Last updated on October 23rd, 2022
What eats acorns? One of the questions on everyone’s mind that brought you here.
I came across something unique in a wildlife magazine the other day, which got me thinking about the diet followed by animals.
Many herbivorous animals are also known to consume nuts to supplement their need for minerals, calcium, and vitamins and it surprised me because I always thought that smaller creatures like squirrels and chipmunks consume nuts.
But do you know that even bigger animals like deer and pigs actively seek out nuts, especially acorns, to supplement their diet?
Animals that eat acorns:
- Blue Jays
List of animals that eat acorns
If oak trees come to mind, surely you’ll soon think of acorns! Be it the red, white, or chestnut oaks; these trees are covered in acorns following maturity.
For example, from early September to early October, the chestnut oak will be covered in acorns.
As fall approaches, these trees will start dropping acorns, and the fruit will attract deer.
The primary reason why deer are attracted to acorns is due to the lack of other food sources during winter, and since it’s a good source of carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, the deer will have adequate nutrition during this season.
Deer are also heavy feeders, making it necessary for the creature to consume a large amount of food.
The acorn is low in protein and high in carbohydrates and fat. 100 grams of acorns has an average of 41 grams of carbohydrates, and 24 grams of fat.
This makes it ideal for the deer to eat during winter when their consumption levels of fats and carbohydrates increase.
Chipmunks are known to be hoarders, and they love collecting various types of nuts. One of the nuts that chipmunks love collecting is acorns.
According to National Geographic Kids, it’s known that a chipmunk can gather up to 165 acorns in a day.
Acorns have healthy fats, and chipmunks need to consume large amounts of fats to maintain their body weight, especially during the winter season.
If you observe the creature running around in your garden, you’ll know that they exhaust a lot of energy which is why they’ll need to consume several calories in a day.
Acorns are known to be calorie-dense nuts. A mere 28 grams of acorns have 110 calories, making it ideal for chipmunks to consume.
Another reason why chipmunks consume acorns is to store fat for hibernation during winter. Like squirrels, chipmunks store nuts in dens or hollows in trees in anticipation of winter.
They depend on this hoard of nuts to help them hibernate throughout winter.
The acorn’s high fat and carbohydrate content ensures that the chipmunks don’t lose too much body fat during winter.
Opossums are omnivorous creatures that belong to the marsupial family, and they’re also known to consume various types of nuts.
These creatures are often seen scourging for acorns under oak trees. One of the reasons why opossums eat acorns is because of the tough leathery shells which help them file their teeth.
Since possums belong to the marsupial family, their teeth will continue to grow throughout their lives. However, it’s necessary for them to file their teeth to keep the length in control.
So if you have a pet opossum, you’ll probably be taking it to get its teeth burred. However, in the wild, an opossum does it by biting on various types of nuts.
In places like Minnesota, Maine, Texas, Alabama, and Georgia, you’ll find oak trees in abundance which makes it an ideal spot to come across an opossum.
4. Blue Jays
Blue jays are known for collecting acorns since it’s one of the different types of nuts that they actively seek out. You’ll find blue jays foraging for acorn seeds through the autumn months.
Once the birds have found suitable acorn seeds, they can fly long distances before dropping the seeds or consuming them.
The unique gullets of the jays are capable of carrying 2-3 acorn seeds in a single flight.
The primary reason why blue jays seek out acorn seeds is because of the high-calorie value of this particular nut.
The bird exhausts a significant amount of energy during its long flights, and it needs to replenish these calories on reaching its destination.
This makes the acorn a suitable nut to be consumed and replenish the lost calories. The blue jay is also a hoarder and is particularly known to hoard acorns.
In some cases, a blue jay can hoard up to 3000 acorn seeds in tree hollows or holes in the ground.
The acorns being produced in a certain area during the fall season will determine the number of blue jays present to hoard them.
During the winter months when food availability is low due to drought conditions and snow cover, blue jays will stock up on this nut by filling tree hollows with them to consume later down.
Badgers are unique creatures because their food habit varies. A badger can survive on almost anything, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and insects.
This unique creature can even hunt small animals like rats, mice, and toads when necessary. However, badgers are known to be fond of nuts, especially acorns.
Research shows that despite being a small creature, a badger tends to exhaust a significant amount of energy for survival.
Be it to hunt, forage for food, or even breeding, a badger uses extensive energy. It needs to replenish this lost energy by consuming calorie-dense food rich in fat.
On the other hand, if you’re planning to take pictures of badgers, you can place acorns close by to attract the creature.
Squirrels too, love to gather up and store acorns. However, unlike chipmunks, squirrels don’t always consume acorns.
The primary reason for this is that acorns have tannin, which has a bitter taste, and this makes acorns inconsumable for squirrels.
The tannin in the acorns acts as a deterrent and prevents other small animals from attacking the squirrel’s hoard of nuts.
However, squirrels prefer to consume the seeds of the white oak since this has a lower amount of tannin.
Therefore, they tend to store the seeds of the white oaks whenever they get their hands on them.
Squirrels also tend to store acorns to prepare for winter and since they don’t hibernate, the creature will need to stock up on food supply for this season.
In winter, when food isn’t available, the squirrel has to depend on its hoard of nuts to help it survive through winter.
Pigs are also known to consume large amounts of acorns. In the wild, pigs are known to forage on plant matter, insects, worms, eggs, and acorns.
Animal experts believe that pigs consume acorns not only because they’re heavy feeders but to fulfill their need for various minerals and vitamins.
Pigs expend quite a lot of energy on a daily basis and to recoup the exhausted energy, they’ll consume foods that can restore their energy levels.
Pigs can consume nearly 15-20 pounds of acorns to gain weight and supplement the fat content of their body.
However, when pigs are bred, farmers need to remember that they shouldn’t give raw acorns to pigs.
Instead, ripe acorns can be fed to pigs as these are less toxic, and the amount of tannin in the mature seeds will be less.
Moose are herbivores, which means they’re on a plant-based diet. However, simple foliage and tree leaves aren’t sufficient to help the moose store fat.
The fats and starch from the acorns are stored in the form of fat in preparation for winter.
When the oak trees drop the ripe acorns during autumn, you’ll find herds of moose foraging for the seeds. However, during the winter months, the moose will go through a cycle of feeding and resting.
Additionally, the bulk of their energy is exhausted during the winter months which causes them to seek out food supplies that can restore their energy levels.
Moose are animals that can easily adapt to seasonal changes that occur in their habitat and the animal is always searching for food rich in fat which makes acorns the best alternative.