Discover 12 Animals That Eat Nuts (It’s Not Just Squirrels!)

Written by Jennifer Hollohan
Published: November 27, 2023
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Just about everyone knows that squirrels love their nuts. They spend all summer long searching for these treasures to put up for winter. However, they are not the only animals that enjoy this highly nutritious treat. Plenty of animals seek out the high-fat content and flavor found in nuts. Here are 12 other animals that eat nuts.

1. American Black Bears

Black Bear, Animal Wildlife, Cute, American Black Bear, Photography

Black bears are omnivores that love to gorge themselves on nuts and berries.

©Mandy Fuller Photography/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

It may come as a surprise to learn that American Black Bears (Ursus americanus) eat nuts. However, according to the National Park Service, these tasty treats and berries make up the bulk of the black bear’s diet. Black bears are omnivores and aren’t shy about finding food sources wherever they can. They have a keen sense of smell and are adept at sourcing food high and low. Since these mammals spend a significant portion of their lives in hibernation, they need to build up a supply of fat stores before going down for the winter. Given that, it makes sense they enjoy eating hazelnuts, black walnuts, acorns, and more. 

2. Badgers

Badger, American Badger, Alertness, Animal, Animal Body Part

While badgers primarily dig for


, they also enjoy eating nuts on occasion.

©Photography by Adri/ via Getty Images

Another omnivore is the American badger (Taxidea taxus). But their diet differs fairly significantly from that of the black bear. Badgers prefer earthworms over everything else, which is why some consider them carnivores. However, they also enjoy hunting other animals, including mice, groundhogs, insects, prairie dogs, and more. They only supplement their main diet with items like nuts, animals, or seeds. These feisty animals even give off a slightly offensive scent. Badgers are most common throughout parts of the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

3. Blue Jays

A Blue Jay in Flight

You may not know that blue jays love eating peanuts.

©Fiona M. Donnelly/

Adding nuts to your bird feeder may attract one of the over 17 million blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata). Like other birds, these famous feathered friends love seeds. However, they also have a more expansive diet. Blue jays love eating peanuts. Their strong beaks give them ample leverage to break into the hard shells protecting nuts. Consider adding hazelnuts, hickory nuts, or acorns (if you can source them) to your bird feeder to attract these beautiful birds.

4. Chickadees

Black-capped Chickadee

Chickadees are small birds with big appetites!

©Paul Roedding/

Bird watchers adore tiny chickadees (Poecile atricapillus). Their beautiful colors and lovely singing bring joy to every yard, meadow, and forested area they inhabit. These small birds prefer a diet rich in insect protein and happily hunt for their favorite food. But they also enjoy eating nuts, fruit, and seeds. So, you can keep a ready supply of all items in your bird feeder to attract some new friends.

5. Chipmunks

chipmunk having nuts

Chipmunks love eating peanuts and nuts, which they also store for the winter.


These small omnivores became famous thanks to a kids cartoon. Chipmunks (Tamias) have a relatively short life, only living two to three years. During that time, they take full advantage of all the food they can find. Chipmunks love munching on worms and insects of all kinds. They also enjoy a variety of nuts, fungi, fruits, and seeds. If you want to feed them, stick to the most natural foods possible. But you are most likely to get the opportunity to encounter these small woodland animals if you live near fields, brush, or forests. They are also not shy about raiding bird feeders, as long as the homes are near some slightly wooded areas.

6. Deer

White-tailed deer

White-tailed deer have a surprisingly wide dietary range. They even love eating nuts when they can get them!

©Herbie Pabst/

Anytime you’ve seen deer, like white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), you likely noticed them eating plant matter. They love foraging on trees, shrubs, and grasses. However, their diet is more varied than you may expect. Members of the deer family also thoroughly enjoy fruits, nuts, and seeds. Some of their preferred nuts include hickory nuts, pecans, beachnuts, and acorns.

7. Nuthatches

Birds that look like robins: Red-breasted Nuthatch

Nuthatches are omnivores that enjoy everything from mealworms to nuts.

© Leonard Photography

Nuthatches (Sitta carolinensis) aren’t common throughout the United States, but they hang out in their preferred regions year-round. So, intrepid bird watchers have plenty of opportunities to entice these small birds to their yards. Nuthatches have a varied diet, including peanuts, sunflower chips, mealworms, and seed blends. They are also one of the animals that eat nuts of all kinds! Feel free to pick up a blend featuring all of these treats for your bird feeder.

8. Raccoons

Baby raccoon playing with water in water bowl.

Raccoons also love eating nuts.

©Anne Wright Dobbelsteyn/iStock via Getty Images

Not everyone is a fan of raccoons (Procyon lotor), and it is understandable. After all, they eat everything, including trash. These mammals are not shy about stealing food and have no significant food preferences. Since raccoons are opportunistic feeders, they will even eat other animals. When they don’t have access to human food, they forage for seeds, fruit, shellfish, eggs, plants, and plenty of nuts. If you have bird feeders with nuts in your yard, take them in at night to prevent raccoons from invading the food.

9. Skunks

Young skunk pair

Skunks aren’t picky about their food and will happily eat nuts.

©Lynn_Bystrom/iStock via Getty Images

Nobody wants skunks around. They can often leave a lasting and unwanted impression on unsuspecting people. However, even some of the smelliest in the animal kingdom need to eat. You may not have ever thought about what skunks eat. They are omnivores that don’t think twice about eating things like caterpillars or beetles. Skunks also enjoy scavenging and will gladly eat pet food that gets let out or garbage. They also love anything in gardens, fruit, and nuts. 

10. Squirrels

Squirrel on a Tree Branch

Squirrels will eagerly seek out their favorite foods, including nuts.

©Troy Thomas/iStock via Getty Images

One of the most well-known animals that eat nuts are squirrels. These critters live in several places, including forests, grasslands, and urban areas. Members of the squirrel family live throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia. They also got introduced to Australia. And, no matter where they live, they adapt to the available food. These small mammals need to store up plenty of high-fat food for winter. That is where nuts come in. They can eat over a pound of nuts and seeds weekly. Some of their favorite nuts include acorns, pecans, black walnuts, and hickory nuts.

11. Wild Turkeys

Wild Turkey, Turkey - Bird, Feather, Animals In The Wild, Beard

Wild turkeys have a slightly leaner build than many store-bought birds.

©Lois_McCleary/ via Getty Images

Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) are best known as a favorite Thanksgiving fowl. They are larger birds specifically bred for roasting and eating. But wild turkeys are slightly thinner and leaner since their main goal is surviving. Due to the fact that nuts are high in fat content, they constitute a majority of the wild turkey diets. They are one of the several animals that eat nuts, and they love beechnuts, walnuts, and hickory nuts. You can actually attract wild turkeys to your property by planting nut-producing trees.

12. Wood Ducks

Closeup of the wood duck or Carolina duck. Aix sponsa.

Wood ducks look awfully similar to mallards. They love munching on nuts as part of their main diet.

©Wirestock/iStock via Getty Images

Sometimes, wood ducks (Aix sponsa) get mistaken for mallards at first glance. And it is easy to see why. They do have some similar features, though the wood duck is slightly more distinctive. This bird is most common along the Pacific Coast and in the Southeastern United States. Wood ducks alter their diet based on where they are in their growth cycle. Younger animals focus more on high-protein food sources like fish and invertebrates. Once they’ve grown, the birds switch to a primarily plant-based diet. They love a range of plant matter, seeds, and ample nuts. 

Summary of 12 Animals That Eat Nuts

1American Black Bears
3Blue Jays
11Wild Turkeys
12Wood Ducks

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Carol Hamilton/iStock via Getty Images

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About the Author

Jennifer Hollohan is a writer at A-Z Animals, where her primary focus is on gardening, mammals, and travel. Jennifer has over twenty years of writing experience. She holds a Master of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, which she earned in 2005, and is a Herbalist. Jennifer lives in Colorado with her family. She loves hiking, admiring wildflowers, gardening, and making herbal tea.

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