Stopping and watching a squirrel as it leaps from branch to branch, nimbly scales a tree trunk, or scurries across the road is typical human behavior. Not so long ago, it was rare to see the little rodents. The population now seems to have increased. Or is it because, with the expansion of residential areas and road networks, humans are increasingly encroaching on the natural habitat of animals? But not only civilization threatens the genus Sciurus. Aside from humans, squirrels also have natural enemies.


  • Classification: very dangerous
  • Habitat: treetops, forests
  • Food: amphibians, berries, insects. Rodent, nuts, birds, mollusks (omnivores)
  • Lifestyle: solitary, nocturnal
  • Threats: humans, dogs, red fox, golden eagle
  • not threatened with extinction

The pine marten becomes very dangerous to Sciurus since both animals share the same habitat. The competitor climbs trees just as skilfully as the squirrel. Although its behavior differs, in that it only hunts at night, this trait is all the more dangerous for the offspring of the Sciurus. The pine marten likes to surprise the squirrel while it is sleeping and plunder its den. With a targeted bite on the neck, however, it kills adult animals, which die immediately. sometimeshe also nests completely in abandoned squirrel nests. At a height of ten meters he hardly has to fear his own enemies. However, the pine marten is very shy of people, which is why squirrels, which have already become accustomed to civilization, find shelter in residential areas. Researchers who have observed the behavior of pine martens over a long period of time have found that the predator roams within an amazing radius in one night. When hunting for prey at night, it scours several square kilometers.

Interesting to know: Most of the time, squirrels save themselves from enemies they encounter in trees by dropping from the branches. The animals catch the falls without sustaining any injuries.


  • Classification: rather low
  • Habitat: on the ground, in a burrow, fields, sometimes also in residential areas
  • Diet: Invertebrates, carrion, small birds and their eggs, tree fruits (omnivores)
  • Lifestyle: nocturnal, solitary
  • Threats: lynx, eagle owl, wolves, parasites
  • not threatened with extinction

Only the genus of the red fox is native to Germany. It has exceptionally good sensory organs, with which it can find its way around in the dark. Like the squirrel, the natural enemy has adapted to humans. The animals often meet at rubbish bins, in parks or gardens. However, like the pine marten, the fox is primarily nocturnal. On trees, Sciurus is safe from his enemy. Scientific records show that the number of foxes determines the squirrel population.

Note: Did you know that the fox is a very quick and agile predator. His thick fur makes him appear larger than he actually is.

birds of prey

  • Classification: rather low
  • Habitat: in the air, meadows and fields
  • Diet: Mice, small mammals, insects, small birds, reptiles, carrion
  • Lifestyle: mostly nocturnal, solitary
  • Threats: humans, conspecifics
  • partly threatened with extinction

Since birds of prey usually only hunt in their own territory, these natural enemies only threaten the squirrel to a limited extent. The birds almost completely avoid forests. These therefore offer a safe retreat. In addition, squirrels save themselves by climbing up tree trunks in circles to escape. These movements confuse the birds of prey. The most dangerous hunters include:

  • the owl
  • the tawny owl
  • the hawk
  • the common buzzard


  • Classification: rather minor
  • Habitat: close to people, gardens, meadows and fields
  • Food: mice, birds (mainly carnivores)
  • Lifestyle: Solitary, diurnal and nocturnal, pets
  • Threats: Cars
  • not threatened with extinction

Cats are natural enemies that squirrels usually encounter in home gardens or on their forays into fields. Caution is advised when Sciurus uses a feeding station. Cats deliberately ambush rodents in such places.

Tip: If you want to help squirrels with their food supply by placing a feeding station in the garden, you should make sure that it is not directly on the ground. Otherwise cats will have an easy time surprising the rodents while they are eating.


  • Classification: rather minor
  • Habitat: meadows, forests, cities, industrial areas
  • Food: eggs, worms and insects, seeds, fruit, carrion (omnivores, nest predators)
  • Lifestyle: family
  • Threats: targeted poisoning by humans
  • not threatened with extinction

Because they share the same habitat, crows pose a threat as natural enemies. On the one hand, the animals meet at bird feeders, which can be traced back to the common preference for fat balls. However, crows also rob the squirrel’s den and eat the young. Their normal hunting behavior is to wait and watch before pouncing on their prey.

Note: Like Sciurus, crows also store supplies for bad times by burying seeds in the ground. Although the animals are considered to be very intelligent, they also forget most of the hiding places. Sometimes ground frost also prevents access to the depots. This is very good for the environment: forgotten seeds begin to germinate in the ground and soon grow into new trees.


  • Classification: hardly dangerous
  • Habitat: forests
  • Food: mainly game, birds, small mammals
  • Lifestyle: solitary, nocturnal
  • Threats: people, cars, diseases
  • endangered

Lynxes have very good hearing and can reach a speed of 70 km/h even over short distances when hunting. However, since the big cats have a daily requirement of 1 kilogram of meat, squirrels are usually too small for them. Like many cats, the lynx is a surprise hunter. In addition, it is at the top of the food chain and is therefore considered a predator. It is typical that it not only determines the population of its prey, but also influences their behavior. Squirrels are much more cautious in their hunting grounds.


  • Classification: dangerous
  • Habitat: meadows
  • Diet: mice, reptiles, insects, rabbits, birds, moles
  • Lifestyle: solitary, nocturnal
  • Threats: Beech martens, humans, dogs, owls and other birds of prey, foxes
  • not threatened with extinction

The weasel tracks down its prey by scent and kills it with a bite on the neck. It hunts every night as it has an enormous energy consumption. If it encounters several squirrels, it tries to capture them all before eating the carcasses in its den.

Note: Squirrels have very keen senses. Largely due to good hearing, they often escape attacks from their natural predators.

The gray squirrel

Not only foreign animals are natural enemies. Amazingly, the Sciurus’ greatest competition is a conspecific. The American gray squirrel is stronger and more robust than the native species. It is also more adaptable and has fewer natural predators. In the 19th century, the British encouraged its population to increase biodiversity. Back then, the English did not know that the gray squirrel transmits the dangerous squirrel pox, to which it is immune.

Note: In South America, snakes are also among the natural enemies of Sciurus.

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