Do Squirrels Eat Milkweed? Exploring the Diet of Urban Wildlife

Welcome to our article on the fascinating world of squirrels and their dietary habits. Today, we will delve into the question: do squirrels eat milkweed? As we explore the diet of urban wildlife, we will uncover the surprising relationship between squirrels and this common North American plant. So, let’s dive right in!

Key Takeaways:

  • Squirrels are omnivores and do eat milkweed, consuming its leaves, shoots, flowers, and seeds.
  • Milkweed provides a rich source of fat and protein for squirrels, contributing to their nutritious and diverse diet.
  • While not typically part of their wild diet, squirrels happily munch on milkweed if available, taking advantage of its nutritional benefits.
  • Milkweed flowers and stems offer resting spots and nesting materials for squirrels, especially during winter months.
  • Understanding squirrel behavior and providing a suitable habitat, such as planting milkweed, can support urban wildlife and contribute to nature’s balance.

Do Squirrels Eat Milkweed Seeds?

When it comes to squirrels and milkweed, the seeds are a definite favorite. Squirrels are known to enjoy consuming the entire seed pod of milkweed, attracted by the ripened fruit that provides an easily accessible source of food. These seeds are highly valued by squirrels due to their rich content of fat and protein, essential for their dietary needs.

In fact, squirrels not only eat milkweed seeds immediately but also store them for later use. They often bury milkweed seeds alongside acorns or other nuts as a means of food storage. This behavior helps them prepare for scarcity in winter months when food sources may be limited, ensuring they have a reliable supply of nourishment.

By consuming milkweed seeds, squirrels not only meet their nutritional requirements but also benefit from the energy and sustenance they provide. These seeds serve as a valuable food source, contributing to the overall health and well-being of squirrels in urban environments.

Table: Nutritional Content of Milkweed Seeds

Nutrient Content per 100g
Protein 29g
Fat 35g
Carbohydrates 34g
Fiber 5g
Calcium 100mg
Iron 3mg

The table above showcases the nutritional value of milkweed seeds per 100 grams. As mentioned, they are a great source of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, providing squirrels with the necessary energy to thrive. Additionally, milkweed seeds contain calcium and iron, contributing to the squirrels’ overall health and well-being.

Do Squirrels Eat Milkweed Flowers, Leaves, And Stems?

squirrels eating milkweed flowers

Squirrels are known for their diverse and adaptable diets. While milkweed flowers, leaves, and stems may not be their preferred food, squirrels will happily consume them if they are available. These parts of the milkweed plant are rich in nutrients and can provide valuable sustenance for squirrels, especially during periods of scarcity or when other food sources are limited.

When it comes to milkweed leaves, squirrels are attracted to their high protein content, vitamins, calcium, and carotenoids. Although not commonly part of their wild diet, squirrels will readily munch on milkweed leaves if they are accessible. The flowers and stems of milkweed also play a role in supporting squirrels, as they provide resting spots and nesting materials, particularly during the winter months.

While squirrels may have a preference for certain types of food, including milkweed flowers, leaves, and stems in their diet offers them a variety of nutritional benefits. By consuming these plant parts, squirrels can supplement their diet and ensure they are getting the necessary nutrients to thrive.

The Benefits of Including Milkweed in a Squirrel’s Diet

Milkweed flowers, leaves, and stems offer valuable nutrients that contribute to a squirrel’s overall health and well-being. Additionally, including a diverse range of food sources in their diet can support their natural instincts and promote a balanced ecosystem.

Benefits of Milkweed to Squirrels
Nutritional Value
High in protein, vitamins, calcium, and carotenoids
Nesting Materials
Flowers and stems provide materials for nests
Resting Spots
Flowers and stems offer places for squirrels to rest

By planting milkweed in your yard or garden, you can create a habitat that supports squirrels and other wildlife. Providing squirrels with access to milkweed flowers, leaves, and stems ensures their nutritional needs are met while also contributing to a thriving ecosystem.

How to Deter Squirrels from Eating Milkweed in Your Yard

Squirrels can be voracious eaters and may see your milkweed plants as a tasty treat. If you want to protect your milkweed from squirrels, there are several effective methods you can try. Here are some squirrel deterrents that can help keep these furry visitors away from your yard:

Physical Barriers

Physical barriers such as fences, netting, and chicken wire can be highly effective in preventing squirrels from accessing your milkweed plants. These barriers create a barrier that squirrels cannot easily climb or get through, keeping them away from the plants.

Spices and Oils

Squirrels have a keen sense of smell, so using strong scents such as cayenne pepper, chili flakes, or capsaicin-based oils can help deter them from eating your milkweed. Simply sprinkle these spices or oils around the plants to make them less appealing to squirrels.

Ultrasonic Devices and motion-activated sprinklers

While ultrasonic devices may not be as effective in deterring squirrels as other methods, motion-activated sprinklers can startle squirrels and discourage them from approaching your milkweed. These devices typically spray a burst of water when they detect motion, which can be effective in keeping squirrels away.

Live Traps and Feeding Area Cleanup

If you prefer a humane approach, you can use live traps to catch squirrels and release them elsewhere. Make sure to check the regulations in your area regarding trapping and relocating wildlife. Additionally, keeping your feeding areas clean and removing fallen seeds or bird food varieties can help reduce the attraction for squirrels to your yard.


By implementing these squirrel deterrent methods, you can protect your milkweed plants and encourage a healthy balance between urban wildlife and your garden. Remember to choose deterrents that align with your personal beliefs and values, and always prioritize the well-being of both squirrels and your milkweed plants.

The Benefits of Milkweed to Squirrels

Milkweed plants offer numerous benefits to squirrels, contributing to their well-being and survival. One of the key advantages of milkweed is its nutritional value. The leaves of milkweed contain high levels of protein, vitamins, and minerals, providing squirrels with a nourishing and balanced diet. This nutrient-rich vegetation helps support their overall health and vitality.

In addition to its nutritional benefits, milkweed also provides nesting materials for squirrels. The flowers and stems of milkweed serve as natural camouflage and offer ideal hiding spots for squirrels to build their nests, especially during the winter months when food sources are scarce. By utilizing milkweed as nesting materials, squirrels can create safe and secure habitats for themselves and their young.

Planting milkweed in your yard not only benefits squirrels but also contributes to the overall diversity of wildlife in the area. By attracting squirrels, you create a thriving ecosystem that supports the balance of nature. Squirrels play an essential role in seed dispersal, helping to regenerate plant populations. By providing milkweed as a food source and nesting material, you are actively contributing to the well-being of squirrels and the ecological health of your surroundings.

Benefits of Milkweed to Squirrels:

  • Provides a nutritious diet with high protein, vitamins, and minerals
  • Offers natural nesting materials, creating safe and secure habitats
  • Contributes to the overall balance and diversity of wildlife
  • Aids in seed dispersal and plant regeneration
Benefits Description
High Nutritional Value Milkweed leaves provide squirrels with essential protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Nesting Materials Milkweed flowers and stems serve as natural camouflage and nesting materials for squirrels, offering protection and shelter.
Ecosystem Support By attracting squirrels, milkweed contributes to the overall balance and diversity of wildlife in the area.
Seed Dispersal Squirrels aid in the dispersal of milkweed seeds, helping to regenerate plant populations.

Do Squirrels Prefer Certain Types of Milkweed?

When it comes to their preference for milkweed, squirrels have been known to show a fondness for certain species. While not all squirrels will have a preference, some species may seek out specific types of milkweed due to their sweetness and nutritional content. Common milkweed, swamp milkweed, and butterfly weed are popular varieties of milkweed that squirrels are particularly drawn to.

Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is a well-known choice for squirrels. This species is known for its large, round seed pods and the sweet nectar it produces. Squirrels are attracted to the ripe pods, which contain an abundance of seeds. Additionally, the sap of the common milkweed can be a valuable food source for squirrels when other food options are scarce.

Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) is another variety that squirrels tend to favor. This species produces clusters of pink flowers that are rich in nectar. Squirrels are attracted to both the flowers and the seed pods of the swamp milkweed. The seeds provide a nutritious source of food, while the flowers offer a sweet treat.

Table: Popular Milkweed Varieties for Squirrels

Milkweed Species Squirrel Popularity
Common Milkweed High
Swamp Milkweed Medium
Butterfly Weed Low

Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is also a milkweed species that squirrels may consume, but it is not as commonly preferred as the previous two varieties. This species produces vibrant orange flowers and offers nectar for pollinators. While squirrels may occasionally snack on the seeds of butterfly weed, it is not their top choice.

By planting a variety of milkweed species in your yard, you can attract a diverse range of squirrels and provide them with a delicious and nutritious food source. Additionally, milkweed plants offer nesting materials and resting spots for squirrels, further enhancing their appeal to these furry creatures.


In summary, squirrels do exhibit preferences when it comes to milkweed varieties. Common milkweed, swamp milkweed, and butterfly weed are among the popular choices for squirrels. By cultivating these plants in your yard, you can create an enticing habitat for squirrels and support their nutritional needs.


In conclusion, squirrels play an important role in the natural balance of our environment, and their diet includes the consumption of milkweed. This versatile plant offers squirrels a nutritious diet, with its leaves providing protein, vitamins, and minerals. Milkweed flowers and stems also serve as resting spots and nesting materials for squirrels, especially during times of food scarcity.

By understanding the dietary preferences of squirrels and the benefits of milkweed, we can create a habitat that supports these urban wildlife creatures. Planting milkweed in our yards not only provides squirrels with essential resources, but it also contributes to the overall balance of nature.

As responsible stewards of our environment, let us embrace the presence of squirrels and the role they play in our ecosystem. By nurturing their well-being through the availability of milkweed and other suitable habitats, we can ensure the continued success and thriving of these fascinating creatures in our urban landscapes.