We all know that squirrels will eat anything. In fact, there isn’t much that a squirrel won’t eat. However, the other day I saw a hawk flying around in my backyard and it got me wondering “what eats squirrels?” I’ll share what I found and how you can help your bushy-tailed friends.
What Eats Squirrels?
The list of animals that eat squirrels is long and depends on where squirrels live and the type of squirrel. Their list of predators is long and consists of minks, martens, skunks, ravens, magpies, eagles, owls, hawks, badgers, domesticated dogs and cats, snakes, raccoons and etc.
I’m sure that there are more animals that I can add to that list. While they aren’t necessarily at the bottom of the food chain, they can’t protect themselves like a lion can. This is the reason that they don’t have a very long lifespan.
Instead, their only chance of survival is running as fast as they can.
Before Looking At What Kind of Animals Eats Squirrels, it’s important to know the following facts:
- Squirrels are small rodents that eat pretty much anything they can find, but they thrive on nuts, seeds, and veggies.
- They are wild animals but have been known to be domesticated by some people as pets.
- These rodents are skittish and are extremely fast, which makes it hard for some predators to catch them.
- They blend in naturally in the woods and trees, which makes it difficult for animals to see them.
What Are Squirrels Natural Predators?
There are several species of squirrels which include gray and flying squirrels, red, fox and ground squirrels. Many squirrels live in treetops and scamper on the ground foraging for nuts, seeds and other types of food.
There are some natural wildlife lovers like you and I that feed birds and squirrels at feeders.
The predators that a squirrel has to hide from will vary depending on the types of habitats which puts them at risk for several kinds of animals that want to eat them.
Let’s take a look at a list of animals who eat squirrels.
What Animals Prey On Squirrels?
Birds That Eat Squirrels
Ground squirrels that create habitats in agricultural lands in Minnesota and other mid-western states make easy targets for large predatory birds such as owls and hawks. They can swoop down and eat squirrels that are eating acorns and corn in the open fields.
Hawks and eagles are their biggest predators for squirrels. All birds have an excellent long-distance vision, but eagles can see eight times as far as humans can. They 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. These flying predators can also wait patiently for the rodents to get to the open fields so they can swoop down and catch them easily.
Because of this, squirrels avoid spending a lot of time in open spaces. When they do, they will spend a lot of time supporting themselves on their hind limbs in an upright position so they can keep an eye on the birds in the air.
However, there are more birds that you wouldn’t think would kill and eat a squirrel. Here is a video of a Seagull killing and eating a squirrel, which is sad.
Other flying predators that eat squirrels are Heron, Red Tailed Hawk, Osprey, Northern Goshawk, Falcons, and etc.
I’ve even seen videos of a crow eating a blind baby squirrel. When it comes to birds, there are several squirrel natural predators. Many of the smaller birds will only prey on babies or injured ones because they are easier to catch.
Snakes and Other Reptiles
Snakes are huge predators of squirrels because they can climb trees and invade their nest. This is the reason that squirrels build multiple nests, if a snake or other reptile like a raccoon invades their nest, they will need to move to another home.
Snakes can coil themselves into holes where squirrels run and hide to escape other predators. In addition to that, snakes can go almost anywhere, they can climb trees, slither through thick bushes, which makes it easy for them to go into nooks and crannies that squirrels hide.
If a squirrel gets cornered by a snake, it can be hard for them to get away from them. Watch this video where a python eats a squirrel who was foraging for food.
Once a squirrel gets caught by a snake, it is virtually 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, the snake will swallow them whole.
Of course, this depends on the size of the snake. Some squirrels are known to eat baby snakes and small non-poisonous snakes if they get hungry enough.
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 snakes and other mammals that climb trees.
Fish and Other Water Predators
Most people (at least I had no clue) don’t know that squirrels can be eaten by fish like bigmouth bass. While squirrels don’t get into the water, they may go down to a river or stream to drink water. They are good swimmers, but they prefer NOT to get into the water.
They know that certain species of fish will attack and eat 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, they are prone to be attacked by crocodiles, alligators and other predators that hunt for food by the water.
These mammals need water to survive and unfortunately, they have to risk their lives even though they know that there is danger lurking under the water and on the shore.
Here’s a video of a largemouth bass eating a squirrel.
While some fish will eat squirrels, it’s not uncommon for squirrels to eat fish if they come upon some fresh dead fish meat. Especially, if they are hungry and their natural food source is limited.
Coyotes, Foxes and Other Four-Legged Predators
Coyotes and other four legged animals are huge squirrel predators. Foxes and coyotes can easily chase down a squirrel in open fields and can hunt them down in bushes. These predators are fast and can usually chase down these small mammals until they catch them.
Sometimes a quick ground squirrel can escape by confusing the enemy or diving into their nest or hole in the ground. These predators are carnivores and will eat a squirrel anytime they can catch one.
Here’s a video of a coyote catching and killing a black squirrel. Even though the squirrel is quick, it is no match for the coyote.
Ground squirrels are more susceptible to being prey to these animals as they build their nests in the ground and in areas where these predators live.
If you’ve ever wondered “do cats kill squirrels” the answer will be it depends. There are some indoor cats that will chase the squirrel thinking it’s a game. When they catch the squirrel, they may just end up letting it go because it’s all about the chase.
After all, many domesticated cats don’t hunt for a living. Their owners provide them food and they don’t have to kill for their food. This doesn’t mean that some of them won’t eat mice, squirrels, or other small animals they catch.
A feral cat that fends for itself will do anything to survive. The only way they will eat is when they are able to catch food. It’s not unusual to see a feral cat hunting birds, squirrels, bunnies, and other small animals.
Here’s a video of a cat killing and eating a squirrel.
While a parasite isn’t actually a predator that will hunt down and eat a squirrel. 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.
Some of the other parasites that affect tree and chipmunks throughout Eastern North America rare; tree squirrel botfly, roundworm and etc.
This is why so many people believe that squirrels carry diseases. They do carry numerous diseases, but only a few are dangerous to humans.
Squirrels Biggest Enemies
Now that you’ve seen what eats a squirrel, let’s take a look at their biggest enemy, which is HUMANS, which is why squirrels fear humans.
Some people can’t stand them and consider them pests because they can quickly deplete agricultural crops such as corn.
They’ve also been known to create nests in attics if they can’t find warm shelter outside. If you live in a wooded area or have a bird feeder outside, there’s a good chance that you have squirrels running around your backyard.
Well, some people can’t stand them and are always looking for ways to kill them. Human predators will set traps, throw sharp objects, shoot them, poison them, and try all kinds of techniques to kill them.
Some humans also hunt and eat squirrels. I know that sounds disgusting, but it’s true, some people love eating them.
This video teaches people the best way to clean and cook a squirrel.
It’s NOT uncommon for people to use domesticated animals like dogs and cats to catch squirrels.
Help Protect Your Backyard Squirrels
I know that they can be pests if they are eating the birdseed in your backyard. We felt this way too before we decided to feed them.
There’s no reason why you can’t help shelter and protect them when they are in your backyard. You’ll feel much better knowing that you’re doing your part to provide them a safe haven for their families.
If you love your backyard wildlife and want to provide them shelter, I recommend getting them some type of shelter like this, where they can sleep and have babies.
This will keep them safe by NOT having to go into the wild to build nests where their predators are waiting for them.
Frequently Asked Questions
What animals are squirrels afraid of? These small critters are scared of anyone. They are always on the lookout for predators and will run whenever they feel a threat is nearby.
What animals eat red squirrels? Like the grey squirrels, they are eaten by a wide variety of animals from birds, snakes, coyotes, raccoons, and etc.
Final Word On Squirrel Predators
As you can see, squirrels have a lot of predators, and they are NOT very high in the food chain. That’s why we chose to protect them with feeders and nest boxes in our backyard.
The life expectancy of a squirrel will vary depending on where they live. As you can see, it takes a lot of energy and food for them to survive and this is why they are so skittish.
References and Further Reading
Sciencing – What Eats A Squirrel In The Food Chain?
Reference – What Animals Eat Squirrels?
Wildlife Online – Squirrel Predators