How To Feed Squirrels Without Attracting Rats

Many people enjoy feeding the squirrels in their backyard, and it’s not uncommon to see them looking for food in nearby trees and bird feeders. However, rats love to eat the same types of food that squirrels do, making it very easy to draw them in accidentally.

To feed squirrels without attracting rats, put their food somewhere high in special containers that rats can’t get into, check for rat nests around your yard, and keep the food away from your home. As squirrels tend to drop pieces of food when they move, clean up the ground under your feeder often.

This article will be covering all the best ways to feed the squirrels in your yard without encouraging rats to nest there too. We’ll look at ways to keep your yard rat-free, how to get rid of any rats you may find, and what the best foods are to feed your local squirrels. Be sure to continue reading if you want to learn more.

Make Your Yard Less Rat-Friendly

Nobody sets out to invite rats into their yard, and in many cases, they will arrive with or without your help. Food scraps, access to a warm, dry place to nest, and bad weather can all lead to a rat problem around your home. The good news is that there are steps you can take to keep these pests from making your home their own.

To start, you will want to make your space less hospitable. If the environment is not to their liking, they will stay away. Here is what you need to do:

  • Remove clutter and hiding spaces: Rats love sneaking around and prefer not to be in the open. If you have less clutter around your yard, they will have fewer places to hide. This might include lawn furniture, bushes, and hedges.
  • Seal off holes: Rats also love to hide under things, so seal off the bases of sheds, driveways, and other surfaces in your yard. That way, they will not be able to make nests in those areas. Look for holes and check if the nest is in use by loosely setting soil or leaves on top of it. If the hole reopens after a day, then an animal is using it.
  • Use tight containers: You should store bird seed or other squirrel food in a container with a tight-fitting lid. That is especially true if you keep the food in your garage or shed. The best practice is to keep the food in the original package and store the whole thing in an airtight bin.
  • Remove garbage properly: Make sure that you are using garbage cans with tight-fitting lids as well. Trash can attract hungry rats, so you want to make sure they can’t get to it or smell it from afar.

By making your yard less appealing to rats, they will be more likely to stay away. However, you will also want to take some additional measures. Rats can quickly adapt to change, meaning the steps above are not enough on their own to deter them.

Use a Special Feeder

There are feeders out there that allow squirrels to access food easily but prevent rats from eating. Squirrels are natural climbers, so you will want to place the feeder up high.

You can install this MIXXIDEA Squirrel Feeder Box on any tree on your property. Install it as high as possible to discourage rats from eating from it. This feeder box also allows you to provide water to the squirrels in your yard. 

Make Sure To Clean the Ground

It is worth noting that a determined rat will still climb a tree if they are hungry. However, rats prefer to eat the food that squirrels drop first. By cleaning the ground each day, you are removing one of the biggest attractions for a rat.

To keep the space tidy and provide easy clean-up, set a bowl or mat under the feeder. Remember to clean it up before you go to bed since rats are more likely to search for food during the night.

Keep the Feeder Away

Next, you will want to keep the feeder a reasonable distance away from any buildings. Ensure that it is not close to your home, garage, shed, or other small structures. If the feeder is too close, rats might be encouraged to enter the building after eating. Rats are uncomfortable in the open, so they will be less likely to steal food if they have to expose themselves for it.

How To Get Rid of Rats in Your Yard

If rats have made a home in your yard, you will want to remove them safely. Using poison is not recommended as it can harm other wildlife in your yard. If you do need to remove rats, make sure that you use traps instead of poisons. Doing so is much safer for the squirrels living in your yard. Plus, this prevents pets and young children from accidentally touching the poison bait.

There are many humane traps you can find online, or you can even make your own. Make sure that you release any rats you catch far away from people’s homes to avoid them making a new home somewhere else.

As mentioned above, keeping your yard clean also helps deter rats. To start, remove all paper materials, grass clippings, and leaves from your yard. Rats will build nests from these materials if they are readily available. 

What You Can Feed Squirrels

Squirrels are not picky eaters, but you still want to give them nutritious food. Doing so keeps them happy, healthy, and bounding around your garden. A healthy diet for a squirrel should consist of nuts, fruits, veggies, and seeds. You do not want to offer them human food.

While squirrels love nuts, you should only feed them the following:

  • Butternuts
  • Pecans
  • Hazelnuts
  • Almonds
  • Unsalted cooked pumpkin seeds

You can also offer your squirrels the following fruits and veggies:

  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Cranberries
  • Peaches
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries
  • Pears
  • Oranges 
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Cranberries
  • Peaches
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries
  • Pears
  • Oranges 
  • Nectarines

The best food to give a squirrel would have to be a rodent block. These blocks contain a variety of healthy nuts and grains for rodents to enjoy. That being said, they can also attract rats, so you will want to ensure that you place the block where rats can not reach.

This video offers plenty of information on what you can feed squirrels safely:

What You Should Not Feed Squirrels

There are certain foods that squirrels have trouble eating or digesting. You will want to avoid giving them the following nuts and seeds:

  • Dried corn
  • Oak seed
  • Pine nuts
  • Cashews
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Raw peanuts

You should also never give squirrels these fruits and vegetables:

  • Dried fruit 
  • Figs and dates
  • Persimmons
  • Raisins and prunes
  • Plums
  • Dried vegetables
  • Bell peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Onion 
  • Yams 
  • Turnips

Never set out junk food for wildlife. Things like chips or other snacks can make a squirrel sick since they can not digest it properly. You can offer them peanut butter on occasion, but it is not something you want to make into a habit.

Though squirrels love both fresh and dry corn, it should not be a regular part of a squirrel’s diet since it offers them no nutrition. You can still give it to them sometimes, but you should make sure they have plenty of other healthy options as well.

Final Thoughts

Many people love to feed the squirrels that live in their backyard as they are cute and fun to watch jumping through the trees. Stick to the foods mentioned above to ensure your squirrels are happy and healthy.

Unfortunately, squirrels also happen to be messy eaters, and rats love all the same foods that squirrels do. If left unchecked, they may also move into your backyard. Be sure to clean up the ground around their special feeders every day so that you do not attract rats. Keep their food high and away from your home.

Anat Goldberg

Hi! My name is Anat and I have lived all my life in the countryside. I grew on a farm in Northern Italy and from an early age, I took care of the animals on the farm and the family garden. Over the years I have developed a growing passion for organic cultivation and pest control.

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