Social Question

Blackberry's avatar

Should I feed the squirrels that hang out around my place?

Asked by Blackberry (29396 points ) September 29th, 2011 from iPhone

Would it be detrimental to place a can of nuts on my deck to feed them? I just love those cute little rascals so much.

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67 Answers

rebbel's avatar

You mean squrles? ;-)
Probably you should not, because they can feed themselves (if everything in their environment is normal), but you could do it if you, like you stated, love to see them around.
Be aware though, that if you throw too much food, more then they can eat, you could be attracting other animals, animals that you don’t want around, like rats.

CWOTUS's avatar

If you start feeding squirrels then you’ll attract more and more. Which is fine, as long as you keep feeding them. But when you stop feeding them then you’ll have a larger than normal collection of hungrier than usual squirrels around your home, and if you’ve ever seen what just a few of those things can do when they are no more than “normally” hungry… I wouldn’t want to be one of your neighbors. Just for that reason though, because otherwise I think you’re a fine fellow.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

Why not? I like squirrels… they are so… squirrely!

WestRiverrat's avatar

Corn is better than nuts for the squirrels. Also it would be better if you set up a squirrel feeding system that makes them work a little for the food. It also makes it more entertaining to watch them.

My dad made a pinwheel with 6 spokes that each will hold an ear of corn. The corn is attached to the end of the spoke by a double ended screw, twist the empty husk off and screw in a new cob when you need to restock.

The one he made is similar to this but he extended the legs about 3 feet.

I know other people that have used bungee cords or chain to hang the corn.

HungryGuy's avatar

No. Squirrels cause a lot of damage to structures. And if they get up into the engine of your car, they can chew the wiring and literally destroy your car and make it beyond repair.

Afos22's avatar

Never feed wild animals. You may be doing one life a favor, but not its next generations. They will loose abilities to find food and such if they rely solely on humans.

LuckyGuy's avatar

How “tight” is your building? To get out of the cold, squirrels can chew the soffits of you roof to get into your attic. Ask anyone who has had them in their attic. It is not pretty.
They chew car wiring. I’ve had them get into a car I was storing by entering through a small rust hole. They partied in there for a month filling the back seat with hickory nut hulls and chewing the speakers.
They also enter bird nests and eat the eggs leaving you with few birds.
I would not feed them.

YARNLADY's avatar

Do not feed them close to your house (NOT on the deck). You might leave a little food near their nest. As discussed above, feeding them will encourage more babies, and they won’t be able to find enough food – they will in turn BE food for other, less cute, carnivorous animals.

Blackberry's avatar

Another fantasy shattered! Bullsh*t! Lol.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Blackberry We feed the squirrels, raccoons, chipmunks, wild birds, geese & ducks-etc. We’ve had no issues doing so….with our home, car or attracting too many…Nature takes care of it’s own population. Our backyard t most allows 8 squirrels and our front 4 to 6.

If more come in the others chase them out. We have several regulars that live in/near our yard. They can be quite territorial.

As for the feed & feeders: I like @WestRiverrat‘s suggestions. We do feed them a high quality seed/nut mix, too. We like the hinged-lid feeders besides the corn-cob feeders. The hinged lid style allows the food to stay dry. It’s cute to watch them sit, open the lid get a nut, allow the lid to close and eat or bury the nut ;)

What do I know, though…I am a DAMN Liberal ;) lol4rl

Bellatrix's avatar

Squirrels rule!!!

Blackberry's avatar

Squirrels 4 lyfe~!

janbb's avatar

I have a ‘squirrel” feeder. It’s really for the birds!

Bellatrix's avatar

Today is honorary Squirrel Lovers Day…

Bellatrix's avatar

They say we are ‘nuts’ @Blackberry…as if that could be a bad thing.

Blackberry's avatar

I’m nuts for nature. Never a bad thing.

Coloma's avatar

Why not? Helping out our little furry friends is a nice thing to do. Feeding squirrels is like feeding the birds, harmless, and even if you stop feeding them they will revert back to being self supporting anyway.

Peanut butter, nuts, grapes, sunflower seeds, it’s all good!

I wouldn’t suggest tying goats to the trees to feed the mountain lions in my area, or dangling cats from the trees to feed the coyotes, but squirrels, birds….have fun!

I “feed” inadvertently a ton of wild turkeys, squirrels, birds, with my geese feed, and, I have a “pet” raccoon that takes bread from my hand and I used to feed a skunk for several years too. As long as you are not over run, have some fun…and, btw….I love the word “rascal”! lol A friend used that word recently and I forgot what a great word it is!

Bellatrix's avatar

I think this is Question of the Day for sure… looks @Auggie.

Blackberry's avatar

@Coloma @SpatzieLover That’s really cool :) I’ll start out very small.

I live in an apartment complex that has cars lined up outside the building. There are trees everywhere, so I’m sure they probably don’t have problems, but just in case you know? Especially with winter coming. NJ will go from 80 degrees to 40 in a week.

Coloma's avatar

@Blackberry

A great, inexpensive and nutritious food is to mix peanut butter with cornmeal to form a dough. Not too dry, not too sticky, and then, either drill holes in a small log, or pack into pine cones and hang from the tree . You can build a squirrel feeding station on your deck rail!

I originally made the PB and cornmeal mix to feed the woodpeckers and Nuthatches around here, but, the tree squirrels and flying squirrels were on it overnight!

TexasDude's avatar

Feed them, nurture them… build your squirrel army, train them in your ways, indoctrinate them in your beliefs, fill them with your essence.

Then go forth and annihilate your enemies. All they will know before meeting the abyss is that they were devoured by an army of squirrels, and your belly shall be filled with food from their fields, and your coffers will be filled with their treasures, and your squirrel army will serve you for the rest of your days.

Coloma's avatar

A remake of Willard, with squirrels. haha

wundayatta's avatar

How ‘bout you come over here and take some of my squirrels. They are much fun. They dig up my lawn. They chase each other all over and fornicate in front of us. They dig up my flowerpots. They dig up my attic and those of my neighbors. They yell and scream. They die on my porch and I have to throw them out.

You’ll love them. Reality TV squirrels. For you, I’ll give you a special deal. You can rent my squirrels for just dollars a day. How about it?

Blackberry's avatar

@wundayatta Damn, that sucks…....I’ll take em’.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Hey @Blackberry Promise you will tell us how it works out. By next spring you might be asking how to get rid of them.
Look here
And here
Deal?

CWOTUS's avatar

Don’t forget the sackcloth and ashes and the lamentation of their women, @Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard.

Coloma's avatar

I was a former wildlife rescue volunteer for 5 years in my rural, mountain community. While there is some truth to not feeding wildlife you do not wish to attract, and, any wildlife worker will take the PC route and discourage you, take it from me…feeding a few birds or squirrels is not going to have some hugely impactive outcome.

As was mentioned, squirrels do have territories and you may attract a few, but, it’s not like all of a sudden 50 of them are going to be reducing your house to sawdust.

TexasDude's avatar

@CWOTUS and field-salting.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@wundayatta take some rat traps, attach them to the trees about 8’ off the ground and bait them with peanut butter.

Check them every morning and evening. Don’t throw out the dead squirrels, eat them.

It is only fair, if you feed and shelter them, they should return the favor from time to time.

Blackberry's avatar

@worriedguy I understand :/

Afos22's avatar

YES it is harmful. Squirrel lives are about seven years long. I am no squirrel expert, but since their life is only 7 years, lets just say that they reach maturity at 2 and a half years, which is probably an over estimate. This means that each generation is about 3–4 years apart. That means that if you feed them for 35 years, they have 10 generations of offspring. In those 10 years if a squirrel develops a trait that makes them unable to find natural food, Its offspring does not die, and it does not die. Thus the trait is passed on. Feeding them only helps something like this happen. Think about it. If you cannot understand evolution here is a link.

Coloma's avatar

@Afos22

True in theory, except..evolution does not evolve that quickly.
Maybe 10,000 years til there is a “Squirrel Smart” supply to keep all now fully domesticated squirrels happy and healthy after their horrible dependency on man. haha

Besides…feeding a few squirrels actually HELPS their survival, considering they are prey animals to about 20 other species. Around here the squirrels better be fit with about 4 species of hawks, numerous owls, foxes, coyotes, rattlesnakes, etc.

Really, at best, one s just fattening them for the slaughter anyway. :-/

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

You don’t have to “feed” them. Just set up a bird feeder. They like those. :)

WestRiverrat's avatar

In an urban setting, the squirrels are already dependant on humans for everything. There are no wild food sources for them. It is actually safer for them to get their food from a squirrel friendly feeder than from scavenging.

Unfortunately bird feeders are dangerous to squirrels, the plastic ones they chew up and ingest the toxins in the resins. The metal and glass ones, they often cannot get out of once they get into them.

Afos22's avatar

@Coloma Happens slowly only when the generations are long ones. If they are short living creatures evolution is much quicker.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Good for them or not, keeping squirrels out of bird feeders is like trying to stop the sun from rising.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I don’t have any trouble, neither does my dad. You just have to buy squirrel proof feeders and set up a feeding station for the squirrels that they like better.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@WestRiverrat I’ve never seen a squirrel proof feeder that actually works. They are way too sneaky. Having a squirrel feeder makes sense, though, having easy access to something else tasty.
I was really only joking in the first place, anyhow.

Coloma's avatar

@Afos22

Yes, being humorous, but, I don’t think we need to fear domesticating squirrels from occasional handouts.

Bellatrix's avatar

This thread has me laughing my nuts off… (oops don’t have nuts OR squirrels!). :D

casheroo's avatar

I love feeding squirrels! (who knew it’d be such a popular question..)

Bellatrix's avatar

@Casheroo, don’t feel shy about wearing a squirrel today.

Coloma's avatar

The squirrels around here have vineyards with grapes right now and walnut trees and oaks.
They are prospering. :-)

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Coloma Mine are eating black walnuts already! YUM!

Coloma's avatar

Mmmm..thinking of brown sugar walnuts

AmWiser's avatar

I remember my Pops use to feed the squirrels around his house and they came around daily for their treats. Sadly after Pops passed away the squirrels still came around, even to the point of climbing on the window seals, and clawing at the screens on the windows and doors. Pesky little devils…you had to peek out the door before leaving the house, lest one tried to come in to find the hand that use to feed them. So @Blackberry be careful, be very careful.o_0

Bellatrix's avatar

Getting images of “The Squirrels” instead of Hitchcock’s “The Birds”. Still love the rascally little things though.

King_Pariah's avatar

Feed em weed brownies with walnuts. Just for kicks. Lol

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@Blackberry Make sure you keep the kryptonite out of your yard when supersquirrel is around. LOL

*That is hilariously adorable!

Pandora's avatar

No, no, no. I fed a squirrel once in my home in NC. It seemed very friendly and so I figured the last people fed it. Before I knew it, it started to come with friends and family and they started to destroy my flowers outside by burying nuts in my flower beds. I went on vacation for two weeks and found they had torn through my back screen door trying to get in, and destroyed stuff on my back porch. I was thinking they were like little crack heads looking for their dope. There was little claw marks on my back door. They were getting fat an lazy and figured they didn’t have to hunt for food any more. I had to squirt them with a water pistol to get them to go away. It broke my heart because they looked so trusting. But it was for their own good.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@Pandora brings up another good point. Don’t feed them directly, or they will turn into gremlins. They can do nearly as much damage as was done in the movie, without using props.

Bellatrix's avatar

Goodness, I am seeing the potential for a horror story here, with Squirrels as the lead villains.

Coloma's avatar

Night of the living squirrels

Bellatrix's avatar

Zombie squirrels…

Ayesha's avatar

YES!!!!

YARNLADY's avatar

Food left outside in our neighborhood has attracted skunks, and now there is a skunk rabies epidemic in town, but so far, not up here in the Heights. We see or smell skunks at least three times a week.

rts486's avatar

Just be aware you’ll also feed other critters, like mice who may end up moving into your nice warm house.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@rts486 Actually we feed the chipmunks. They take care of the mice for us while protecting their territory.

rts486's avatar

@SpatzieLover I’ve never heard of that, but if it works. That’s also why I leave the snakes alone, but I don’t feed them (the snakes that is). I’ll put corn out to feed the deer, away from the house, and my trail cam shows I’m feed a lot more than just the deer.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@rts486 I found out one year by accident how the mice were being handled. In late autumn, I’d taken down some of the small chickadee and wren houses and left them on the ground near our garage. Sigh! I had to clean up the casualties of the chipmunk war on the mice. Mice must have decided to keep warm in the cozy houses. I still find dead mice on the driveway and in my gardens but now I leave out a few of the birdhouses on purpose.

We’ve thought about setting up a camera or two. We know we feed everything. It’d be interesting to watch

Coloma's avatar

Where I am it’s the Acorn Woodpeckers that wreak havoc stashing their acorns into peoples siding. lol

I have friends that bought a house and discovered the wall “bulging” on the outside by the garage/workshop. When they tore the siding off there was a solid WALL of acorns wedged under the siding. It was amazing!

Blackberry's avatar

@Coloma Even though it sucks for the humans, it is still pretty amazing to see other species at work, living their lives like us.

Coloma's avatar

@Blackberry

I totally agree. I always think that, yep, everything is trying to survive, we don’t have the monopoly over other life forms.

If I were a raccoon wandering around all night trying to find enough bugs and berries to survive, I’d be pretty stoked to find Colomas leftover roast chicken in the bushes.

Eureka! lol

Blackberry's avatar

@Coloma Or find Coloma’s garage door accidentally left open when it’s -5 outside.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

You want to be careful when you feed the squirrels, because you never know how it may turn out.

It could be that they become so relaxed after discovering an easy food course, that your deck becomes a squirrel spa. BUT on the other hand, they could get so excited and protective over this easy food source, that your deck becomes an arena for bloodshed.

Just be cautious.

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