Dealing with Picky Eaters
Squirrels and flyers can be very choosy about their food. This is called "selective eating behavior" and it's an important survival strategy that helps squirrels get the calories and fatty foods they need in the wild. However, because pet squirrels don’t need to worry about getting enough fat and calories, if high-calorie foods like nuts and treats are available every day, their "selective" eating will cause them to choose these foods exclusively, which leads to a very unbalanced diet! That's why you should limit certain high-calorie and fatty foods, like nuts and treats.
Squirrels don't like change, and with extra-picky eaters it can take time for them to adjust to a new diet. Below are some important tips to help get your pet on the road to a healthier diet:
- Clean out all food stashes. This is very important, since your squirrel will ignore healthy foods if they’ve got lots of treats stashed away. If your squirrel has a stash, they will constantly beg for food to add to it; they may also become protective or aggressive about the stash. Long story short: stashes are a no-no.
- Feed Henry’s Blocks in the morning, when your squirrel is hungriest, with no other foods available. Then leave. The squirrel will probably ignore the Blocks and continue begging for something else. That's okay, just leave them with the Blocks.
- Eliminate all treats. NO extra nuts, no fruits, and no treats of ANY kind. No sips of your coke, or bits of pizza crust, or any other kind of treat.
- Give your pet healthy food and then leave. If they won't eat it, never go back to the kitchen to get something else for them. This is a very bad habit that teaches them to be picky eaters and leads them to see you as a pushover.
Breakfast: 1 Henry’s Block with no other food available.
Lunch: Healthy veggies (NOT corn and sweet potato and avocado: these are high-starch, high-energy treats). A handful of spring mix salad is good. There's a complete list of healthy veggies in the Healthy Diet for Pet Squirrels - print it out and stick it on your fridge.
Afternoon Snack: Wild foods from outside or more healthy veggies (see the Healthy Diet for more info).
Dinner: 1 Henry’s Block. Just leave it there, don't worry if they eat it and don’t offer any other food.
They probably won't eat much of the food you provided the first day; that's normal. The next morning, clear out any uneaten food, and repeat. In fact, they may not eat any of the healthy foods you're giving them for several days. In the first place, your pet probably has plenty of body fat, so they won't really be that hungry. Also, there may be hidden stashes you didn't find. Just be patient. Your squirrel will absolutely not starve to death.
Some squirrels adjust to their new diet quickly and love the Blocks. Others are more resistant and take more time. Squirrels like routine and they don't like change. Your squirrel might seem confused, restless, or they may even get angry at first. However, once they get used to the NEW routine, they will learn to love it just as much and will reap huge benefits in the long run. So stick with it. If you follow the diet above very carefully, your squirrel should begin to eat the new healthy foods within 5-10 days.
Special Instructions for Weaning-Age Squirrels
During the weaning stage (8-14 weeks) do not give your squirrel any nuts, fruit, or treats of any kind. Concentrate on formula but also begin to introduce Henry’s Blocks and healthy veggies. It's important they learn to love these healthy foods that are essential to their health. Once they are weaned, you can add limited nuts/fruits/treats.
© 2008-2023 Henry’s Healthy Pet Foods, Inc. Floyd, VA 24091 www.henryspets.com REV. 10/23