What Animals Eat Acorns?

Written by: Annemarie Dutton
Last updated on:

Acorns are large, nut-like seeds produced by oak trees and are a food source for various animal species.  

You can split acorns into white oak and red oak acorns. 

White oak acorns are tastier than the bitter red oak acorn because they contain fewer tannins giving acorns a bitter flavor.  However, many species eat both varieties of acorns.

This article will focus on the question: Which animals eat acorns?  If you are interested to find out, please read on.

Do Birds Eat Acorns?

Blue jays and woodpeckers carry and hide whole acorns but must peck them open to eat them, while wild turkeys, mallards, and wood ducks swallow acorns whole.

If you want to attract small-billed birds like chickadees, titmice, and nuthatches to your garden, you can smash the acorns open to draw them near and more easily partake in the feed.

Do Mammals Eat Acorns?

Although the common tree squirrels have an exceptional affinity for acorns, many mammals eat acorns.  

Many native tribes throughout history have eaten acorns, and even today, some people process acorns and grind them into flour or paste for use in various recipes. 

Humans must first prepare acorns before consumption, which includes shelling them and soaking them for a long time to leach out the bitter tannins and make them edible.

Insects and Acorns

Some insect species eat acorns, including the long-snouted and short-snouted acorn weevil. 

The long-snouted weevil drills holes in the acorn to eat the flesh and lay its eggs on the spot. 

The larvae, in turn, feed on acorns as they grow. 

Once vacant, acorn moths use these same holes to lay their eggs, producing caterpillars that feed on the acorns.

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Some Fascinating Animals That Eat Acorns:

Squirrels

Yes, squirrels eat acorns. A squirrel’s main diet comprises acorns, seeds, berries, and nuts.

Acorns are rich in energy, at 387kcal per 100g, and other nutrients, plus they are easy to open. Hence, squirrels take less time to eat acorns than other harder nuts.

If they are not eating an oak nut, they are busy storing them for use during winter.

Squirrels commonly eat white and red oak acorns. They eat around 85% of white oak tree nuts and hoard 60% of acorns from a red oak tree. That may be due to the high tannin content in a red oak nut.

Deer

These trees are covered in acorns following maturity, be they red, white, or chestnut oaks.

As fall approaches, oak trees will start dropping the acorns, and the fruit will attract deer.

The primary reason deer are attracted to acorns is the lack of other food sources during winter. However, 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 much food.

The acorn is low in protein and high in carbohydrates and fat.

This makes it ideal for the deer to eat during winter when their consumption levels of fats and carbohydrates increase.

Moose

Moose are herbivores, which means 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, moose herds start foraging the seeds. However, during the winter months, the moose will go through 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 adapt to seasonal changes in their habitat, and the animal is always searching for food rich in fat which makes the acorn the best alternative.

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Chipmunks

Chipmunks are known to be hoarders, and they love collecting various types of nuts. One of the nuts that chipmunks love collecting is acorns.

Chipmunks 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.

Acorns are known to be calorie-dense nuts. A mere 28 grams of acorns has 110 calories, making it ideal for chipmunks to consume.

Another reason 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.

Blue Jays

Blue jays are known for collecting acorns since it’s one of the different types of nuts that they actively seek out. So you’ll find blue jays foraging for acorn seeds through autumn.

Once the birds have found suitable acorn seeds, they can fly long distances before dropping them or consuming them.

The unique gullets of the jays can carry 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 upon reaching its destination.

Badgers

Badgers are unique creatures because their food habits vary. A badger can survive on almost anything: fruits, nuts, vegetables, and insects.

Badgers are unique creatures that can hunt small animals like rats, mice, and toads when necessary. However, badgers are known to be fond of nuts, especially acorns.

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 breed, a badger uses extensive energy. Therefore, it needs to replenish this lost energy by consuming calorie-dense food rich in fat.

Pigs

Pigs are known to consume large amounts of acorns. In addition, pigs are known to forage on plant matter, insects, worms, eggs, and acorns in the wild.

Pigs consume acorns not only because they’re heavy feeders but to fulfill their need for various minerals and vitamins.

Pigs use a lot of energy daily, and to replace the exhausted energy, they’ll consume foods that can restore their energy levels.

Pigs can consume almost 15-20 pounds of acorns to gain weight and supplement the fat content of their body.

Conclusion

Above, we mentioned only a few animals that eat acorns.  Animals usually eat and stock up on acorns during the autumn months to build up their fat layers to carry them through winter.

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