The University of Houston is home to a rare breed of squirrels. Unlike normal squirrels that run if you so much as look in their direction, our squirrels practically step on your feet, get on their hind-legs and stick their hands up for you to feed them. People feed squirrels their leftovers and scraps all the time as their ploys for food can be irresistibly cute. While interacting with wild animals may not be condoned, here are some ways to keep our squirrels safe and healthy so their cuteness can be admired for days to come.
- If you’ve ever learned anything about squirrels, it’s probably that they love nuts. While they’re a snack favorite, it’s important that they aren’t heavily salted. Salt can be damaging to the squirrels — it can also be damaging to people. Nuts in the shell are best for them.
- Squirrels are curious and intelligent. They know very well that any sudden movement by a human could cause injury, so they will always be slightly wary. If you are trying to feed a squirrel, the most important thing is to understand their wariness, and do all you can to show them you mean them no harm.
- Much like humans, squirrels love junk-food. But also like humans, this can be very bad for them. Throw your left over burgers and tacos in the trash to avoid obesity and illness in the squirrels.
- Squirrels are predominantly herbivores, so they will eat vegetables. Many squirrels love to eat apples, peas, watermelon, grapes, broccoli and squash.
- Always let the squirrel decide how close to come. When you walk toward a squirrel, stop ten to fifteen feet from the squirrel. You can click your mouth to encourage the squirrel to come closer, but when the squirrel stops, let that be their choice. Gently toss the food so it lands in front of the squirrel. Try to aim for a spot where there is no deep grass or leaves. That will make it easier for the squirrel to see the food.
- While their presence is enjoyed by many, some people don’t appreciate the distraction when they’re eating or studying. Outside Einstein Bros Bagels is a popular place for squirrels to hang out because of the amount of scraps they can find and the people feeding them their leftovers, but out of respect for others, avoid feeding squirrels in areas that people use to study, eat or hang out.