What animal eats squirrels?
What animal eats squirrels? That is the question. But before we have a look at what kind of animals eats squirrels, let us determine what kind of animal is a squirrel itself.
In fact, squirrels are small rodents that eat whatever they could find; squirrel food chain is quite simple, as their basic diet includes nuts, seeds, and vegetables. What animals do squirrels eat? Sometimes mice, if it is an extremely hungry period, and no seeds are available.
Why is this question “What eats squirrels” so common? Just because for many of us it’s difficult to imagine these pretty little critters could be a yummy snack. Actually, predators of squirrels are numerous. Fortunately, they are alone on the hunt at one moment, which gives squirrels a chance to escape.
There are a lot of natural predators of squirrels who are ready to attack cute innocent creatures at any moment, so the quality of being fast and the ability to disguise themselves in the trees could save squirrels from natural enemies.
Squirrels can blend with their habitat becoming almost invisible for some animals that eat squirrels but many predators of squirrels, however, are smart enough not to give in to that unintentional trick. Wildcats, weasels, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, badgers, and rattlesnakes are all squirrel vultures.
What are squirrels’ predators?
Animals that eat squirrels may be 4-legged predators, 2-legged predators, predators with no legs (such as the snake), and some that fly! Out of all 200 species of squirrels, all of them have natural enemies to beware of. How they may survive for up to 6 years in the wild, facing the risk of being eaten every moment is a great puzzle.
The list of squirrels’ natural predators is long and depends on where squirrels live and the type of squirrel. For example, red squirrel natural enemy list includes owls and raptors such as the goshawk and buzzards, but red foxes, cats, and dogs also hunt for squirrel prey.
What animal eats squirrels? What are squirrels’ predators? The answer to these questions is unique. Almost any creature bigger than squirrels and they could face with: minks, martens, skunks, ravens, magpies, eagles, owls, hawks, badgers, domesticated dogs and cats, snakes and etc.
Why are predators of squirrels so numerous?
First of all, squirrels and mice are highly important to many predators’ population size. It’s proven that if the population of squirrels in some area crashes, the population of predators in that area may also crash.
For instance, the primary prey for the ferrets was prairie dogs and when those squirrels were killed in the hundred thousand or millions, the ferrets no longer had food and perished. Only when the connection between ferrets’ survival and the population of prairie dogs was discovered, and some efforts were taken to keep the balance in that food chain, the black-footed ferret population has started to recover.
Hawks, owls, eagles, magpies, ravens, shrikes, skunks, weasels, martens, minks, badgers, wolverines, foxes, coyotes, wolves, bobcats, lynxes, cougars, black-footed ferrets, black and grizzly bears, domesticated cats and dogs, snakes of many sorts, possums, and humans. Surely, the humans’ population will not disappear having any access to squirrels.
That’s why hunting for poor animals, especially using a deadly weapon – red-tailed hawks – looks cruel for many wildlife conservationists. Do red-tailed hawks eat squirrels in that case? No, people do. Having some meal with dumplings. Hawks only hunt squirrels in these circumstances.
Now let’s have a detailed look at the list of animals who eat squirrels. Some predators of squirrels are really dangerous for them as they leave no chance to escape. For example, those predators of the weasel family, have the unique ability to go after ground squirrels in their burrows. Badgers can dig out a squirrel burrow to get to the squirrels inside.
Birds that eat squirrels
Ground squirrels that create habitats in agricultural lands become an easy target for large predatory birds such as owls and hawks who can swoop down and attack those squirrels that are busy eating acorns and corn in open fields.
Hawks and eagles are the most dangerous predators for squirrels because they have an outstanding long-distance vision, attack instantly and can spot a squirrel and other prey at a distance of about two miles. This makes it hard for squirrels to hide from these huge predators.
What is more, these flesh birds are ready to wait in order to have a good chance to have a deadly attack, no misses affordable. These birds of prey will patiently wait for squirrels to be out in the wide-open spaces like fields.
Because of this, squirrels take some safety measures to prevent being eaten. First, they avoid spending a lot of time in the open. Second, if they do, they will take an upright position and keep an eye on the birds in the air. Other flying predators that eat squirrels are Heron, Red-Tailed Hawk, Osprey, Northern Goshawk, Falcons, and etc.
Snakes and other reptiles
Snakes and other reptiles are also predators of squirrels because they can climb trees and invade their nest. This is why squirrels make several nests so that in case a snake or other predator like a raccoon destroys their nest, they could move to another home. Snakes can get into hard-to-reach holes where squirrels can easily hide to escape other predators.
Snakes seem to be the worst among predators of squirrels because they can get to any place unavailable to other creatures, they can climb trees, slither through thick bushes, which makes it easy for them to go into nooks that squirrels hide in.
Being trapped by a snake, a squirrel almost has no chance to survive. Once a squirrel gets caught by a snake, it is actually impossible for them to escape. One of the tactics that snakes use is to spray them with venom as they try to run away. Once they become completely unconscious, some snake like python may swallow them whole.
Snakes that are known predators of small mammals like squirrels are Pythons, Anacondas, Mongoose, and etc. Other cold-blooded reptiles that eat squirrels are alligators, crocodiles, lizards, snapping turtle and etc. Snakes are the main predators of flying squirrels and other mammals that climb trees.
To restore justice and feel the stomach some squirrels could eat baby snakes and small non-poisonous snakes. Bros are avenged!
Water predators of squirrels
It’s a surprise, but there are some water predators of squirrels. They can be eaten by fish like bigmouth bass. Squirrels are good at swimming but are aware of risks water covers. The only reason for them to come to some water pool is being thirsty. These small critters know that certain species of fish could attack and kill them. Some large fish will catch them if they can while they are drinking. Other types of fish will wait until a squirrel drowns to eat them.
When drinking water along the shores, squirrels are also prone to be attacked by crocodiles, alligators and other predators that hunt for food in the water. But some squirrels could also eat fish if they come across some fresh dead fish meat, especially if they have no enough natural food they got used to.
Coyotes, foxes and other four-legged predators pose a great threat for squirrels as well. Foxes and coyotes can chase down a squirrel in open fields or in bushes. Some squirrel species are extremely susceptible to being prey to these animals because they tend to make their nests in the ground as ground squirrels do, and that’s the place where their whereabouts could be easily identified by predators.
Sometimes a quick ground squirrel can escape by confusing the enemy or diving into their nest or hole in the ground, but it’s a rare case, unfortunately. These predators are carnivores and will eat a squirrel anytime they can catch one.
Although cats and dogs are considered predators, they may not feed on the squirrel species they hunt and chase unless they are hunting under wild conditions. Cats and dogs do not jeopardize the population of squirrels seriously. Domesticated cats and dogs may prey on squirrels just for fun. They would avoid eating them but will be happy to show off bringing their trophy to their owner’s bedroom.
Parasites are not actually predators that will chase and eat squirrels like foxes or coyotes. But they could pose a lethal threat in some situations. If a squirrel attracts a parasite, it can cause them to suffer from fatal skin diseases. One of the parasites that can affect squirrels is the mange, it causes the squirrels to scratch until it is hairless and bleeds to death. As a result of the mite, the squirrel becomes unable to fight off the elements or predators.
Another parasite that can be fatal to squirrels is the warble fly. The adult fly lays an egg inside the bark of trees, and the larvae latch on to squirrels and burrow into the skin. Some of the other parasites that affect trees and chipmunks throughout Eastern North America are tree squirrel botfly, roundworm and etc. That is why so many people believe that squirrels carry diseases. It’s really so, squirrels can be carrers of various diseases, but only a few of them are dangerous to humans.
Squirrels’ biggest enemies turn to be humans
But, undoubtedly, squirrels’ biggest enemies turn to be humans. Some people can’t stand them and consider them pests because they can deplete agricultural crops such as corn, destroy something and even cause some direct harm to your property.
Some squirrels would make nests in attics because they find them to be a safer place to give birth and raise their offspring than their nests in the forest. What else, the chance to face some huge predator inside a human house is rather lower than in open space. Moreover, small squirrels may have a lot of fun rolling nuts and disturbing humans.
For people living near forests or woods the probability of having a squirrel dweller in their attic grows. On the other hand, watching squirrels running around your backyard may be a great interaction, especially if you have kids.
But life is tough, and still, there are some people who can’t stand cute cool creatures and are always looking for ways to kill them. Human predators will set traps, throw sharp objects, shoot poor squirrels, poison them, and try all kinds of techniques to kill them. It’s true, unfortunately.
Well, luckily, some humans sympathize with squirrels, feed them and provide some place in their backyard. Surely, you’ll feel much better knowing that you’re doing your part to provide them a safe haven for their families.
If you would like to protect wildlife in your backyard you could give them shelter where they can sleep and have babies. It’s not necessary to make squirrels your pets, but the awareness of the fact that their lifespan will become two or three times longer may encourage you to be kinder and more supportive.
Squirrels that do not have to go into the wild where predators are waiting for them have more chances to survive. But don’t let them walk over you and occupy your house, backyard, and mind forever! At least there are some other species who may also need your help urgently!