Do Squirrels Eat Insects, Worms and Other Bugs?

Squirrels are a nuisance for many people as they get into bird feeders and dig up lawns. For others, they’re an adorable animal that is fun to watch run around their yard. Whether you’re simply curious about these animals that we see on a near-daily basis or found an injured squirrel that you want to take care of, you might be curious—do squirrels eat insects?

Do Squirrels Eat Insects?

Squirrels are omnivores, so they do eat insects. However, it’s unlikely you’ll see them digging into a pile of ants or snatching grubs out of the ground if they have access to their favorite foods. 

Rather than insects, squirrels like to eat apples and other fruit, nuts, seeds, and fungi.

Nevertheless, insects provide squirrels with an excellent energy source when there’s a food scarcity; insects are high in protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals. In some cases, insects provide squirrels with more protein per gram than eating meat. Furthermore, many insects are easy for squirrels to capture.

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What Kind of Insects Do Squirrels Eat?

Squirrels eat a variety of insects depending on what’s available to them. Some examples include mealworms, ants, grubs, snails, caterpillars, and spiders.

The insects above are typically easy for squirrels to consume, which is crucial as it is in their nature to seek ways to save energy. However, in some cases – such as if they are starving or encounter an injured insect – they may even eat insects that are generally harder to catch.

Although insects aren’t as tasty to squirrels as many plant-based foods, eating them can keep a squirrel alive during a period of food scarcity. 

Do Squirrels Eat Ants?

Ants aren’t a squirrel’s preferred food, but they will eat them if there aren’t better food sources around. Ants are an excellent source of protein for squirrels since 100 grams of red ants offers about 14 grams of protein. A serving of ants also provides a squirrel with nearly 50 grams of calcium and a good amount of iron.

Ants are a low-calorie food for squirrels. However, squirrels don’t need to consume massive quantities of them to receive health benefits due to their rich nutrients. Furthermore, ants provide squirrels with twice as much protein as meat.

Do Squirrels Eat Worms?

If there aren’t enough nuts and seeds around, squirrels will eat worms, although it isn’t their preferred food. Nevertheless, worms provide squirrels with an abundant source of nutrients, including iron, copper, manganese, and zinc. They also have high levels of amino acids, which help squirrels break down food and repair their body tissues.

Squirrels are decent diggers, meaning that they don’t have to wait for a rainstorm for worms to surface before eating them. Most squirrels dig to look for edible roots, stems, and nuts. They also might dig to hide these food items for a later time.

Do Squirrels Eat Mealworms?

Squirrels will happily eat live and dried mealworms. Mealworms are an excellent source of protein and fat for squirrels, providing approximately 17% and 14%, respectively. If you regularly feed mealworms to your free-range chickens or other birds, it’s common for squirrels to monitor when you feed them. Squirrels have been known to swoop in and take their share when they have the opportunity.

To keep squirrels away from the mealworms you feed your birds, consider purchasing a squirrel-proof feeder. Or, if you have chickens, only feed them mealworms when they’re safely locked up in their coop.

Do Squirrels Eat Cockroaches?

It isn’t common for squirrels to eat cockroaches, partly because they gravitate towards nuts and berries and partly because cockroaches are so hard to catch. However, if a squirrel can catch and eat a cockroach, it’ll receive excellent nutritional benefits; cockroaches offer high amounts of calcium, magnesium, and potassium, among other vitamins and minerals.

If you see a squirrel eating a cockroach, it’s likely due to one or both of the following reasons: The cockroach was injured, or the squirrel was hungry and without other food sources. Typically, lizards, turtles, and rats gravitate towards eating cockroaches more than a squirrel does.

Do Squirrels Eat Snails and Slugs?

As omnivores, squirrels will eat snails and slugs if they get really hungry. However, they prefer to eat plant-based foods. If a squirrel ventures to eat a snail or slug, it receives a massive amount of health benefits; snails have a high concentration of lysine, polyunsaturated fatty acid, calcium, and vitamin A.  

Additionally, snails and slugs offer squirrels more amino acids than if they were to eat an egg. Nevertheless, a downside to a squirrel eating snails and slugs is that they contain a notable amount of cholesterol. 

Do Squirrels Eat Mosquitoes?

Squirrels don’t typically eat mosquitoes. One reason for this is that mosquitoes are challenging for them to catch. The other reason is that when other foods are available, such as plants and nuts, they prefer to eat those.

Mosquitoes are about as pesky for squirrels as they are for humans. So, if a squirrel eats a mosquito, it’s likely because it happened to catch it in its mouth while trying to ward away the annoying pest. It’s unlikely that the number of mosquitos a squirrel eats adds up enough to provide significant nutritional value.

Do Squirrels Eat Caterpillars?

Caterpillars are an excellent food source for squirrels when their preferred food is not available. The nutrition that a squirrel gains from eating caterpillars varies depending on the caterpillar species and size. An advantage of eating caterpillars over many other insect species is that they are easier for squirrels to catch.

Some caterpillars offer squirrels more protein and fat per gram than if they were to consume a turkey leg. Although caterpillars have a high-fat content, most of it comes in the healthier monounsaturated fat variety. 

Do Squirrels Eat Lawn Grubs?

Lawn grubs are one of a squirrel’s go-to meals when there aren’t any tastier plant-based foods around. Squirrels can be very destructive when looking for lawn grubs, as it requires them to tear up your grass. However, they’ll also help themselves to lawn grubs when they dig holes to bury their food findings.

Squirrels receive an excellent dose of energy by eating lawn grubs, as they’re high in fat and protein; nearly 50% of a grub’s dry weight is protein. That said, lawn grubs offer squirrels a relatively low dose of crude fiber.

Do Squirrels Eat Spiders?

A squirrel’s diet doesn’t typically include spiders, but they will eat them on occasion. Spiders are one of a squirrel’s food choices when it doesn’t have access to nuts and its other mealtime favorites. When eating spiders, squirrels need to take care to eat the non-poisonous varieties.

The amount of nutrition that squirrels gain from spiders varies greatly depending on the size of the spider. However, in general, spiders offer a good source of zinc, protein, and folic acid, which keeps red blood cells healthy so that the squirrel’s body stays well oxygenated.

Why Do Squirrels Eat Insects?

Squirrels eat insects because they’re omnivores, meaning they consume both plants and animals. However, when environmental conditions allow, squirrels prefer to have a mostly herbivore diet. For this reason, squirrels typically eat insects when their favorite food sources aren’t available. 

Furthermore, if they have access to many plants but few seeds and nuts that contain high protein, squirrels might turn to insects when they feel they need a protein boost.

Finally, squirrels may eat insects in part for fun. Studies of ground squirrels show that juvenile squirrels, in particular, play to learn about their surroundings and become bolder. Similar to how a human child will put whatever they grab in their mouths, baby squirrels will do the same.

Do Squirrels Eat Bugs or Worms: Verdict

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a squirrel that chooses to eat bugs and worms over a meal of plant-based food if you set the two options down in front of them. Nevertheless, squirrels are omnivores, and insects are an excellent way for squirrels to maintain a balanced diet.

Squirrels often choose to eat insects when there aren’t other options available to them. They also tend to gravitate towards insects that are easier to consume. For example, they might target the mealworms you feed your birds or pop a grub in their mouths when they’re digging a hole to bury other food items.

Do Squirrels Eat Insects and Worms FAQ’s

Are you still curious about the types of foods that squirrels eat? If so, read below to learn about another creature that squirrels consume.