If Acorns Are Poisonous, Why Do Squirrels Eat Them Like I Eat Cupcakes?

Good question, right?

According to Aiken-Standard columnist Bill Hayes, it’s complicated. He wasn’t sure himself so he did a lot of research, such as:

“I found all sorts of stories about Native Americans eating acorns as part of their daily diet. I also found one article that said that the average life span of the American Indian was 30 years but made no reference to acorns as being part of the problem. Because of the high tannin content in red acorns the bitterness was probably strong enough to discourage all but the very hungry.”

As it turns out, some acorns — but not all — are poisonous. And a little biological mechanism at work known as adaptation helps our squirrel friends eat most acorns without any problems.

Read Bill’s column to find out what that adaptation is, and which acorns should stay out of your daily recommended allowance.

What Do You Feed Your Squirrels?

Sadly, there are no squirrels in my neighborhood to feed, but my parents put out corn for their South Texas squirrels.

In a recent survey, the National Bird-Feeding Society asked what people feed squirrels, and why. I could only find this information from an outdoors column in the Rhinelander Wisconsin Daily News, otherwise I would publish more details. According to the Daily News, respondents said:

For, why they fed squirrels:

Fun to watch: 38 percent

Love: 23 percent

Need: 20 percent (??? have no idea what this means — any guesses?)

What did they feed them?

Corn: 41 percent

Seed: 27 percent

Nuts: 25 percent”

What do you feed your squirrels?

(The column also noted they seek out natural sources of salt, which is why they sometimes go to salted roads in the winter.)