Everyone loves snacks including squirrels. With many different snacks and treats out there, which one is good, beneficial and affordable, and costs less? Well, what about popcorn? It’s cheap, affordable, and tasty but can squirrel eat popcorn, is it safe to feed, and does it have any benefits for them? And lastly, do they even eat or like it? Here are the answers to it.
The Concise Answer…
Like birds eating popcorn, squirrels can definitely eat popcorn without a problem. In fact, they love it. Nonetheless, popcorn is a healthy snack with high fiber and low calories. It’s a whole grain which means it is quite similar to fruit and does have most nutrition of a fruit.
But not all the popcorn are the same. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans says half of all grains used should be whole grain and popcorn have more nutrition than most foods. And not only that, movie theaters popcorn has lots of calories, sodium, and salt which makes it way more harmful.
Do Squirrels Eat Popcorn? Do They Like It?
While omnivores, squirrels eat anything they get including plants, vegetables, and fruits including chocolate, popcorn, even mushrooms and they definitely take it as a tasty snack. It’s a perfect healthy treat with nutritional benefits as far as it doesn’t contain lots of canola, oil, salt, and sugar, or pepper-like movie theater popcorn. Salt not only makes squirrels thirsty (here’s where do squirrels get fresh water) but also highs blood pressure, heart disease. The fewer ingredients it contains, the better and more beneficial it is.
You can feed popcorn to squirrels every once in a while but not a lot. Not only squirrels, but birds, dogs, cats, and a few other animals can also eat homemade popcorn without worry. So whether you are willing to feed squirrels or just want to prevent them from eating your bird’s food, popcorn is an easy solution to it. But remember to feed squirrels when they active the most. If you have raccoons around, put enough popcorn for squirrels only.
Here’s how squirrels eat popcorn.
Does Popcorn Have Any Nutritional Value?
Like birds feeding, squirrels feeding is fun but costly and cheap foods are either low quality or not or do not have any nutritional value. However, a myth which people also believe is corn is a filler.
Is Corn A Filler?
Popcorn carries some nutritional value and it is a great source of protein, vitamins, carbohydrates, and linoleic acid which is an essential fatty acid for a squirrel’s diet. As well as if corn is a filler, why would pet food companies would add it to their diet?
Well, obviously pet food companies put hours of work to decide what food to add that is beneficial and also affordable and why would they add something to their diet that has no nutritional value? Not only this but according to the WebMD medical research, popcorn decreases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension.
In addition to that, popcorn also helps with weight loss, sugar, and bones. With that thought, there is a list of nutrients that it contains. Here are the details of it.
Is Popcorn Digestible?
People feed corn to squirrels because it’s cheap. Well, that’s true but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, popcorn is a good source of polyphenols which helps with blood circulation and the digestive system. People and animal food manufacturers incorporate it into the diet because it has nutritional benefits and is also affordable.
In the United States where most of the pet food is placed, there is a lot of corn. What pet food manufacturers do is they use resources that are readily available in their area in plentiful quantities so they don’t need to wait for the shipment, buy and prepare the items.
Do Squirrels Eat Popcorn / Corn In The Wild?
Definitely not and wild squirrels cannot digest it either but just like humans, squirrels and other domestic and urban animals have evolved over the years and now eat most of the human food including raw corn and popcorn. Even run in front of cars and stop in the middle of the road.
Does Popcorn Causes Allergies?
There is very little chance of causing allergies and squirrels are rarely allergic to the carbohydrate portion of the corn. The allergies in squirrels are largely related to the protein source. However, removing corn in order to remove allergies is just a marketing strategy. In fact, corn is barely a source of allergies to squirrels and most animals.
What Are The Downside of Popcorns?
While popcorn does more good than harm, however, there are catches to popcorn-like anything else which may happen if used a lot or with harmful ingredients like salt, oil, or peeper.
High intake can cause digestive problems like gas or diarrhea and tooth decay which happens often. After eating corn, the corn seed stucks between the teeth which greets bacteria that eventually cause tooth decay. This happens to squirrels and other animals that eat popcorn.
While there is no way to avoid it completely, there is a way to stop the most part of it.
Which one to Feed: Popped Corn or Unpopped / Raw
Squirrels may eat raw corn but they shouldn’t. However, if you were about to feed corns, make sure you always feed squirrels popped corn or in simple words cooked corns. Not only squirrels but also do not ever feed raw corns to birds, dogs, cats, wolves, or any other animals. And as well as, never feed an animal whole corn.
Which one is Healthy: Popcorn or Corn on the Cob
Although they both are corns, their cooking will make changes to their nutritional profiles. However, corn on the cob is more health for people and squirrels according to the US Dietary Guidelines. Popcorn has less calories than boiled corn however, it takes more popcorn to gain the same calories whereas less boiled corn for the same calories.
Another thing which corn on the cob people love is less fat that is also good for animals while popcorn that contains oil is more fatty. And more importantly, corn on the cob has more fiber, more protein, and more carbohydrate.
Things to Avoid Adding with Popcorn
There are many things which can be added with popcorn and many ways to cook. But, its never advised to add anything more than needed especially avoid salt like garlic powder or salt, butter, lots of oil, chocolate, candy, sugar and all that.
The simpler it is, the better and more beneficial. If you don’t know how to cook it the ideal way, here’s a video.
Depending on how the popcorn is, for example, if the popcorn isn’t too salty and spicy or sweet, squirrels can definitely eat it which is also nutirtious. However, if it is movie theaters popcorn, it isn’t very beneficial in fact it is pretty harmful. Interestingly, corn on the cob is pretty safe and healthy to feed but only in small amount.
But if this is useful why people keep avoiding it? The only reason people avoid feeding popcorn and instead put it in the opposite list is primarily because its salty and oily which is not only harmful for squirrels but humans as well.