Updated: Sep 14
It's Your Backyard, So Shouldn’t Feeding Squirrels Be Your Decision?
Do you love to feed squirrels? Maybe you have squirrel feeders on your deck or hanging from your tree branches. If you’re getting strange looks and glares from neighbours or are now hearing noise in the attic, these may result from your love of feeding squirrels. Consider the information in this article if you are debating whether or not you'll continue feeding wild animals.
The City of Brampton is committed to establishing a safe and healthy living environment for all its citizens with the enactment of Property Standards By-law 165-2022. This bylaw sets out minimum standards to ensure proper maintenance and occupancy conditions are met across all properties within city limits ensuring each residence can experience comfort, security, and peace of mind in their own homes!
Enforcement for feeding furry creatures in the backyard is another matter. The situation would likely have to be extreme and ongoing, causing issues with neighbours for fines to be issued.
Bird feeders that are off the ground and house the seed properly are perfectly legally as long as the ground beneath is kept clean and tidy.
Property Standards Bylaw
According to part 5 of the Property Standards Bylaw, the EXTERIOR MAINTENANCE STANDARDS - YARDS; It technically is going against a Brampton By-Law to feed squirrels and other wildlife. The Bylaw states that "Every Yard Must Be Kept Clean And Free Of Food, Water, Or Other Substance Intended To Attract Wildlife," and "Refuse, Or Organic Waste Not Contained Within A Proper Receptacle," so leaving peanuts, bird seed or breadcrumbs scattered about in the backyard could lead to a fine.
Section 7 is the General Maintenance and Storage act and lists a number of restrictions and requirements for homeowners, a few main points are as follows:
Homeowners need to ensure that their yards are kept in a hygienic, safe condition by preventing the presence of hazardous objects and materials
Animal excrement, waste not contained within proper receptacles (except for compost heaps)
Derelict furniture or appliances left outdoors as well as holes around the property which may pose potential health risks.
Food intended to attract wildlife (birds) should be placed only in containers above ground level - this will help avoid rodent and insect infestations.
Feeding squirrels, raccoons, skunks and other wildlife is generally discouraged, as it can lead to dependence on human-provided food, disrupting the animals' natural foraging behaviours and making them less able to survive on their own. Additionally, feeding wildlife can increase their populations and lead to conflicts between animals and humans. It is recommended to contact the local animal control for information on the bylaws specific to your location.
Bird Feeders Play A Role In The Life Of An Urban Squirrels Food Sources
Since it's not illegal to feed birds from bird feeders in Brampton and being a favourite past time for many Brampton residents, you’ll find them in almost every other backyard in each neighbourhood. Birdbaths provide fresh water, bird feeders provide a constant food supply so you can expect squirrels to be close by.
Is it ok to feed Birds All Year Long?
Although it can be tempting for most people with a bird feeder to feed their feathered friends all year round, it is not always wise. Feeding birds outside of their natural cycle is detrimental to the bird population; it disrupts the timing of natural events such as migration and courtship. According to the experts, bird food shortages can occur when people do not adhere to recommended guidelines for bird feeding or when natural sources become limited due to drought or other ecological imbalances. It is always best to check with a local bird sanctuary or wildlife center before making any decisions that might affect your local bird populations, as they will have access to the most accurate information concerning the needs of your area’s birds.
15 Foods Natural To A Squirrels Diet
Squirrels have specialized diets which help them stay healthy. Tree flowers, fruit, tree buds, bird eggs and more. Several varieties of tree bark can even be late winter food sources for the Eastern Gray Squirrel and Fox Squirrel. This varied diet gives squirrels options which keep their coat, bones and teeth healthy.
Bird Eggs - Not the first squirrel food you would think of but the proteins and fats inside bird eggs will attract squirrels to feed on for a healthy meal. The calcium in bird eggshells is important in for staving off metabolic bone disease.
Berries (such as blackberries, raspberries, and wild strawberries)
Fruits (such as apples, plums, and peaches)
Seeds (such as sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds)
Nuts (such as Brazil nuts and macadamia nuts)
Hickory Nuts - Bitternut Hickory trees are found in Southern Ontario and are a treat for squirrels if they have them in their vicinity. It’s been reported that squirrels often eat all the nuts from an entire tree before moving on to the next one.
Insects (such as beetles and caterpillars)
If You Must Feed Squirrels, There Are Certain Foods You Should Never Give Them
Keeping a backyard squirrel around can be a joyful experience, but some treats and even certain foods from your garden are best not given to these wild animals. If you prefer to keep squirrels safe and healthy, then avoid feeding them your own food found in your kitchen. Fried chicken, raw potatoes, and candy are just a few food items that should never be offered to squirrels. Overfeeding squirrels strawberries, oranges, or other fruits high in sugar can also cause health problems. Refined bread products like bagels and crackers should also be avoided since they don't provide any nutrients. Additionally, raw peanuts are too high in fat for squirrels to eat safely, while corn is hard to digest. Even pet food can lead to serious consequences if fed excessively. Opt for natural grains such as oats or barley if you'd like your squirrel visitors to have a treat instead of nuts and sunflower seeds.
Some of the stated foods might draw in other wildlife or a potential predator that might catch and eat the squirrels and other small mammals. Coyotes sniffing around your yard in search of leftovers can threaten people and pets.
With the right knowledge about what's safe and the proper balance for feeding these furry critters, you'll make sure their visits remain nostalgic memories instead of stressful visits with an unwell wild animal.
What Would Happen If You Suddenly Stop Feeding Squirrels?
When squirrels are accustomed to being fed human food, they can begin to rely on those extra snacks to survive. If people suddenly stop feeding them, the squirrels will struggle to find enough natural resources like nuts and berries to sustain themselves. In desperation, squirrels may begin ransacking bird feeders and raiding garbage cans in search of food. While this behaviour satisfies their need for sustenance in the short-term, it can be detrimental in the long run when these animals become comfortable around humans and enticed by readily available snacks that don’t provide the necessary nutrition they needs. Therefore, if people wish to continue appreciating these animals from a distance, it's best if we all be wary about feeding them in the first place.
Best 3 Reasons Not To Feed Squirrels In Your Backyard
1. Over-Feeding: Over-feeding squirrels peanuts can lead to health problems for the animals, such as obesity and even death due to malnutrition.
2. Unnatural Foods: Introducing unnatural foods into a squirrel's diet, like bread or processed snacks, is unhealthy and will not provide for their nutritional needs and can also cause digestive problems, disrupting their natural feeding habits. Squirrels love junk food, but too much can hurt squirrels and even cause metabolic bone disease because of the lack of calcium in the wrong foods.
3. Unnecessary Human Contact: Feeding squirrels in residential areas can cause them to lose their natural fear of people, leading to increased presence in the local area and unnecessary contact between them and humans. The more time a squirrel spends in your backyard, the more likely damage will occur, such as chewed fence posts, tree branches, and window sills are all a target because squirrels keep their teeth healthy by chewing wood; if not, their teeth would get too long, making it hard for them to survive.
It is important to remember that if you choose to feed squirrels, it should be done responsibly and with caution. Squirrels are wild animals after all, and they can easily transmit parasites and diseases.
The Ethics Of Feeding Squirrels In Residential Areas.
Feeding squirrels can lead to an increase in the presence of animals in residential areas. This can be perceived as a nuisance for some neighbours, especially if said squirrels end up nesting in the neighbouring attics since they prefer to live close to their food source. It's important to understand that feeding wild squirrels will attract other pests into your backyard, such as rats and mice. People should also take caution when interacting with wildlife, as they can easily transmit diseases to humans. If feeding squirrels in residential areas is done responsibly, it can be a great way to appreciate and enjoy nature while keeping both the animals and people safe.
A Look Into The Downside Of Feeding Squirrels
A great way to help you decide if feeding squirrels in your backyard is a bad idea is to consider the cost of hiring a pest control or animal control company if your pastime becomes a pest infestation. Semi-detached homes and townhomes will share the pest problem once squirrels, rats or mice enter the structure, causing headaches and extra bills for its occupants. Fleas, mites or other parasites are always present in squirrel, bird and rat nests so encouraging animals to frequent your yard is inviting in unnecessary health risks. Being a respectful neighbour can require sacrifice, effort and common sense; no blasting music at all hours of the night, maintaining a tidy yard free of garbage and not leaving seeds and nuts scattered about the property from feeding squirrels, which attracts pests.
Feeding raccoons and squirrels in Brampton, Ontario, should be done with caution and respect for the animals and people in your neighbourhood. Doing your research helps you make an informed decision about whether or not feeding squirrels and other animals on your property is the best choice.