Nut Balls are a compilation of ingredients formulated with the perfect amounts of nutrients to provide the best nutrition possible for hand-raised squirrels. The amounts should not be adjusted, as doing so may cause ill-absorption of the correct nutrients necessary to raise a healthy squirrel.
I do NOT recommend substituting ingredients, this is a tried and true recipe – failure to follow the guidelines can (& probably will) result in the death of the squirrel you are obviously trying to save! Raising a wild animal is NOT cheap, (nor is it legal in most states)- so keep that in mind when your kids friends want to handle your new fuzzy friend in the house. In the event that the squirrel accidentally scratches a kid- it may create a serious legal issue for you. So- heed my advice, don’t let your household guests handle any wild critter you decide to hand raise.
The following is from my own personal experiences of a natural, holistic approach to caring for an orphaned squirrel. The recipe I’m about to share with you was adapted from a lady named Clarissa Summers- from a very valuable website (update, the site is available HERE) It will tell you exactly what TO feed your squirrel and what NOT to Feed your Squirrel (Yes, this list is equally long!!)
This particular recipe is not for baby orphaned squirrels, but rather for squirrels that have already been weaned. The “nut balls” that are available in the stores for hamsters/gerbils are NOT meant for squirrels and WILL cause the death of your squirrel due to the calcium blockers that they contain.
CAUTION: DO NOT OMIT OR SUBSTITUTE INGREDIENTS.
* 1 cup Heinz or Gerbers’ baby Rice cereal – note that it says RICE
* ½ cup ground-up pecans
* 2/3 cup sesame seeds
* 1 Tablespoon Brewers’ Yeast powder**
* 1 Tablespoon Lecithin granulesor 1 teaspoon liquid Lecithin***
* 1½ to 2 heaping teaspoons KAL brand dolomite powder (about 1560-2000 mg. calcium) Dolomite tablets may also be used as long as they are crushed into a fine powder equal to 1 1/2-2 heaping tsp!)
* Vitamin C — 1000 mg. (tablets – powdered by crushing!) – (Do not use powder which is too concentrated)
* 6 – 10 alfalfa tablets, powdered
* 1/4 teaspoon iodized salt
* 1 1/2 tsp Cod liver oil(enough for 6000 I.U’s Vitamin A and 600 I.U.’s Vitamin D) *****
* Vitamin E 600 I.U.’s. ******
* 1 to 2 teaspoons Canola oil, vegetable oil, or olive oil (NOT LARD, NOT SUET)
* Choose from any of a combination of the following optional ingredients to make ½ cup liquid:
o Mashed banana
o Frozen strawberries with syrup or natural juices
o Apple juice concentrate (no water added)
o Canned pears or peaches in light syrup or natural juices
o Pure juice (100%) nectar
o Frozen blueberries (or fresh if available)
In a Medium Mixing bowl combine the following, Ground Pecans, rice flakes, sesame seeds.
In a small bowl combine powdered brewers yeast, dolomite powder, powdered vitamin C, powdered alfalfa, and salt, stirring to blend well.
In a small blender or hand chopper combine the liquid ingredients (the 1/2 c. of fruit of your choice, cod liver oil, vitamin E, canola/veggie oil, lecithin. Whirl it all together until smooth and well blended. Mix the dry vitamin powder into the ground pecan/rice flakes mixture, stirring well.
Pour the liquid ingredients over entire mixture and stir until well combined and a soft dough has been formed. Next, roll the dough into a rectangle or square. As this recipe makes exactly 100 balls, the easiest way to measure these is to print out a graph of 10×10 squares on a piece of paper, tape it the the counter, add a piece of wax paper over the top like so:
Then roll out the dough evenly.
Cut 10 across and 10 down following the lines on the grid.
If you have a food dehydrator that has a temperature setting you can set the nut balls to dry for 4-5 hours at 160F.
Otherwise, you can place them on a foil lined cookie sheet in the sunshine for 2 days. I do not recommend drying these in the oven as you may overheat them and cause a loss of nutrients in the drying process.
Immediately transfer the nutballs to a container and place them in the freezer. Do not store them in the fridge or cupboard as they can develop mold (within the nutball themselves) that can be fatal to your squirrel and the oils can become rancid after a week.
Notes about the Ingredients Listed Above:
All Tablets need to be crushed/ground into a powder before measuring them and adding them to the recipe.
**When Purchasing Brewer’s yeast- you can use tablets. Simply grind tablets with a mortar/pestle until you have a full tablespoon. To be clear- you absolutely CANNOT use BAKERS Yeast or Bread Yeast. It MUST be BREWERS Yeast.
*** Lecithin Capsules can be purchased at most big box stores (Walmart/Target/Kmart) I usually cut the end off them and squeeze the nasty insides out to into a measuring spoon.
****KAL Brand Dolomite Powder- It is imperative to your squirrels health that you do NOT omit this KEY ingredient, nor should you substitute it regardless of what the (untrained!) health food store fools spout off at you. You CANNOT use Bone meal, oyster shell or Egg shell (the WORST choice!!) calcium.
***** Liquid Norwegian Cod Liver oil IS a recommended kind to use. Again, it is absolutely IMPERATIVE that you do NOT use capsules. Cod liver oil provides the necessary Vitamin D to combines with the dolomite powder and other vitamins and minerals so calcium and magnesium can be properly assimilated.
****** Vitamin E 600 I.U’s- It would be best if you could use Food Grade Liquid Vitamin E- however, this is very rarely available and quite difficult to find. I do NOT recommend Cosmetic grade vitamin E. Instead, use 200 IU Vitamin E Capsules- prick a hole in the capsule and squeeze out the innards. You’ll need 3 1/2 full capsules worth.
Benefits of the Nutballs- they add Calcium, fat, Vitamin D, magnesium, phosphorus, Vitamin C (necessary to properly assimilate the calcium!), as well as other vitamins for proper nutrition.
Feed 1-2 Nutballs per squirrel, per day.
Items that you should NOT feed your squirrel at the Same Time as the Nutballs:
Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, green beans, spinach, Turnip greens, whole grains (oats, oatmeal, breads, wheat germ, bran, corn, cornmeal) as these all Prevent Calcium absorption.
Blackberries, Blueberries, Grapes & Strawberries contain oxalic acid which also block calcium absorption.
The entire point of the nutball recipe is to provide the growing squirrel with the appropriate balance of magnesium and calcium.
For a Complete and Detailed Rehabilitation Guide of How to Care for an Orphaned Squirrel, please go Here. (Make yourself a cup of coffee first, it’s a LOT of reading!!)
4 thoughts on “Nut Balls For Squirrels”
I have a lot of questions about these nutballs. Sorry if they’re stupid or basic, but I’m new to wildlife feeding:
1) are they appropriate (or preferred) for the regular wild squirrels (ie all recipes I’ve found make specific references that they are optimal for rescues/orphans);
2) are they appropriate (preferred) for other wildlife such as raccoons and feral cats (again, non-rescue, -orphan);
3) I’ve never read whether squirrels actually seem to like these recipes…do they?
thank you for any comments. these sound great for all wildlife. i don’t have rescues but i also would rather put out a more healthy healthy variety of foods for the guys if they’ll eat it.
They’re safe, but not necessary for healthy wild animals. These are specially formulated for animals in captivity that would otherwise lack proper nutrients from a wild diet.
My Squirrels love them.
Is the nut ball complete nutrition for a pet squirrel? Do they need rodent blocks and veg fruits as well?
Sesame seeds and pecans, if not soaked and/or sprouted first, contain high levels of phytic acids (phytates) that will block calcium absorption just as much as the whole grains and whole grain byproducts you rightly pointed out above.
Also, please be aware that if you give almonds or almond flour to squirrels, these are nearly impossible to find unpasteurized (commercial sales of truly raw almonds has been illegal in the USA since 2007 – “raw” now only means “unroasted”), and thus can’t be soaked or sprouted to reduce calcium-blocking phytates because the natural enzymes in the nut have been killed (sterilized). Instead of sprouting they will only mold. Lastly, non-organic almonds are pasteurized using a chemical called PPO (instead of steam) which has been shown to cause tumors and, eventually, death in rodents.