WARNING! This post is kind of gross and deals with squirrel cannibalism. There's going to be a blurry photo, but you'll know what's going on. If you would like to stick with the image that good old Walt Disney gave us about cute animals, I suggest skipping this post.
I took this photo of a gray squirrel outside my window today. He's been having a tough time this winter, from October through January he had absolutely no hair on his tail, but in the last month, some has grown in. I notice that he never makes it to my window ledge. A couple of times he was scaled the catalpa tree but is turned away by the more aggressive squirrels. He does get plenty of food from the dumpsters and from the berries on the trees. I don't know what these are, but these must be last resort berries. They've been on the tree all winter and no bird or squirrel has touched them until now. In the cold weather the robins have been eating them as have starlings and pigeons. Now squirrels.
However, sometimes when you really want some protein, over wintered berries just don't cut it. Today, I got this email from Gloria and Fred:
Last week we saw "our" squirrel (the one who raids our bird feeder and chews the wood trim off our garage) with a bird in its mouth. My husband was disbelieving of his eyes. Last night we saw the demon squirrel with ANOTHER SQUIRREL (looked like a baby) and watched it eating it (photo below). This grossed me out so much I skipped dinner. Should we be reporting this to someone? Are we harboring a dangerous development on par with Bird Flu? (OK, we are not that worried, but is this normal?)
I would hear this from time to time when working at the bird store and about two or three times a year I get an email about it. This is not common squirrel behavior, but meat eating is known to happen. They will eat bird nestlings and eggs in the spring and summer and I have heard customers tell stories of squirrels attacking and killing sparrows and finches--more than likely weaker birds with signs of illness or injury.
As for the eating of the young, I have read of this happening when food is scarce or when males would like females in their area to go back into breeding mode. Since the emailers live here in Minnesota, I would guess that our sudden cold snap had a little to do with this as well.
Anyone else out there have meat eating squirrel stories?