The answer is yes, squirrels can not only eat popcorn, but they love it! It is also good for them as it is full of essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber to keep them healthy and active.
However, popcorn that has been coated with salt, sugar, or artificial flavors should be avoided as this can be detrimental to their health.
Do Squirrels Like Uncooked Popcorn?
Yes, squirrels do enjoy uncooked popcorn kernels. In fact, it could be healthier for them than the corn you would normally buy in animal feeds. This is because the corn used for popcorn does not cross-pollinate with the controversial genetically modified versions that are so prevalent these days.
TIP – Be wary of feeding too many popcorn kernels at once. Squirrels store food in their cheeks much like hamsters, and if the cheeky little critters stuff too many in, then the hard little kernels can create a choking hazard.
Check our article on rodents and popcorn for more info.
What Makes Popcorn So Good for Squirrels?
Squirrels are incredibly active animals, as anyone who has sat and watched them in the park can attest to. They need a diet rich in fiber and high in vitamins and minerals to keep their bones strong and their bodies fit and healthy.
Popcorn is an amazingly healthy snack that contains many essential vitamins and minerals that a squirrel needs in their diet. It is also a whole grain and as such, is high in fiber, making it the perfect tasty snack for our little furry friends.
What is the Best Popcorn to Feed Squirrels?
The best popcorn to feed squirrels is organic air-popped popcorn, which contains no artificial colors, preservatives, salts, or sugars. It is by far the healthiest way for a squirrel to consume popcorn.
Is Some Popcorn Bad for Squirrels?
Not all popcorn is good for the health of squirrels. Many flavors of popcorn are detrimental to the squirrel’s metabolism, and while one or two stolen from campers or picnickers may not cause any lasting damage, most flavored popcorn should be avoided when feeding animals of any kind.
Can Squirrels Eat Salted Popcorn?
Popcorn that contains salt will not only make squirrels thirsty, it will also overwork their liver and kidneys and, over time, could damage them.
Can Squirrels Eat Sugar Coated Popcorn?
Any sugar-coated popcorn, whether it is yummy caramel or apple pie flavor, could cause obesity and put additional strain on a squirrel’s heart. Over time this could be fatal for these highly active creatures.
Can Squirrels Eat Butter Popcorn?
While we might find popcorn cooked in butter or oil far tastier than air-popped corn, squirrels are not equipped to digest fats and oils in the same way we are. Therefore, feeding squirrels popcorn that has been popped using oils or butter can lead to digestive issues in squirrels and is best avoided.
Can Squirrels Eat Cheese Popcorn and Other Delicious Flavors?
Simply put, the answer is no. The only safe popcorn for squirrels to eat is air-popped popcorn. Any other flavor could contain salt, sugar, fats, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and other ingredients that could have potentially harmful side effects on a squirrel’s health.
Fun With Squirrels
Squirrels are constantly climbing and doing acrobatics, and their antics are always fun to watch. If you are lucky enough to have squirrels in your garden or with the permission of the park authorities, an entertaining thing to do is to make a squirrel maze.
Make a Squirrel Maze with Popcorn as Rewards
This is an interesting and exciting way to challenge your squirrels and make them earn their popcorn treats.
Squirrels will go to great lengths to get to their favorite foods. They will swing hand over hand along washing lines or shimmy up drain pipes if they believe they will get their reward at the end of it.
Start With a Simple Challenge
It would help if you started your squirrel maze with quite a simple challenge to get them used to the idea. Maybe hammering in a fence post and putting the popcorn on top, so they have to climb to get it.
Squirrels are extremely intelligent and they will soon catch on, but at the same time, don’t rush them; they need to learn each challenge before you set up another one.
Expand your Squirrel Popcorn Maze
Next, you could add another post and string a rope between the two posts to see if your squirrels will run along the rope to get the popcorn.
Remember how intelligent they are, and make sure you stop them from climbing straight up the second post and stealing the prize instead of using your maze.
You can do this by cutting a circular piece of plastic with a hole in the center the same width as your post and then fixing it halfway up the post that you don’t want your squirrels to climb.
The Sky’s the Limit
Some people have created some highly complex squirrel mazes, and you can find a lot of great ideas on youtube. From swings to ladders to tunnels, your imagination regarding building squirrel mazes is the only real limit.
You can continue your maze in this way, using popcorn as bait, to really challenge your squirrels. You will be amazed how adept these little furry creatures can be and how intelligent and quick to learn as you push them further and further.
A Word of Warning When Feeding Squirrels
These fun and athletic little animals are a real treat to watch and can become very friendly. They have been known to come right up and take food out of people’s hands.
However, it is not advisable to feed squirrels from your hand as a bite from a squirrel can be very painful and could become infected. Always wash your hands after handling equipment used by squirrels; they are wild animals and can carry diseases that are contractible by humans.
Squirrels are some of nature’s greatest athletes, and we wish you many happy hours of enjoyment watching your own Olympic sportsmen in your backyard or park, safe in the knowledge that the tasty snacks you’re feeding them will do them no harm.
Curious to know if rats can eat popcorn?
Sue’s favorite pastime? Watching a good movie with a giant tub of popcorn by her side. Her friends and family know that if they want to get her something, popcorn is always a safe bet. Sue has an adventurous spirit and loves to travel exploring new places – she’s been to more than 40 countries!