Social Question

Pandora's avatar

Why have I never seen a squirrel who died of natural causes?

Asked by Pandora (27183points) January 9th, 2013

I was watching the squirrels bounce from tree to tree in my back yard and I thought that looked like fun. Then I thought that it must suck when they get old. Then it occurred to me that in all my years alive, I have only seen road kill squirrels. Do they all commit suicide after a certain age or do other squirrels kill them and eat them or do they bury each other. LOL
Feel free to give other suggestions to solve this mystery. I know in the city I only seen road kill ones and the same for in the country-side squirrels.

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29 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

I don’t know what natural predators squirrels have, other than coyotes, probably wolves and other wild dogs, and raptor birds when they’re young. (Maybe eagles and some hawks even take full-grown squirrels.) If hawks, eagles (owls?) and other birds of prey can take squirrels, then they may take the ones who start to slow down due to age, or who injure their legs.

I do know that my dorg chases the ones in our yard when she gets the chance, and if any were to slow down, then I wouldn’t want to see the results when she caught one. She hates them so much.

Pachy's avatar

Well, I imagine you don’t spend much time with squirrel families.

burntbonez's avatar

I never see dead birds, either, except those that flew into a window or were brought home by a cat.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Scavengers make pretty quick work of the bodies of any dead squirrels. So if it’s illness or an accident, the corpse disappears in a hurry. Plus if they get older and slow down predators take them out. I doubt many squirrels die of old age. It’s a pretty tough place on the food chain.

LuckyGuy's avatar

In my area (Western NY) a dead squirrel will be gone within hours. They are taken away by coyote and fox year round, or Turkey vultures during the warmer months. In mid to late April hawks will grab live ones as they run across the lawn. That is watch.

Coloma's avatar

I’ve come across a couple of sick squirrels, but mostly yes, small animals usually are the victims of predators, birds of prey, and are swiftly consumed if they do die of something other than at the jaws, claws, paws and talons of other wildlife.

DominicX's avatar

The other day I saw a flattened squirrel “shell” and all the guts and what not right next to it. I had never seen such a hideous and perfect roadkill.

Coloma's avatar

@DominicX Haha….oh man, up here in these hills I am always diverting my eyes from the latest, and yet most hideous roadkill spotting. I recently saw a turkey vulture eating a cat on the side of the highway. Don’t look, don’t look! haha

jaytkay's avatar

I’ve seen a hawk eating a full grown squirrel. Dogs and cats go for them. We have lots of coyotes around here, and foxes and owls, too.

Maybe the few who avoid all the danger die in their sleep in those nests I see once the the leaves drop in the fall.

marinelife's avatar

Because nature has clean-up crews of all kinds of carrion eaters to take care of that.

YARNLADY's avatar

We have skunks in our area that help with the clean up.

Pandora's avatar

@YARNLADY Skunks eat other animals?

RandomGirl's avatar

Maybe because they go off and die in a hole in the ground when they get old?

Pandora's avatar

@RandomGirl That is my thought. I picture them as and old tribe member going off alone to die. Only they dig their final hole and lay in it till they are no more. Or they were trying to bury their last nut and fell in. LOL

janbb's avatar

The Hospice Programs are very good for squirrels, I hear.

ucme's avatar

It’s like Hans Landa said in Inglorious Basterds, squirrels are no better than rats, but if a squirrel saunters into your house you’re not disgusted, moreover, you think it’s cute.
They’re just rats who had a makeover & I think most die by going nuts :¬)

YARNLADY's avatar

@Pandora Yes, skunks are omnivorous.

Coloma's avatar

I had a “pet” skunk for a few years. He was was born, one of 7 babies, in a drainpipe at the end of my driveway.
“Little Dude”, was adorable!
He loved hard boiled eggs and I gave him a hard boiled egg every night, rolled it across the patio and he would hang out with me when I was in the hot tub. haha

Once I thought he was one of the cats on my deck in the dark and gave him a nudge with my foot. He was unphased. Lucky me! lol
All his/her siblings went their separate ways but Little Dude was a nightly friend for a few years.

I miss him. I think my neighbor shot him a few summers ago as he was bitching about skunks. :-(
I never tried to handle him of course, but…he would take an egg from my hand. :-)

diavolobella's avatar

I adore squirrels. I mean ADORE them. I regularly go to the park at lunch and feed them. Today I had one run up my leg (accidentally). He was a young one who I had finally coaxed into very tentatively taking a piece of food from my hand when another squirrel rushed him from behind, startling him and making him fall in a deep puddle I was sitting next to. He ran up my (fortunately corduroy covered) leg to get out. Poor little wet guy.

I imagine, like many wild animals when they are sick or injured, squirrels go into hiding when they are ill and probably die there. Then their bodies are eaten by other predators.

diavolobella's avatar

@Coloma My friend’s mother had a little red fox that came up on her deck every night to receive the hard boiled egg she made him. She moved last year and I told her that fox is probably wondering “where’s mah egg?”

Coloma's avatar

@diavolobella awww…cute! Yes, I’m a quirky wildlife person, a few of my friends were appalled I had befriended a skunk.
Caution is the word, but hey…make as many friends as you can.

diavolobella's avatar

@Coloma It’s become such a joke among my friends and family that I had not one, but two people anonymously send me stuffed toy squirrels last month. I also got a squirrel calendar, a squirrel mug, a squirrel ornament and a squirrel necklace for Christmas. I’m down the the squirrels

SomeoneElse's avatar

@Coloma . . . . lose a few friends too if the skunk has a bit of a moment!
I just loved the mental picture of you hanging out with skunks – thanks for that!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Blondesjon Holy shit, you grow big squirrels in the Midwest. I’d be scared of them hunting me. I’d want a lot bigger shot than a load of #6’s.

Pandora's avatar

@Blondesjon LMAO, that was cute in a sick way.

Coloma's avatar

^^^ Haha…too funny, which of course, lends itself to the age old question…WHY do squirrels ALWAYS die upside down? lol

diavolobella's avatar

I went to the park yesterday at lunch to feed the squirrels. They were hungry because it’s cold and rainy, so I don’t think they are getting fed much. About a dozen turned up and one little one was timidly attempting to take food from my hand when a big one rushed up behind him, scared him and he fell into a puddle I was standing over. Scared him so bad he RAN UP MY LEG to get out. I wasn’t hurt (startled maybe) and it was pretty funny. He got extra food for being dunked, poor guy. So, yesterday I got closer to my favorite animal than I perhaps had ever intended.

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