Which Animals Eat Black Walnuts?

Black walnut trees grow prolifically throughout much of the U.S., and they produce tasty, nutritious food for many forms of wildlife. Have you ever wondered which animals eat black walnuts? Curious to find out more about each type of animal? If so, keep reading as we talk about the various animals that feed on black walnuts.

1. Squirrels

Squirrels are perhaps the most well-known consumers of black walnuts. These tree-dwelling mammals rely on various types of nuts and seeds to get them through the winter, and black walnuts are one of their most common food sources.

Squirrels have sharp teeth and claws that help them break through hard walnut shells and reach the soft inner nut meats. Black walnuts provide lots of fat and nutrients to keep squirrels warm and provide them with the energy their bodies need.

Look at the way this squirrel cracks open a walnut in the video below:

2. Chipmunks

Chipmunks are small brown and black rodents found throughout much of North America. They look similar to small squirrels but spend most of their time on the ground or in burrows.

Like squirrels, chipmunks rely on various types of nuts and seeds to provide them with crucial nutrition, especially during the winter. They can often be seen gnawing through walnut shells and extracting the tasty nut meats inside.

Chipmunks will also gladly eat walnuts that have already been cracked open for them. Check out the following video:

3. Raccoons

Raccoons are another highly common mammal that can be found throughout much of North America. These pesky animals often live in urban areas, getting into trash cans and eating pet food people put out for their outdoor pets.

Raccoons will eat almost anything they can get their paws on, and black walnuts are no exception. Though the shells are hard, their sharp teeth are up to the challenge; raccoons crack open the hard shells with their teeth and eat the nut pieces inside.

Take a look at this adorable video of raccoons eating pre-shelled walnuts that are given to them:

4. Foxes 

Foxes are found throughout much of the world and are widespread in North America. These sly creatures most often come out at night and tend to avoid human contact as much as possible, though they can be domesticated.

Foxes are omnivores, meaning they will eat both meat- and plant-based foods. Walnuts are sometimes a challenge for them because of the hard shells, but they enjoy the taste and will readily eat them if they are available.

Check out this video of a tame fox eating walnuts that her owner feeds her:

5. Bears

There are many different species of bears found throughout the world. Some species, such as the black bear and the grizzly bear, are found in parts of the United States.

Bears love a wide variety of foods, as they require both meat- and plant-based options in their diverse diet. Walnuts can provide a valuable source of fat and nutrients for bears, especially as they prepare to hibernate each fall.

Check out this video of bears eating walnuts:

6. Birds

Many different types of birds throughout the U.S. and beyond enjoy eating walnuts. This is especially true of birds with sharp beaks that can crack open the shells, such as blue jays and woodpeckers.

Many other kinds of birds will also eat shelled walnuts from a feeder if they are available. Walnuts provide a valuable food source for many different kinds of birds, especially during the cold winter months.

Here’s a video of a pet macaw cracking open and eating a walnut:

7. Turkeys

Wild turkeys are a common sight throughout much of North America. Did you know these large ground birds also enjoy eating black walnuts?

Their sharp, powerful beaks are adept at cracking through the hard outer shell and reaching the tasty nut meats found inside. Turkeys eat many other types of food as well, but walnuts are an important food source for them throughout the winter.

Check out this short clip of a wild turkey eating walnuts from a person’s hands:

8. Ducks

Ducks are another common type of bird found throughout the world, and many species are native to the U.S. They thrive on many different kinds of food, including walnuts.

Though their bills are usually not strong enough to crack open hard walnut shells, they enjoy eating walnuts that are shelled and fed to them. 

The duck in the following video enjoys eating pieces of walnuts from its owner’s hand:

9. Honorable Mention: Insects

Though insects rarely eat walnut meats because of their hard shells, there are several types of insects that feed on black walnut trees. These include the fall webworm, the walnut caterpillar, and the ambrosia beetle.

These insects along with various others can cause damage to walnut trees by defoliating them or boring into their trunks and branches. This may stunt a tree’s growth or even kill it over time.

Check out this video of to learn more about walnut caterpillars and how to get rid of them before they cause tree damage:


Many forms of wildlife depend on black walnuts as a tasty source of nutrition and energy; for some, these nuts are even a staple food item. Some of the animals that eat black walnuts include squirrels, raccoons, bears, birds, and wild turkeys.

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