Do Squirrels Eat Mice?
Some homeowners and wildlife enthusiasts have reported seeing a squirrel with a mouse dangling from its mouth. While this can be shocking–and, yes, somewhat terrifying–it is completely normal.
Squirrels have diverse dietary habits. During the spring, summer, and early autumn, squirrels stock up on food to tide them over throughout the cold winter months.
They store their finds in hidden treasure troves so that they can easily access them later. Squirrels store their food in buried holes in the ground for winter.
What Do Squirrels Eat?
While squirrels are mostly herbivorous and prefer to eat plant-based foods like fungi, corn, roots, sunflower seeds, insects, nuts, and fruit, squirrels do occasionally go after larger, higher-protein sources, including bird eggs, mice, and insects.
Squirrels store and bury their food, typically ones that will last them eight to nine months. They cannot easily digest cellulose, so they have to rely on foods that are rich in dense nutrients such as carbohydrates, fat, and protein.
Foods like nuts are ideal for squirrels, as they have enough protein to tide them over yet will also store well in all sorts of temperatures.
“Squirrels store a large variety of foods, typically ones that will last them eight to nine months.”
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What Circumstances Will Lead a Squirrel to Eat a Mouse?
Given challenging conditions or times of low food supply, squirrels will go after unusual sources of food. While squirrels usually won’t go after large animals such as rats, they have been known to go after birds, insects (such as crickets), and mice.
Mice provide a valuable source of protein and fat to squirrels, and squirrels will sometimes attack mice so that they have a warm, fresh source of food during the summer months.
Sometimes, squirrels find themselves without a reliable food source. Often, nuts that they have buried in the fall begin to sprout, forcing the mammal to find an alternative source of protein.
Springtime is the most challenging time of the year for squirrels because new food sources have not yet become available and other foods may have become damaged or eaten by other animals. Luckily, squirrels are highly adaptable and opportunistic.
Squirrels will raid birds’ nests for food, eating their eggs and small birds. Gray squirrels, in particular, are known to attack nests, and will even go after the mother bird.
The animal matter has been found in about seventy-five percent of squirrel bellies analyzed by scientists.
“Mice provide a valuable source of protein and fat to squirrels, and squirrels will sometimes attack mice so that they have a warm, fresh source of food during the summer months.”
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Squirrels are also known to go after abandoned animal carcasses left behind by other predators. They will eat bread scraps, meat, and other foods left by humans in dumpsters. Simply put, these adaptive animals are well suited to eating just about any food from any source.
Squirrels aren’t fantastic hunters, and although they will eat just about anything, they will only do this if they are starving. Given a chance, squirrels would prefer to eat fruit, nuts, or other plant-based foods.
However, if they are hungry they will eat small snakes, insects, and other rodents.
Chances are if you’ve seen another rodent being eaten by a squirrel, this means that the mouse was already dead. Squirrels are opportunistic and will go after prey that has already been attacked or poisoned by bait.
Should I Worry About Squirrels Eating Meat?
Squirrels will only go after mice if they are starving. This doesn’t mean they will start going after larger animals–like your pets! If you see a squirrel with a mouse, let it be. This behavior is harmless to humans and is simply a natural part of wildlife.***