Do Squirrels Eat Meat? Shocking Fact

Author: Brett Gee | Reviewed by: Nancy George | October 29, 2022
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squirrels eat meat

It may be difficult to believe, but those adorable squirrels in your backyard eat more than just the sunflower seeds in your bird feeders! Here's the answer to your question.

A squirrel enjoys a good peanut and will eat any pinecone seeds or acorns they can grab with their hands. But what else is there for them to eat? Do squirrels eat anything other than nuts and seeds? Do squirrels eat meat? The answer is yes.

Squirrels are omnivores who will consume meat. A squirrel's diet is primarily vegetarian but they will eat meat if they come across an unguarded nest of baby birds or fresh carrion.

Some squirrels actively hunt lizards, mice and other small mammals. Squirrels frequently consume snake meat after defending themselves against an attacking snake.

Some male squirrel species kill and eat the baby squirrels produced by other males.

Let's get in-depth and learn more about squirrels and their eating habits.

Are Squirrels Omnivores?

Squirrels are omnivores, meaning they eat almost anything. Squirrels eat meat as well as plants and vegetables. Their diet is diverse, consisting of a wide range of native fruits, vegetables, flowers and fungi.

Squirrels have also been observed raiding bird nests and eating baby birds. They eat bird eggs, insects and mice regularly. Squirrels are natural scavengers and will eat meat from animal carcasses. Flying squirrels are also omnivores. Their diet comprises seeds, nuts, fruits, mushroom insects, eggs, young mice, small snails, carrion, vegetables, flower buds, berries and spiders.

Are Squirrels Predators?

It's difficult to imagine these animals as predators, but nature has a habit of surprising us. Squirrels are well-known predators that prey on a wide range of small animals. The eastern grey squirrel, for example, will eat both birds and its kin. Mountain quails are preferred by the western grey squirrel, while the eastern fox squirrel prefers doves and blue jays.

The Douglas squirrel preys on ground squirrels and some squirrels (whitetail and Nelson antelope squirrels) eat lizards, kangaroo rats and pocket mice. Chipmunks, snakes, ducks, sparrows and rabbits are all prey for squirrels. Rock squirrels attack wild turkeys.

Why Do Squirrels Consume Meat?

Unlike most omnivorous and carnivorous animals, squirrels are not regular predators, and they will only attack other animals and eat meat under certain circumstances. Defense, season, climate, reproductive condition, gender and the availability of plant sources are all factors that contribute to squirrel predation.

There are several theories as to why squirrels consume meat.


Female squirrels may require a higher protein and mineral intake when reproducing.

According to the research, these squirrels would consume meat regularly. Female tree squirrels do not get enough calcium, sodium, phosphorus or nitrogen from seeds, and thus, these squirrels must consume meat to reproduce successfully.

Availability of Food

Squirrels consume meat due to a seasonal decrease in available plant food. Plants' water content and nutrient density decrease during the spring and summer, which may force squirrels to seek alternative food sources such as small animals and carrion.

Another reason squirrels consume meat is that they work hard to obtain it! Ground squirrels and snakes have a unique and complicated relationship. Snakes enjoy eating baby ground squirrels, but mother ground squirrels fight hard to keep snakes at bay.

Mother squirrels, it turns out, frequently kill invading snakes in defense of their burrows and then eat the carcasses.

What Meat Do Squirrels Eat?

The answer can be confusing when it comes to what meat do squirrels eat. Squirrels typically eat a vegetarian diet. However, they commonly eat insects of all sizes, amphibians such as toads and frogs, mice, small birds, snakes, lizards and even roadkill.

meat squirrels eat

Do Older Squirrels Eat Young Squirrels?

A recent study showed older male squirrels frequently kill and eat baby red squirrels. These squirrels also often eat their prey. When the victims' DNA was examined, it was discovered that they were not the offspring of the male squirrels who attacked them.

Infanticide may result from a food shortage, but this is not the case. This behavior is more common when there is a plentiful food supply.

Female squirrels typically have only one litter of squirrels, and female squirrels are more likely to have another litter when more food is available.

These female squirrels will mate with multiple male squirrels in the first round of breeding, so a male has no way of distinguishing the pups he fathers.

As a result, the male will kill these baby squirrels so that the female squirrel can stop lactating and mate again. It enables the male squirrel to ensure he sires the next generation of pups.

Is It Normal for Squirrels To Eat Meat?

These creatures with feathery tails have sharp incisors that help them eat. Although wild squirrels eat almost anything, you should not feed them meat or scraps.

These creatures have adapted to living in cities and suburbs. Their diet will be determined by the food sources available in their environment. So, they do not stick to one kind of diet. They may or may not eat meat, and if they do, there is no specific answer to what meat do squirrels eat.

These animals are among the most adaptable you'll ever see. Because they will eat trash and dog food to survive, they have thrived in suburban areas.

What Do Squirrels Not Eat?

Per the research on squirrels, squirrels eat meat, plants and anything in between. But is there anything they won't eat? Yes, the answer is yes!

Squirrels eat most plants and fruits but avoid vegetables such as raw onions and garlic. They also avoid eating spicy peppers such as Anaheim, serrano and jalapeño, due to the presence of the compound capsaicin in peppers which is responsible for the pepper's hot sensation. Capsaicin binds to pain receptors and activates the same neurological pathway as other pain-causing stimuli when consumed.

Capsaicin also interferes with mammals' thermoregulatory systems. Capsaicin's ability to cause pain can also be used to influence animal behavior. This is why squirrel repellent spray contains pepper and why it is good to spread red pepper flakes over an area prone to squirrel attacks.

Capsaicin has also been proposed for use in bird feed by researchers. Capsaicin in bird feed, combined with a squirrel-proof bird feeder, is one method for allowing your songbirds to eat in peace. Birds lack the pain receptors required for capsaicin to work so they can consume capsaicin without harm.

To Conclude

Now you have the answer to the question, "do squirrels eat meat?" Most squirrels prefer a vegetarian diet of seeds, fruits, leaves and shoots. On the other hand, these wild animals know how to survive and their diet will consist of whatever is available in their environment, including meat.

They will not necessarily attack snakes or prey on rabbits and mice unless they are easy prey to overpower.

So don't be surprised if you see a squirrel eating something that looks like a small bird; it's all part of the survival process in the wild!

About the Author

squirrels eat meat

Brett Gee

Brett Gee is a marketing and advertising professional who has been working in advertising messaging, copy writing and content development for the better part of his 30+ year career. His experience spans across a variety of industries, markets and channels. Among his personal and professional interests is, of course, pets and animals. Aside from his[...] Author Details

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