How Squirrels Crack Open Black Walnuts: A Guide to Their Techniques

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Squirrels are known for their adeptness at finding and storing food. One of the most challenging nuts for squirrels to access is the black walnut, which has a tough outer shell that is difficult to crack open.

Despite this, squirrels have developed a unique method for opening these nuts and accessing the tasty treat inside.

Many people have observed squirrels gnawing on the outer shell of black walnut, but this approach is not very practical.

Instead, squirrels use their powerful jaws to grip the nut and apply pressure until it cracks open. They then use their front teeth to pry the shell apart and access the nutmeat inside. This process requires significant strength and skill, and it is fascinating to watch squirrels in action.

While black walnuts are a challenging food source, squirrels have developed a clever strategy for accessing them.

Using their powerful jaws and front teeth, they can crack open the tough outer shell and enjoy the delicious nutmeat.

Observing squirrels in action can be a fun and educational experience for anyone interested in the natural world.


Squirrel Behavior


Squirrels are known for their love of nuts, and black walnuts are no exception. These small rodents can easily gather, store, and crack open these tough nuts, thanks to their unique behaviors.


Gathering Nuts


Squirrels are opportunistic creatures, and they will gather nuts whenever they are available. They are known to actively forage for nuts during the fall months when nuts are plentiful.

Squirrels will climb trees to access the nuts, which are also known to dig up nuts that have fallen to the ground.

Once they have gathered the nuts, they will carry them in their mouths or paws and return them to their nests.


Storing Nuts


Squirrels are famous for their ability to store nuts for the winter months. They will create a cache of nuts in various locations, including tree hollows, crevices in rocks, and even the ground.

They can remember the location of these caches, even months later, and will retrieve them when they need them.

This behavior is essential for their survival during winter when food is scarce.


Cracking Nuts


Black walnuts are notoriously difficult to crack open, but squirrels have a unique way of getting to the tasty nutmeat inside. They will use their strong jaws to crack open the outer shell and then use their teeth to pry open the inner shell.

They can do this quickly and efficiently and can consume the nutmeat in just a few bites. This behavior is essential for their survival, as nuts provide a valuable source of energy and nutrition.


Black Walnuts


Black walnuts are a popular food source for squirrels. However, these nuts are known for their hard, thick shells, which can be challenging to open.

However, squirrels have developed a unique technique for opening black walnuts to access the nutritious nutmeat.




Black walnuts are characterized by thick, hard shells covered in a green, fleshy husk. The shells are so complex that they can be challenging to open, even with a hammer or nutcracker. However, a small, round nutmeat is inside the shell rich in protein and nutrients.




One of the reasons that black walnuts are so difficult to crack open is their extreme hardness. The shells are made of a dense, fibrous material that is difficult to break apart. As a result, squirrels have developed powerful jaws and teeth that allow them to apply enough pressure to crack open the shell and access the nutmeat inside.

In addition to their hard shells, black walnuts contain a bitter-tasting compound called juglone. This compound can be toxic to some plants and animals, but squirrels can tolerate it and even use it to their advantage.

The nut’s bitterness may help deter other animals from eating it, leaving more food for the squirrels.


Squirrel Techniques




Squirrels have strong, sharp teeth well-suited for cracking open hard shells like those of black walnuts. They use their incisors to make a small hole in the shell, then gnaw away at the opening until it’s large enough to extract the nut inside.

Squirrels’ teeth never stop growing, so they are always sharp and ready for nut-cracking action.




Along with their teeth, squirrels have powerful jaws that can exert much force. For example, they use their jaws to grip the walnut shell while they work on cracking it open.

Squirrels have a unique way of positioning the nut in their mouth to apply pressure from different angles, which helps them crack the shell more easily.




Squirrels’ paws are also essential tools for opening black walnuts. They have strong, dexterous front paws that they use to hold the nut steady while they work on cracking it open.

Squirrels have long, curved claws that help them to grip the shell and hold it in place while they use their teeth and jaws to break it open.

In addition to their front paws, squirrels use their hind paws to help them crack open nuts. They often hold the nut between their front paws and use their hind paws to brace themselves against a tree trunk or other solid object.

This gives them more leverage and helps them to crack the nut open more easily.




After observing squirrels opening black walnuts, it is clear that they have developed a unique and effective method for accessing the nut inside. By using their sharp teeth to create tiny holes in the shell and then using their strong jaws to widen the holes, squirrels can crack open the tough exterior of the black walnut.

While other animals also eat black walnuts, such as deer and raccoons, squirrels are believed to be the most efficient at opening them. This is likely due to their small size and agility, which allows them to easily manipulate the nut and shell with their paws and teeth.

Overall, how squirrels open black walnuts is fascinating and impressive. It is a testament to the ingenuity and adaptability of these small creatures, who have found a way to thrive in various environments and conditions.

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