Healthy Diet for Pet Squirrels
(Revised November 2008)

Your squirrel needs a balanced diet containing protein, fat, and vitamins and minerals, including lots of calcium. The only way for them to get these nutrients is to feed the diet below:
• Rodent blocks or squirrel blocks (75% of diet)
• Healthy vegetables (20% of diet)
• Wild foods and things to gnaw on (5% of diet)
• Healthy treats such as fruit and nuts (<1% of diet)
1. Rodent Block or Squirrel Blocks. Commercial rodent blocks provide the proper amounts of nutrients in a concentrated form. Below are two of the best commercially produced blocks:
Harlan Teklad 2014 and 2018 Rodent Diets. Vegetarian formulas contain no preservatives, phytoestrogens, or nitrosamines. The 2014 is a low-fat, low-protein formula suitable for older squirrels. The 2018 is for growing squirrels (under 12 months old). Available online at:

KayTee Forti-Diet for Rats and Mice. A tasty vegetarian rodent diet. Does contain added sugars such as molasses, as well as preservatives for long shelf life. Available at Petco stores and online at:
If your squirrel won’t eat commercial rodent block, you can make nutritionally complete Squirrel Blocks by following the recipe found in the “Squirrel Nutrition Forum.”

2. Healthy Vegetables. These are a supplement to rodent blocks and add variety, fiber, fresh Vitamin C, and other nutrients to your squirrel’s diet.

artichokes, arugula, asparagus, avocado*, Belgian endive, bell peppers (green, red, or yellow), broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cherry tomatoes, chicory, chinese cabbage (bok choy), cilantro (fresh), collard greens, cucumber, dandelion greens, escarole, fennel, green beans, kale, lettuce (looseleaf), mushrooms, mustard spinach, okra, parsley (fresh), pumpkin, purslane, radicchio, radishes, romaine lettuce, squash (all types; raw or cooked), sugar snap peas, sweet potato* (raw or cooked), swiss chard, turnip greens, watercress, zucchini
*High in fat; remove the skin and pit as they are toxic
**Somewhat higher in sugars/starches
Avoid: Dried vegetables, fresh corn, garlic, onion, palm hearts, potatoes, sprouts, yams, soybeans

3. Wild Foods.These add nutrients, provide amusement, and help keep teeth worn down.

Magnolia cones, pine cones, pine branches and bark, branch tips of nontoxic trees, flowers from your garden (carnations, chrysanthemums, hibiscus), wild rose hips, purslane, plaintain, lambsquarters, and dandelion greens. Look to see what the wild squirrels are eating in your area. Make sure the area wasn’t sprayed, fertilized, or treated with any chemicals. Antlers, tree branches, sea shells, or a walnut-sized rock from outdoors provide trace minerals and keep teeth from overgrowing. A cuttlebone can also be hung on the side of the cage. Some squirrels like rawhide chews designed for dogs. Check first before feeding any wild food not on the list above to be sure it isn’t toxic.

4. Healthy Treats. Some experts recommend limiting sweet foods like fruits to avoid overweight and diabetes. Nuts should be limited to no more than 1-2 per day.
  • Healthy fruits: apple, apricot, bananas,* blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, cherries* (sweet), cherries (sour), crabapples,* cranberries, grapefruit, grapes,* honeydew, kiwi, kumquats, lemon, lime, mangos,* navel oranges, nectarines, papaya, passion fruit,* peaches, pears, pineapple, pomegranates,* raspberries, strawberries, watermelon.
    *Somewhat higher in sugars/starches
    Note: The pits and seeds of some fruits can be toxic, except for berries.
    Avoid: Dates, dried fruit of any kind, figs, fruit juice, persimmons, plums, prunes, raisins, as these are very high in sugar.
  • Nuts: acorns, whole roasted pumpkin seeds, and almonds are the healthiest, followed by hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, English walnuts, pecans, pistachios, and peanuts, in that order. Unlike other nuts/seeds, sesame seeds are an excellent source of calcium.
    Avoid: Cashews, sunflower seeds, dried corn, pine nuts (can cause severe calcium loss).

Foods to Avoid

Packaged “squirrel food,” “pet treats,” or seed mixes
Processed foods: pasta, bread, grains, seeds, rice, potatoes, “human foods”
Sweets: candy, cookies, dried fruit, banana chips, soda, fruit juices, sweetened yogurt, granola, most breakfast cereals
Junk food: french fries, potato chips, pretzels, crackers, anything salted
Legumes: beans (kidney beans, lentils, etc.) and soybeans (except for green beans and sugar snap peas in the pod)
Artificial sweeteners like Nutra-Sweet or aspartame. Splenda (sucralose) is fine.

Also Important for Good Health

Natural sunlight. 1 hour per day in an outdoor cage or screened porch during the warm months provides Vit D and will help keep your squirrel healthy. An open window screened with aluminum screening or hardware cloth is another option. Indoors, a full-spectrum light (FSL) for 8 hrs per day is the next-best thing; although it does not provide Vit D, it is believed to have other health benefits.

Exercise. Wild squirrels are extremely active; most pet squirrels are not. Provide your squirrel with things to climb and explore, and have at least one active play session per day. This will help keep them healthy and happy.

Maintaining a Healthy Weight. Being overweight causes all kinds of health problems and is a factor in diabetes in older animals. “Healthy weights” may vary: northern squirrels tend to be heavier than southern squirrels, and foxers are heavier than greys. In general, your pet should look like the healthy wild squirrels in your area. For squirrels that are older, overweight, or less active, you should severely limit foods that are high in sugars, starches, or fat.

Visit The Squirrel Board for more interactive information.