It will be difficult to argue that they are the cutest members of the rodent family, squirrels have a solid reputation of being extremely adorable and friendly. If you ask to describe a squirrel, most people would picture squirrels eating acorns or singing songs along princesses in fairy tales. Despite their pleasant appearance and perfect image, people who live with squirrels in their backyards would know that they can be little rebels too. Aside from the lesser crime of stealing bird seeds from bird feeders, you might be surprised to find out how squirrels terrorize the birds they live with.
Do Squirrels Eat Bird Eggs?
Yes, squirrels eat bird eggs. Aside from sharing living spaces with birds up in trees, squirrels also feed on bird eggs in their nests when the mother bird is not around. Squirrels have been called rats in better clothing for a reason, they eat just about anything they see and that includes the easily accessible bird eggs hatching peacefully in their little nests.
Do squirrels steal bird eggs?
A squirrel will not usually approach a nest with an adult bird in it but yes, they will steal bird eggs from unguarded nests. They do choose their battles and will not risk getting attacked by a larger bird in order to steal an egg to eat. Squirrels are quite clever in timing when to raid a nest, usually they will wait for when the mother has abandoned a nest or when she’s out hunting for food. With their natural ability to climb tree, it makes sense why eggs in a bird’s nest would be an easy food source for them.
What kind of eggs do squirrels eat?
Squirrels will eat any egg they find. Squirrels are not particular with food they eat as long as it will fill their stomachs and so this is to be expected with the kind of eggs they feed on.They have been known to raid chicken coops as well if they can not find anything up a tree. Basically, they eat eggs for convenience as it usually is literally just next to where they build their nests as well.
Do squirrels eat dove eggs?
Yes, squirrels eat dove eggs. Doves usually lay two eggs at a time at least three times a year so a dove’s nest is a good food source for squirrels too. Adult doves do not wander too far from their nests though and would usually take turns in hatching eggs so squirrels might find raiding a dove’s nest more challenging than others. Although doves are known to abandon nests if something happens to one of the eggs so this will be an ideal situation for a squirrel.
Do squirrels eat duck eggs?
Although ducks don’t usually build nests on treetops like other birds, if a squirrel finds a duck egg, it will absolutely still eat it. Ducks are very secretive about their nests so it might be a challenge for squirrels to find it. If they do find it though, it will be like finding a pot of gold as ducks lay around 12 eggs at a time. Mother ducks would usually stay with the eggs most of the time so squirrels will find it difficult to raid a duck’s nest.
Do squirrels eat hard boiled eggs?
Obviously, hard boiled eggs are impossible to come by in nature, but let’s say a human decides to toss a hard-boiled egg to a squirrel, the squirrel will not hesitate to try it and eat it. If it’s not obvious yet, squirrels are definitely not picky eaters! If they would feed on raw eggs that they would have to steal from a bird’s nest, they will definitely not say no to a cooked egg that’s already being offered to them.
Wildlife experts discourages people from feeding wild animals like squirrels though. It may be tempting to feed them to keep them engaged but feeding them would make them lose their fear of people. This might sound nice but this also sends them a signal that they can come to people’s houses and steal food and eventually just infest human spaces. Squirrels also has a chance of carrying diseases harmful to humans through their ticks and fleas. In many territories, it is illegal to keep squirrels as pets for this reason. They have always been listed as part of wildlife and to kill them as food, a hunter will have to have a license to hunt them.
There are over 200 different squirrel species in the world including the more popular chipmunks, red squirrels, flying squirrels, eastern gray squirrels and ground squirrels. There are no squirrels in Australia and Antarctica but they are spread through every other continent, especially in North America. Though most squirrels are primarily herbivores, these little creatures tend to eat meat too whenever it is available.
- Do grey squirrels eat bird eggs?
Yes, grey squirrels eat bird eggs. A study from the National Geographic Channel has found out that grey squirrels are smarter than their red cousins, giving them advantage in finding food. This natural intelligence enables them to find better food quicker than their red counterparts. Since raiding a bird’s nest would require more skills, the grey squirrels will find themselves better at this. Grey squirrels also build nests on tree tops so it is very likely for them to spot unguarded nests and take advantage of it. Grey squirrels are also larger than red squirrels which give them an advantage if there is a need to fight a bigger mother bird of an egg in the nest.
- Do red squirrels eat bird eggs?
Red squirrels are known to be the most carnivorous among the squirrels. They love eating eggs along with the usual acorns, cones, hazelnuts, fruits and insects. They even eat mushrooms, even the ones that are poisonous to other animals. Aside from eggs, they usually eat the nestlings too. Red squirrels make up for their small size with their aggressiveness. They are very active and will not back down when challenged in a fight by the bigger grey squirrel.
Do squirrels eat baby birds?
As horrible as it may seem, squirrels do eat baby birds. A quick internet search would result to hundreds of photos of squirrels with baby birds in their mouths. Again, squirrels will eat just about anything that is available so if they happen to raid a nest with eggs already hatched, they will eat the little birds in it if that’s what they find. Because of their cute appearance, it is easy to forget that squirrels are not exclusively herbivores. It is natural for them to prey on baby birds left in nests because it is easy, accessible and the nutritious enough to sustain them.
Do squirrels eat birds?
Bigger birds like hawks and eagles may be too difficult for squirrels but squirrels have been sighted eating adult birds of smaller species. In fact, there are studies showing that some birds would abandon their nests if they come back to it while the squirrel is raiding it for fear of getting eaten by them as well. Squirrels, especially the larger grey ones and the aggressive red ones, are capable of killing birds. It is good to note though that squirrels will not attack birds if there is sufficient food in their area. Attacking and killing birds would be a squirrel’s last resort to survive. Ultimately, squirrels will stick to eating their usual portion of acorns, nuts and seeds if the conditions are ideal. Squirrels are still considered mainly herbivores but their long front teeth will enable them to gnaw on smaller animals if necessary.
Squirrels will also eat dead birds they find it hanging around. They can eat the entire bird, usually only leaving the beak and the claws.
The Squirrel Diet
Aside from eggs and birds, squirrels mainly feed on nuts, fruits and vegetables. Some of their favorites are of course, acorns, walnuts and peanuts. They also like corn, broccoli, squash for veggies and for fruits, their favorite fruits are apples, avocados, apricots and oranges. Peanuts may be a popular food for squirrels but contrary to popular belief, peanuts are legumes, not nuts, so it will not have the same nutritional content that of walnuts, hazelnuts and pistachios. Squirrels also eat a lot of insects like worms and caterpillars and even young snakes!
New born squirrels, just like humans and other mammals, will feed exclusively on their mother’s milk. They will stick to their milk diet for a month and a few weeks before they start leaving their nests and trying other solid food options. Obviously, new born squirrels will not eat bird eggs and bird babies yet.
Squirrels are known to dig holes to hide their food and, unlike other animals, they do this all year round, not just to get through the scarcity of food during winter. On average, an adult squirrel will eat about a pound of food per week, this is a lot considering that their average body weight is only about 1 to 1.5 pounds. They are basically able to literally eat their body weight it a week’s worth of food.
It has also been found that squirrels would, at times, practice cannibalism. In studies, it has been found that male squirrels would kill and eat infant squirrels. Coincidentally, this usually happens when there is sufficient amount of food in their environment, meaning they don’t do this out of necessity. The explanation behind this is quite surprising and says a lot about how complex the squirrel intellect is. Ecologists have explained that during food abundance, male adults would kill a female’s litter to ensure that he can sire the next one. A mother squirrel is only able to conceive when she is not feeding a litter so the male kills the first litter to be able to father his own. As horrifying as it is, this is a way of male squirrels to make ensure the continuity of his lineage.
Bonus Squirrel Facts!
- When squirrels are born, they are only an inch long, that’s about the length from your top knuckle on your thumb to the tip of your thumb! Depending on the specie, they can grow to about 15 – 20 inches. The smallest squirrel specie is the African pygmy squirrel, growing only to 5 inches, the biggest one is the Indian giant squirrel that can grow to 36 inches, that’s one meter long!
- The two front teeth of squirrels don’t ever stop growing! They keep are able to keep it short by constantly using their teeth to gnaw on food. Basically, they file their teeth short when they use it to eat. This comes handy when they break their teeth gnawing on very hard food.
- Squirrels will put on extra weight to prepare for the colder months of winter. Let’s just say, the extra body mass is the extra layer they wear to stay warm and survive the cold.
- Squirrels deceive food thieves by pretending to bury food in a certain location. This misleads other squirrels who might try to steal their food stash. They will dig a hole as if preparing to store food and would cover it without actually putting anything inside. Clever!
- Squirrels are accidental forest farmers. They sometimes forget about the seeds they bury and so it ends up growing as a tree!
- Like cats, squirrels can fall from up to 30 meters high without injuring themselves. They can also leap up to 20 feet away because of their long and muscular legs.
- Flying squirrels can’t really fly. They perform an acrobatic leap using the flap of skin between their limbs to glide from tree to tree. These leaps can cover 150-300 feet so it does look like they are flying if you watch it from a distance.
You probably view squirrels differently now. These little chipmunks are more than just nut eaters happily roaming around parks and backyards. They are actually good hunters with acrobatic skills and complex intelligence.