Do Squirrels Eat Apples? A Look at the Skin, Core, Seeds, of Sweet vs. Crabapples

Delicious. Available.  Easy to store.  No mess.  Yes, we’re talking about apples and whether or not squirrels like to eat these easy, no fuss foods.

But we’re going to dive just a wee bit deeper and talk about a squirrels preference for different varieties of apples.

We’re also going to get to the bottom of feeding apple cores to squirrels and of course: the seed debate.  Let’s begin with what I was able to observe with different varieties of apples.

Do Squirrels Eat All types of Apples like Crab apples and Horse Apples?

While squirrels will eat most varieties of apples, like humans, they seem to have individual preferences when it comes to tart vs. sweet apples.

For the record, the wildlife hospital I volunteered at was in the North East United States.  And we have thousands upon thousands of apple trees and all different levels of sweetness.

So northern US squirrels in general, might be more finicky when it comes to eating super tart apples or apples with a bitter peel.

Here is a cute video of a squirrel eating a rather large apple that is very likely much sweeter than a crab apple:

Squirrels and Crab Apples

Squirrels do like crab apples but I noticed that in side by side offerings of a crab apple vs. a sweet apple variety, the squirrels will usually take the sweeter variety.

Many times we offered crab apples and they were never even touched by squirrels.   But if a squirrel will eat them,  crab apples are decent food source and they are also (usually 100% free of pesticides and wax.

To see an entire list of what foods squirrels preferred during rehabilitation,  check out our: Squirrel Eating Observations

Squirrels and Horse Apples (Hedge Apples)

Horse Apples or Hedge Apples are probably the least favorite for squirrels.  But that’s mainly because it’s so darn hard to get to the delicious part:  the seeds!

Squirrels have been known to forage seeds when horse apples have been cracked open by other animals.

But, hungry squirrels will go through the trouble of spitting out the flesh and meat of a horse apple when necessary.

Are Apples Good For Squirrels?

In moderation apples are fine for squirrels.  They provide hydration and a good source of fiber.  But regular eating apples might have a high phosphorus level compared to calcium and that’s something that we had to pay attention to.

Feeding wild squirrels an apple slice is not cause for concern.  It’s highly unlikely that a squirrel will gorge itself on apples.

If you’re feeding a hungry squirrel and you think it’s eating too much of an apple, consider tossing her some lettuce or arugula to bump up the calcium intake.

But generally speaking, apples are fine.  For a special treat, we would sometimes dip an apple piece into ground up, dry mealworms.

Crab Apples vs. Regular, Store Bought Apples for Squirrels

If you have the choice, go with crab apple.  That’s because most crab apples varieties will have more calcium than phosphorus while store bought apples tend to have higher phosphorous than calcium.

The better option for squirrels is to keep the phosphorous lower than the calcium.

Additionally, crab apples are likely to contain an occasional worm, and squirrels do eat certain meat.

Can Squirrels Eat Apple Skins?

Squirrels will eat the skins, but not if they’re looking for hydration.  Do remember to wash apples thoroughly before offering them to squirrels.  Non-organic varieties might be loaded with wax and pesticides.

Organic apples should always be washed as well.

Do Squirrels Eat Apple Cores, Stems and Seeds?

Squirrels will eat apple cores, apples stems and the seeds.  However just like our household pets, too many apple seeds is never a good thing.

The cyanide amount is trace, however, squirrels are tiny animals and it doesn’t take very many apples apple seeds to go from “trace” levels to toxic levels.

When a squirrel eats apples from the ground or a tree, it usually enjoys bout 1/4 to 1/2  of the apple.  Often times it’s just a bite here, a bite there…meaning they rarely get to the seeds.

If you’re going to toss out apple cores, the right thing to do would be to remove the seeds with a paring knife before making them available to squirrels.

Summary of Best Practices

Squirrels like apples and apples can be a good food source.

When in doubt, choose crab apples over store bought.  Always wash them and don’t give cores with seeds.

These best practices may help the squirrels get a little better nutrition.

For more squirrel resources, head back to our homepage.