Can Squirrels Eat Popcorn? (Expert’s Guide)

Squirrels are amazing animals that belong to the Sciuridae family. The Sciuridae family includes several types of rodents that are both small and medium size. Squirrels love finding their food, and they love munching on popcorn. Popcorn is a tasty snack and arguably the go-to snack for everyone, human and animal doesn’t matter.

If you are wondering can squirrels eat popcorn or not and concerned about its health then I must say plain air-popped popcorns are safe for squirrels, and the fibers present in them are also good for their digestive system. It’s only the flavors that we add that are not good and healthy for squirrels. 

Can squirrels eat popcorn? all you need to know

Can squirrels eat popcorn?

The direct answer is yes; squirrels can eat popcorn. Simple air-popped popcorns are considered to be safe for squirrels to eat. They have lots of fibers, which is good for their digestive system. Popcorns also have protein, iron, and vitamin B, which is not considered a huge nutrition boost but won’t harm squirrels. Hence they are an occasional safe treat for the squirrels.

However, the different flavored popcorns available these days are completely unhealthy and unsafe for the squirrels. Un-popped kernels are considered to be a choking hazard for squirrels. If they gulp down too many at one chance, it would block their throat pipe and, in most cases, be fatal. 

Moreover, the popcorn kernel gets stuck to the teeth of the rodents. If you don’t remove it on time, it will cause gum bleeding that would lead to serious gum diseases and tooth decay over time, which is also very painful. 

Can squirrels eat popcorn? expert's guide
Can squirrels eat popcorn?

Squirrels would even suffer from sodium ion poisoning if they gulf too many salty popcorns. This is life-threatening to them. Further, it would make them over-thirsty; hence, microwave-flavored popcorns are completely not while feeding squirrels. The same goes for oil and butter, which has high calories and leads to digestive problems like diarrhea and vomiting. 

Even the cheese and caramel-flavored popcorns are unhealthy as they have sweeteners and chemical preservatives that would cause kidney issues and obesity to the squirrels. 

So if you want to feed your pet squirrel with popcorn, feed them simple air-popped popcorn occasionally. And please monitor them so that they don’t gulp too many at one chance. 

What Squirrels Eat?

1. The natural diet of squirrels

Squirrels love finding their food, and they love nuts and different types of fruits and vegetables. Fruits are their favorite; they love to eat apples, bananas, peaches, pears, avocados, mangoes, and melons. The unprocessed sugar present in fruits gives them an immense natural energy boost.

The natural diet of squirrels

Vegetables have a high amount of nutrition, like arugula, beet grains, cabbage, cilantro, kale, radish, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and sweet peppers. Nuts inside the shell are of high protein and are considered to be best for squirrels. The fat in them helps to build fat to survive winters.

They love acorns, pumpkin seeds, macadamia nuts, pecans, and pistachios. Squirrels also prefer to eat natural cereals and grains when they don’t have other options, like shredded wheat, cornflakes, etc. Few of the squirrel species also eat bones to satisfy the need for calcium. 

2. Comparison of the nutritional value of popcorn versus other foods

Squirrels need a balanced diet to stay healthy and maintain proper weight. Though plain air-popped popcorns are safe and have lots of fibers in them, being good for their digestive, they are not packed with other nutrients. However, they are not harmful but cannot be the only diet to maintain proper health for squirrels.

Comparison of the nutritional value of popcorn versus other foods

They love fruits, a great source of natural, unprocessed sugar that gives those lots of energy to jump and play around and find more food. Nuts with shells are also a great source of protein. They also tend to eat insects that are an additional source of protein and vitamins.

Vegetables are also highly packed with nutrition and vitamins that are considered healthy for squirrels. You can also feed them with supplements that are an additional source of calcium and vitamin D3.

3. Is popcorn healthy for squirrels?

Popcorn is considered safe for squirrels only if they are plain air-popped. They are healthy as they contain lots of fibers that can be given occasionally to them. But one should strictly avoid salted and flavored popcorns to be fed to the squirrels.

Is popcorn healthy for squirrels

Moreover, you should also avoid fruits with pits and seeds like dates,d dried plums,s and prunes. Similarly, do not feed those dried vegetables, garlic, sprouts, and yam. You should also avoid dried corn, pine nuts, and cashews, as they would lead to calcium loss.

What foods are harmful to squirrels?

Any processed food is very harmful to squirrels as they have zero nutritional value. Trust me, squirrels love to eat peanuts, but that is not good for their health as it contains a fungal toxin named aflatoxin which tends to damage their liver. Furthermore, there is a trypsin inhibitor in squirrels that would stop protein reabsorption.

They also have tons of sugar and salt in them, which is extremely detrimental for squirrels. Even frozen and canned food are absolute nos as they have chemical preservatives. Squirrels should not be given raw corn because they turn sour and develop mold very quickly, which is fatal for their health.

What foods are harmful to squirrels

So it is safe to feed cooked corn in moderation to squirrels. You should strictly avoid giving human baby formula and even dog or bird formula as they have preservatives and chemical additives. This can be allergic to squirrels, cause nervous seizures, and even lead to death. You should also avoid feeding them meat as well. 

Is popcorn safe for wildlife?

Popcorn is considered safe for wildlife and birds as long as they are naturally air-popped. Make sure you don’t feed those salty or flavored ones available in the market to any animals or birds. It is also suggested not to give microwaved popcorn to animals and birds as it has monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, artificial additives, salt, sugar, and butter, which is very harmful.

Flavored popcorns can also cause allergies to animals and are very high in calories which can be harmful to them. But please remember that even plain air-popped popcorn should be given in moderate quantities and occasionally to animals and birds.

You May Also Find Useful: What Do You Feed Squirrels? Complete List Of Food

Frequently Asked Questions (fAQs)

What is squirrel’s favorite food?

Squirrels are extremely fond of nuts and fruits. They love acorns, walnuts, hickory nuts, pistachios, oranges, apples, bananas, peaches, avocados, etc.

They also love to eat highly nutritive vegetables like arugula, beet grains, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, sweet peppers, etc. They love cereals and grains as well. They also eat insects that are an additional source of protein.

Is popcorn OK for wild birds?

Plain air-popped popcorns devoid of salt and added flavors are safe for wild birds. Feeding them with popped popcorn instead of popcorn kernels is always advised. However, you should strictly avoid microwave popcorn and flavored ones loaded with salt, sugar, oil, cheese, and butter. 

What is the best food to leave out for squirrels?

The best food to leave out for squirrels is pine nuts. Though they love to eat them, you should not feed them with pine nuts as it would cause severe calcium loss in squirrels.

Moreover, you should also not give them any type of processed or canned food as it contains lots of chemical preservatives that are very harmful to squirrels. You should also not give any type of flavored popcorn to squirrels.


Squirrels are an amazing animal that loves to jump and play around and prefers to find their food. It should always be best to provide them with a healthy balanced diet that is good for their overall health. You can also occasionally give those plain air-popped popcorn as they love eating them.

Plain air-popped popcorns have fibers that are good for their digestive system. But you should avoid popcorns that are salty and flavored as they are harmful to their health. Squirrels also love eating shelled nuts, fruits, and vegetables. 

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