Kill salt squirrels

Feeding squirrels in winter

Feeding squirrels is an important part of protecting your garden. Although the cute rodents are wild animals and can actually prepare themselves for the cold season, human help comes in very handy, especially in severe winters. If the previous summer was also hot and dry, the squirrels lack food and feed because there are fewer tree seeds or nuts in nature. In urban areas, the food supply is often limited anyway, so the squirrels are happy when you feed them.

In a nutshell: How do you feed squirrels?

Set up feeding places for squirrels in the garden at the latest as soon as the first long frost sets in. Automatic feeders and feed boxes with flaps are very popular. The animals like to eat beechnuts, walnuts, hazelnuts and chestnuts as well as the seeds of pine, spruce and fir trees. Special feed mixes are also available, but you can also do something good for the squirrels with fresh fruit and vegetables such as small apple, pear and carrot pieces.

Why should you feed squirrels?

Although feeding of wild animals is a sensitive topic in itself, squirrels have long been at home not only in secluded forests, but also in the immediate vicinity of people: in cities and public parks as well as in their own gardens.

When temperatures drop below freezing for long periods of time in winter, the situation also becomes threatening for squirrels. The ground is then so frozen through that the animals have difficulty getting their winter supplies or finding new food. And of course, a closed snow cover does not make the search any easier. The targeted and species-appropriate feeding of squirrels also makes sense in winter because the animals start mating in December and the first youngsters are born by February. Both the female and the offspring therefore need sufficient food.

Squirrels foraging in winter

Squirrels are in themselves very forward-looking animals, because they start building small stores for the winter in autumn. They collect up to 10,000 nuts, mushrooms and the like and store them in shallow earth hollows, which they then carefully close again. A certain loss is taken into account, because some of the hiding spots are plundered by wild boars, mice and other animals, others simply cannot be found by the squirrels. This is also due to the tidying up of the people who make their gardens "winter-ready" in autumn.

In order to survive the winter well, squirrels can reduce their energy consumption to a minimum. Although they do not really hibernate, they spend most of the day sleeping in their nest when there is ice and snow. They only leave their burrow for a few hours a day to fetch food for themselves and their young.

Feeding the squirrels: What do animals like to eat best?

The animals like to eat beechnuts, walnuts, hazelnuts and chestnuts as well as the seeds of pine, spruce and fir trees. In autumn, you can easily collect the right food on walks in the forest and use it to lure the squirrels into your garden. If possible, offer the tree seeds to the animals together with the cones, so the rodents like them best. In specialist shops you can also buy special feed mixes for squirrels, which usually contain sunflower seeds, unsalted peanuts, but also dried fruit such as bananas. Squirrels also appreciate freshly cut fruit or vegetables: Small pieces of apples, pears or carrots are gladly accepted.

Important: never feed squirrels almonds. They contain hydrogen cyanide, which can be dangerous for animals.

Set up feeding places for squirrels

Garden owners who love animals should create feeding places for the cute rodents as soon as the first long frost sets in at the latest. Be aware that outside of the mating season, squirrels are solitary animals. Encounters with conspecifics therefore quickly turned into wild chases through the treetops. Therefore, if you have several squirrels in your garden, you should also set up several feeding stations.

Special feed dispensers for squirrels that do not have to be refilled every day are particularly practical. They are set up out of the reach of cats, preferably high up in the trees. Also choose a quiet and secluded spot so that the squirrels don't feel disturbed while they are eating. Automatic feeders and feed boxes with flaps or a special mechanism that are easy to use but still pose a challenge for the animals are very popular. Squirrels are very clever and love to conquer their food.

Tip: nesting aids for squirrels

Not only do squirrels need food in winter, they also need a warm burrow to retreat into when the temperature is low. For this purpose they build a round, closed nest out of twigs and leaves, the so-called Kobel. Squirrels also like to accept artificial nesting aids made of wood. These are constructed in a similar way to a bird's nest box, but much more spacious and have a larger entrance hole. This is where the female squirrels raise their offspring.

Make sure your garden doesn't contain traps for squirrels. Unfortunately, animals keep dying in an open rain barrel, from which they can no longer get out themselves because of the smooth walls.

Sick or injured squirrels in the garden

Sick or injured squirrels can appear in your garden. Here are some tips on how to deal with wildlife properly:

  • Never touch squirrels with your bare hands: On the one hand, the animals have sharp claws and teeth, and on the other hand, they can transmit diseases.
  • Avoid hectic movements when approaching.
  • Wrap the injured or sick squirrel in a towel or something similar and take it to a warm and quiet place.
  • Sugar water and fresh pieces of fruit give the animal new strength.
  • Notify a veterinarian or the local wildlife sanctuary: there the squirrels can get the professional help they need.

Although squirrels that are fed in winter quickly become trusting and, for example, start to eat out of hand, you should under no circumstances try to tame or even domesticate the wild animals. That makes them blind to the dangers lurking around people. Whether it's pets such as cats or passing cars: Tamed squirrels lose their natural flight instinct and are therefore easy victims.