Corn in a Squirrel’s Diet: What You Need to Know

Squirrels, those agile and often endearing creatures seen darting through our backyards, have sparked much curiosity due to their diverse and intriguing dietary habits. Among the many questions wildlife enthusiasts and gardeners ask, one stands out: “Do squirrels eat corn?” 

This seemingly simple question opens the door to a fascinating exploration into the world of squirrels and their interactions with one of the most common grains.

In this article, we aim to delve deeply into this topic. Our journey will take us through a comprehensive examination of the types of corn squirrels eat, the nutritional value of corn, and its impact on their health and well-being. 

Equipped with insights from wildlife experts and backed by scientific research, we’re here to unravel this mystery and provide you with accurate, helpful information.

Whether you’re a nature lover, a gardener, or simply curious about these energetic creatures, this guide will offer you an insightful look into the diet of squirrels and their relationship with corn.

Do Squirrels Eat Corn?

To answer the question straight away: yes, squirrels do eat corn. But there’s more to this story than a simple yes or no. Squirrels are opportunistic feeders known for their varied diet, and corn often becomes a part of their menu, especially when other food sources are scarce. 

Observations from wildlife experts and studies in natural habitats indicate that squirrels are particularly attracted to corn for its nutritional value.

The significance of corn in a squirrel’s diet is multifaceted. While it provides them with essential nutrients, it’s not without its downsides. This ambivalent relationship between squirrels and corn is what we will explore further in this article.

General Nutritional Information about Corn

Corn, a staple grain extensively cultivated around the globe, is rich in carbohydrates, providing a quick energy source. 

It also contains moderate amounts of vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, magnesium, and phosphorus. For squirrels, these nutrients can be beneficial, particularly in times when their usual, more varied diet is not available.

However, it’s important to consider that while corn can offer these nutritional benefits, it shouldn’t be the sole item in a squirrel’s diet. A balanced diet for squirrels, much like for humans, is key to maintaining their overall health.

Understanding the Digestive System of a Squirrel

Squirrels have a digestive system that is quite efficient at processing a variety of foods, including nuts, seeds, fruits, and grains like corn. This system includes a stomach and intestines that can break down both plant and animal matter, making them omnivorous. 

The way squirrels digest corn is particularly interesting, as they can process its carbohydrates for energy but may struggle with large amounts due to its low protein and high sugar content.

This aspect of their digestive capability plays a crucial role in understanding why squirrels can eat corn but also why it should be consumed in moderation as part of a more diverse diet.

Types of Corn Consumed by Squirrels

Squirrels aren’t particularly picky when it comes to the type of corn they consume, but they do have preferences. Their choices often include:

  • Cracked Corn: Easily digestible and often found in bird feeders, cracked corn is a common choice for squirrels.
  • Indian Corn: Also known as flint corn, its colorful kernels are attractive to squirrels, but it’s harder than other types.
  • Deer Corn: This is whole kernel corn, and squirrels enjoy it, especially in rural areas.
  • Corn on the Cob: A classic image of a squirrel eating, they often gnaw on the kernels.

Each type of corn offers different nutritional values and challenges. Cracked corn is easier to eat but less nutritious, while corn on the cob provides a fun challenge and is more wholesome.

Special Considerations for Each Type of Corn

  • Cracked Corn: High in carbohydrates; should be a small part of the diet.
  • Indian Corn: Hard kernels can be difficult for squirrels to digest.
  • Deer Corn: Should be offered sparingly due to its size and hardness.
  • Corn on the Cob: Ideal as it mimics natural foraging behavior.

Is Corn Good for Squirrels?

Corn, in moderation, can be a beneficial addition to a squirrel’s diet. It provides essential energy, especially during colder months. However, it’s crucial to balance this with other foods to ensure squirrels receive a well-rounded diet.

Can Baby Squirrels Eat Corn? 

Their diet should mainly consist of formula and soft foods. Introduce corn slowly and in small quantities as they mature.

Can Squirrels Eat Uncooked Corn?

Squirrels can eat uncooked corn without issues, but it should always be fresh to avoid mold, which can be harmful.

Detailed Analysis of Corn Parts Consumed by Squirrels

Squirrels can eat different parts of the corn plant, each offering various nutritional benefits:

  • Kernels: Main source of energy and nutrients.
  • Husk: Provides fiber but not much else nutritionally.
  • Silk: Often ignored by squirrels.
  • Cob: A source of fiber and amusement, but little nutritional value.
  • Leaves and Stalk: Rarely eaten, mostly when other food is scarce.

The nutritional value and safety of each part vary, and understanding this can help in feeding squirrels responsibly.

How to Feed Squirrels Corn?

Feeding squirrels corn should be done thoughtfully:

  • Offer corn in moderation as part of a diverse diet.
  • Avoid processed corn products and stick to natural, fresh corn.
  • Place the corn in a spot that mimics natural foraging.

What Kind of Corn to Feed Squirrels in Various Contexts & Alternatives to Corn

  • In Backyards: Corn on the cob or deer corn.
  • In Parks: Cracked corn, as it’s less likely to attract rodents.
  • Alternatives to Corn: Nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables are great alternatives.

Will Squirrels Eat Corn from Sweet Corn Crops?

Squirrels are likely to target sweet corn crops, especially if located near their natural habitat.

Strategies to Protect Corn Crops from Squirrels:

  • Use physical barriers like nets or fences.
  • Apply natural repellents like red pepper.
  • Scare tactics, such as fake predators or noise devices, can be effective.

Verdict:

In conclusion, squirrels do eat corn, and it can be a part of their diet, but it should be balanced with other foods. Understanding their dietary needs and digestive system is crucial for responsible feeding. 

By providing a variety of foods, we can ensure the health and happiness of these delightful creatures.

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.

Leave a Comment