Can Squirrels Eat Sunflower Seeds? (Quick Answers)

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In the wild, squirrels are bushy-tailed rodents that live mostly in forest areas. Many people believe squirrels only live in trees. That is not true.

As omnivores, squirrels eat practically everything, including seeds, nuts, fungus, and meat.

They can also be found in burrows, metropolitan areas, and beneath the ground of your yard.

Here are some fascinating facts about squirrels’ eating habits and whether squirrels can consume sunflower seeds.

Can Squirrels Eat Sunflower Seeds?

Yes, squirrels can eat sunflower seeds. Squirrels, in particular, enjoy eating black oil sunflower seeds. 

In order to provide squirrels with a well-balanced diet, sunflower seeds should be combined with other high-nutrient foods since sunflower seeds make up only 5% of their diet.

Various squirrel types can be found around the world. Their food choices, habitats, and nature differ from one another.

All squirrels like sunflower seeds, so let’s see who likes them the most:

Baby squirrels:

Squirrel babies need a calcium-rich diet to grow and develop properly. Sunflower seeds are high in carbs and phosphorus, so they should not be fed to them.

For squirrels, sunflowers are insufficient to provide a well-balanced diet due to their low nutritional value.

Grey squirrels:

Walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, and some other nuts are favorites of grey squirrels in the eastern United States and southern Canada.

Sunflower seeds are also popular among them. They enjoy a limited number of seed varieties.

Wild squirrels:

A squirrel can be found on every continent except Australia and Antarctica. When it comes to food, squirrels are not particular.

Wild squirrels will eat anything that satisfies their hunger, including sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds are indeed a favorite snack of wild squirrels.

Ground squirrels:

The habitat of ground squirrels consists of open areas such as rocky outcrops, grasslands, pastures, and sparsely forested hillsides. Meadows, golf courses, cemeteries, and parks are all good places to live.

Because of their highly refined sense of smell, ground squirrels can detect the source of sunflower seeds, which they love to eat.

Protect your sunflower plants from squirrel attacks by putting up a fence and net.

Flying squirrels:

Throughout the northern United States, flying squirrels inhabit deciduous and coniferous forests, as well as woodlands.

As far as food storage is concerned, flying squirrels are extremely well organized. At night, they are able to store more than a couple hundred acorns.

If you mix sunflower seeds with other food items that flying squirrels prefer to eat, they may attack your bird feeder uninvited. Hickory nuts and white oak acorns are other favorites of flying squirrels.

Red squirrel:

The red squirrel, like the flying squirrel, is native to the northern United States. They are also found in parts of Canada, the southern Appalachian Mountains, and the rocky mountains of Arizona and New Mexico.

In addition to sunflower seeds, red squirrels enjoy shelled hazelnuts, unsalted peanuts, and other seeds and fruits.

It is vital to feed red squirrels in the summer months when their natural foods – nuts, fruits, and conifer seeds – are not yet ripe. 

In the wild, red squirrels eat spring buds and flowers, as well as nuts, fruits, and seeds from cones in the fall and winter.

Are sunflower seeds safe for squirrels? Will sunflower seeds hurt squirrels?

Sunflower seeds are absolutely safe for squirrels. However, sunflower seeds have very poor nutritional value.

Sunflower seeds contain a high amount of carbohydrates and phosphorus, but they lack calcium, an essential nutrient for squirrels.

In contrast, sunflower seeds are safe for your squirrels. Because they enjoy sunflower seeds so much, they can eat as many as they want.

As sunflower seeds lack calcium, they make up only 5% of squirrels’ diets. In order to promote good bone strength, squirrels’ diets must have the right balance of calcium and phosphorus.

Because sunflower seeds lack nutritional value, pair them with carrots, spinach, sliced apples, green beans, and celery for a balanced meal.

Is It Possible For Squirrels To Eat All Sunflower Seeds?

There are many types of sunflower seeds available all over the world. They may be organic or processed.

In spite of the fact that squirrels love sunflower seeds, they might not be the best choice for them. Let’s find out which sunflower seeds are nutritious and safe for squirrels:

Salted sunflower seeds:

It is bad for animals’ kidneys to consume anything that contains salt. Although squirrels can consume a small amount of salt, salted sunflower seeds should be avoided.

Black oil sunflower seeds:

Squirrels are naturally drawn to sunflower seeds. Black oil sunflower seeds are especially appealing to squirrels. If you don’t want squirrels eating your black oil sunflower seeds, don’t keep them in your yard.

Roasted sunflower seeds:

The salt content of roasted sunflower seeds is over 170 mg, which is extremely toxic to squirrels. Therefore, don’t feed toasted sunflower seeds to your squirrels.

Sunflower seeds shelled:

It is no surprise that squirrels prefer shelled sunflower seeds too. Furthermore, if you don’t want to deal with the mess of shells, squirrels can also eat sunflower seeds without shells.

Unsalted sunflower seeds:

You can definitely add unsalted sunflower seeds to squirrels’ diet if you wish.

Why Are Sunflower Seeds Bad For Squirrels?

It is better for squirrels to avoid sunflower seeds than to eat whatever feels delicious. Here are some reasons why squirrels shouldn’t eat sunflower seeds:

Due to its low nutritional value:

In addition to carbohydrates and phosphorus, sunflower seeds don’t contain any essential nutrients for squirrels.

A squirrel’s diet should be balanced, including a variety of nutritious items. A squirrel should not eat mainly carbohydrates and phosphorus.

Therefore, sunflower seeds are bad for squirrels for this reason.

Calcium deficiency:

A squirrel’s optimal development depends on calcium, which is found in a very small amount in sunflower seeds.

In squirrels, a shortage of calcium can result in metabolic bone disease. This is another reason why squirrels should avoid sunflower seeds.

What Can I Do To Prevent Squirrels From Eating My Sunflower Seeds?

If you have a sunflower garden, squirrels will usually feed on the heads until they are scared away. 

This is because sunflower seed is found in the heads, which squirrels can detect with their keen senses of smell.

The following methods may help you keep squirrels from eating your sunflower seeds:

Coating the stalks with aluminum oil:

You can discourage squirrels from eating sunflower seeds by applying aluminum oil around the sunflower stalks. The squirrels will have trouble climbing into the sunflower heads.

Fencing and netting made of plastic:

You can keep squirrels out of your sunflower garden by using plastic nets. You can also surround the garden with wooden fences with spikes to deter squirrels.

Other plants can be added as a border:

Plants such as sunflowers tend to deter squirrels, so you can use them as a border around your sunflower patch.

You can keep squirrels away by planting geraniums, daffodils, marigolds, iris, dragonheads, California poppy, crocuses, alliums, and snowdrops around your sunflower garden.

What Seeds Do Squirrels Eat?

There is no fuss with squirrels when it comes to food. They will eat anything that is tasty.

Here are some seeds squirrels prefer to eat:

  • Acorn
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • The sesame seed
  • Pinecones
  • Spruce
  • Safflower seeds
  • Poppy seeds
  • Seeds for birds
  • Hornbeam seeds


Squirrels love sunflower seeds regardless of whether they are in the shell or not. They will eat them no matter what. 

Due to sunflower seeds’ high carbohydrate and phosphorus content, but low calcium, other high-nutrient foods should be added to their diet.


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