There are many types of animals present near our living areas – some are friendly, some are hostile and some just tend to cause harm while not having any hostile intent. Squirrels belong to the third category and tend to act as pests to your lawn and affect the grass in it.
This article discusses in detail whether squirrels eat grass and how to handle them.
Do squirrels eat grass?
Squirrels do not eat grass itself but they tend to dig the area around the base of the grass while foraging for seeds. Squirrels tend to dig up recently planted grass since they can find seeds there more frequently. Squirrels do eat grass sometimes if there are no nuts, seeds or other foods nearby.
Squirrels are omnivorous animals, therefore – they would eat anything from plants to other living organisms.
However, squirrels are often observed to lean more towards the herbivorous side of the diet since they spend most of their time and energy foraging for food in the wild rather than hunting.
A squirrel’s herbivorous diet usually consists of different nuts, seeds, acorns as well as some fruits – therefore, they tend to be around fruit plants or other recently germinated plants.
But strangely, you might notice squirrels nibbling on your lawn and digging up grass – which might lead you to believe that squirrels eat grass. But in reality, they don’t frequently eat grass but dig them up instead.
Squirrels dig up the grass in order to expose the seeds underneath them. They do this instead of eating the grass blades itself because the seeds provide higher nutritional value and the seeds are more preferred due to the composition of a squirrel’s mouth.
If your grass is young and has been recently planted, the squirrels may dig up your grass in order to extract the grass seeds from their seed heads. They also look for seeds that haven’t germinated or have scattered throughout the area as a result of overseeding.
It is rare for squirrels to eat grass roots if there are grass seeds or any nuts lying around since grass roots are not the best source of nutrition for them compared to other food sources.
The thatch layer of the grass is what squirrels are interested in since that layer contains mostly seeds that haven’t germinated as well as seeds that have fallen off other trees.
However, if none of them are found and there is no better source of food nearby – squirrels may resort to eating grass roots in order to survive.
As for artificial grass, they are mostly used as a preventive measure to keep squirrels away since the synthetic blades and the fibrous base is impossible for squirrels to bury.
Artificial grass blades may be soft to the touch, but they are very difficult for squirrels to tear or dig out and while attempting to do so would make much noise to alert anyone nearby.
Do ground squirrels eat grass?
Ground squirrels do not eat grass because grass provides much less nutritional value to squirrels as their chewing mechanism and digestive system is not optimal for consumption of grass blades.
However, many people confuse the behavior of squirrels around grass and assume that they are eating them.
Ground squirrels have a foraging behavior which makes them dig up grassy patches off the soil in order to expose any seeds or ungerminated seeds underneath them. Seeds and nuts are one of the primary sources of squirrel food and therefore, they search for them in this manner.
Such behavior might often seem that squirrels are eating grass when they aren’t, but there could be times where a squirrel resorts to eating grass when there are no other nutritious food sources nearby.
What does it mean when squirrels eat grass?
There is one common misconception that squirrels eat grass – although squirrels are omnivorous, meaning that they eat both plant-based and animal-based food – grass is not the ideal food for a squirrel’s diet.
Squirrels tend to forage grass in order to find different types of food hidden underneath the grass patches. If you observe closely, the squirrels don’t eat the grass blades themselves but tend to tear them up in order to expose what lies underneath them.
A squirrel’s diet consists of different types of seed, fruits and nuts – of these, two are commonly found in the ground.
This foraging behavior of squirrels can be mostly noticed if you have planted seeds in your lawn recently because the seeds haven’t fully germinated yet – making them an ideal food source for squirrels.
However, if you notice that your grass blades are being eaten by squirrels then you should either provide them with food to prevent them eating your grass, or find a way to leave your lawn.
3 reasons why squirrels will eat grass and grass seeds
Below stated are the common reasons why squirrels eat grass seeds and may eat grass:
They are omnivores:
Squirrels eat grass seeds because they are omnivorous animals and thus their diet depends on plants and insects. However, despite that – they tend to solely depend on plants, fruits, seeds and nuts for their diet.
Therefore, you will notice squirrels digging up grass in order to forage and eat seeds.
Ease of chewing and digestion:
The texture of foods such as seeds and nuts are similar – having a hard exterior shell and a soft interior core.
The teeth and chewing mechanism of squirrels are much suited to eating food with similar structure compared to other soft food and their digestive system contains enzymes that are specialized for digesting foods such as these.
Therefore, squirrels tend to eat grass seeds and similar seeds off the ground.
Being omnivorous, squirrels can eat anything around them that is either plant or insects.
Despite that, squirrels do not eat grass or any other plants they find around them – rather, they look for food that is best suited for their digestion and can provide them with the highest nutritional values needed.
Grass seeds and other seeds/nuts have the necessary nutrients in them that are essential for squirrels and meet their dietary needs.
How do I keep squirrels from eating my grass?
There are several measures that you can take to keep squirrels from eating your grass:
Use squirrel repellents:
The best and effective way of keeping squirrels off your yard is to use squirrel repellents.
Some people refrain from using them because they think these repellents are harmful – but they aren’t since they are made of natural ingredients which do not harm the squirrels in any way.
Distract them with other food:
Squirrels keep digging and coming to your yard in search of food – if that’s the case, you can solve this by giving them what they want.
If you put squirrel food such as nuts and other seeds in sufficient amounts on the grass or other areas – the squirrels coming to your yard may eat them and leave your yard untouched.
However, the drawback to this is that sometimes this procedure may attract more squirrels to your yard as well and as a result, some might damage your lawn.
Sprinkle Cayenne pepper:
If you are still not convinced about using squirrel repellents or don’t want to buy a commercial repellent, then spraying cayenne pepper is the best solution.
Cayenne pepper is an irritant for squirrels and thus it will discourage them from coming near your lawn for eating grass seeds.
This is an easy solution because it doesn’t require you to sprinkle cayenne pepper all over your lawn, instead you can make a boundary by circling the perimeter of your yard with the pepper.
In this way, when the squirrels try to enter your lawn – they will get irritated by the scent of the pepper and leave the area.
Use deer repellents:
Deer repellents contain ingredients that are safe and effective at repelling squirrels away from your yard. This can be used as an alternative repellent if you cannot find squirrel repellents.
The usage guideline for this is the same as how you would use a squirrel repellent.
Get a pet cat or dog:
Using a natural predator or protective guard pet can be helpful in chasing away squirrels since pets have a stronger sense of smell and can identify when an intruding squirrel has landed in your yard.
Dogs trained to guard your house will chase away squirrels and cats are naturally known to have a prey-predator relationship with squirrels.
While searching for seeds, squirrels often dig the ground towards the base of the grass but do not eat the grass itself. Since they look for seeds in newly planted grass, squirrels are more likely to dig those up. If there are no nuts or seeds nearby, squirrels will occasionally eat grass.