California ground squirrel eating spider webs

I observed a California ground squirrel (Otospermophilus beechey) walking along the window sil outside where I work casually eating all of the spider webs he came across. Has anyone observed this behavior before? I wish I would have had my camera to show the video.

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Welcome to the forum! What an interesting thing to see. I’ll be interested to see if anyone has any ideas.

I might guess the squirrel is looking for spiders or insects, but maybe is related to a nutritional need?

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That’s interesting…
I don’t know what would cause this, though I think it’s most likely looking for food in the form of the spiders and other creatures. For all I know though, it could be something more “interesting” like pheromones in the webs, haha

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My cat likes to eat spiderwebs. I think he just likes the texture. He’s a bit weird.

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some cats definitely go out of their way to eat spiderwebs. not sure if they would be particularly tasty or nutritious, but maybe they’re just fun to eat?

Could also be that the squirrel was gathering nesting material, storing the web in its mouth. I wonder…

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the spider silk would be a protein source?

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My guess is that it’s gathering nesting material, but it could be eating spiders too. Were the webs unoccupied?

Wait, squirrels can use spider silk for nest building?
Didn’t know that!

I was inches from the window (and squirrel) as I watched what it was doing to each web as it made its way down the sil. These webs contained the tiniest of spiders, and contained tiny midge and mosquito remains. Not sure if they just got stuck in the web, or were consumed by the tiny spiders. But, the squirrel would just nose in and eat the web. The squirrel had web and pieces of insects all over his snout. Really strange to see up close.

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Here is a snapshot of the webs that the squirrel was eating.

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Well, it may be similar to cats eating spider webs, which seems well known. Most of the articles I skimmed suggested spider webs are nutritious.

https://www.google.com/search?source=hp&ei=1PV1X66HFsbt-gTzzZCQBg&q=cats+eat+spider+webs&oq=cats+eat+spider+webs&gs_lcp=CgZwc3ktYWIQARgAMgIIADIGCAAQFhAeMgYIABAWEB46BQgAELEDOgsILhCxAxDHARCjAjoICC4QsQMQgwE6CAgAELEDEIMBOg4ILhCxAxCDARDHARCjAjoCCC46CAguEMcBEKMCOggILhCxAxCTAjoFCC4QsQM6CAguEMcBEK8BOgUIABCSAzoKCC4QsQMQChCTAjoICAAQFhAKEB5KBQgJEgExSgYIChICMjBQpwlY4yhgwjNoAHAAeACAAXCIAbgMkgEEMTguMpgBAKABAaoBB2d3cy13aXo&sclient=psy-ab

(Sorry, too lazy to tinyurl this)

First thing I thought of was squirrels getting high. Some orbweavers have been found to have neurotoxins. https://www.sciencenews.org/article/spiders-poisonous-webs-neuro-toxins-genes