What does a red squirrel eat?


Quick Answer

The primary food of red squirrels is the seeds of coniferous and deciduous trees, such as the seeds from pine cones, hazelnuts, beech and chestnuts. Reds squirrels also eat various fruits, fungi, bark, tree sap and bird eggs.

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Full Answer

Other things eaten by red squirrels include some types of invertebrates, mice, rabbits, gray squirrels and snakes. The squirrels generally obtain liquids from the moisture found in the fruits, berries and fungi they consume, because they rarely drink water. Red squirrels gather food during times of abundance and store the food away in caches called "middens" near their nests or in the nooks or holes of trees. An individual squirrel may have as many as six middens that it uses for storage, which can contain as much as a bushel of food. Approximately 60 to 80 percent of their time is spent foraging for food and eating.

Red squirrels have a low level of spatial memory which often causes them to forget the locations of their food caches. In some cases the caches are never recovered once they're hidden. The squirrels' love of pine seeds causes them to be one of the major sources of pine reforestation failure. Red squirrels eat between 60 and 100 percent of the seed cones of pine stands. The squirrels also cause damage to pine trees by stripping the bark of the trees to gain access to the phloem and cambium tissues underneath.

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