Do Owls Eat Squirrels? A Comprehensive Look At Their Diet

As a nature lover who has observed and interacted with squirrels from all over the world, I’m here to answer a common question: do owls eat squirrels? After observing many different owl species, I have compiled comprehensive research on the diet of owls to provide you an in-depth look into their eating habits.

Owls, it turns out, are partial to squirrels! Across a variety of species — from Barred Owls to Spotted Owls, Barn Owls to Great Grey Owls and even Boreal Owls — these nighttime hunters have been known to make squirrels part of their diet. Even though their active periods don’t coincide with the daytime foraging habits of squirrels, owls still manage to snag them now and again.

Do Owls Eat Squirrels?

Owls are known to be voracious predators and one of their favourite snacks is squirrels. Certain species, such as the Barred Owl, Spotted Owl, Barn Owl, Great Grey Owl and Boreal Owl are especially proficient at hunting these small mammals, even though they are most active during the day while owls typically hunt at night.

To understand why these creatures hunt and prey upon squirrels, one has to consider the various advantages they enjoy over their prey. Eagles have sharp hearing and keen eyesight which allows them to identify their prey even in dark or low-light conditions. They also possess silent flight so they can approach their target without alerting them. In addition, owls make use of decoys to scare away would-be prey from their hunting grounds.

What Types of Owls Commonly Eat Squirrels?

Owls like Barred, Spotted, Barn, Great Grey, and Boreal are all voracious predators known for their appetite for small rodents like squirrels. Depending on size and where they live, these species of owls can have a variety of prey in their diet.

  • Barred Owls: These birds mainly feed on small rodents like mice and voles but will also eat frogs and reptiles.
  • Spotted Owls: As their name implies, these owls mainly feast on rodents including squirrels.
  • Barn Owls: While these birds mainly feed on shrews and moles, they also eat amphibians and insects as well as smaller mammal species like rabbits and squirrels.

Can Baby Owls Eat Squirrels?

Baby owls are born without the same sharp hearing, keen eyesight or silent flying of fully grown adults. As such, they struggle to capture larger food like squirrels and must rely on smaller prey like insects and mice. Although they may occasionally be successful in catching a squirrel, it is not recommended to feed them one as it would require a lot of energy and could be potentially dangerous.

What Other Animals Do Owls Consume?

Owls are predators that hunt a wide variety of prey, from insects and small reptiles to fish and mammals. As a result of their sharp hearing, keen eyesight, and silent flying, they can often locate and capture prey they could not otherwise. In addition to squirrels, owls eat a diverse range of animals depending on their size and habitat.

Larger owl species tend to consume larger prey such as rabbits or hares while smaller owl species tend to focus on insect species, small rodents, and small birds. Large owl species will take smaller prey if it is the most available item in their environment. Owls also favor low risk prey like rodents over higher risk prey such as birds.

Types of Insects

Owl diets can be quite varied when it comes to type of insects consumed. Several types of invertebrates are commonly eaten including grasshoppers, caterpillars, crickets, beetles, ants and spiders.

Smaller owl species will also take advantage of flying insects such as moths, flies, mosquitos and dragonflies. They may even graze upon some aquatic insects such as water boatmen and damselflies. Therefore an owl’s diet can vary significantly depending on its size and what type of niche it is exploiting.

Types of Rodents

Rodents account for a large portion of an owl’s diet. These include mice, rats, voles, shrews, hamsters, chipmunks and gophers. Owls use their acute sensory abilities to hunt these animals in the dark; listening for noises made by burrowing rodents or stalking them from air using their expert aerial skills.

Larger owl species have even been known to hunt rabbits which are considered more challenging due to their size. Furthermore owlets have been observed consuming small rodents like mice or voles after being regurgitated by the mother owl.

Small Reptiles and Amphibians

Owls are versatile predators and can often be seen hunting small reptiles and amphibians. These small creatures can be an attractive prey for owls. Additionally, these animals present a low risk of escape, making them ideal targets for the nocturnal hunters. Thus, it’s clearly evident that owls do indeed hunt small reptiles and amphibians when searching for food.

Other Birds

Though not often considered an important part of its diet an owl’s appetite for other birds should not be underestimated. Research has indicated that certain bird species may make up around 20% per cent of some owls’ diet during certain times periods when food is scarce during winter months.

This suggests that owls should not be forgotten about when thinking about avian predation especially where songbirds or bird populations in general may already be threatened.

Berries, Fruits, and Nuts

Owl species vary in their diets, but most commonly consume small animals such as rodents, insects, and birds. Owls may also feast on berries, fruits, and nuts, depending on the availability of these resources. Berries provide a nutritious source of carbohydrates and vitamins while fruit is a good source of dietary fiber. Nuts can provide a source of fat and protein for owls.

Are Squirrels Afraid of Owls?

Owls are predators and squirrels are their prey. Squirrels have been known to be scared of owls, as the large raptors can be quite intimidating. However, research suggests that squirrels may not be as wary of owls as expected. Decoy techniques employed by owls along with their silent flight and sharp hearing are strategies used to capture their prey. As such, squirrels may not maintain a constant fear of owls, but instead try to reduce their risk of being hunted.

Do Owls Attack & Kill Squirrels?

Do owls attack and kill squirrels? Yes, they do. Owls use their sharp hearing, keen eyesight, and silent flying to hunt down small prey like squirrels. They may also use decoys to scare the animals away from their hunting grounds. In addition, research has shown that owls vary in what they eat depending on their size and habitat. Thus, while they may not pose a large risk to humans, they are definitely predators of small mammals like squirrels.

Will Owls Eat Dead Squirrels?

Owls are known to eat a variety of small prey, including squirrels. While the question of whether owls will eat dead squirrels is not definitive, it appears that certain species have been known to do so. Reports suggest that scavenging birds like barn owls, long eared owls, and screech owls may feed on carrion, including carcasses of squirrels.

Foods to Avoid Feeding an Owl

When feeding an owl, it is important to know what foods are safe and which should be avoided. Owls should not be fed wild rodents, fats and oils, or fish as these all present a significant risk to the bird’s health. Additionally, never feed an owl any food that has been cooked or processed in any way as this can cause digestive issues. Foods like fruits and nuts are ideal for owls, however they should also be supplemented with fresh meats such as insects or small mammals.


Can owls be effective in keeping squirrels away?

Fake owls can be an effective way of deterring squirrels. Owls are natural predators to squirrels, so their presence may cause them to steer clear. It’s important to note that the fake owl should be placed in a highly visible location and should be moved occasionally to give the illusion that it is actively patrolling its territory.

What animals scare squirrels?

Squirrels are terrified of birds of prey, such as owls, hawks and eagles. Placing decoy predators around your property can help to scare them away from your home and garden. Fake owls made from plastic or other materials may be used, as well as hawk decoys that look and move like the real thing.

Do decoy hawks scare off squirrels?

Fake hawks can serve as a deterrent to keep squirrels away from your property. Owls, which are natural predators of rodents like squirrels, may be especially effective in this regard. Fake hawks work by creating the illusion of an actual predatory animal that could potentially harm the squirrels, causing them to retreat elsewhere.

What does an artificial owl keep away?

Fake owls are a useful tool for discouraging pests from entering a yard. They can be effective in scaring away a variety of critters, such as snakes, squirrels, rodents and birds. Fake owls appear to be natural predators, so the animals instinctively tend to avoid any area where an owl may be present.

Can owls take food from squirrels’ nests?

Owls may raid squirrel nests, as they are natural predators of squirrels and other small animals. To protect their resources, rodents may use various strategies to deter owls, such as building their nests in protective areas or using alarm calls to warn others when a predator is near. It’s possible for an owl to overcome these measures, either by outsmarting the squirrels or taking advantage of their momentary inattention.

Do Great Horned Owls consume squirrels as part of their diet?

Great Horned Owls are known for preying on medium-sized animals, such as squirrels. They have excellent vision and hearing, which helps them to detect their prey from a distance. Owls will wait silently before swooping in to catch their prey by surprise. As a result, squirrels may be wary of the presence of an owl.

Can using a decoy owl help prevent squirrels from coming near?

Decoy owls can be a good way to keep squirrels away from your property. As natural predators of small animals, fake owls act as a deterrent and can often scare away potential invaders. Squirrels may show hesitation when entering an area that looks like it’s guarded by an owl. Decoy owls also work in tandem with other methods of keeping pests away, such as cats and dogs.


To answer the question “Do owls eat squirrels?”, the answer is a definitive yes. Several owl species have been observed to hunt and consume squirrels as part of their regular diets. This dietary adaptation is vital for the survival of all owl species, and helps keep populations of squirrels in check. In addition, the various adaptations such as nocturnal activity and varied hunting styles help ensure that owls remain successful predators of squirrels.

It is evident that owls do indeed eat squirrels. With their heightened abilities and clever strategies, they are able to successfully catch and devour their prey. Learning more about these remarkable birds not only benefits us humans in better understanding our natural world, but also helps inform conservation efforts to protect these amazing animals.

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