Do Foxes Eat Squirrels? (Can They Catch Them?)

Do Foxes Eat Squirrels?

Arctic foxes and red foxes are among the mammalian predators that can normally eat all types of squirrels, including red and grey squirrels.

Usually, foxes live in rural areas, including habitats found in farmland, woodland, and wetland, but you can also see them in urban areas. They are omnivores by nature and eat almost everything, including carrion.

Do foxes eat squirrels?

Foxes eat squirrels, among other animals. Along with eating squirrels, gray and red foxes usually eat mice, rabbits, chipmunks, voles, insects, fruits, eggs, birds, corn, reptiles, and amphibians, as well as carrion. They usually continue to hunt even when they are full to store extra food under dirt, leaves, or snow. 

Foxes Infographic
Foxes Infographic

Being an omnivore, a red fox can eat various types of foods, including grasses, fruits, berries, and birds, and small mammals like mice, rabbits, etc. On the other hand, gray foxes can readily climb trees and jump from branch to branch while protecting them or hunting.

Who else can eat squirrels? 

Predators that eat squirrels can mainly be divided into four categories:

  • aerial predators
  • mammalian predators,
  • reptilian predators
  • parasites

Eagles, harriers, hawks, etc., come under the category of aerial predators, whereas coyotes, weasels, foxes, etc., are among mammalian predators. Various types of snakes come in the category of reptilian predators and flesh flies in the category of parasites. 

Mammalian Predators 

Squirrel predators
Squirrel predators

Though most squirrels can protect themselves from being attacked by mammalian predators by warning their fellows by emitting alarm calls still, they are attacked by various types of mammalian predators to eat them.

When ground squirrels are attacked by a mammal, then they will move back to their burrows to protect them, whereas tree squirrels escape mammalian predators based on their physical flexibility and speed. 

RELATED: Do Foxes Eat Snakes?

A considerable number of mammalian predators eat various types of squirrels. For instance, red foxes, coyotes, wolves, arctic foxes, lynxes, grizzly bears, ermines, and wolverines can attack arctic ground squirrels.

Bobcats, weasels, red foxes, grey wolves, Canadian lynxes, and coyotes can eat eastern grey squirrels. Minks, fishers, canids, weasels, lynxes, American martens, red foxes, and humans are some of the mammals that like to target red squirrels. 

Similarly, coyotes, American badgers, bobcats, weasels, domestic dogs, and cats, as well as mountain lions, can prey on Californian ground squirrels. Mammals like badgers, foxes, skunks, coyotes, minks, and weasels like to eat Franklin’s ground squirrels. 

Though flying squirrels can protect them from predators as they are active at night, they can still be eaten by raccoons, bobcats, weasels, and domestic cats. American martens and coyotes can also target northern flying squirrels. Mammals like raccoons, bobcats, coyotes, gray foxes, ringtails, American badgers, and domestic dogs and cats also like to eat rock squirrels. 

Aerial Predators 

Aerial predators can eat almost all types of squirrels. Red-tailed hawks can eat eastern gray squirrels, whereas owls and hawks can eat fox squirrels.

Bald eagles, cooper’s hawks, horned owls, northern goshawks, American kestrels, grey owls, red-shouldered hawks, northern harriers, sharp-shined hawks, and red-tailed hawks can attack red squirrels.

Golden eagles and red-tailed hawks can also target Californian ground squirrels, rock squirrels, whereas arctic ground squirrels are eaten by Harlan’s hawk, northern goshawks, great horned owls, snow owls, common ravens, short-eared owls, and long-tailed jaegers along with golden eagles and red-tailed hawks. 

Parasites 

A Richardson's Ground Squirrel calls near its burrow in central Montana
A Richardson’s Ground Squirrel calls near its burrow in central Montana.

Certain parasites also attack squirrels and eat them. For instance, maggots laid by an adult flesh fly on the back of the Richardson’s ground squirrel can kill it.

It is because these maggots make holes into the squirrel’s skin to get into it and eat its tissues. After the infestation of maggots into the skin of this ground squirrel, it dies within 5-6 days. 

Reptilian Predators 

Snakes are the main reptilian predators that like to eat squirrels. They usually like to eat young fox squirrels. Bull snakes and western rattlesnakes like to eat rock squirrels, whereas timber rattlesnakes usually attack red squirrels.

A rattlesnake can also like to attack infants of Californian ground squirrels instead of adult squirrels because, in their blood, they have an antidote to protect them from the venom released by rattlesnakes.

They can easily target baby squirrels because they do not have an antidote in their blood. 

Do Foxes Eat Squirrels?
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Adrian Volenik

I've lived around animals my whole life and I hold a Diploma in Animal Physiology. When I'm not reading or writing about wild animals, health and fitness, and technology, you can find me playing with my son and two cats. My pastimes include running, playing video games, and solving the NY Times crossword.