What animals eat squirrels?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “What animals eat squirrels?” and provide information on which birds eat squirrels, whether pine martens eat them, how some predators hunt for them, how squirrels protect themselves, and whether they are cannibals.

What animals eat squirrels?

Feral cats, domestic cats, red foxes, weasels, and badgers eat squirrels. Domestic dogs, polecats, minks, and badgers also eat squirrels. 

A rare case of a stoat attacking squirrel was filmed in Norfolk. In North America, snakes, gray foxes, coyotes, raccoons, and bobcats can eat squirrels.

Which birds eat squirrels?

The main predators of squirrels are birds. Long-eared owls, eagle owls, and Ural owls prey on squirrels. Red and black kites also feed on squirrels. Apart from this sparrow hawks, falcons, and red-tailed hawks eat squirrels too.

There has not been much evidence of buzzards preying on squirrels. However, the squirrels see them as predators.

A northern goshawk targets squirrels too. They hunt squirrels more specifically during winter. During winter, squirrels can make up 79 percent of their diet whereas they do not hunt squirrels much during spring or summer. 

Magpies and crows can attack squirrels too. There are incidents of magpies injuring squirrels and a crow snapping the neck of a squirrel.

Do pine martens eat squirrels?

Pine martens are weasel-like creatures that are found specifically in Europe. Pine martens build their homes on trees making it easier for them to hunt squirrels. Similar to goshawks, pine martens target squirrels more in winter.

Some pine martens switch to eating squirrels during periods of food scarcity. Pine martens can more specifically target gray squirrels than red. This is because red squirrels venture onto thinner branches and escape pine martens easily. 

How do some of these predators hunt squirrels?

Hawks or owls perch on a tree. After perching on the tree, owls or hawks patiently wait for their prey. Once they notice the prey, they swoop down and take up the squirrels. 

Sometimes, an entire group of hawks would hunt for squirrels. They fly around the sky for squirrels and once they notice the squirrels, they would fly down to hunt and capture the prey. 

Hawks have sharp talons using which they can capture squirrels. Also, hawks can use their beak to catch squirrels and break their necks.

Coyotes are opportunistic eaters and eat rodents. When a squirrel sees a coyote, it can try to run and escape. This does not work as coyotes are more agile than squirrels. 

Red foxes remain still in their place when they see squirrels. Once the squirrels turn their back to them, these foxes rush toward them and attack them. The bite of a red fox is pretty intense too, making it difficult for squirrels to escape once bitten.

Weasels are good runners and climbers. They are capable of raiding their prey’s nests and burrows. They can climb trees to chase squirrels and eat them.

Domestic dogs and cats can chase squirrels around and kill them using their paws. They do not eat them. Raccoons do not chase after squirrels, unlike other animals. Instead, it preys on a squirrel’s nest or sneaks up on them to attack.

How do squirrels protect themselves from predators?

Squirrels have sharp claws and teeth which they can use to attack their predators. They are also quite fast. Some squirrels can be attacked by rattlesnakes. 

However, adult squirrels have natural antidotes present in their body to counter this poison (Baby adult squirrels do not have this antidote making them vulnerable). Some squirrels use alarm calls to alert their fellow squirrels. 

Squirrels also pay attention to birds chirping. If birds post a predator call, a squirrel runs and hides. Sometimes, squirrels also use their tails to threaten or distract their predators especially if they appear to be agile.

Squirrels are master camouflagers too! Flying squirrels hunt at night and camouflage themselves in tree leaves to protect themselves. They can also stand close to tree trunks to prevent predators from seeing them.

Are squirrels cannibals?

Cannibalism in squirrels tends to differ based on their species. Sometimes, squirrels would attack each other whenever a situation of food scarcity occurs. 

There are times when male red squirrels attack baby red squirrels. However, this is not because they want to eat them. Rather male red squirrels attack young squirrels that are not their babies.

Squirrels do not necessarily kill each other just for food. Disputes over female squirrels and territory can also cause them to be violent. Arctic ground squirrels are particularly known to be cannibals.

Conclusion

In this brief article, we have answered the question, “What animals eat squirrels?” and provided information on which birds eat squirrels, whether pine martens eat them, how some predators hunt for them, how squirrels protect themselves, and whether they are cannibals.

Reference

https://www.wildlifeonline.me.uk/animals/article/squirrel-predators

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