Do Raccoons Eat Squirrels? Exploring the Dynamics

do raccoons eat squirrels

Do raccoons eat squirrels? The answer to this question lies in the feeding habits of raccoons, notorious for their diverse and opportunistic diet. 

Raccoons are omnivores, meaning they consume both plants and animals, and they do eat squirrels. In urban areas where both species coexist, raccoons have been observed preying on squirrels when the opportunity arises. 

However, it’s important to note that that raccoons don’t mainly rely on squirrels as their main food. They might eat squirrels when they come across them, but it’s not like they actively hunt them. Raccoons aren’t specialized in hunting squirrels. Their diet is more about being opportunistic and eating a mix of things, depending on what’s available in their surroundings.

Let’s delve into the intriguing relationship between raccoons and squirrels to understand the dynamics of their coexistence or predation in the wild.

Why Do Racoons Eat Squirrels?

Raccoons are opportunistic predators, meaning they exploit a wide range of food sources based on availability. Their flexible diet allows them to adapt to different environments, from urban areas to forests. Squirrels, being small mammals abundant in many habitats, become an attractive target for raccoons.

Squirrels, being a source of protein and fat, can serve as a valuable food item for raccoons, especially when other food sources are scarce or less energy-rich.

In colder seasons when these resources become scarce, the opportunistic nature of raccoons may drive them to target small mammals like squirrels to fulfill their nutritional need.

Are Racoons a Really big threat to Squirrels? 

Raccoons can pose a threat to squirrels, but the extent of this danger depends on factors like seasonal changes, competition for resources, and habitat. Raccoons are opportunistic predators, and when their usual food sources are scarce, they may turn to hunt smaller mammals, including squirrels.

In urban areas, where both species live in close proximity, competition for food and shelter might intensify, potentially leading to increased predation. However, in more abundant environments or during seasons with plentiful resources, the threat level may decrease as raccoons have alternative food options.

It’s important to note that while raccoons can contribute to controlling squirrel populations through predation, they are not always a dominant threat. The intricate balance of nature, combined with factors like seasonal influences and competition, shapes the dynamic between raccoons and squirrels. 

How to Protect Squirrels from Raccoons?

Protecting squirrels from raccoons involves creating barriers and making changes to discourage raccoons from accessing areas where squirrels frequent. Here are some tips to help protect squirrels from raccoons:

  • Secure Bird Feeders: Squirrels often visit bird feeders, and raccoons are attracted to the food as well. Use squirrel-proof bird feeders or place baffles on poles to prevent both squirrels and raccoons from reaching the feed.
  • Elevate Feeders: Hang bird feeders high enough or place them on poles with baffles to make it difficult for raccoons to climb up.
  • Use Squirrel Guards: Install squirrel guards on trees or poles to prevent squirrels from climbing to nest sites or feeding areas. These can be metal bands or PVC pipes that make it challenging for them to get a grip.
  • Secure Trash Bins: Raccoons are attracted to food scraps, so make sure your trash bins are secure with tight-fitting lids. Use bungee cords or other locking mechanisms if necessary.
  • Install Motion-Activated Lights: Raccoons are nocturnal, and motion-activated lights can startle them, making your property less appealing. This can be especially effective near bird feeders or squirrel nesting areas.
  • Apply Natural Deterrents: Spraying natural deterrents, such as pepper spray or predator urine, around the area can discourage both squirrels and raccoons.
  • Trim Tree Branches: If possible, trim tree branches that provide access points for raccoons to reach squirrel nests.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Raccoons and Squirrels

Q1: Do raccoons and squirrels compete for the same resources in urban environments?

A: Yes, raccoons and squirrels often compete for resources such as food, shelter, and nesting sites in urban areas where both species coexist. The competition is influenced by factors like seasonal changes, habitat availability, and the adaptability of each species.

Q2: Are raccoons in urban areas more likely to eat squirrels than those in natural habitats?

A: Yes, raccoons in urban areas may exhibit a higher likelihood of consuming squirrels due to the coexistence of both species. Urban environments provide raccoons with increased opportunities to encounter squirrels, leading to occasional predation instances.

Q3: Do raccoons actively hunt squirrels, or is it a random occurrence?

A: Raccoons do not actively hunt squirrels as a specialized prey. Their feeding behavior is opportunistic, and while they may eat squirrels when encountered, they lack specific adaptations for targeted hunting of these small mammals.

Q4: How do seasonal changes affect raccoons’ predation on squirrels?

A: In colder seasons or when usual food sources are scarce, raccoons may increase their predation on small mammals like squirrels. The opportunistic nature of raccoons leads them to target squirrels more actively during times of scarcity.

Q5: Can measures be taken to protect squirrels from raccoons?

A: Yes, various protective measures can discourage raccoons from preying on squirrels. These include securing bird feeders, using squirrel guards, managing trash bins, and creating physical barriers. Implementing these measures helps minimize potential conflicts and promotes a balanced coexistence.


While raccoons may occasionally target squirrels as part of their opportunistic diet, the extent of this predation varies with factors like seasonal changes and resource availability. Understanding the dynamics between these two species enables us to implement effective measures for coexistence. By implementing preventive strategies and respecting the natural behaviors of raccoons and squirrels, communities can foster a harmonious balance in urban wildlife, ensuring the well-being of both species within the dynamic mosaic of city life.

About Tanya Garg 82 Articles
I'm Tanya, the dedicated raccoon enthusiast behind My mission is to share my knowledge about raccoons through insightful blogs, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for these intelligent creatures. Join me on a journey to learn more about raccoons, their behavior, and the importance of ensuring their safe relocation when necessary. Let's together create a world where raccoons and humans coexist harmoniously and safely.