Can Squirrels Eat Bread? Feeding Your Backyard Buddies

Aryan Khanna
Mar 06, 2023 By Aryan Khanna
Originally Published on Oct 29, 2021
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
Indian palm squirrel eating bread.

In our backyard, on the neighbor's tree, in a forest, we have come across squirrels everywhere.

These cute little rodents are quite tenacious as they can run or climb up a tree in a flash. Where do they get all this energy from, and what is it that squirrels can eat apart from nuts?

Images of squirrels that we have seen have always shown squirrels eating nuts and only nuts, which have now made us believe that squirrels only eat nuts. However, this is not the case.

They eat a lot of other stuff as well such as fruits, fungi, eggs, insects and bread as well!

Yes, squirrels can eat bread but it must be in a regulated amount as it is not very healthy for them. It contains more sugar than they need and can digest.

What candy bars are to human beings, bread is to squirrels but slightly more dangerous. It is consumable but must be regulated.

If you are looking for some food to give to wild squirrels, it is advisable not to give bread as its contents cannot be quickly or easily digested by a squirrel. You can rather feed it apples, mangoes, plums or other fruits as these foods are a good source of fiber for squirrels.

In the case of baby squirrels, if it is a pet or an orphaned or injured squirrel, you need to keep it on a special diet consisting of diluted milk with a pinch of glucose.

After some time, you can feed it undiluted milk. Contrary to young ones of other animals, baby squirrels are quite sophisticated and require special attention.

If you enjoy this article, why not also read about can squirrels eat chocolateandcan squirrels swim here on Kidadl?

Why can't squirrels digest cellulose in bread?

Even though bread can be given to tree squirrels or gray squirrels as an occasional treat, bread should not become a squirrel's staple diet or go-to option. There are various reasons that squirrels should not consume bread. The biggest reason is due to bread's formula where it contains cellulose.

The primary reason behind squirrels not being able to digest the cellulose in bread is because their digestive system lacks enzymes that are necessary for breaking down cellulose. Squirrels seem to have a very tiny body but they cannot survive only on plants; they need energy-filled nuts and fruits.

Such food items are easy for squirrels to digest and provide them with enough energy to function as well. Along with bread, avoid feeding your squirrel dates, figs and any other dried fruit.

The high sugar content in such food is bad for squirrels. Also, avoid feeding squirrels any sort of packaged animal food or even specialized squirrel food as it isn't required.

Do squirrels like bread?

Absolutely! Unaware of the fact that bread might harm them, squirrels love eating bread. Gray squirrels especially can be found them running around in the park, climbing on trees, and munching on different kinds of food items provided to them, including bread.

The squirrel is not a particularly choosy animal and it will eat whatever it gets. Even if it might be okay to feed squirrels bread in very small amounts, it is better not to and instead give them berries or nuts.

Squirrels found on land are known to be opportunists who consume any kind of food given to them.

They even store food like nuts for winter days as squirrels dig small underground holes where they store their ration for winter months. Now that we have answered the question can squirrels eat bread, keep in mind not to give them any moldy bread when feeding as it is very harmful.

How do you feed bread to squirrels?

First of all, if you want to feed any bread to squirrels, make sure it isn't white bread. White bread has very high sugar content in comparison to other bread and harms a squirrel's digestive system to a large extent.

The best option is to feed whole grain bread or multi-grain bread to squirrels because the nutrition content is high and it is relatively less harmful to squirrels.

The recommended way to feed bread to squirrels is by giving them small pieces of bread and in quantities that they can consume at once. If you give them a lot of bread, they won't be able to eat all of it in one go and will store the remainder for later use.

But, what they do not know is if they keep the bread for later use, it will get moldy quickly and then won't be fit for consumption.

So it is better if you give them bread in small quantities; 0.35 oz (10 g) per day is the optimum choice.

Also, make sure that the bread you give to squirrels is not moldy bread as it can greatly harm squirrels or any other animal, too. Salmonella bacteria develops quickly on such substances and is a leading reason for food-related illness in the United States.

What breads should you avoid?

Even though squirrels can eat bread, it is advisable to avoid feeding any kind of bread to squirrels as most breads contain a considerable amount of sugar which should not be a major part of a squirrel's diet.

Under extreme circumstances, you can feed squirrels breads like multi-grain and whole wheat breads but under no circumstance should you feed squirrels the below mentioned breads.

Breads that have high sugar content are the most dangerous ones.

Do not feed those breads to a squirrel and it is advisable for humans, too, to avoid breads which have very high sugar content. You can understand that by checking out the ingredients and composition section of the wrapper or food packaging.

If the ingredient list of a bread contains items such as molasses, high-fructose corn syrup or dextrose, do not feed it to a squirrel.

Breads you should prohibit from feeding include Wonder Bread’s Classic Loaf, Udi’s Gluten-Free Cinnamon Raisin Bread (or any other raisin bread), Pepperidge Farm’s Farmhouse Oatmeal Bread, Martin’s Potato Bread, and Vermont Bread Company’s Organic Soft White Bread.

In general, white bread is the most harmful kind of bread to feed to your squirrel.

Not only does its high sugar content harm the squirrel, but also, the low nutritional value acts as a double strike. At the same time, do not give stale or moldy bread to squirrels.

Additionally, do not give any bread to baby squirrels.

A baby squirrel here refers to one that is around an age of 10-12 weeks; a squirrel that age can even die if fed solids such as breads. Baby squirrels have to be taken care of to a great extent until they are at least three months old.

Why should squirrels not be given bread?

In layman's terms, ingredients of bread are not easily digestible by a squirrel. The high sugar content of breads in general, and in white bread in particular, is massively harmful for squirrels. If consumed in large quantity, i.e., more than 0.35 oz. (10 g) per day, a squirrel can fall ill or even die depending upon the severity.

There are also certain components in bread that are regarded as toxic for squirrels. The formula of bread making uses items such as chocolate, raisins, garlic, xylitol and cellulose which are dangerous for squirrel consumption.

These items are common ingredients in breads these days; different kinds of breads might have different ingredients in varying proportions but none of them are completely healthy or beneficial for a squirrel.

A bread which contains the above mentioned list of ingredients, if consumed by a squirrel, can make it fall seriously ill.

Whether it is a wild squirrel or a regular tree squirrel, do not give it bread to eat. Provide it with items such as berries or nuts or other juicy fruits.

Moreover, the fact that a squirrel's digestive system lacks enzymes which are absolutely necessary for digesting cellulose is another reason for a squirrel not eating bread. Also, the majority of breads these days contain large amounts of salt and a squirrel's body cannot filter out all this salt.

If fed in large quantities, it is a potential life threat for a squirrel.

Now that you know cannot feed bread to your squirrels, let us take a look at the best food that you can give to your backyard squirrels.

You can feed them protein and fiber-rich natural garden-grown products such as sunflower seeds, corn, nuts, seeds and other healthy fruits and vegetables. This is the best diet for pet squirrels; eating this food will provide them with the required amounts of fiber and protein for healthy growth.

What happens when squirrels eat bread?

When squirrels eat bread, they are consuming an item that their digestive system isn't adept enough to break down and digest, and the sugar intake is way higher than what is required by a wild or an average tree squirrel.

If squirrels eat bread regularly or eat more than 0.35 oz. (10 g) a day, they can fall seriously ill or can even die depending upon the severity of the condition.

The formula of bread, whether it is white bread or any other sort of bread, contains elements that are quite harmful for squirrels.

The most dangerous bread is the one that contains high amounts of sugar, such as banana bread. Other than sugar, the bread we provide to squirrels often also contains high amounts of salt.

A squirrel's kidney does not have the ability to filter out such massive amounts of salt and it ends up harming these little rodents.

As a squirrel's kidney is very small in size, such excessive amounts of salt will overwhelm its renal system and it can be quite fatal. Bread like raisin bread or muffins are not as harmful as other kinds of bread if consumed in limited quantity by a squirrel but they provide very little nutritional value.

It is thus better if you feed the squirrel items such as nuts and seeds, tomato, cabbage, celery, eggplant, and lettuce.

Seeds such as almonds, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and sunflower seeds can all be a part of their diet. These food items are easy to digest for a squirrel, contain very low amounts of sugar and salt and at the same time provide ample nutritional value.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for can squirrels eat bread,then why not take a look at chipmunk vs ground squirrel, or tufted pygmy squirrel facts?

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Written by Aryan Khanna

Bachelor of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

Aryan Khanna picture

Aryan KhannaBachelor of Business Administration specializing in Marketing

A dedicated and hardworking content writer currently pursuing his Bachelor's in Management Studies from St. Xavier's University, Kolkata. Aryan aims to gain corporate exposure and enhance his skills while creating well-researched and engaging content that is SEO-friendly. Aryan is a talented individual who puts in the effort to overcome any obstacle in his way.

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Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

Pradhanya Rao picture

Pradhanya RaoBachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

With a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Christ University, Bangalore, Pradhanya's passion for the English language and literature led her to explore the field of content writing, where she has gained extensive experience in writing, reviewing, editing, and fact-checking. She has also earned certifications in Google Ads Search, Google Ads Display, and Social Media Marketing, showcasing her proficiency in digital marketing.

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