It’s fun to feed squirrels. Watching a squirrel run up a tree with a large cheese puff is as adorable as it is funny.
Will they get orange cheesy paws or cheese dust trapped in their whiskers?
If you want to learn whether or not a squirrel CAN eat cheese vs. SHOULD eat cheese keep reading. And we’ll talk about how much worse it is for baby squirrels.
Table of Contents - Click to Open
Do Squirrels Like to Eat Cheese
Most squirrels love to eat cube cheese , string cheese and cheesy flavored snack items. They might also love some cottage cheese and cream cheese. Although they like the taste, cheese is a bad choice if you’re looking to feed squirrels healthy snacks.
Lucky for us, cheese is far more expensive than treats that are healthy for squirrels. So staying away from the cheese and dairy should be easy enough.
The Problem with Feeding Squirrels Cheese
The biggest problem with feeding squirrels cheese is that most cheese is produced from cow’s milk. If you’re lactose intolerant, you can appreciate the pain and suffering this can cause to your digestive system. Same goes for squirrels.
Squirrels do not do well with excess lactose. Mother’s milk for squirrels is very low in lactose. Whereas cow’s milk will have nearly twice the amount.
Lactose and Diarrhea in Squirrels
Excess lactose can cause squirrels to have mild to explosive diarrhea. Both cause rapid dehydration which can be far worse than a squirrel being hungry.
A wild squirrel who is given cheese in the winter and suffers diarrhea from the excess lactose, may have a difficult time rehydrating.
Keep in mind that when temperatures drop below 30 and everything freezes over, water sources become quite scarce.
Do Baby Squirrels Eat Cheese or Milk Dairy?
Cheese, milk and dairy is not healthy for growing baby squirrels. Cow’s milk, in particular can be dangerous due to the high lactose content. Plus cow’s milk provides only a small fraction of the protein and fat that a baby squirrel so desperately needs.
Seeing a malnourished baby squirrel is heartbreaking.
Though people mean well, baby squirrels who receive cow’s milk are often turned over to rehabbers too late, practically starving to death and severely dehydrated.
Squirrels grow quickly. Even if they survive malnourishment, cow’s milk, cheese, and dairy feeding can cause lasting, irreversible damage. Same with breads.
If you find a baby squirrel, its best chances of survival are in the hands of a state approved rehabilitator. That’s because even the milk formulas could cause stomach upset and we were always monitoring for this…prepared to take the necessary action for rehydration.
A simple google search for a squirrel rehabilitator or wildlife hospital with your city and state should point you to those people.
What Milk Should a Baby Squirrel Have
In the rehab hospital, orphaned baby squirrels were given a special dry milk formula. It was powdered and mixed with other liquids and fats. You had to shake the heck out of it and then let it sit for hours in the fridge to remove the bubbles.
Before feeding, both the squirrel and the formula had to be the right temperature. The consistency couldn’t be too watery or too thick so as not too choke or aspirate the babies. This was the best source of calcium and other dietary needs.
Is any Dairy or Cheese Okay to Give to Squirrels?
If you want to keep squirrels healthy, resist the urge to feed them dairy and cheese products. That includes cheese spreads and powdery cheeses like cheeseballs, cheese puffs or mac and cheese.
And I would never give milk to a squirrel. Knowing how it COULD cause intestinal distress that leads to diarrhea, that leads to dehydration…which is difficult to recover.
Skip it in every form and toss them something healthier from our squirrel friendly food favorites.
If you’re considering feeding a squirrel cheese because you’re trying to provide protein, check our our mealworms post.
For more squirrely questions, be sure to visit our homepage