Dealing with Picky Eaters
Squirrels and flyers can be very choosy about their food. This is called "selective eating behavior" and it's an important survival strategy in the wild. However, a pet squirrel doesn't have to worry about getting enough fat and calories, and if high-calorie foods like nuts and treats are available every day, their "selective" eating will cause them to choose these foods exclusively, which is not a balanced diet! That's why you should limit certain foods, like nuts and treats.
Squirrels don't like change, and with extra-picky eaters it can take time to change eating habits. Below are some important tips to help get your pet on the road to a healthier diet:
- Clean out all food stashes. This is very important, since your squirrel will ignore healthy foods if he's got lots of treats stashed. If your squirrel has a stash, he will constantly beg food to add to it; he may also become protective or aggressive about his stash. So stashes are a no-no.
- Feed blocks in the morning, when your pet is hungriest, with no other foods. Then leave. He will probably ignore the block and continue begging for something else. That's okay.
- Eliminate treats. NO extra nuts, no fruit, and no treats of ANY kind. No sips of your coke, or bits of pizza crust, or any kind of treat.
- Give your pet his healthy food and then leave. If he won't eat it, never go back to the kitchen to get something else for him. This is a very bad habit that teaches them to be picky eaters.
Breakfast: 1 squirrel block with no other food.
Lunch: Healthy veggies (NOT corn and sweet potato and avocado: these are high-starch, high-energy treats). A handful of spring mix salad is good. There's a complete list of healthy veggies in the Healthy Diet for Pet Squirrels. Print it out and stick it on your fridge.
Afternoon snack: Wild foods from outside or more healthy veggies (see the Healthy Diet).
Dinner: 1 squirrel block. Just leave it there and don't worry if he eats it.
He probably won't eat much of the food you provided the first day; that's normal. The next morning, clear out any uneaten food, and repeat. In fact, he may not eat any of the healthy foods you're giving for several days. In the first place, your pet probably has plenty of body fat, so she won't really be that hungry. Also, she may have hidden stashes you didn't find. Just be patient. Your squirrel will absolutely not starve herself to death.
Some squirrels adjust quickly to the new diet and love the blocks. Others are more resistant and take more time. Squirrels like routine and they don't like change. Your squirrel might seem confused, restless, or he may even get angry at first. However, once he gets used to the NEW routine, he will learn to love it just as much. So stick with it. If you stick to the above diet very carefully, your squirrel should begin to eat his healthy foods within 5-10 days.
Special Instructions for Weaning-Age Squirrels
During the weaning stage (8-14 weeks) do not give any nuts, fruit, or treats of any kind. Concentrate on formula but also introduce blocks and healthy veggies. It's important they learn to love these healthy foods. Once she's weaned you can add limited nuts/fruits/treats.
© 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 Henry’s Healthy Pet Foods, Inc. Floyd, VA 24091 www.henryspets.com REV. 3/19