Omnivorous Grey Squirrels?

When classifying animals based on their diets, most of us will always place squirrels, deer and chipmunks in the herbivore category. All three are cute and endearing animals that wouldn’t think of eating meat. Would they? More and more evidence says they would, and do, regularly.

Squirrels eat nuts, berries and the sunflower seed in your bird feeder. Deer eat berries, acorns, everything in your yard that’s green, plus the sunflower seed in your bird feeder. Chipmunks forage on nuts, berries and the sunflower seed from your bird feeder that is dropped by the squirrels and the deer.  

However, squirrels will raid bird nests to grab the unfortunate hatchling and scavenge dead birds that have collided with buildings or windows. Deer will opportunistically snatch young birds from ground nests and chipmunks will eat lizards, small snakes and frogs, insects and the occasional baby bird. Talk about dispelling some myths!

Attack of the Zombie Squirrel

Recently, several of us at Elachee witnessed firsthand a “zombie” squirrel at work. What happened? A star-crossed, migrating Swainson’s Thrush mistook one of our Visitor Center’s windows as a short cut through the woods. The resulting collision prematurely ended the bird’s life. This gave a nearby gray squirrel the opportunity to get in touch with its true carnivorous side. We watched as the squirrel devoured most of the bird’s skull and brains before wiping its mouth on a tree trunk. It was equal parts disquieting and illuminating to say the least. 

With north Georgia’s recent drought, food sources have grown limited for these animals. Here’s your heads up: don’t be shocked if you, too, see a squirrel, deer or chipmunk seize the opportunity to ingest some calcium by snacking on something other than the expected.

Take a Hike

Mother Nature is always dazzling us with new and different experiences. Take a hike at Elachee along the trails in Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve. If you see something unusual, take a photo and send email to elachee@elachee.org. We would love to share your discovery with others. PLAN YOUR VISIT