What Do Ground Squirrels Eat

What Do Ground Squirrels Eat? Diet & Lifestyle

Ground squirrels are generally high in energy. They maintain their high energy levels by eating specific diets that allow them to maintain their energy levels sufficiently. They eat groundnuts, legumes and various plants. On the other hand, other ground squirrels forage for seeds, walnuts, acorns and hazelnuts.

What is a Ground Squirrel?

A ground squirrel is a small rodent that measures 9-11” in length, including its bushy tail. Its fur is a mix of gray, light brown, and dusky, which gives it a mottled appearance. Strips of darker fur extend from the head to the mid-back, while gray fur forms a cape over the sides of the head and shoulders. Its underside is a pale buff or grayish-yellow.

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Habits and Lifestyle

These squirrels are relatively unsociable animals and generally live in colonies of no more than 10 to 12 other squirrels. Their population numbers seem to ebb and flow, with the highest occurring every four to six years. They often stay in one area for a while before moving on and establishing a new colony elsewhere. These squirrels are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day and prefer bright, sunny days. They spend about 10% of their time above ground and the rest in burrows underground that can be as deep as 8 ft with several branches and entrances.

What Do Ground Squirrels Eat

What Do Ground Squirrels Eat

Ground squirrels are usually herbivores, and their diet changes according to the season. For instance, after they come out of hibernation, they almost only eat green grasses and other plants. Once annual plants start to wither and create seeds, the squirrels will switch to a diet of seeds, grains, and nuts – and they’ll also start storing food.

1 – Squirrels Love Fruits

Ground squirrels are attracted to fruit trees and often damage them as they attempt to get to the fruit. If you’re trying to grow fruit trees, it can be particularly annoying to have ground squirrels around. Some types of fruit trees that ground squirrels like include apple, apricot, prune, peach, and orange trees. It’s important to know this if you have ground squirrels in your area, as they may go after your fruit trees early.

2 – Squirrels Love Nut Trees, Too

Ground squirrels aren’t the only ones who love nut trees – we humans do too! It is no surprise if you’ve ever watched a ground squirrel in a park — they dig furiously in the ground to make a safe place for their unique acorn or scratch at the base of a tree to find a nut they hid months ago. Ground squirrels delight in all kinds of nuts. There are a few nut trees in particular that the ground squirrel delights in finding as he is going about his day, and we’re happy to share these with you so you can enjoy them too.

Here’s a list of other food items that squirrels love:

  • Acorns
  • Seeds
  • Sweet Vegetables
  • Hazelnuts
  • Grains
  • Fungi
  • Roots
  • Bulb
  • Walnuts

Where do Ground Squirrels live?

Ground squirrels build their burrows into hillsides, low berms, or vertical shafts if necessary. They avoid flood-irrigated areas, dense woods, very moist soil, or frequently cultivated and tilled lands. Burrows are about 4-5 feet” in diameter, 2.5-4 feet below the ground’s surface, and 5-35 feet long. They contain 2-20 or more animals and are used for living, breeding, and mating.

Ground squirrels are exciting creatures in that they often live in close quarters with other members of their family or colony. Each squirrel usually has its entrance to the shared burrow. These caves can have many tunnels and dozens of openings. When ground squirrels are not busy gathering food, they spend their time in their tunnels underground. Once they build these burrow systems, they usually stay close to their home area.


What Is A Good Food For Ground Squirrels?

Ground squirrels are known to eat a diet consisting primarily of nuts and seeds, such as California black walnuts, grass seeds, and poppies. They have also been known to consume fruit (gooseberries and prickly pear are particularly interesting) and insects and fungi on occasion.

What Meat Do Ground Squirrels Eat?

Thirteen-lined ground squirrels are not just herbivores – they are omnivores, which means they eat plants and animals. At least 50% of their diet consists of animal matter, including grasshoppers, wireworms, caterpillars, beetles, cutworms, ants, insect eggs, mice, earthworms, small birds, and other thirteen-lined ground squirrels!

What Time Of Year Are Ground Squirrels Most Active?

Young ground squirrels are generally active all summer, regardless of location. Squirrels that do hibernate usually emerge from their dens in late winter or early spring, around January, when the weather begins to warm up. They feed on green vegetation in late winter and spring but switch to a diet of seeds and fruit in late spring or early summer as the vegetation begins to dry out.


Ground squirrels, also known as gophers, are happy little workers who enjoy eating the land’s fruits. It’s not uncommon to see one or two of these little guys in your backyard enjoying the fresh produce on your plants. They have a keen sense of smell and are always looking for food. The type of food they eat depends on where they live. In the western portion of the United States, they prefer to eat grasses, fruits, and vegetables. They prefer to eat plants, nuts, and berries in the eastern portion of the country.

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