Like any other wild animal, raccoons never miss any eating opportunity and will eat just about anything even chocolates and including your pets even dogs (small ones). What about squirrels? Do raccoons eat squirrels?
Whether you’re a squirrel owner, lover, or enthusiast, you probably do not want to lose the furry rodents. And one of their vicious predators is raccoons that leads to the question, do raccoons eat squirrels? Have you ever seen raccoons eating squirrels? Is it easy for raccoons? Here’s the answer.
The Short Answer…
Like raccoons eating rabbits, raccoons eat squirrels as a last resort when they have no other food option left. Due to squirrels are fast, quick, and nimble little rodents, faster than raccoons. Raccoons are omnivores (like bears) and opportunistic eater that prefer finding and eating easy meals like trash bins in the city and plants, fruits in the wild. But if they didn’t find those, they will opt for other easier meals like fruits, plants, insects, and other small animals.
With none of those options available, they will go for difficult options like squirrels and rabbits. Even with that situation, they won’t opt for difficult food first instead, they will forage find easy food that doesn’t fight back. But that doesn’t mean raccoons are not good hunters or do not eat squirrels, raccoons will eat squirrels whenever they get the opportunity. Even raccoons eat cats, kittens, dogs, puppies, birds, even chocolate that is poisons for them and other small animals in the opportunity.
Do Raccoons Eat Squirrels?
Like bears, raccoons are omniverse and say no to any food including eating squirrels and even chocolates which are poisons for them. However, raccoons are extremely opportunistic eaters that go to the bottom of the barrel of food which are trash cans, food waste, and roadkill whilst squirrels do not.
Although raccoons are omniverse, they are after easy meal that doesn’t require effort to catch, hunt, and fight and eat like fruits, plants, food waste, roadkill, not squirrels first. Not only because squirrels are super fast, but they are also very smart and intelligent that makes them very hard to catch. However, when they didn’t find any food, they will definitely go for squirrels. But that’s not always the case, sometimes they may also catch squirrels when finding food.
With that though, raccoons are quite intelligent mammals and when they have less or no food, they will go for squirrels but not running after. Instead, they will chase and prey squirrel, understand their behavior, and slowly get close, as close as they can, and when its possible for them to catch, they will hunt it. Once they catch, raccoons can easily kill squirrels and eat them, and rarely the squirrel may escape.
With sharp claws and teeth, raccoons are larger, heavier, and stronger than squirrels and weigh anywhere from 3.5 to 9 kg whereas the largest squirrels weigh only 3.3 kg. However, in battle, raccoons are more powerful than squirrels and can easily rip off and kill squirrels.
How Do Raccoons Eat Squirrels?
Just because squirrels are fast doesn’t mean raccoons can never catch them, raccoons are far more intelligent than squirrels and catch squirrels just like any other animals tricking them or in their nest, on a tree, or on the ground.
Since raccoons are opportunistic critters, they are always foraging food specifically easy meals, and would also prey on these animals when they are there. When the prey is in the nest, or not aware of the presence of the raccoon, it will move as close as it can without noise and when it’s close enough, it will hunt. It won’t go after if it escapes, but rarely the prey escapes.
But not so many videos and people have seen raccoons eating squirrels. That is because raccoons don’t bother to eat squirrels when they have easy meals. Though raccoons like meat, they do not prefer hunting when they can find easy food. Like in the wild, raccoons eat eggs and baby animals from the birds and reptiles nest. In the city, raccoons find easier food from trash, squirrel, and bird feeder, eggs, chickens so occasionally they prey after these small and difficult animals like rabbits, squirrels, and birds.
Here’s a video of how do they catch squirrels but escapes which is very rare.
How Do Raccoons Manage to Eat Squirrels When Squirrels Are Faster Than Them?
Little bit like how we hunt, raccoons do the same. That means they hunt with their intelligence, not with their speed or quietness just like owls do. Despite squirrels are very smart and intelligent and are also nearby each other, squirrels make different sounds for ground and aerial predators when they see a predator and use a successful strategy for not being noticed and heard, which they also use running in front of the cars and stopping the middle of the road and get killed.
That trick works for squirrels saving from predators but not raccoons. Meaning, raccoons are no where like other animals neither physically nor their strategies. Just like the video above, raccoons are very intelligent and they don’t run after squirrels, instead, they get too close and then hunt or hunt in their nest, hunt their babies, and trick them to hunt. However, raccoons can’t hunt squirrels directly or straightly running after them. But tricking them, raccoons can eat squirrels anytime they want.
And like I said, squirrels aren’t the first which they would go for. They prefer easy meals without hunting and aren’t much after prey unless they see prey and easy to catch it.
When Do Raccoons Eat Squirrels?
Intelligent than most animals, raccoons also find food intelligently. Raccoons are in search of easy food but if they didn’t find it, they will hunt squirrels. That’s when raccoons eat squirrels.
How To Protect Squirrels From Raccoons
If you’ve had chickens, you may better also know how to protect squirrels. If you don’t, no worries, I will describe in a minute.
As intelligent as raccoons are, they are also hard to keep away and they will always try and penetrate into the chicken coop or wires or anywhere where there’s food. Nonetheless, I must say that it took two years for raccoons to enter and eat my chickens, and the same is for others.
There are many ways to get rid of raccoons including its babies from your attic and house. With that though, here’s a quick review of what works.
- Get rid of their food source – That can be garbage bins, food waste, and pet food placed outside. The simple solution: Wash up the garbage bin and put your food waste always in a double bag and close the lid. Better than that, keep the garbage bin inside.
- If you’ve a fruit tree, you don’t need to get rid of your fruit tree. Instead, you may collect the sweet fruits and let the raw fruits which isn’t attractive for raccoons.
- Also, remove compost piles or better than that, relocate or use only unattractive and useless things (not food waste) that won’t attract raccoons.
- Remove the pets, chickens, squirrels, birds, or any other food outside. Also, patch up the holes and electrify the chicken coop wires.
- Check if you can trap, shoot or relocate raccoons from the Department.
- Use repellents, hot pepper around your house. If you have a farm dog, that’s will automatically keep raccoons away otherwise you can also use an owl statue.
- Make predators noise and use lights to scare them away.
These are a few effective steps which you can take and will keep raccoons away from your squirrel and your pet.
When it comes to eating squirrels, raccoons are the one’s to protect from. In fact, raccoons always prey on these small animals not primarily but sidely unless they run out of food. If you don’t know, raccoons are basically after easy food that doesn’t require hunting like fruits, plants, food waste.
The reason why raccoons doesn’t eat squirrel at first is because they are hard to catch like rabbits. Not only squirrels are fast but they are also very smart and that makes it difficult to catch. But that doesn’t mean, they can’t hunt squirrels, in fact, raccoons can eat squirrels whenever they want. But that’s not what they would go for first.
They would search for easy food around, meanwhile, they will also prey on small animals, and if they have no other food but squirrels, they will likely trick and eat it. However, if the prey is hard to catch, occasionally raccoons will hunt in group so with that, they will most likely succeed to catch squirrels. As a result, raccoons do and can eat squirrels whenever they want. However, it’s very rare.
You can also take some steps to protect and keep raccoons away which we have outlined above. However, there are also other predators which you might look for foxes, domestic cats, cats, dogs, badgers, polecats, weasels.