Squirrels are cute, up to a point. Having one or two squirrels scampering around your yard is the quintessential suburban scene. Children love to watch them gather nuts and leap from branch to branch in the treetops.
Your dogs will spend hours chasing them around the yard and up trees, and occasionally you can get up close if you have a feeder on your property.
The problems begin when squirrels start going places you don’t want them. They can crawl into gable vents and chew into the insulation and If an older squirrel dies while stuck in your attic, you’ll be smelling it for months.
They cause thousands of power outages every year chewing into cables and they can leave your home open to water damage if rain gets into their holes.
Gardeners also are in a constant battle with squirrels as they try to protect their crops. Squirrels love munching on all the plants, fruits, and flowers homeowners spend hours laboring over.
If you’re dealing with a squirrel problem, you may be left wondering how squirrels can just walk around like they don’t have a care in the world.
Where are all of the natural predators that are supposed to keep these guys in check?
Here is a list of 9 animals that love to eat squirrels.
9 Squirrel Predators
Hawks are the most common bird of prey in the United States, and they love eating squirrels.
The problem for you is that hawks don’t love coming close to people. You’ll see them gliding over trees along the highway or in basically every forest in the country, but chances are low they are going to swoop down into your yard and snatch one of your neighborhood squirrels.
It happens, but it’s rare. One of the reasons you don’t see a lot of squirrels in fields and large agricultural properties is that hawks are cunning hunters that will take them out quickly.
Owls are out hunting squirrels at night while you’re asleep in bed. These nocturnal animals have sharp claws and incredible eyesight in the dark that makes it hard for squirrels to evade them.
Owls hunt squirrels so effectively because squirrels often use the cover of night to go down into the grass and grab acorns and other food. Great horned owls as well as the barred owl love eating squirrels the most.
Ok, so snakes might be a bigger problem for you than squirrels. Not too many people think, “Oh, I’m so glad there are large snakes on my property to take out these squirrels.” Given the choice, most people will happily take the squirrels.
Still, snakes love a squirrel snack. Rattlesnakes eat squirrels all the time where they are.
When squirrels burrow underground to store their food, snakes sneak into the holes and snatch them up.
They don’t differentiate squirrels from any other of their rodent foods. If you’ve got snakes eating squirrels on your lawn, you probably have bigger problems to deal with than a few squirrels.
Dogs love a good squirrel chase. Typically, squirrels are too fast and smart for dogs, and if you’re watching in your backyard, you could think that the squirrels are purposely tormenting your pet dog.
Occasionally, though, your dog will get lucky and get its paws on a distracted or slow squirrel.
They’ll take some bites out of the squirrel, but only some dogs will eat them all the way. If your dog is lucky enough to catch a squirrel, they’ll often come running up to you with it in their mouth to present it to you as some sort of prize like you should be proud of them.
Coyotes are solitary hunters that feed on animals when the opportunity presents itself.
You won’t find many coyotes taking on full-sized deer or other animals that will put up a big fight. Instead, they love using their smarts to get their meals.
They’ll wait until dark and then move in to attack chicken coops, ducks, squirrels, rats, and other small animals. Coyotes, like snakes, will go for squirrels while they’re underground burrowing.
Foxes are tough to spot because they usually only come out at night.
These animals have excellent hearing, so they’ll stay far away from humans. When food is hard to find, you may see them venturing into suburban neighborhoods looking for small animals like squirrels and even cats and dogs.
Just like with coyotes and snakes, squirrels are most in danger when they are foraging on the ground for acorns and other nuts.
If you live somewhere with magpies flying around, you should know that they love to eat squirrels too.
Magpies are majestic birds that some people even raise as pets. They are large enough to kill and eat squirrels and will take a chance attacking one if they’re hungry enough and the opportunity is there.
America’s bird also loves a squirrel snack. Bald eagles and other types of eagles are always on the lookout for easy prey.
They’ll go for larger animals if they must, but usually, they prefer things small like chipmunks, squirrels, and groundhogs. If you live somewhere with a good population of eagles, you can bet they are sustaining their numbers with a healthy diet of squirrels.
Anyone who owns or has owned a house cat knows that there is still a lot of wild in domesticated cats. All you have to do is watch them as they ball up in a crouched position ready to pounce on whatever it is they are stalking.
They will creep up to their prey inch by inch until they get close enough to leap for what they are hunting. Sometimes they miss, but sometimes they hit the mark.
Cat owners who let their cats outside come across dead birds, squirrels, mice, and other small animals lying around the yard or even inside of the house.
It can be terrifying knowing that your loving, fluffy cat is out there terrorizing other small animals in the area.
Cats love to hunt, and squirrels pose a good challenge for them. They’ll spend all day in your grass stalking squirrels until they catch one.
Where Squirrels Are on the Food Chain
When you see squirrels outside, they are typically darting from place to place. If you come close, they’ll quickly run up a tree or disappear behind a tree trunk. The reason is that squirrels are low on the food chain. They are used to being hunted.
They have so many natural predators that they live in a sort of perpetual state of fear. They always have to be on alert or they could be something’s next meal in a matter of seconds.
Squirrels have to go out from under the tree and grab the acorns laying in the grass. Whenever they do this, they know they are exposed to predators, and that most of them will come swooping in from above without warning. They hate spending time in open spaces.
Watch the squirrels the next time you see them foraging. Whenever they are out from under the tree cover, they will typically raise up on their two hind legs so they can see what’s above them better. It helps them hear what’s around them as well.