Do Squirrels Eat Meat? And The Reasons Why

Do squirrels eat meat? These small opportunistic and adaptable critters will amaze you at what they will eat. In this article, we’re going to answer whether or not they eat meat.

Do Squirrels Eat Meat?

In short, yes they can eat meat and their diet will sometimes consist of meat products. However, squirrels are omnivores, which means that they like to eat plants and meat.

If you feed squirrels, then you know that there isn’t much they won’t eat. Most squirrels are vegetarians, but there are exceptions and the flying squirrel, ground squirrels, and red squirrels will eat pretty much anything in order to make a meal.

Are Squirrels Omnivore?

These small critters are opportunistic omnivores, meaning that they will eat foods that consist of both plants and animals.

Most people think that squirrels are herbivores and will only eat things like nuts and seeds. They do eat a lot of seeds and nuts, but the Eastern Grey Squirrel is actually classified as omnivores.

Wild squirrels have been known to raid bird nests and eat baby birds. If they find an empty nest, they will eat bird eggs, spiders, insects, bugs, and even mice.

If they get hungry enough, they will eat the meat found on carcasses.

What About Flying Squirrels?

They are also considered omnivores and their diet consist of a variety of insects, seeds, fruit, fungi. However, like the Gray squirrel, they are opportunistic feeders and won’t turn down a free meal.

The Southern Flying Squirrels have the most carnivorous diet. These small critters have been known to eat eggs, birds, and the decaying flesh of dead animals aka carrion).

Will Squirrels Eat Meat?

Wild squirrels prefer to consume nuts, fungi, seeds, and fruits. However, some have been known to eat birds, snakes, caterpillars, and other small animals.

If a stressed mother can’t provide for her offspring, she may eat her young. Male squirrels will sometimes eat the young of their viral squirrels.

In fact, it is not uncommon for male red squirrels to eat other baby red squirrels. Red squirrels are extremely territorial and will defend their territory of between 2 to 5 actors from other red squirrels and gray squirrels.

However, if there is plenty of food available, squirrels won’t usually eat each other.

What Kind of Meat Do Squirrels Eat?

As I’ve mentioned, squirrels tend to prefer a vegetarian diet. However, it is not uncommon for their diets to consist of; insects of all sizes, amphibians like toads and frogs, mice, small birds, snakes, lizards, and even roadkill.

Why Do Squirrels Eat Meat?

can squirrels eat meat
It is not uncommon for squirrels to eat meat.

Squirrels are NOT your typical omnivore animal, as they will NOT prey on animals unless they have no choice. They will only hunt on animals that are easy prey.

These small rodents are typically the ones that are hunted and there is no shortage of animals that eat squirrels. Factors that will cause a squirrel to hunt for prey are; climate, season, defensive mode, shortage of plant sources, gender, and reproductive condition.

There are several reasons that a squirrel would eat meat and below are just a few of the reasons.

Protein

Both wild and captive squirrels require a well-balanced diet that contains vitamins, fat, calcium, and protein. Female Grey Squirrels require extra minerals during their pregnancy and while nursing their young.

Protein is vital for both humans and animals, as it is an important building block for muscles, bones, and blood.

They usually get their protein source from nuts and seeds. Sunflower seeds, chia, and pumpkin seeds can be a great source of protein for squirrels.

Food Shortage

Another reason squirrels eat meat is when there is a shortage of plant food for them to consume. For instance, in the winter months, plants go into a dormant stage and can make it harder for squirrels to scavenge for food.

They have no choice but to scavenge for small animals and insects to survive.

Yes, they do hide nuts and seeds in preparation for the winter months. However, most of them forget where they hid their supply.

Easy Prey

As humans, we don’t want to work hard for our next meal, neither do squirrels. If they run into prey that is has been injured, they will eat it.

They usually won’t hunt for prey that is healthy. The only time they will eat animals that are healthy is when they have to go on a defensive mode.

Like any other animal, squirrels will go into a defensive mode to protect themselves and their young.

Are Squirrels Supposed to Eat Meat?

These critters have sharp incisors that help them eat their food. Wild squirrels will eat pretty much anything, but it doesn’t mean that you should feed squirrels meat or scraps.

These critters have adapted to living in urban and suburban settings. Their diet will be based according to their food source in their environment.

These are some of the most adaptable animals you’ll ever see. This is why they have survived in suburban environments because they will eat trash and dog food to survive!

Final Word On Can Squirrels Eat Meat?

Most squirrels prefer a vegetarian diet that consists of seeds, fruits, leaves, and shoots. However, these wild critters know to survive and their diet will consist of what’s available in their environment.

They won’t necessarily attack snakes or prey on rabbits and mice unless it is easy prey that is easy to overpower.

Don’t be surprised if you see a squirrel eating something like a small bird, it’s just a part of survival in the wild!

References and Further Reading

Live Science – Alina Bradford – Squirrels: Diet, Habits and Other Facts

 

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