Do Black Bears Eat Squirrels? (Facts, Diet & Tips for Avoiding Them)

As an animal enthusiast who has spent years observing and interacting with squirrels all around the world, I’m often asked: Do black bears eat squirrels? In this blog post, I will answer this question and provide facts, information on their diet, and tips to avoid black bears.

Do Black Bears Eat Squirrels?

Black bears are known to eat a variety of foods including plants, fruits, nuts, and small mammals such as squirrels. While they mostly feed on vegetation, they will also take advantage of any animal-based food sources that they can find – including squirrels. They are opportunistic hunters, meaning they will consume whatever food is available to them in order to survive.

Overview of Black Bears

The black bear is a large mammal, making up one of the eight species of bears that inhabit North America. Found in many regions throughout the continent, they have a wide range of habitats, from alpine meadows to coastal forests and marshes. Most black bears live solitary lives, although some family units can be found in remote areas.

These omnivorous giants are primarily scavengers, relying on carrion and other foraging for sustenance. However, hunters and trappers have long known that these animals will also eat whatever animal food sources they can find – including squirrels.

Habitat and Behavior

Black bears are social animals who are often seen foraging for food around streams and rivers. They can be found in most types of forest climates in North American ranging from subarctic tundra to mountain ranges to coastal regions. In terms of behavior, black bears are mostly solitary but may form small familial groups when a female has cubs or when multiple males compete for resources.

They have an excellent sense of smell and sharp ears that pick up on potential prey. Black bears tend to be active at night and during dawn or dusk, though more active during spring & summer when food is plentiful. During winter months they slow down, entering extended periods of rest.

What Do Black Bears Eat?


As opportunistic feeders, black bears eat a wide variety of plants depending on what is available in their environment. They typically stick to a diet consisting mainly of grasses, fruits and nuts. When suitable vegetation is scarce or unavailable (such as during winter months) they will turn to scavenging for other food sources.

In addition to green vegetation like foliage and shoots, black bears also eat mushrooms and herbs. Bears obtain most of their water from these plant materials but will sometimes drink from streams or lakes if available.


Along with consuming large amounts of vegetation, black bears can also consume smaller mammals such as voles, mice and squirrels as part of their diet. While hardly ever preying upon them actively due to their size advantage over small prey animals like squirrels, bears sometimes take advantage when they come across dead animals.

Mustelids (weasels), rodents (mice/voles) and rabbits make up a small portion of the black bear’s diet. Due to their strength black bears don’t usually encounter much competition while scouring the territory for food opportunities; however younger cubs may need assistance during meals.

Berries and Fruit

Black bears have a varied diet that includes more than just meat. Berries and fruit are also a major part of their diet, although it is most popular during certain seasons. During the summer months, black bears will feast on blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, grapes, apples, and other native fruits. In the fall, they may snack on cranberries or hawthorn berries while they prepare for hibernation.


Black bears have an incredibly diverse diet and are known to eat a variety of insects, including bees, wasps, ants, and grubs. They may also eat crickets, caterpillars, beetles, dragonflies, earthworms, and grasshoppers. The bears’ sharp claws and large feet are perfect for digging up insects hiding in their burrows among the soil.

Birds And Eggs

Black bears have been known to occasionally snack on birds and eggs. As an opportunistic omnivore, they will feed on insects, fruits and nuts, fish, and even small mammals like squirrels. However, they have also be known to scavenge for bird eggs, as well as hapless adult birds in their nest or habitat. It is advised to protect bird houses from a black bear’s reach if you want to ensure their safety.

Reptiles And Amphibians

Black bears typically don’t eat reptiles and amphibians, as their diet consists mainly of vegetation like fruits and nuts. However, they can opportunistically feed on frogs, salamanders, lizards, and snakes. Foraging on these animals is more common in some regions than others, as they are both seasonal and geographically contingent.

In addition to looking out for tempting treats, it’s essential to be mindful of black bear activity in your area so that you can adequately protect yourself from encounters. Following some simple bear-proofing tips such as taking down bird feeders, securing garbage cans tightly and keeping pet food indoors can help minimize the risk of an uninvited guest.


Black bears are great opportunistic hunters, and they do eat fish, especially in areas near waterways. They have both a sharp sense of smell and hearing, which helps them locate and hunt for food like fish. They often feed along streams and rivers with the help of their dexterous paws to catch the fish. Black bears also use their front claws to dig up temporarily submerged fish in shallower waters.

Meanwhile, their diet gets more diverse as seasons change; during summer months when fish are easy to find, black bears will feast on them more frequently. However, during fall and winter when other food sources become scarce, black bears have been known to seek out frozen pools of water for any forgotten fish still surviving beneath the icy surface.

How to Avoid Black Bears

The Importance of Proper Food Storage in Bear Country

If you live in an area populated by black bears, it is important to practice proper food storage techniques. This means keeping all food-related items such as birdseed, pet food or garbage away from areas easily accessible to black bears. If these animals become accustomed to finding a consistent source of food from humans, they will be more likely to return time and time again for easy meals.

Another way to help avoid attracting black bears is to remove any potential sources of food from your yard or campsite. This includes gathering fallen fruit from trees and clearing up any trash left in the vicinity. If possible, keep your garbage locked away in secure containers that the bears cannot access.

Tips for Staying Safe in Bear Country

  • Never approach a bear, no matter how curious you may be.
  • Always keep your distance if you ever encounter one – typically at least 50 yards away.
  • Do not hike alone if you are camping or trekking through an area with known bear populations.
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Make noise while walking so that you don’t surprise any lurking wildlife.

If a bear does happen to come too close for comfort (very rare), try not to panic – stand tall, speak calmly but firmly and make sure it is aware that you’re not afraid. If necessary, wave your arms or throw pebbles at it until it leaves the area. Never turn your back on an approaching bear!

How to Identify Black Bears

Tracks and Signs

The best way to identify a black bear is by its tracks – look for a paw print roughly 8 inches wide and 5 inches long with four distinctive toes that point forward and a heel pad visible below them. Additionally footprints with claws may appear alongside paw prints wherever the animal walks due to their retractable claws only showcasing themselves when needed.

If you’re looking to find a bear population in the area, there are certain signs to look for. Keep an eye out for deep claw marks on trees from foraging bears, overturned logs or rocks, mud spots where bears might bathe and rub marks on trees left by dominant males claiming their territories. Additionally, bear droppings containing items such as berries, fur, bones and seeds can be indicative of a nearby bear population.

The Role of Black Bears in the Environment

Black bears play an invaluable role in the environment, helping to maintain delicate ecological balances and providing a myriad of benefits to other species. By acting as apex predators, they control the populations of smaller mammals such as squirrels, as well as regulating vegetation growth. In addition, black bears provide essential ecosystem services including nutrient recycling, seed dispersal, and soil aeration in forests. All of these actions help to preserve the biodiversity of nature and make up for a healthy environment for future generations.

How to Help Protect Black Bears

Protecting black bears is essential to preserving our ecosystems. To help safeguard these majestic creatures, here are some tips:

  • Never approach a bear and stay at least 100 yards away.
  • Reduce potential attractants such as pet food, garbage, and bird feeders from your property.
  • Keep grills and smokers clean, and store them in a secure location away from bears.
  • Report any sightings of black bears to your local wildlife agency.


How can I hunt black bears in the autumn season?

Hunting black bears in the fall is an exciting activity. Before you embark on this adventure, there are a few key points to consider. First of all, you should check the hunting regulations in your state or province as they vary from each region.

In addition to that, make sure you have the proper gear such as camouflage clothing, scent elimination products and bear-safe tree stands. It’s also important to do your research beforehand and plan out scouting trips so you can familiarize yourself with their behaviors and movements during this time of year.

Do black bears have a preference for apples?

Black bears are omnivorous animals, meaning they usually eat both plants and animals. Since apples are a type of fruit high in calories for bears, many like to eat them when available. Bears can smell apples from far away and will often come to feed on them. Additionally, bears can be attracted to other fruits such as pears, persimmons and blueberries. Apples should not be used as an intentional food source for black bears as this can lead to dangerous situations.

What entices black bears?

Black bears are naturally attracted to food sources, such as fruits and nuts. However, they have become increasingly reliant on human-generated foods, like garbage and pet food. To ensure your safety and the bear’s, it is important to keep your property clean of any attractants that may draw them in.


So, do black bears eat squirrels? Black bears are opportunistic feeders and can consume a wide variety of sources for sustenance, such as small mammals like squirrels.

The best way to avoid an undesirable encounter with a black bear and keep both humans and bears safe is to be knowledgeable and aware of your surroundings. Keeping all food items stored away, being mindful of your trash disposal and avoiding highly populated bear habitats are all great ways to practice bear safety. By doing this, we can enjoy nature and observe these powerful animals from a distance – allowing us to appreciate their beauty and power from afar.

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