Raccoons and squirrels may not have epic fights, but they do sometimes have extraordinary chases, often resulting in a tasty meal for the raccoon.
This article will help you to learn if racoons eat squirrels, if it is their acquired feast and how exactly a raccoon might catch the speedy Squirrel.
You will also find out how to keep squirrels safe from raccoons and what other predators that squirrels must keep a watchful eye for.
Do Raccoons Eat Squirrels?
Yes, raccoons have been known to kill and eat squirrels. Raccoons will chase them down and then use their long claws and teeth to attack the squirrels and eat them.
Raccoons are highly intelligent and will observe the squirrels in order to understand them. They then hunt them down and are able to easily kill them and eat them.
Although they are known to do this, they are omnivores, eating both plants and animals. This means that Raccoons would rather forage for food than regularly kill animals such as squirrels, as they want what is easy to get.
Squirrels are faster animals than raccoons, so although raccoons do kill them and eat them it does not occur too frequently, as they are no match for an active squirrel and must pounce on them during the night, if they’re going to catch and eat them.
Continue Reading: What Do Raccoons Eat
Do Raccoons and Squirrels get Along
Both animals operate during opposing hours of the day. Therefore, they don’t always come into contact as the squirrels are diurnal meaning they are only present during the daytime.
Raccoons, although nocturnal, can be active during the daytime as they do sometimes forage for food during the day, especially if they have babies which require extra feeding – putting squirrels under extra pressure.
Raccoons can get along with squirrels if they already have access to meals and aren’t hungry. They like easy meals and squirrels require effort to catch.
There have been reports of squirrels and raccoons occupying the same attic space before, suggesting that they can ‘get along’ but to say they are friendly is a stretch. It is more of a civilised respect until the raccoons get hungry.
Of course, raccoons can’t catch active squirrels as squirrels are faster runners than raccoons, this means that they could potentially get along with a big enough distance.
Raccoons and squirrels also have many crossovers in their diets, often foraging for the same foods.
Squirrels also eat nuts, fruit, various insects and eggs meaning they can come into close contact with each other particularly often.
As long as there is enough to share, the raccoon should be happy enough but competing for the same food can put a fair amount of strain on the two species.
Do Raccoons Prey on Squirrels
Raccoons can indeed prey on squirrels, they are able to hunt them down and will be fast enough to catch and eat them with some precise planning.
However, raccoons will only do this if food is scarce.
Raccoons do also do this to other small rodents too such as rats or mice and sometimes also weasels.
An easy way for raccoons to catch and eat squirrels is at night time, because squirrels are diurnal whereas raccoons are nocturnal meaning raccoons can surprise them at night.
Squirrels can be fast asleep during a raccoon’s active hours, giving raccoons the perfect opportunity to pounce on their next meal.
Raccoons may not wish to prey on squirrels as it is a lot of effort for them to catch one, as they are much faster animals. If a raccoon is already sufficiently fed, then it may prefer to let the squirrel pass them by unscathed.
Raccoons preferred method of predation may be to observe them from a distance and work out where they are nesting so they can attack them whilst the squirrels are stationary and have no easily available exit.
How Can a Raccoon even Catch a Squirrel
Raccoons must ambush squirrels in order to successfully catch them.
Squirrels are much faster than raccoons at a running speed of 20mph, compared to the raccoons measly 15mph this means raccoons have a very poor chance of catching squirrels and must get them when stationary.
Tactically, raccoons hunt them down and then they sink their long, sharp claws into the squirrel.
Squirrels have a soft and squishy body making it very easy for the raccoons to penetrate their flesh. Once caught and holding them with their front paws, they are able to bite into them and eat them.
Raccoons choose to catch squirrels at night in their nests, swiping them from their habitats for a quick and easy meal.
Raccoons may also be lucky enough to find a dead or injured squirrel which they will happily take, as it’s a meal with minimal effort.
Interestingly, as raccoons are so smart, they are actually able to catch squirrels using deceit.
They can trick them into capture. By forcing a squirrel to take cover in their nest they are then stuck with no escape in their habitat, allowing the raccoon to easily reach in and grab them for themselves.
How do Raccoons eat Squirrels
Most of their attack force comes from their claws. Both their toes and front paws are equipped with sharp, long claws. The claws on their toes are usually the ones they use to catch and hold prey with on land, leaving their front paws free to pull their prey apart.
Once they have their claws sunk into the body of the squirrel, they use their tactical teeth to clamp into the mushy middle of the body of the squirrel and can proceed to eat the squirrel from there.
Raccoons will eat most of the body of their culprit, including the head, crop meat and entire body. They won’t, however, eat the bones and will often leave them in a scattered pile.
Raccoons will also not eat any feathers. The have been known to attack and eat chickens but can’t normally manage a whole adult chicken, so if your flock has been attacked but a lot of the body is left it could be a raccoon that caused its demise, therefore they are very likely to be able to polish off a squirrel.
Raccoons can have a powerful bite which can cause an infection that results in kidney failure, bringing a gruesome demise to their prey.
They aren’t too fussy; they don’t need salt and pepper for their squirrel as they are often happy to dig and eat scraps from the trash.
Do raccoons Eat dead Squirrels?
Yes, raccoons are particularly opportunistic animals.They would not be opposed to a dead squirrel if it would entitle them to an easy meal.
They do have a preferred diet however, which consists of insects, eggs, fruit, nuts, grains, vegetables, frogs, fish, rats, small livestock and all sorts of other things like your left-over barbeque!
They are no stranger to any dead animals, especially dead squirrels. They may drag the dead carcass from your yard or on the road and take it to eat somewhere else.
Do Raccoons Raid Squirrel Nests and eat Baby Squirrels?
If it presents them to an easy meal, raccoons are up for it and will raid the squirrels nest and eat the Baby Squirrels.
Raccoons are nocturnal, waking up and staying active during the night hours. Squirrels on the other hand, are diurnal operating in the same daylight hours as humans, which is why you hear them scattering about overhead performing acrobatic stunts from oak to oak.
This means that squirrels are in a deep sleep, when raccoons are beginning their nightly antics making them the perfect sitting duck as a raccoon can raid them for an easy meal.
If a raccoon knows where to find a squirrel nest, it will raid it to eat the baby squirrels as they won’t have to be so cunning to consume them as their deep sleep means it can’t run away.
A lot of squirrels sleep in small nests or nature boxes where raccoons can easily slip their hand in and pull a meal out. This means baby squirrels are at risk as they can easily be pulled through the hole of the nest or the box.
The height will not deter raccoons either, as raccoons are skilled climbers and will have no trouble in reaching nests tucked away high in the branches.
This is as raccoons aren’t fast enough to catch an alert squirrel without being extremely lucky.
Raccoons can be the reason why many nature boxes have a predator guard on them! You might want to install one on yours!
How to Protect Squirrel Nests From Raccoons in Your Yard.
You can purchase or make devices with predator guards to keep the squirrels safe from any predators, not just raccoons.
This can be metal or wooden boxes, or other hives suspended high on trees tucked away.
The guard is necessary, as raccoons can be skilled climbers and reach the box, therefore the guard is important to stop them from reaching in and taking squirrels or their babies.
Amazon stocks squirrel domes for $15 which are safe plastic hives for them to nest in, designed to keep them protected from raccoons.
Alternatively, if you have any scraps of wood hanging about, you could fashion them into a square box with nails and cut a circular hole in the front wide enough for squirrels to get in but not for raccoons’ hands to reach through.
You may be tempted to leave food out for squirrels as well as a box, but raccoons use their sense of smell to forage their food as they have very bad eyesight, so leaving out nuts or food may only attract them.
What other Animals eat Squirrels?
Ground squirrels in the US can be hunted and eaten by badgers, bobcats, wildcats, wolverines, ferrets, and coyotes. Sometimes also mountain lions.
Pet cats can also be a common predator for the squirrel – perhaps you have been unlucky enough to receive their generous gift on the living room carpet.
Other mammals such as red foxes, skunks and weasels have also been known to be partial to a bit of squirrel.
Hawks, owls, and snakes also battle the raccoons for a meal of squirrel on occasion.
I would not fancy the challenge of being a squirrel with all those predators around, no wonder they are so fast!