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There are more than 200 different species of squirrels through the world, living just about everywhere -- except Australia, Antarctica and Greenland. You may have seen them in an urban park, in the forest, or even at high elevations. They're mainly herbivores, but they enjoy a diverse diet -- particularly nuts.
A Little of This, A Little of That
Like the various habitats squirrels live in, they have a diverse diet, which varies according to location, season and availability. These rodents primarily eat fruit and tree seeds, but they also snack on flowers, bark, lichens, insects and fungi. Depending on the type of squirrel, a bird's nest can provide nourishment, either in the form of eggs or hatchlings. Many species of squirrel cache their food finds, burying it close to the ground's surface, where they'll sniff it out months later.
Nuts for Nuts
Of course, squirrels are known for eating nuts. As with their regular diet, the kinds of nuts squirrels eat depend on what they can get hold of. Acorns are popular if there are oak trees nearby to provide nuts. Walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, hickory nuts, almonds and hazelnuts will make them happy, if they can get their hands on them. Though they're not a nut, if squirrels come across peanuts, they'll happily eat these legumes.
Bird enthusiasts aren't nuts for squirrels, but many others welcome these furry critters in their backyard. If you want to lure squirrels with nuts, you'll likely have success, as they'll happily eat nothing but nuts. However, squirrels need other nutrients nuts can't provide, so other foods are welcome. Fruits and vegetables, such as apples, lettuce, carrots, grapes, squash, watermelon, cherries, celery, and broccoli are fine additions to a squirrel's diet. If you want to throw nuts out for your wild pals, avoid salted nuts as well as colored pistachios.
Squirrel for Dinner
Just as squirrels occasionally prey on baby birds and other tiny animals, they can serve as prey for other animals. Cats are obvious predators many suburban squirrels need to steer clear of. In the wild, squirrels contend with birds of prey, such as eagles and hawks, as well as large snakes, coyotes and weasels. The top of the food chain -- humans -- also hunt them for food and fur.
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