Squirrels, the animals with bushy tails, are a part of the Sciuridae family of mammals and are little rodents found worldwide. Over 200 squirrel species are found all over the world. With remarkable hoarding ability in the animal kingdom, squirrels can jump in the air for approximately four feet, clamber up trees, and land on their feet as swiftly as a cat.
Squirrels’ diets resemble human diets as they also eat various foods. These little rodents have adapted very well to humans. Foods like nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables are some of the favorite energy sources for squirrels.
So, now the question is, do squirrels eat meat? It might be hard to imagine that those cute squirrels in your backyard like to eat more than just nuts and seeds. Well, these little five-to 36-inch critters just happen to eat many things and will amaze you with what they eat. Most squirrels’ diets consist of hard, mast-like acorns, walnuts, or seeds.
But what else? Are squirrels herbivores? Or do squirrels eat meat? Let’s get answers to some of the common questions about the eating habits of squirrels.
Do Squirrels Eat Meat?
Squirrels are opportunistic omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals. Although squirrels are primarily prey animals, they actively hunt their prey when needed. In short, yes, they do eat meat. Their primary food source is vegetarian food like nuts, fruits, and plants native to their habitat, but they will also eat insects, bird eggs, and mice if their primary food source is scarce and won’t last long.
It’s no surprise that even though squirrels eat meat, it isn’t their first food choice. Squirrels turn to meat when their primary food source, i.e., plants, seeds, fruits, and other highly seasonal vegetation, isn’t readily available.
Also, squirrels are famous for burying their food for the winter. This process of burying food is known as caching; sometimes, they forget where they hid the food. In this scenario, they are more likely to turn to other food sources.
Female squirrels are more likely to eat meat when pregnant and lactating. They look for high protein sources and other nutrients. Meat from different sources fulfills their nutritional needs and provides the needed protein to the female body.
3 Benefits of Meat for Squirrels
They are natural scavengers who typically eat meat found on dead animals. Squirrels are omnivores, also known for raiding bird nests and eating baby birds, bird eggs, insects, and mice. Sometimes the male squirrels kill the babies and eat them so that the female squirrel stops lactating and is ready to mate again.
Squirrels are predators that target small animals. There are a variety of squirrels found all over the world, so their eating habits may also vary.
The eastern grey squirrel, for example, will eat birds of its kind, and squirrels also prey upon young snakes and rabbits. Here are three benefits of meat for squirrels :
It is known that meat provides complete protein and other essential nutrients. Squirrels are no exception; their bodies also require protein to function adequately. Foods like almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts are vegetarian options for squirrels to get protein and healthy fat content.
As an omnivore creatures, squirrels will also eat bird eggs, young snakes, mice, and bird carcasses, which completes their protein requirement and helps their bodies function efficiently.
When squirrels consume protein, it helps them absorb other nutrients as well. Protein is broken into amino acids, and the body then absorbs these amino acids.
Fat is the powerhouse of energy and an essential part of squirrels’ diets. They usually get healthy fat from nuts, but some additional fat is also consumed by them when they turn to animal meat. This accumulated fat helps them keep warm during the harsh winters when the temperature hits subzero.
Squirrels are swift runners. The eastern grey squirrel can touch down at around 20 miles per hour on the ground. These little creatures know how to burn the excess fat they consume.
Omega 3 fatty acids are also present in animal meat, which are very helpful in brain functioning and keep squirrels healthy.
Most of the time, squirrels eat vegetarian food, which provides nutritional value, but there are some parameters that the vegetarian diet lacks. Some essential vitamins, like vitamin B12, vitamin D, and calcium, are only found in animal meat.
Calcium helps strengthen the bones of squirrels, and vitamin B12 helps in assisting the creation of RBCs (red blood cells). Squirrels’ bodies need these essential vitamins to function adequately.
A vegetarian diet does not provide squirrels with all the necessary vitamins and nutrients, but consuming animal meat keeps this parameter in check.
3 Risks of Feeding Meat to Squirrels
Feeding a squirrel can be challenging, especially if you are trying to feed meat to squirrels. Meat is not the priority for squirrels when it comes to food, and their diet is primarily vegetarian, which consists of nuts, seeds, fruits, and veggies.
Squirrels may get the hang of something very quickly. If you are consistently feeding meat to squirrels, here are three risks of feeding meat to squirrels :
Getting the hang of eating meat
Squirrels do indeed eat meat in the wild for their survival, but if you are constantly feeding meat to the squirrels, they might get the hang of it.
They can become meat-dependent, which is not good for their gut health either. If you make a squirrel choose between meat and vegetarian food, the squirrel will prefer the latter.
Bacterias can be dangerous
When feeding squirrels meat, be very careful regarding the meat you are feeding them. Raw meat may contain Salmonella, Escherichia Coli., and other bacteria, which are very dangerous to the health of a squirrel. It may cause food poisoning and, in the worst-case scenario, even the death of squirrels.
Transmission of parasites
Squirrels are cute little rodents who wander in the wild. Their soft fur makes a comfortable place to live for parasites like ticks, fleas, and other tiny undetectable parasites.
There could be a possible transmission of parasites when you feed them, which is unhealthy for your family and pets.
Many squirrels are found worldwide—tree squirrels, ground squirrels, flying squirrels, and many more. These little creatures are far from ordinary and help recycle and compost waste products.
A squirrel’s primary food source is a vegetarian diet that consists of nuts, fruits, plants, seeds, and much more. Squirrels also store food in caches for harsh weather like winter.
Now you know the answer to do squirrels eat meat? Squirrels are opportunistic omnivores, which means they will eat both plants and meat. If vegetarian options are scarce, these little critters know how to survive in that environment.
They usually prey on small animals, which are easy to overpower. Bird eggs, mice, insects, and small birds are some of their go-to options.
Eating meat helps squirrels get protein, healthy fats, and vitamins that are only present in animal meat. Squirrels are highly active animals and need ample energy for that provided by animal meat.
If you are feeding squirrels raw meat, make sure it is bacteria free and safe to consume for the squirrels. Or else it could create further problems for the tiny little creatures.
Why do squirrels eat meat?
Squirrels are very smart creatures. They prioritize a vegetarian diet with acorns, pecans, walnuts, vegetables, and fruits. But when vegetarian food isn’t readily available, these hungry critters will turn to meat to satisfy their hunger. From raiding bird nests to hunting mice, they can do anything to fill their little tummies.
Also, when a female squirrel is pregnant and lactating, she is more likely to eat meat. They look for high protein sources and other nutrients, and it’s known that meat is more nutrient dense when compared to plants.
Are squirrels omnivores?
Yes, squirrels are omnivores, which means they eat plants and meat. They often rely on nuts, seeds, fruits, and fungi for survival, but they also don’t mind eating meat if the situation demands it.
What kind of meat do squirrels eat?
Squirrels eat various foods, and the meat comes from different sources. They will raid unguarded nests and eat the birds’ eggs when they have no option. Bird eggs also help squirrels quench their thirst, preventing them from dehydration. From a nutritional standpoint, bird eggs are rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals.
They are natural scavengers and will even eat meat found on dead animals. Sometimes the male squirrels kill the babies and eat them, so the female squirrel stops lactating and is ready to mate again.
Squirrels are predators that target small animals. The eastern grey squirrel, for example, will eat birds and its kind, and Squirrels also prey upon young snakes and rabbits.
Do squirrels eat chicken meat?
As an omnivore, squirrels eat meat opportunistically to satisfy their hunger. They will eat small insects such as caterpillars, larvae, beetles, and other insects.
There have been only a few reports of squirrels eating chicken meat. If these critters are hustling around the trash and find leftover chicken meat or bones, the squirrel will nibble on it without knowing it is chicken meat.
Will squirrels eat steak?
The answer is no. Squirrels will not eat steak; they are vegetable-heavy omnivores.
Although squirrels will eat small animals like mice, rabbits, insects, and animal carcasses, they won’t eat steak. Even if you try to feed them steak, squirrels will just lick the juices dripping from the steak.
Do squirrels scavenge meat?
Yes, squirrels are scavengers, and they will eat animal carcasses. These little critters are opportunistic omnivores and scavenge meat if they find a dead animal.