You probably see squirrels all the time in your backyard or when you’re out for a walk in the park. They’re fun to watch as they scamper up trees and bury their nuts for winter. But sometimes, you may notice them nibbling on tree bark. So, what gives? Do squirrels actually eat tree bark?
So, Do Squirrels Eat Bark?
The answer is yes! Most squirrels prefer to eat nuts, fruits, and seeds but they do, from time to time eat tree bark. Red squirrels, grey squirrels, fox squirrels, tree squirrels, and flying squirrels are known to nibble on tree bark.
Tree bark makes up a large part of the food source. Squirrels will strip bark on hardwood and softwood trees in any tree species. Squirrels prefer the softer inner bark, but they’ll also eat the more rigid outer bark if nothing else is available.
Why Do Squirrels Eat Bark?
Squirrels chew bark for a variety of reasons. It can be for sustenance, to sharpen their teeth, or to get materials to build their nests.
In the winter, when food is scarce, squirrels may eat tree bark to survive. Tree bark is a good source of fiber, which helps them stay full. Squirrels also get sodium and other nutrients from tree bark.
Squirrels will gnaw on tree bark to help keep their teeth sharp. Their incisors, or front teeth, grow about 5 inches per year! Chewing on tree bark helps to keep their teeth at a manageable length.
Finally, squirrels chew on tree bark to get materials for their nests. They’ll strip the bark off of twigs and branches to use as bedding material. The soft inner bark is especially useful for lining their nests.
Are All Squirrels Bark Eaters?
While all squirrels will nibble on tree bark from time to time, not all of them do it with the same frequency. For example, red and grey squirrels are more likely to consume tree bark than their Fox or flying cousins. This is likely because red and grey squirrels live in areas where there are fewer other food options available.
What Damage Do Squirrels Cause to Trees?
While tree bark is a common part of a squirrel’s diet, that doesn’t mean that they don’t cause damage to trees when they eat it. In fact, excessive bark eating can be detrimental to the health of a tree. When squirrels strip away the bark, they expose the inner layers of the tree to elements. This can cause the tree to become dehydrated and stressed, which can lead to diseases such as canker or death.
What Causes Squirrels to Chew Off Branches?
There are several reasons why a squirrel might chew off a branch. The most common cause is that they’re looking for food. It usually happens in the winter when food is scarce. If there is insufficient food, squirrels will start to nibble on tree branches as the tree sap contains nutrients.
Another reason why squirrels might chew on branches is to file or sharpen their teeth. Squirrels’ teeth constantly grow, so they need to gnaw on something hard to try and keep them at a manageable length. If there’s nothing else available, they’ll start chewing on tree branches.
Branches also make for great nesting material. Squirrels will strip the bark off of twigs and branches to use in their nests.
What to Do If Squirrels Are Chewing Your Trees
If you’ve noticed that squirrels or other animals are chewing on your trees, there are a few things to try to deter them. First, you can try wrapping the trunk of the tree with chicken wire. This will create a barrier that squirrels can’t get through. Just be sure to wrap it tightly so that there are no gaps for them to squeeze through.
You can also try spraying the tree with a commercial squirrel repellent. These repellents usually contain ingredients like capsaicin or naphthalene, which discourage squirrels from chewing on the tree.
Whatever method you choose, keep an eye on the tree and squirrels. If they are undeterred by your efforts, it’s time to call in a professional.
Need Help With Nuisance Squirrels on Your Property?
If you need help with squirrel removal on your property, AAAC Wildlife Removal is here to help! We’ll take care of the problem quickly and efficiently so that you can enjoy your yard again. Give us a call today to schedule a consultation!
Despite how adorable and harmless they may appear, squirrels can cause serious damage to your trees. This is especially bad if the tree is young or already in a weakened state. If you’ve noticed that squirrels are starting to chew on your trees, don’t wait to take action. Deter them with one of the methods above, or call in a professional to take care of the problem for you.
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Originally published at AAAC Wildlife Removal: https://aaacwildliferemoval.comblog/squirrels/do-squirrels-eat-tree-bark