The diet of the Gray Squirrel is extremely varied — from the cambium beneath tree bark, to tree buds, flowers and seeds, mushrooms, fruits, insects, frogs, bird eggs and much more. This year there appears to be a bountiful crop of American Beech nuts and Gray Squirrels will likely have a banner reproductive season next spring and summer as a result of it. Consisting of roughly 50% fat and 20% protein, American Beech nuts are one of the most nutritious seeds to be found. (Acorns are only about 9% protein.)
Historically, beechnuts were a popular food source in both Europe and America. Raw they contain the toxin saponin glycoside, which can cause gastric issues if you eat a large number, but if you’re willing to remove the husks and let the inner nuts dry for several weeks before roasting them, beechnuts can be a tasty delight. Many recipes – from beechnut pie to muffins and stew – can be found on the Internet.
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