What Attracts Squirrels to Dried Mealworms?

In the eclectic world of wildlife, squirrels hold a unique place with their playful antics and diverse dietary habits. Among the myriad food options available to them, insects form a part of their diet. Dried mealworms, in particular, have piqued the interest of many wildlife enthusiasts and squirrel feeders. 

This article delves into the question: do squirrels eat dried mealworms? We’ll explore the nutritional aspect of dried mealworms for squirrels, their interaction with bird feeders, and alternative food options, providing a comprehensive understanding for both casual observers and avid squirrel feeders.

Squirrels and Dried Mealworms: A Delicacy or a Necessity?

Explore the dynamics between squirrels and dried mealworms to understand if they are a delicacy or a dietary necessity.

Overview of Dried Mealworms as a Food Source:

Dried mealworms are a popular choice among bird feeders but are also found to be palatable by squirrels. They are packed with protein, essential amino acids, and fats, making them a nutritious choice.

Squirrels’ Interaction with Dried Mealworms:

Through observations and various accounts, it’s clear that squirrels do find dried mealworms appealing. Their opportunistic feeding behavior makes them a frequent visitor to bird feeders stocked with mealworms.

Implications of Bird Feeding:

Squirrels foraging on dried mealworms can significantly impact the bird feeding routine. Their frequent visits may deter birds and empty the feeders quickly, necessitating a balanced feeding strategy.

Squirrel-Proofing Bird Feeders:

Implementing squirrel-proofing measures on bird feeders can ensure that birds get their share of mealworms. Techniques include:

  • Using squirrel-proof feeders.
  • Placing feeders at strategic positions.
  • Using capsicum-coated mealworms to deter squirrels.

Live vs Dried Mealworms for Squirrels:

  • Nutritional Value: Dried mealworms are known for their protein content, but live mealworms have the added benefit of moisture, which is absent in the dried version.
  • Accessibility: Dried mealworms can be stored and used for a longer time, making them a more accessible choice for feeding squirrels compared to live mealworms, which require a controlled environment to stay alive.
  • Preference among Squirrels: Some reports suggest that squirrels may show a preference towards live mealworms due to their movement attracting the squirrels. However, they do not shy away from dried mealworms either.

Alternative Foods for Squirrels:

  • Nuts and Seeds: A staple in a squirrel’s diet, nuts and seeds provide the necessary fats and proteins.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: Squirrels also enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables, which provide them with essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Other Protein Sources: Besides mealworms, squirrels can also eat other insects, small invertebrates, and eggs for protein.

Squirrel-Proofing Bird Feeders:

  • Types of Squirrel-proof Feeders: There are specially designed feeders with weight-sensitive perches that close off access to the food when a squirrel lands on them.
  • DIY Squirrel-proofing Techniques: Techniques include using baffles, placing feeders away from trees or structures, or using spicy seeds.
  • Effectiveness and Recommendations: While no solution is foolproof, a combination of methods can significantly reduce squirrel interference.

Impact on Local Bird Populations:

The interaction between squirrels and birds over mealworms can significantly impact local bird populations. Squirrels, being opportunistic feeders, may dominate mealworm feeders, making it challenging for birds to have access to this food source. 

Over time, this could lead to a decrease in bird visitation in your backyard, affecting local bird populations negatively. It’s crucial to manage squirrel feeding practices to ensure a harmonious coexistence between these backyard dwellers.

Nutritional Value of Dried Mealworms:

Dried mealworms are a nutrient-dense food source, rich in protein, essential fatty acids, and various vitamins and minerals. They provide a significant energy boost, which is beneficial for both squirrels and birds, especially during colder months. 

Their protein content supports muscle development, and the fats provide a sustained energy source. However, they should be offered in moderation alongside a variety of other foods to ensure a balanced diet for the wildlife frequenting your backyard.

Mealworm Suet Composition: 

Mealworm suet is made by combining mealworms with hard fat such as lard or beef suet. It’s a high-energy food source beneficial for wildlife, especially during colder seasons.

Deterring Squirrels:

  • Chili/Cayenne Pepper: Coating mealworms with chili or cayenne pepper deters squirrels due to their sensitivity to capsaicin.
  • Bird Feeder Accessibility: Making bird feeders inaccessible to squirrels, e.g., by using baffles or placing them away from jumping points, can help.
  • Squirrel-Proof Feeder: Special squirrel-proof feeders are designed to prevent squirrel access while allowing birds to feed.
  • Feeding Squirrels Separately: Providing alternative food sources can deter squirrels from bird feeders.
  • Changing Mealworm Types: Alternating between live, dried, and mealworm suet to observe squirrels’ preferences could provide insights into deterring them.

Final Thoughts:

This exploration into the dietary interplay between squirrels and birds concerning mealworm consumption has shed light on several key points. The nutritional value of mealworms makes them an attractive food source for both birds and squirrels. 

However, the dominant feeding behavior of squirrels can hinder bird access to mealworms, impacting local bird populations.

The practice of feeding squirrels and birds in the backyard comes with a communal responsibility. It’s essential to strike a balance that caters to the dietary needs of both species while promoting coexistence. 

Implementing measures such as squirrel-proof feeders, separate feeding stations, and moderation in feeding can help achieve a harmonious backyard ecosystem. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Mealworms Safe for Squirrels?

Mealworms are a safe and nutritious food source for squirrels. They provide essential proteins and fats that contribute to a squirrel’s balanced diet. However, it’s advisable to provide mealworms as a part of a varied diet, including nuts, seeds, and fruits, to ensure overall nutritional adequacy.

Can Birds and Squirrels Share Mealworm Feeders?

While birds and squirrels can share mealworm feeders, it can lead to competition and scare away birds. Squirrels are known to dominate food sources, making it challenging for birds to access the mealworms. Consider having separate feeders or employing squirrel-proof feeders to maintain a harmonious backyard ecosystem.

How Can I Discourage Squirrels from Eating Mealworms Meant for Birds?

To discourage squirrels from eating mealworms intended for birds, you could use squirrel-proof feeders or place feeders in locations difficult for squirrels to access. Alternatively, providing a separate feeding station for squirrels with a mix of their preferred foods can divert their attention.

What Other Foods are Beneficial for Squirrels?

Squirrels thrive on a varied diet consisting of nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and grains. Foods like sunflower seeds, peanuts, and a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables contribute to their nutritional needs.

Is it Harmful to Feed Squirrels Regularly?

Feeding squirrels regularly can make them reliant on human-provided food, which might deter them from foraging naturally. It’s advisable to feed squirrels in moderation to avoid disrupting their natural feeding habits.

How Do Mealworms Contribute to a Squirrel’s Diet?

Mealworms are rich in protein and fat, essential nutrients for a squirrel’s growth and energy needs. They also provide some vitamins and minerals which contribute to the overall health of squirrels.

Can Squirrels Become Overweight from Eating Too Many Mealworms?

Yes, squirrels can become overweight if they consume too many mealworms, especially if combined with other high-fat foods. It’s essential to provide a balanced diet to maintain their optimal health.

How Can I Balance Feeding Squirrels and Birds in My Backyard?

Balancing feeding squirrels and birds requires a thoughtful approach. Employing squirrel-proof bird feeders, providing separate feeding stations, and monitoring the feeding habits can contribute to a balanced backyard ecosystem.

What are the Benefits of Feeding Wildlife in My Backyard?

Feeding wildlife in your backyard can be a rewarding experience. It provides an opportunity to observe wildlife up close, support local animal populations, and contribute to creating a vibrant and interactive outdoor environment.

Are There Any Regulations on Feeding Wildlife?

Regulations on feeding wildlife may vary by location. It’s advisable to check with local wildlife authorities to understand any guidelines or restrictions on feeding wildlife in your area.

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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