Both squirrels and rats are rodents, they come from the same family. But do squirrels eat rats?
Squirrels do eat rats. These tiny creatures prefer to eat plant matter over animal matter but if push comes to shove a squirrel will eat a rat. Squirrels eat rats when there is a scarcity of food. If a mother squirrel is lacking food after giving birth it will also eat her young.
Squirrels are adorable little creatures that create homes in trees. If you frequent parks and other outdoor spaces you may have seen these little animals running in your path. Squirrels are loved by many. They are certainly loved more than other rodent species. They are intelligent, acrobatic and adaptable in all aspects of their life. How about in their diet? Do squirrels eat rats?
Do squirrels eat rats?
Squirrels are omnivores but the majority of their diet is plant matter. Still, there is a lot of variation in a squirrel’s diet. The most common foods that squirrels eat include dried corn, nuts, seeds, fruits and mushrooms. But squirrels will eat a rat if the rat is small enough to be preyed on.
If food is unavailable, squirrels may eat young birds, eggs and smaller mammals. They are opportunistic feeders and eat meat. Meat offers them an abundance of different nutrients like calcium, sodium, nitrogen and phosphorus. In the winter, there is a scarcity of accessible food, this makes squirrels more desperate to eat anything they can get their hands on.
Squirrels often don’t have to eat mice and rats. That being said, the popular belief that squirrels would not hurt a fly is false. As versatile feeders, they tend to eat debris from animal carcasses, dead mice are not spared.
When food goes scarce, squirrels attack live rats as an alternative source to protein. This happens in the winter season. The winter is a challenging time as new food sources are absent. Owing to their highly adaptable and opportunistic nature, they can raid nests of birds and eat their eggs.
In the summer, rats and mice become an incredible source of protein and fat to squirrels where fresh warm meat acts as a great source of nutrients for these rodents. During this time, rats are only prefered and eaten when squirrels are starving and have to leave their comfort zone of eating nuts, fruits and seeds.
What else do squirrels eat?
Most squirrels are vegetarians but they are not picky eaters by any means. They eat anything that is readily available which includes plant materials namely flower bulbs and roots. Squirrels also consume seeds, eggs and insects. They tend to hoard food which is why they love digging holes. Multiple locations can be home to their preserved food.
Since humans and squirrels have come to share more space together these rodents have picked up strange new eating habits. They may nibble on old lunch meat, burger scraps and sandwiches. Moreover, they have a high affinity for fruits. Squirrels are often found munching on fruits as they are a rich source of sugar. The sugar in fruits gives them the energy to keep running around.
What other animals eat rats?
In nature, there are a plethora of rat predators. These include:
Dogs: Breeds of dogs that hunt rodents include Rat terrier, dachshund, German Pinscher and miniature Schnauzer. These dogs have a keen sense of smell which help them find rats.
Birds of prey: Hawks and falcons watch rats from high above. The prey is ambushed as these birds of prey swoop down to catch them.
Big cats: Bobcats prefer small prey such as rats. These cats have a very adaptable nature and live in swamps, cities and woods. The cats will stalk, pounce then grab the rat with their sharp claws. Cougars are another kind of feline who will hunt rats.
Snakes: Snakes kill rats by constricting them. Black rat snakes and corn snakes are a few examples of snakes that eat rats.
Are rats worse than squirrels?
Rats are seen as a nuisance. They destroy property, chew through cables, spread dangerous diseases and get into foods and trash cans. They are often viewed as a pest and rightfully so. On the other hand, squirrels are perceived to be better than rats because they are generally viewed as cute little furry animals rather than a pest. Both are pests but one is less dangerous than the other to a certain extent.
Are squirrels cannibals?
Squirrels are omnivores but their diet mainly consists of seeds and vegetables. Like many other rodents in nature, squirrels can be cannibalistic and eat their own. If the females are under some stress or have just given birth, they can eat their own young. Squirrel cannibalism depends on the availability of food in the area. If their diet is lacking in certain nutrients, like calcium and protein, they will eat other animals and even each other as they are striving for survival.
Squirrels can and will eat rats if push comes to shove. These animals are omnivores, they eat both plant and animal matter. A squirrel will eat a rat but squirrels won’t go out of their way to hunt and catch a rat if other food options are available. If they can, squirrels will eat foods like nuts, dried corn, seeds, fruits and mushrooms.
These rodents will eat rats if there is little food available in the area and in the wintertime when there are no new food options available. If a squirrel does have to eat a rat it will eat the carcass of a dead rat before it takes its chances with preying on a live rat.
Other animals that prey on rats include dogs, birds of prey, big cats and snakes. Rats are a large part of these animals diet. If push comes to shove squirrels, just as many other animals, will cannibalize each other if there is a scarily of food.