Animals that regularly eat seeds as part of their diets are called granivores. These animals can be birds, insects, or mammals, and serve important functions when it comes to dispersing plants across their habitat. There are several pets that enjoy eating various types of seeds as well.
12 Animals That Eat Seeds
Here are 12 common granivores found throughout North America, ranging from pets to wild animals, in no particular order.
1. Red Squirrel
- Scientific name: Sciurus vulgaris
- Diet: seeds, berries, vegetation
Red squirrels commonly feed on seeds and similar types of food. These small mammals are known for gathering food and leaving it hidden in piles around their nest. Squirrels do this in preparation for winter and hibernation. They are also able to store large amounts of seeds and other food inside pouches on their cheeks. These animals will eat seeds, as well as berries and vegetation.
- Scientific name: Tamias
- Diet: various seeds, nuts, berries, insects
Chipmunks are similar to red squirrels, but are smaller and are brownish with black markings. These rodents will eat various types of seeds, including pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds. They can store food in their cheek pouches and will hide small piles to help them survive winter. Just like squirrels, chipmunks are known to hibernate during cold months.
- Scientific name: Psittaciformes
- Diet: seeds, grain
Parrots, both in the wild and when kept as pets, enjoy seeds from a range of fruits. These birds will eat cherry seeds, grape seeds, and raspberry seeds. Parrots can also eat grain. In the wild, they can also prey on insects, vegetables, and fruit. Pet parrots can be fed bird seed from the store, which is usually a mix of grain, pellets, and seeds.
4. Bean Weevil
- Scientific name: Bruchinae
- Diet: seeds, beans
There are plenty of insects that will feed on seeds. The bean weevil got its name because they prefer to feed on beans and bean seeds. These insects can become a pest in crop fields, and often exterminators need to be called to handle them. The larvae of these bugs are born inside bean seeds, making them capable of extensive crop damage.
- Scientific name: Cricetinae
- Diet: seeds, nuts
Hamsters can be found in the wild, but have also become popular pets. Captive and wild hamsters enjoy seeds and nuts as a major part of their diet. Pet hamsters can easily be fed a mix of commercial food, while wild hamsters have to fend for themselves.
Like other rodents, their cheeks can hold a lot of food at one time, making it easier for them to forage. Wild hamsters might also eat vegetation and insects.
- Scientific name: Formicidae
- Diet: seeds, plant matter
Ants are not the first animals people think of when thinking of animals that eat seeds. These insects feed on a variety of seeds and have even been credited with helping spread certain types of plants and flowers. Ants are even known to favor certain seeds over others, and won’t even bother with the seeds they don’t like.
- Scientific name: Mus musculus
- Diet: seeds, plant matter, grain
Mice are similar to hamsters when it comes to their diets and their interaction with people. These rodents thrive in the wild but can be kept as pets. They are omnivores and opportunistic, so will eat nearly any plant or animal matter they come across.
A wild mouse will eat seeds, fruit, vegetation, or animal feces. Pet mice are even known to eat their own feces. As pets, they can be fed food mixed with seeds, grain, and pellets.
- Scientific name: Turdus merula
- Diet: seeds, grains, insects
Blackbirds, like other bird species found in North America and around the rest of the world, will eat a number of seeds. They will eat seeds of fruit, vegetables, and other plants. In addition, blackbirds feed on insects, worms, and grains. These are common backyard birds, and can be fed with bird feeders and commercial food.
- Scientific name: Acheta domesticus
- Diet: seeds, grain, fruit
Crickets are another insect known for eating various types of seeds. They will eat plant and animal matter, and in the wild mostly feed on seeds, flowers, grass, and fruit. Crickets found in pet stores are usually fed a mix of protein and grains. These insects are commonly fed to other pets, like snakes or lizards, and are usually given a nutrient-rich diet before this.
- Scientific name: Cervidae
- Diet: seeds, grass, twigs, corn
Deer are common in North, Central, and South America, and have a wide-ranging diet. This diet will vary by the season and the habitat these hoofed animals are found in. For the most part, deer eat grass, seeds, shrubbery, twigs, and corn.
- Scientific name: Oryctolagus cuniculus
- Diet: seeds, pellets, grass
Rabbits will enjoy certain seeds being added to their diet, whether they live in the wild or in captivity. These small mammals especially enjoy sunflower seeds. Many common pet rabbit commercial feeds will include pellets, grain, and seeds. In the wild, these animals can also eat vegetables, grass, and bugs.
- Scientific name: Picidae
- Diet: seeds, insects
While woodpeckers can often be seen eating insects out of trees, they have a wide-ranging diet like many other bird species. Woodpeckers will eat commercial bird feed, which often contains various types of seeds. They will also feed on plant seeds and nuts.
There are various types of animals that feed on seeds, and these are called granivores. Mammals, birds, and insects are common granivores. Animals from rabbits and mice to woodpeckers and ants regularly feed on multiple types of seeds.