Raccoons are known to be ravenous eaters, which is one of the reasons why you tend to find them outside by your garbage can and by your food containers when you’re camping.
But if you also have squirrels in your yard, you might’ve already wondered, do raccoons eat squirrels?
As a general rule, raccoons can and do eat squirrels. That being said, they prefer not to eat animals such as squirrels because they prefer foods that are easy to find and easy to acquire. In addition, squirrels can generally outrun raccoons, so usually only the very small squirrels will be eaten by raccoons.
Do Raccoons Eat Squirrels? The Real Answer
First of all, raccoons are omnivores, which means that they’ll eat both plants and animals, but they are also opportunistic feeders, meaning they usually eat whatever they can find.
While raccoons will eat squirrels in some instances, they do not do so on a regular basis; instead, they’ll eat squirrels when they cannot find anything else to eat and only if it’s easy for them to do.
Foraging for an easy meal is preferable to hunting and killing prey to a raccoon, which is why you won’t see them eating squirrels on a regular basis.
Squirrels, along with other animals, provide the complete proteins raccoons need in order to be healthy.
These proteins are needed for both tissue development and cell regeneration, and because proteins take longer to digest, squirrel meat is very filling for raccoons to eat. In both urban and rural areas, raccoons have a set diet that they normally stick to, but it usually doesn’t include squirrels.
Nevertheless, when push comes to shove and raccoons are unable to find the right types of food, they will never hesitate to kill and eat squirrels if they can.
Are There Risks to Raccoons Eating Squirrels?
Now that you know the benefit — complete proteins — of raccoons eating squirrels, let’s move onto the risks involved.
First of all, while raccoons are generally peaceful animals, they will fight for their lives when they are attacked. This makes it extremely difficult for raccoons to catch and kill squirrels.
Squirrels will scratch and even bite their enemies, and because both their teeth and claws are very sharp, this is a huge risk for the raccoons.
Squirrels are also very fast, which can make it either difficult or downright impossible for raccoons to catch the squirrels in order to kill them.
In fact, the teeth and claws on a squirrel can tear through tree bark and even nuts, so it doesn’t take much to realize how disastrous it can be for one of these animals to get into a fight with a raccoon.
If a squirrel attacks a raccoon, this can cause a lot of damage to the raccoon, especially in the parts of their body that have very little fur.
This is yet another reason why raccoons always prefer to eat unattended bird eggs, fruits, and other types of foods rather than go after prey that is on the move.
And when you consider that squirrels can run up to 20 MPH and raccoons can only run up to 15 MPH, it wouldn’t be too difficult for the squirrel to get away.
How Do Raccoons Hunt and Catch Squirrels?
If raccoons that feel they have no choice but to hunt a squirrel, they will do so with a lot of precision. They will normally study the squirrel’s movements before attacking it. Raccoons have long claws and teeth that help them attack and kill squirrels.
Keep in mind that the squirrel’s body and skin are generally very soft, which means that the raccoon’s nails will easily cut into the squirrel’s flesh.
Raccoons have also been known to scratch a squirrel’s eyes and even bite into their body very quickly, which means that killing the squirrel is neither difficult nor time-consuming to do.
Simply put, while raccoons prefer other foods over squirrels and other animals, they will go after these animals if they need to in order to survive.
Because squirrels usually have a hard time getting away from raccoons, the raccoons have an upper hand and normally are successful in their attempts to hunt, kill, and eat squirrels.
While raccoons don’t kill and eat squirrels on a regular basis, they have been known to eat them when nothing else is available. In addition to squirrels, raccoons will also eat rodents, rats, duck and chicken eggs, and various types of roadkill.
In reality, raccoons have ravenous appetites and will eat just about anything, but they prefer fruits, vegetables, berries, and grains.
If you want to protect the squirrels in your yard from raccoons, just remember that many of the traps that repel squirrels also repel raccoons, so you can start with those.
If you’ve ever asked yourself, do raccoons eat squirrels, the answer is yes, but they always prefer not to if other foods are more readily available.