You’ve heard them chattering and seen them scampering over branches. Maybe you’ve noticed them burying nuts in the ground. Tree squirrels are loud and lively and eat almost anything from fruit to nuts. And that includes bark.
Squirrels use bark along with leaves and grass to line their nests in tree cavities and branches. They also gnaw on bark to help clean and sharpen their teeth. Kind of like brushing and flossing. They have long, front incisors with sharp edges to help them chew through soil and roots, on nuts and wood, and cut grass. For most, these teeth never quit growing and require grooming. When the bark is removed squirrels will also snack on the exposed cambrium layer of the tree for a salty snack and other nutrients. If too much of this layer is exposed on tree branches or trunks, it can kill the tree.
There is some research that suggests expectant mother squirrels may chew on the bark in the nest to manage labor pain. Their mid-winter litters will be leaving the nest soon. Watch young squirrels feeding on buds and running around parks and backyards.
Learn more about the squirrels that roam throughout the state in Xplor Magazine.