Can Squirrels Eat Each Other and Their Babies? Are Squirrel Cannibals

One situation where squirrels may resort to cannibalism is if a male squirrel wishes to mate with a female who has already given birth to multiple litters with different fathers. In such cases, the male may kill and eat the offspring of the female that isn’t his, so that the female can bear his offspring instead. It’s worth noting that not all male squirrels will eat the carcasses of the young they kill.

Female squirrels may also eat their own offspring, especially if they are stressed or malnourished. Lack of essential nutrients like calcium or protein can also lead to this behavior, which is not exclusive to squirrels but can occur in other rodents as well. In the wild, where resources can be scarce, animals may resort to such behavior to survive.

Squirrels have a diverse diet that includes both plant and animal matter. While they primarily feed on vegetation, squirrels are known to eat meat as well, and it’s not uncommon for them to do so. Their meat intake can include various prey like lizards, mice, birds, snakes, and insects, but cannibalism is relatively uncommon in squirrels.

Are Squirrels Cannibals?

Red male squirrels have a tendency to engage in cannibalistic behavior by killing the offspring of other squirrels. They do this to increase their chances of mating with the female squirrel, as the pups they kill are typically the first litter the female produces. This behavior is not uncommon in the animal kingdom, as lions also kill cubs when taking over a new pride.

In some cases, male squirrels may stash the carcasses of the pups they kill to eat later or to use as a food source during times of scarcity. Stockpiling food is a common behavior among squirrels, as they consume a significant amount of food and store even more. This habit is particularly helpful during the winter months, as squirrels do not hibernate like many other animals. Instead, they rely on their food stores to survive the colder months.

Do Squirrels Eat Other Squirrels Babies?

Male squirrels engage in this behavior to breed with their female partners and establish dominance. However, they do not consume the offspring of other squirrels, as this is not about obtaining food. In years when there is an abundance of food in the wild, this behavior is primarily about confirming breeding rights and asserting dominance.

In some urgent situations, male squirrels may also kill their own pups to assist the female in preparing for the next breeding and littering cycle. While there have been instances of mothers consuming their own offspring, there is no known evidence of father squirrels engaging in this behavior.

Living in the wild can be challenging, and weather conditions can make it difficult for squirrels to find the necessary nutrition to survive. In certain situations, the mother squirrel may become stressed and resort to eating her own pups. However, they do not typically go after the offspring of other squirrels.

What animals kill squirrels?

Although squirrels do not typically face aggression from other squirrels, they do have to contend with being hunted by a variety of predators. As they occupy a lower position on the food chain, many animals view squirrels as prey and will try to attack and consume them. Some examples of predators that pose a threat to squirrels include owls, sparrow hawks, red and black kites, falcons, red foxes, domestic cats, domestic dogs, badgers, and weasels.

Will Squirrels Eat a Dead Squirrel?

Although squirrels are known for their cute appearance, they share a common behavior with many animals – they sometimes eat dead squirrels. When a squirrel encounters a dead squirrel, either from being hit by a car or shot by someone, other squirrels may come and feed on its dead body. However, squirrels only resort to cannibalism when there is no other better option for food, or when food is scarce in their area.

Squirrels are omnivores and typically feed on fruits, veggies, berries, nuts, seeds, buds, and small animals like insects, snakes, small amphibians, caterpillars, and other rodents. Although it is rare, a squirrel may eat another squirrel when it is hungry and has nothing else to eat.

One example where a squirrel may eat another squirrel is when a male squirrel kills a pup of another squirrel. This usually occurs when food is abundant, and female squirrels mate with multiple male squirrels. If a male squirrel has fathered a set of pups, it may kill the pups fathered by another male squirrel that the female has mated with. In some cases, the male squirrel may also eat the pups, but this behavior is not always observed.

Final words

To sum up, it is true that squirrels have been known to engage in cannibalism, which occurs when a male squirrel kills and eats the litter of another male squirrel in order to increase his chances of fathering a new litter. Additionally, cannibalism may occur when a mother squirrel is stressed or deficient in essential minerals after giving birth. 

However, outside of these circumstances, squirrels do not kill each other, but rather engage in fights. It is worth noting that squirrels also have other predators to worry about, including sparrow hawks, owls, red and black kites, red foxes, badgers, falcons, domestic dogs, domestic cats, and weasels.

I hope you enjoyed the article. I will be back soon with more interesting and informative pieces of writing. Till then, stay connected. 

Frequently asked questions

Do squirrels engage in cannibalism?

Yes, North American red squirrels are known to commit infanticide and cannibalism. Male red squirrels often kill and eat the pups of nearby squirrels, even if they are not the father. This behavior is most common when food is abundant.

Why do squirrels eat each other?

Red squirrels may bite off the testes of grey squirrels as an act of territorial aggression. Some claims suggest that males of the same species may bite off each other’s testes to gain breeding rights, while females may do so to decrease the population when resources are scarce.

Can squirrels harm each other?

Young squirrels may engage in play fighting, but this behavior does not typically escalate into aggression or biting. While adult squirrels can be territorial and may fight to defend their area, they do not typically fight to the death. Mother squirrels can be particularly vicious when defending their babies.

What do squirrels do when one of them dies?

Squirrels may carry off a carcass as quickly as a living animal. Some squirrels that die of natural causes may hide or confine themselves to their nest.

What are the most aggressive squirrels?

Red squirrels are known to be unsociable, highly territorial, and aggressive. They will not tolerate other squirrels, even those of the same species, in their territories. They can also be very noisy and are sometimes called “chatter boxes.”

What is the leading cause of death for squirrels?

Squirrels can fall prey to a variety of predators, including birds of prey like buzzards and goshawks, foxes, badgers, pine martens, domestic dogs and cats. Many squirrels also die of starvation during poor mast years or are killed on roads.

What animals prey on baby squirrels?

Baby squirrels are often hunted by opportunistic predators such as raccoons and snakes, especially when they are still small and in the nest. Adult squirrels are more concerned about ground predators like foxes and aerial predators such as hawks.

Why do squirrels eat their own young?

Squirrel infanticide has been observed during years of food abundance, also known as “mast” years, when white spruce cones, the main food source for red squirrels, are plentiful. It is believed that this behavior is linked to the fluctuations in the food supply.

Are squirrels intelligent?

Squirrels are considered to be one of the most intelligent rodents. They possess quickness and intellect that allow them to outsmart and sometimes outmaneuver predators, including humans. While other rodents such as rats and mice can also exhibit high levels of intelligence, squirrels are often credited as being particularly intelligent.