselves can be a wholesome treat for squirrels, the pits pose a significant danger. Cherry pits contain a substance called amygdalin, which, when ingested and metabolized, turns into cyanide, a toxic compound.

Squirrels, being intuitive foragers, usually avoid the pits, but there could be instances where a curious or hungry squirrel might attempt to chew on them.

It’s crucial to ensure that if you decide to feed cherries to squirrels, they are adequately pitted. 

This precaution will help prevent the risk of cyanide poisoning, ensuring the safety and well-being of our furry friends.

How to Safely Feed Cherries to Squirrels? 

Feeding cherries to squirrels can be a delightful experience, but it requires a thoughtful approach to ensure their safety and health. Here are some steps to follow:

Pit Removal: Always remove the pits from cherries to eliminate the risk of cyanide poisoning.

Washing: Wash the cherries thoroughly to remove any pesticides or chemicals that might be harmful to squirrels.

Moderation: Like any treat, cherries should be given in moderation to prevent any digestive upset and to maintain a balanced diet.

Observation: Keep an eye on the squirrels as they eat to ensure they are not having any adverse reactions.

By following these guidelines, you can provide a safe and enjoyable treat for the squirrels, whether they are wild visitors to your garden or cherished pets.

Alternative Foods for Squirrels: 

Squirrels have a diverse palate, and while cherries can be a good option, many other foods can contribute to a well-rounded diet. Some alternatives include:

Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts are nutritious and favored by squirrels.

Seeds: Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds provide essential fats and proteins.

Fruits: Apples, berries, and grapes are also loved by squirrels and provide various vitamins and minerals.

Vegetables: Carrots, sweet potatoes, and zucchini are healthy options that can be included in a squirrel’s diet.

Providing a variety of foods will help ensure that squirrels receive a well-balanced diet, promoting their overall health and well-being.

Wild vs Urban Squirrels: A Cherry Diet

The dietary habits of squirrels can significantly vary based on their habitat. Wild squirrels primarily rely on a diet rich in nuts, seeds, and occasionally, fruits they stumble upon, including cherries when in season. 

They are proficient foragers and have a knack for finding food sources that are naturally available in their environment.

On the flip side, urban squirrels have adapted to a more opportunistic feeding behavior due to the availability of human-provided food sources. 

They might have more access to cherries, especially in neighborhoods with cherry trees or kind-hearted individuals who share their cherries with these agile creatures.

Both wild and urban squirrels can enjoy cherries as part of their diet, but the frequency and quantity might differ based on the availability and the presence of alternative food sources.

Seasonal Cherry Consumption by Squirrels:

Cherry consumption among squirrels is highly influenced by the season. Cherries, being a seasonal fruit, are available during specific times of the year, usually late spring to early summer. 

During this period, squirrels might indulge in cherries more frequently, making it a temporary yet delightful part of their diet.

Cherries in a Balanced Squirrel Diet:

Cherries can be a part of a balanced diet for squirrels when offered in moderation. They provide a sweet change of taste and a variety of essential vitamins and minerals. 

However, it’s crucial to remember that the primary diet of squirrels should consist of nuts and seeds, which provide the necessary fats and proteins for their growth and energy needs. Cherries and other fruits should be considered as treats rather than staples in their diet.

Can Squirrels Eat Dried Cherries?

Dried cherries may not be the ideal choice for squirrels. The process of drying can concentrate sugars, making them overly sweet. Furthermore, some dried cherries may contain added sugars or preservatives that could be harmful to squirrels. It’s always safer to stick to fresh, pitted cherries when considering a fruity treat for squirrels.

Variety of Cherries: Which Are Safe for Squirrels?

Squirrels may show a preference for sweet cherries like Bing or Rainier cherries due to their sugar content. However, they are not opposed to tart or sour cherries like Montmorency. It’s essential to ensure that whichever type of cherry is offered is fresh and pitted to prevent any potential health issues.

3 Ways to Feed Squirrels Cherries:

  • Fresh and Pitted: Offer fresh, pitted cherries in a shallow dish or a squirrel feeder.
  • Mixed with Other Foods: Mix pitted cherries with other safe fruits, nuts, or seeds to provide a varied diet.
  • Scattered Treats: Scatter a few pitted cherries around the yard for the squirrels to forage, mimicking their natural behavior.

How Do Squirrels Eat Cherries?

Squirrels have sharp, strong teeth that allow them to bite into and chew cherries effortlessly. They tend to eat the fleshy part of the cherry while avoiding the pit, demonstrating their intuitive feeding behavior.

When Do Squirrels Eat Cherries? 

Squirrels are likely to eat cherries during their availability in late spring to early summer. They are opportunistic feeders and will consume cherries when found in their environment.

How to Keep Squirrels from Eating Cherries?

If you aim to deter squirrels from eating cherries from your trees, consider using squirrel deterrents like netting around the trees or employing motion-activated devices to scare them away gently. Additionally, providing alternative food sources can divert their attention from the cherries.

Are Eating Cherries Dangerous for Squirrels? 

Eating cherries is not dangerous for squirrels as long as the pits are removed to avoid the risk of cyanide poisoning. It’s essential to offer cherries in moderation to maintain a balanced diet and prevent any digestive upset.

Expert Tips:

Love watching squirrels frolic in your backyard and want to treat them to some cherries? Here’s a tip from the experts: Always serve cherries in moderation and ensure they are fresh and pitted to keep your furry friends safe and healthy. 

Cherries can offer some vitamins and minerals beneficial for squirrels, but remember, their primary diet should consist of nuts and seeds. So, make cherries an occasional treat, not a regular meal. 

Plus, watching them enjoy this sweet treat can be a cherry on top for your wildlife-watching experience!

Frequently Asked Questions:

Are cherries good for squirrels?

Yes, cherries, when pitted and given in moderation, can provide some nutritional benefits to squirrels.

Can squirrels eat cherry pits?

No, cherry pits contain amygdalin that can turn into cyanide when ingested, posing a risk to squirrels.

What other fruits can squirrels eat?

Squirrels can eat apples, grapes, and berries, among other fruits, which provide a variety of vitamins and minerals.

How often can squirrels eat cherries?

It’s best to offer cherries as an occasional treat rather than a regular part of a squirrel’s diet.

Final Thoughts:

Our exploration into the dietary relationship between squirrels and cherries has unveiled a sweet intersection of nature’s offerings and squirrel dietary habits. 

While cherries can be a delightful treat for squirrels, ensuring they are served in a safe and moderated manner is crucial. As we have discovered, the world of squirrels and their dietary preferences is vast, offering a fascinating glimpse into how these agile creatures adapt to the bounties of nature.

Whether you are a squirrel enthusiast or a curious reader, understanding the dietary dynamics of squirrels can be a small yet enlightening step into the realm of wildlife.

About The Author
Hi 👋, I’m Billy Thomas, a passionate wildlife biologist with over 10 years of experience. With my expertise in wildlife biology and as a proud owner of over 20 squirrels as pets, I aim to provide reliable information, fun facts, and insights into the world of squirrels.

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