If you’ve been watching squirrels for a while you have noticed that they spend a lot of time foraging on the ground. This might lead you to ask the question, “Do Squirrels Eat Grass?”
The answer is, “Squirrels do eat grass but it is a small part of their diet. In general squirrels will not damage your lawn.”
This article will dive into what squirrels are doing while they dig through the grass.
Why Do Squirrels Eat Grass?
Squirrels eat grass because they are omnivores that eat anything with nutritional value. Grasses have some nutritional value but not as much as the nuts that squirrels prefer.
Squirrels will eat grass when other, more nutritional, food sources are unavailable.
There is some speculation that squirrels will also consume grasses as a source of fiber.
What Parts of Grass do Squirrels Eat?
When squirrels consume grass, they do not consume the entire plant. Squirrels prefer to eat:
- The tender greens at the top of the blades, which are high in vitamins A and C and minerals such as calcium and iron.
- The soft tissue located below the blades, which is rich in moisture and helps to keep them hydrated.
- The grass seeds, which provide a source of food during the winter months when food is scarce.
The use of grass as a source of water is especially important for ground squirrels that live in arid regions.
What Else Do Squirrels Find in the Grass to Eat?
Squirrels find plenty of useful material while they are digging through your lawn.
Squirrels are looking for are more nutritious food sources such as:
- Small lizards
You will spot squirrels digging in your lawn when they bury nuts for storage and later in the year when they dig them up to consume.
Squirrels are well known for stashing food in hundreds of locations so it is common for them to stash nuts in your lawn.
What do Squirrels Use Grass for Other than Food?
Besides consuming grass as food, squirrels also use it for nesting purposes. Squirrels use various materials such as leaves, moss, twigs, and grasses for insulation.
Squirrel nests, also called dens or dreys, serve as a place to raise their young. Squirrels line their nests with soft, green grass, to keep the young squirrels warm.
Do Squirrels Damage Lawns
Squirrels may occasionally damage lawns but the impact is usually minimal.
As squirrels prepare for winter they cache nuts in hiding spots around their homes. This behavior involves burying the food underground to a depth of a few centimeters.
If a squirrel is storing nuts in your lawn you may notice small holes where the squirrel has buried its food. These holes are small and may not be noticeable.
How Can I Prevent Squirrels From Eating the Grass in my Lawn?
If the squirrels are getting too aggressive with your lawn then there are a couple of things you can do to chase them away.
Squirrel Repellents: There are various repellents that contain natural ingredients that are safe for people and animals but disliked by squirrels.
Trimming trees and shrubs: If you have trees or shrubs in your yard, ensure that they are trimmed back. You want to minimize the places that the squirrels feel safe from predators.
Keeping a dog or cat: These animals will chase away any squirrels that come near your property.
Feeding Squirrels: The only reason a squirrel will eat grass is if there are no better feed choices. Throw out a handul of cracked corn and the squirrels will gladly eat the corn instead of your grass.
What About Grass Seed?
If you have recently laid grass seed, squirrels may be attracted to it and may eat the seed. The seeds have a lot of nutritional value and can be a preferred food source.
To keep the squirrels away from the seeds you might need to use some physical deterrents. Some physical deterrents to consider are:
- Chicken wire
- Reflective pinwheels
- Motion activated sprinklers
- Decoys of Hawks or Owls
- “The Natural History of Squirrels” by A. L. Hulme, published in the Journal of Zoology
- “The Ecological Role of Squirrels in Forest Ecosystems” by R. A. Powell and P. W. Sherman, published in the Journal of Mammalogy
- “The Behavioural Ecology of Squirrels” by J. A. Koprowski, published in Animal Behaviour
- “The Role of Nut-Caching in the Ecology and Evolution of Squirrels” by P. W. Sherman, published in the Journal of Animal Ecology