It is hard to picture someone wanting to devour a charming, fluffy animal like a squirrel. Weasels, coyotes, foxes, wildcats, and snakes are only a few of the squirrels’ natural predators in the wild since wild animals don’t seek for food according to the same logic.
Even though there are fewer predators for squirrels in Toronto, the rodents nonetheless maintain their dominant position in the food chain. In Toronto, common squirrel predators include.
What Are Squirrels Natural Predators?
Numerous animals, depending on the type and environment in which they dwell, will consume squirrels. Minks, martens, skunks, ravens, magpies, eagles, owls, hawks, badgers, domestic cats and dogs, snakes, raccoons, and other animals are among their many predators.
There are undoubtedly further creatures that I could add to that list. They can’t defend themselves as a lion can, even if they aren’t necessarily at the bottom of the food chain. They don’t have a very lengthy lifetime as a result of this.
Instead, they must flee as quickly as they can if they want to survive.
Squirrels come in a variety of varieties, including gray, flying, red, fox, and ground squirrels. Many squirrels forage for nuts, seeds, and other foods while living in trees and scampering across the ground.
Some natural wildlife enthusiasts, like you and I, put out feeders for birds and squirrels.
Depending on the habitat type, a squirrel will have different predators to hide from, putting them at risk from a variety of creatures who wish to eat them.
Here is a list of creatures that consume squirrels.
Hawks and Owls
The lined ground squirrel (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus), which lives in Minnesota and other mid-western states’ fields, grasslands, and agricultural grounds, is victim to huge predatory birds. While ground squirrels scurry between eating acorns and insects, hawks and owls may swoop down.
The red-tailed and Cooper’s hawks are two hawk species that frequently eat squirrels. The great horned owl and the barred owl are two examples of owl species that will consume diverse types of squirrel.
Cats (Felis Catus)
Cats are tiny, carnivorous creatures that have been tamed by humans and are frequently kept as pets. They are the smallest members of the feline family.
Cats have a flexible physique, pointed fangs, retractable claws, and rapid reflexes, just like the other felids. For nighttime hunting, they also have highly developed visual and smell senses.
Cats frequently hunt small birds and rodents, particularly squirrels, as their major prey.
Coyotes, Snakes, Raccoons and Weasels
The ground hog, or woodchuck (Marmota monax), forages on grasses and clover, and coyotes will eat it.
Depending on the region of the US where they live, raccoons and weasels eat different types of squirrel. In Northern California, rattlesnakes eat ground squirrels because they hunt for food in thick forests and dig elaborate chambers up to 30 feet long by digging 2 to 4 feet into damp earth.
Birds That Eat Squirrels
Large predatory birds like owls and hawks find ground squirrels that build shelters on agricultural fields in Minnesota and other midwestern states to be easy prey. They have the ability to swoop down and devour squirrels that are consuming maize and acorns in open fields.
Their main squirrel predators are hawks and eagles. All birds have exceptional long-distance eyesight, but eagles have an eight-fold greater field of vision than humans. About two kilometers away, they may see a squirrel and other prey.
As a result, squirrels find it challenging to conceal from these large predators. Additionally, these flying predators have the patience to wait until the rodents reach the open fields so they can swoop down and quickly capture them.
As a result, squirrels stay away from open areas when possible. When they do, they will spend a lot of time standing up straight on their hind limbs to keep an eye on the birds flying around.
There are some birds, though, that you wouldn’t expect to kill and consume a squirrel. Here is a heartbreaking video of a seagull devouring and murdering a squirrel.
Herons, Red-tailed Hawks, Ospreys, Northern Goshawks, Falcons, and other raptors are other avian predators that feed on squirrels.
Even in recordings, a crow may be seen devouring a young squirrel that is blind. There are a number of squirrel natural predators of birds. Since they are simpler to trap, many of the smaller birds primarily feed on young or wounded birds.
Despite the fact that it is forbidden to harm animals in Toronto, some individuals poison squirrels. Additionally, many squirrels are killed in dangerous or subpar traps. If you harm or kill any protected animals, including squirrels, you might be punished with wildlife cruelty under the SPCA Act.
Squirrels are also mistakenly killed by humans when they drive them over with cars. It might be challenging to dodge squirrels when driving since they frequently zigzag while moving.
Dogs (Canis Lupus Familiaris)
Dogs are canids descended from an extinct old wolf species that are thought to have been tamed by our ancestors more than 15,000 years ago.
Dogs are a huge and diverse family, and they are further broken down into several breeds based on their size, shape, color, and geographic origin. They are well recognized for serving a variety of functions for us, including herding, protection, therapy, companionship, hauling loads, and so on.
Dogs are omnivores, able to consume a wide variety of human foods, and opportunistic hunters that target small animals like cats, squirrels, and tiny to medium-sized birds.
Foxes, Bobcats and Eagles
Only found in the eastern United States, the eastern grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) is vulnerable to predators like the red and gray fox species. It forages on the ground for acorns, seeds, buds, and flowers.
In Minnesota’s coniferous woods, this specific species of squirrel is scarce and only found in hardwood forests. Eagles frequently eat ground squirrels, which live in Northern California.
Snakes and Other Reptiles
Due of their ability to scale trees and enter squirrel nests, snakes are significant squirrel predators. For this reason, squirrels construct many nests; if a snake or other reptile, such as a raccoon, invades one, the squirrels must relocate to another.
Snakes have the ability to coil up into the holes that squirrels use as cover from other predators. In addition, snakes can virtually walk everywhere, climb trees, and slither through dense shrubs, which makes it simple for them to enter the crevices where squirrels conceal themselves.
It might be challenging for a squirrel to escape from a snake if they were cornered by one. Watch a python devour a squirrel in this video as it hunts for food.
It is quite hard for a squirrel to escape once it has been bitten by a snake. Snakes will venomously spray prey as they flee as one of their strategies. The snake will engulf them once they are totally unconscious.
Of course, the size of the snake will determine this. If they become ravenous enough, certain squirrels have been known to consume tiny non-poisonous snakes including newborn snakes.
Snakes like pythons, anacondas, and mongooses are known to prey on tiny animals like squirrels.
Squirrels are also eaten by alligators, crocodiles, lizards, snapping turtles, and other cold-blooded reptiles.
The primary predators of flying snakes and other tree-climbing animals are snakes.
Pine Martens (Martes Martes)
Because they originated in Northern Europe, the Pine Martens are also known as “European pine martens” and “European martens.” These little creatures, which are mustelids, require densely forested environments to live in.
The pine marten’s fur coat is short and coarse in the summer, but it becomes longer and silkier in the winter. Their fur coats range from light to dark brown in hue.
They have a noticeable cream patch on their neck, which stands out against their dark body. Pine martens exhibit sexual dimorphism, with males being bigger than females in size.
Pine martens are opportunistic feeders that can consume insects, fruits, seeds, and berries in addition to small animals, birds, and their eggs. Voles, squirrels, and rabbits are their most typical prey among animals.
Cats and Dogs
Even though they are predators, cats and dogs are not allowed to eat the squirrel species they pursue and chase unless they are hunting in a feral (wild) environment. Dogs and cats will “prey” on squirrel species, but they are not thought to be successful in reducing squirrel numbers.
Fish and Other Water Predators
Most people are unaware that fish like bigmouth bass can consume squirrels, at least I wasn’t. Squirrels may visit a river or stream to drink water, however they rarely get in the water. Although they can swim well, they would rather stay out of the water.
They are aware that some fish species will hunt them down and consume them. If they can, some huge fish will try to snag them as they are sipping water. Some fish will hold off on eating a squirrel until it has drowned.
They run the risk of being attacked by crocodiles, alligators, and other predators who hunt by the water when they drink water along the coasts.
These creatures must risk their lives in order to survive, despite the fact that they are aware of the dangers present in the water and along the coast.
Watch a largemouth fish devour a squirrel in the video below.
Even though certain fish will consume squirrels, it’s not unusual for squirrels to consume fish if they come across any fresh, dead fish flesh. especially if they are starving and have little access to natural food sources.
Although they don’t precisely appear to be predators, parasites do kill squirrels. Skin conditions, some of which are lethal, do not spare these creatures. Fleas and scabies mites can make the animal hurt itself or make it unable to protect itself from predators.
Because squirrels may develop lethal skin conditions and parasites, they might be considered a species of predator. The mange is brought on by the parasitic scabies mite, which the squirrel then scratches until it bleeds and becomes bald. The mite renders the squirrel defenseless against the environment or predators. The warble fly is another parasite that can be lethal to squirrels. The larvae of the fly latch onto squirrels and burrow into their skin after the mother fly deposits an egg inside the tree bark.
The short-legged animals known as badgers come from two distinct families: the Mustelidae and the Mephitidae. There are 4 subfamilies and 13 recognized species of badgers worldwide.
Nearly all of these species have rounded ears, a short, broad body, and a skull that is slightly elongated. Species to species might differ in their tail length.
Their faces are black with striking white markings, in contrast to their bodies, which are grey with light-colored stripes running across them.
Distinct kinds of badgers have different diets. Others are carnivores, while some are insectivores.
Coyotes, Foxes and Other Four-Legged Predators
Large predators of squirrels include coyotes and other four-legged creatures. In broad fields and in bushes, foxes and coyotes may readily pursue and catch a squirrel. Due to their speed, these predators may frequently pursue these small animals until they are caught.
A swift ground squirrel may be able to flee by deceiving their adversary or by plunging into their nest or burrow in the earth. Because they are carnivores, these predators will consume a squirrel whenever they can catch one.
Check out this footage of a coyote murdering a black squirrel. Despite its quickness, the squirrel cannot stand a chance against the coyote.
Because they construct their nests in the ground and close to the homes of these predators, ground squirrels are more likely to become their victim.
American Polecats (Mustela Nigripes)
The American Polecat is an endangered mustelid species native to the central parts of North America that is also known as the “Black-footed ferret.”
These mustelids, which resemble European Polecats (Mustela putorius), are around the size of minks and have long, thin bodies. Black lines are drawn around their feet, ears, tail, and some of their facial features.
The arched claws on their toes are hidden by the hair that covers the whole surface of their feet, including the soles. The males are 10% bigger than the females, exhibiting sexual dimorphism in their size.
Due to the fact that Prairie dogs make up roughly 90% of American polecats’ food, they are also known as “Prairie dog hunters.” The remainder comprises of lagomorphs and rodents such ground squirrels, jackrabbits, larks, meadowlarks, cottontails, voles, mice, and sandpipers.
Help Protect Your Backyard Squirrels
I am aware that they may become a nuisance if they start consuming the backyard bird seed. Before we chose to give them food, we had the same thoughts.
When they are in your backyard, there is no reason why you can’t assist in providing them with shelter and defense. You’ll feel a lot better knowing that you’re helping to give their family a secure home.
I suggest getting them some kind of shelter like this, where they can sleep and have young, if you care about the animals in your backyard and want to provide them a place to live.
By preventing them from having to build nests in the wild where their predators are waiting for them, this will keep them secure.