Do Raccoons Eat Squirrels As Food?
Raccoons are amazing animals that are also known to be very intelligent. Yes, raccoons have been known to use tools. They are also nocturnal meaning they are more active at night than they are during the day. Being good climbers means that you will often find them in trees. Not only are they amazing climbers but also very adaptable animals. that can live in a variety of habitats that include forests, urban areas, and even deserts. With a lifespan of about 2-3 years in the wild, it is sad that they are solitary animals that only come together to mate or raise young ones. With their tendency to raid yards or waste, they can be considered a nuisance, but they are fascinating creatures to learn about.
Squirrels on the other hand unlike raccoons can be described as crepuscular or diurnal animals. It brings into question whether squirrels and raccoons ever meat. Squirrels like raccoons are also omnivorous, meaning they eat a wide variety of plants and animals. They are also good climbers and can often be seen scampering around in trees. There are over 200 species of squirrels making them intriguing to learn about. They love nuts, if there is one thing everybody knows about squirrels, it is that fact. Unlike raccoons, squirrels are social animals that live in groups that are referred to as “dreys”
Do Raccoons Eat Squirrels?
Raccoons and squirrels unfortunately make a great delicacy to many predators out there. Birds of prey such as hawks, owls, and eagles will swoop from the air and grab these two fascinating creatures with no mercy. Foxes, coyotes, bobcats, and other carnivores will give chase and grab these two animals without a second thought. One notable mention is snakes that will just slither and grab raccoons and squirrels. In this complex predator-prey relationship, we can only be left to wonder, do raccoons eat squirrels? Yes, raccoons will eat squirrels if they get the chance. To understand this complex relationship, we have to dive and understand a raccoon’s diet, and why it would see a squirrel as a delicacy.
The Raccoons Diet
Raccoons are opportunistic feeders, which means they will eat anything that is available to them including squirrels. They are so good at finding food that they eventually become pests when in populated areas. In cities they will raid trash cans and gardens to make a meal out of anything. They need a wide variety of nutrients that they obtain from plants and animals. Raccoons eat fruits like berries, cherries, plums, and oranges. Lettuce, carrots and peas are among the vegetables that they eat. From fruits and vegetables, raccoons get carbohydrates.
Raccoons also happen to be nut lovers, and you will find them dining on acorns, walnuts, pecans among other nuts. They will eat seeds like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds among other seeds. From these nuts and seeds, they will have their fats. For their proteins, you will find raccoons eating tiny insects like crickets, grasshoppers, beetles and so on. This is not their only source of protein since they will also eat eggs from birds, poultry animals and birds. Small mammals like mice, voles and shrews aren’t spared from the raccoon diet. If they are able to find one, they will also eat fish and amphibians like frogs and so on. They have a range of sources to obtain proteins from.
Other notable mentions are vitamins and minerals. Raccoons get vitamin A from carrots, leafy greens among others. Berries and citrus fruits give them their vitamin C. The nuts they love so much provide mostly vitamin. Minerals like phosphorus, calcium , zinc and iron will be obtained from meat, dairy products among other things. To lead healthy lives, raccoons have to incorporate a variety of these foods into their diet. It is important to understand that the nutritional needs of raccoons depend on their age, sex and activity level.
Raccoons Hunting Behavior
You probably questioned, “If raccoons are nocturnal and squirrels are diurnal, how do the two even meet?” Well, let’s explore how raccoons perform their hunts. Being active at night means that most of their prey would also be active at night. This way they increase their chances of finding food. A majority of their prey consists of insects, frogs, and fish which also happen to be very active at night. It is also a smart way to live, considering they avoid predators such as coyotes, bobcats. Owls on the other hand will also hunt for raccoons. To enable the raccoon to hunt at night, they are equipped with good night vision making it easier to navigate and find food.
Raccoons also have thick fur coats which can be uncomfortable during the day, at night hunting is easy since they avoid heat. By hunting at night raccoons can also avoid contact or proximity to humans.
Raccoons are also excellent climbers and swimmers. They have several physical adaptations that make this possible. Their sharp claws allow them to grip onto surfaces like tree barks. This way they can scavenge for food sources that are out of reach for other animals. Here they can get bird nests and beehives. In cities, these features make it easier for them to climb trash cans. Climbing trees means they are likely to also get a hold of squirrels and make a meal of it. Additionally, they are good swimmers. With webbed feet, they are able to swim through water. Their thick fur coat provides insulation and buoyancy. In the water, they are able to prey on aquatic life like fish. Here, they will also be able to hunt for frogs.
-How They Do It
Like earlier stated in this read, raccoons are good with their hands and are capable of using tools. They can turn open jars and containers with their dexterous hands, this probably explains how city raccoons survive. They can use rocks and sticks to pry open nuts and even shellfish. Raccoons will be seen digging for food in garden trash cans or any other area they can get food. They not only use skills for hunting but can also use it to care for their young or build nests to sleep on. Overall, raccoons are well designed to hunt on tree tops as well as on the ground. This enables them to get a whole variety of food, which can of course include squirrels.
Raccoon And Squirrel Relationship
To understand why raccoons may choose to eat squirrels, it is important to know how they interact and live. First of all, raccoons and squirrels will often share the same habitat. They both prefer wooded areas with a substantial amount of tree cover. They are drawn to the same type of environment because of food, after all they are both omnivorous animals. Wooded areas also have near water sources that are both important for squirrels and raccoons. They can both get shelter and enough cover from their predators. Sharing the same type of needs means that they will sometimes be in conflict. However in many cases raccoons and squirrels are able to coexist peacefully when resources are enough.
Squirrels are a source of food for many predators, hence they are wary and always alert most of the time. They are known to store food for winter. Raccoons, however, can however seize opportunities and take advantage of distracted squirrels to steal their food. Being agile climbers, squirrels will often use their ability to escape from raccoons who try to steal their food. Unforgiving as they are, raccoons may also prey on young or injured squirrels. This especially happens when food sources are scarce. Being good climbers means that raccoons can also find squirrel nests and food sources. Squirrels on the other hand may try to chase away raccoons away from their food or stores by vocalizing or even physically attacking raccoons.
Ecological Role of Raccoons
By eating squirrels, raccoons play an ecological role of keeping the squirrel population in check. Since squirrels eat from the same food sources as birds, when raccoons eat squirrels they allow these other animals to live. This way birds can also have access to the same food source. Squirrels carrying diseases being eaten means that other animals and humans are protected from getting sick. This way, raccoons eating squirrels is a natural way for the ecosystem to stay in balance. It is important to remember raccoons are opportunistic feeders and will only eat squirrels in certain circumstances.
Squirrels are not the only way that raccoons keep the environment in check. By eating insects and other pests, crop damage and diseases spreading is controlled. Eating nuts and seeds means they also help with the dispersal of seeds leading to more trees. Trees in turn provide shade, and as you know help the climate. Being good diggers means raccoons help with aerating and turning over the soil which improves the overall fertility of the soil. Raccoons also happen to be a food source for other animals, like coyotes, hawks, and owls. This ensures the raccoon population is also in check. Overall, raccoons play an important role in keeping things balanced in the ecosystem.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do raccoons attack or hunt squirrels?
Raccoons are opportunistic omnivores. This means they will occasionally prey on animals like the squirrels which is not a regular part of their diet. They are more likely to scavenge for their food though.
Do raccoons eat baby squirrels?
Baby squirrels and injured squirrels are easy target and raccoons will most likely eat them if they find them. Squirrels are not part of their diet so this happens in rare occurrences where food is scarce.
Do raccoons eat dead squirrels?
Yes, raccoons are scavengers and will feed on anything. They even go through garbage to eat anything that remotely smells like good food. If they come across a dead squirrel they will likely consume them.
Do raccoons eat other small animals besides squirrels?
Yes, being omnivores means raccoons feed on a wide variety of plants and animals. Small animals that include rodents, birds, insects and fish will most likely be consumed by raccoons if they cross paths.
What other animal prey on squirrels beside raccoons?
There are many animals that prey on squirrels apart from raccoons. This can include birds of prey such as hawks and owls. Foxes, coyotes and other carnivores won’t let a squirrel pass by. Snakes are also known to eat squirrels.
Do raccoons and squirrels compete for same food source?
Raccoons and squirrels are both omnivores meaning they share a wide variety of diets. They will not typically compete for the same resources though since squirrels primarily feed on nuts, seeds, and fruits while raccoons being opportunistic feeders will eat anything.
Can squirrels and raccoons and squirrels live together?
Yes, within the same habitat it is possible for raccoons and squirrels to exist. In fact squirrels and raccoons both prefer woodlands with ample trees. Squirrels and raccoons can both live on tree bark. However, when resources are scarce, the two may compete.
In conclusion, the relationship between raccoons and squirrels is an intriguing one that will always spark our interest. One being nocturnal and the other diurnal makes the nature of their predator prey existence a complicated one. In truth, raccoons are opportunistic eaters and will from time to time be observed eating squirrels. If they find injured or young squirrels, they will eat them sadly. This is not their primary source of food though, mostly they will feed on squirrels in times of food scarcity. Unfortunately, this does not save squirrels since they have a number of other predators that prey on them.
Raccoons and squirrels can in fact coexist in situations where there is abundance of resources. They can both turn out to be annoying pests to humans. Nonetheless, it is fascinating to look at and deep dive into the world of these small animals that can adapt to a shared environment in different ways.