I love feeding squirrels, it’s actually quite therapeutic. But I’ll be the first to admit that the squirrels don’t necessarily appreciate all of my healthy options.
Sure they’d love nothing more than a peanut butter sandwich, but, my experience as a wildlife volunteer has taught me this: if they’re really hungry, squirrels will eat what’s good for them. And…peanut butter is, sadly, a double edge sword for our squirrel friends.
Coming up, I’ll tell you why this is, and then I’ll lead the way toward alternatives you can feel good about. This will include a way to improve peanut butter when using it for squirrel treats.
Let’s get started…
Table of Contents - Click to Open
- Can Squirrels Have Peanut Butter or is it Bad?
- Peanut Butter Alternative When Making Squirrel Treats
- Alternative # 1 Almond Butter, Walnut Butter, Hazelnut Butter
- Alternative #2 – Avocado
- Alternative #3 – Organic Coconut Oil
- If You Absolutely Must Use Peanut Butter for Squirrel Treats, Here is How to Feed it in a Safer Manner
- Does Peanut Butter Kill Squirrels?
- In Conclusion
Can Squirrels Have Peanut Butter or is it Bad?
Peanut Butter is not good for squirrels, and it’s the 3rd worst nut product you can feed them. That’s because the calcium / phosphorus ratio is very low. Too much peanut butter could lead to MBD (metabolic bone disease) especially when fed to young or captive squirrels on a regular basis. There are better alternatives.
Because peanut butter is one of the worst nuts for squirrels, it should be considered “once in a blue moon” treat, if you are interested in keeping your squirrel friends as healthy as possible.
Good news is there are alternatives that can replace peanut butter without much fuss or objection from the squirrels.
Peanut Butter Alternative When Making Squirrel Treats
Making squirrel treats out of pine cones is pretty much a right of passage for kids. However, as more and more people feed bread and corn to squirrels, anything you can do to provide proper nutrition will go a long way in keeping squirrels fit and healthy.
Squirrel treats with these tasty alternatives can be just as fun and may actually help squirrels that are not getting the right nutrients in their diet.
Alternative # 1 Almond Butter, Walnut Butter, Hazelnut Butter
Yes, it’s more expensive, but whether you pick almond, walnut, or hazelnut butter, it will be a better option for squirrel treats.
Be sure the only ingredients on the jar is the nut itself or a combo of the nuts. Salt-free options are best and definitely no added sugars, hydrogenated oils, etc.,
Use it in the same exact manner you would if it using peanut butter, only the squirrel will get a better balance of nutrients.
Alternative #2 – Avocado
Instead of slathering peanut butter all over a pinecone squirrel treat, slather on some ripe avocado and roll it in sesame seeds.
Both avocado and sesame seeds are power foods for squirrels, especially squirrels who look pregnant.
When you combine the two, they provide a decent ratio of calcium to phosphorus as far as squirrel treats go.
Tips for replacing peanut butter with Avocado:
- Use the meat only and be sure to discard the skin and pit as they are both harmful to squirrels.
- Scoop avocado meat into a bowl and spritz with the juice of a fresh orange wedge. This will inhibit browning and it’s okay for squirrels to eat a little bit of fresh orange.
- Use a pastry brush and blot the avocado mush all over the pinecone
- Roll it in some sesame seeds
Alternative #3 – Organic Coconut Oil
A good quality, organic coconut oil can do the job of holding seeds onto a pinecone for a tasty squirrel treat.
It can also be beneficial to wild squirrels who are suffering the effects of a minor case of mange or minor skin irritations. So if you’re feeding squirrel who looks a little patchy, coconut oil could be the optimal sticky substance.
Tips for Replacing Peanut Butter with Coconut Oil
- Melt the coconut oil just slightly and brush it onto the pinecone with a pastry brush.
- Alternatively, you could melt it entirely and dip the pinecone in the melted oil.
- Roll the oily pinecone in sesame seeds or other squirrel friendly foods and pop it in the fridge.
But what if you don’t have almond butter, walnut butter, avocado or coconut oil and can’t get to the store?
Well, if you’re going to do it with peanut butter there is a way to make it a bit better for our adorable little friends.
If You Absolutely Must Use Peanut Butter for Squirrel Treats, Here is How to Feed it in a Safer Manner
We can make peanut butter a little healthier for squirrels by following these guidelines:
- Use only peanut butter that has an ingredient list of: peanuts…and nothing more NO PALMS OILS
- Dilute it with water so it just serves as a sticky substance rather than thick, spreadable butter
- Dip your pinecone in, or use a silicone pastry brush and brush on the very diluted peanut butter
- Roll in sesame seeds and then pop in the fridge for a while.
This is a decent option for a peanut butter based treat for squirrels that could help balance the poor nutrition of peanut butter alone.
Why Palm is Bad for Squirrel Lovers
Steer clear of palm oil and palm kernel oil. Why? – if you’re feeding the squirrels, it’s likely you’re doing it because you love animals. Buying products containing palm ingredients is displacing countless animals including orangutans, tigers and ….you guessed it: flying squirrels.
Indonesia’s and Malaysia’s tropical rainforests are some of the most spectacular on Earth and provide
sustenance to magnificent wildlife—including the Sumatran tiger, Sumatran, Asian elephant, orangutans, banteng (a wild ox), barking deer, giant flying squirrel, proboscis monkey, gibbons, langurs, and clouded leopard. Yet those animals are under tremendous threat, and many species face the possibility of imminent extinction – CRUEL OIL – Center for Science in the Public Interest
Palm oil is attractive to manufacturers because it’s cheap. But you don’t have to participate in the cruelty of palm oil.
Does Peanut Butter Kill Squirrels?
Over time, too much peanut butter or too many peanuts could lead to disease that is extremely painful to squirrels. The result is porous bones due to lack of calcium, that lead to paralysis or cause breakage when they jump or land. When caught early, rehabbers or owners can begin calcium supplements, but often it goes undetected.
This is especially problematic if a young or captive squirrel is depending on you as its sole food source.
If you’re buying peanut butter with palm oil, in a round-about way, the making of that peanut butter, is displacing and killing squirrels in rainforest regions. But that’s more of an indirect , cause and effect of how the ingredients in peanut butter could be harming squirrel populations.
Most squirrels love peanut butter and they will eat it gladly, to their own detriment. Kind of like how kids will eat their entire Halloween stash in one sitting, if left on their own.
There are better choices which means you can still feed squirrels and feel good about it in the process.
Alternate nut butters such as almond, walnut and hazelnut are solid replacements for an occasional pinecone treat. Stay away from any nut butters that have added sugars, chemicals and hydrogenated oils, especially those derived from palm.
A squirrel can have it’s cake and eat it too, you just need to lead the way.
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