Will Red Squirrels Eat And Kill Chipmunks?

will red squirrels eat and kill chipmunks

Whether you like red squirrels or not, most people find the idea of them eating chipmunks startling and do not believe it is true. It is the same as thinking of a teddy bear as a serial killer. The general population has only a vague idea of what red squirrels eat but generally assumes it is nuts or acorns. To address the uncomfortable question of whether red squirrels kill and eat chipmunks, we need to look into a red squirrel’s diet and behavior.

Red squirrels may kill and eat chipmunks if there is a food shortage. This is because they are omnivorous and eat animal protein. Baby chipmunks are easier prey than adults. Red squirrels in certain areas are more likely to hunt chipmunks as they have learned the behavior from their parents and other squirrels.  

 Red squirrels are fascinating creatures to observe. They have unexpected feeding behaviors and dietary practices. 

Do Red Squirrels Kill And Eat Chipmunks?

Red squirrels are omnivorous and eat animal protein as part of their diet. 

They may kill and eat chipmunks in some locations and in some situations. For example, it is not common for red squirrels to eat and kill chipmunks, but some people have reported seeing this occur. 

Red squirrels are more likely to eat baby chipmunks from the nest. This is because baby chipmunks are an easier target than adult chipmunks. 

Adult chipmunks are quick, agile creatures making them harder to catch. 

If food is in short supply, red squirrels may hunt adult chipmunks, kill them and eat them. This behavior is often learned from parents or older generations in the squirrel community. However, in most squirrel communities, the predation of chipmunks is not seen.

Red squirrels stash food in caches for winter or when food is in short supply. 

Therefore, red squirrels seldom run out of food and need to transition to hunting small animals for food. However, a food shortage may occur when other squirrels or animals find and eat the red squirrel’s food stores.  

How Do Chipmunks Protect Themselves From Squirrels?

Chipmunks are small creatures with few defensive measures. Therefore, their best form of protection is to avoid danger where possible.

Chipmunks are alert and aware of potential predators. They live in a state of constant vigilance. The rodents generally do not stray too far from their homes. They live in elaborate multi-chambered burrows, which they use as bolt holes when danger looms. 

Some chipmunks use hollow logs or other safe places as homes. They choose homes with small openings preventing other predators, including red squirrels, from entering. 

The rodents also have identified bolt holes that they can use for safety to avoid red squirrels when they are foraging for food.

Chipmunks live in communities and use elaborate communication systems to keep themselves safe. For example, they produce chirps, clicks, and shrill whistles to communicate the presence of red squirrels and other predators. 

Chipmunks can escape to safety when they are alerted to the presence of predators. The whistles and loud noises from the chipmunks may also deter the red squirrels. 

Chipmunks use their small size to escape from red squirrels. They squeeze into tiny spaces under rocks or bushes to stay safe from red squirrels. 

What Other Animals Do Red Squirrels Eat?

Red squirrels eat a predominantly plant diet, but they do eat some animal protein. They are well-known for raiding bird’s nests and eating nestlings or eggs. 

Large populations of red squirrels may threaten some bird species. 

Red squirrels eat insects they find while foraging for nuts, seeds, and leaves. For example, red squirrels eat grasshoppers, cockroaches, beetles, and other insects. 

The rodents may also eat small mammals such as mice, rats, or baby rabbits. Any babies are particularly vulnerable and may become prey. Red squirrels also eat lizards, snails, and frogs.

Chipmunks also eat many of the same animals and plants as red squirrels. So there is competition for food between these two species.   

Red Squirrels Protect Their Territory  

Red squirrels are territorial creatures. Males and females both establish a territory that they fiercely protect. 

A chipmunk wandering into the red squirrel’s territory may elicit an attack that could leave the chipmunk dead. 

Red squirrels have large territories, which can be up to eight acres. 

They begin to establish their territory at nine to eleven weeks of age. Red squirrels may chase away much larger grey squirrels when establishing their territory or foraging for food. A tiny chipmunk does not stand much chance.  

In instances of territorial aggression, the red squirrel may not eat the chipmunk, depending on food supplies and predatory squirrel behavior in that squirrel community. 

Most times, the chipmunk would retreat hastily at the first signs of aggression from a territorial red squirrel. 

Red Squirrels Eat Carrion

Red squirrels are known to eat carrion which may include chipmunks. However, hunting and killing chipmunks requires a lot of energy and risks injury. 

Eating a dead chipmunk that has died from disease or for some other reason gives a red squirrel access to food without expending energy or risking injury. 

Why Do Red Squirrels Eat Chipmunks?

Red squirrels are prone to calcium deficiencies which result from eating high quantities of seeds and nuts. 

Therefore, their diet requires them to acquire some form of calcium in the wild. Eating animal bones, including chipmunks, eggshells, and deer antlers, is a good source of calcium. 

These foods are excellent for boosting a red squirrel’s calcium level. 

Some red squirrels may live in areas with access to calcium in the ground or stones. 

These squirrels are less likely to kill and eat chipmunks or other animals because they can easily access naturally occurring calcium. In addition, red squirrels use these stones as licks to provide them with extra calcium and other minerals. 

Final Word

Red squirrels sometimes eat and kill chipmunks. It is a behavior more commonly seen in some areas and may be a learned behavior. 

The rodents are omnivores, so killing and eating a chipmunk provides protein and other minerals needed in their diet. 

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