Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Fierce Ground Squirrel Attacks, Kills, and Eats Longnose Snake!

This morning at Tohono Chul Park, some other docents and I watched a round-tailed ground squirrel attack, kill, and start to eat a longnose snake. All of us were flabbergasted; we think of these little rodents as extremely cute, harmless creatures whose only encounters with snakes occur when snakes go into their burrows and eat their young. It turns out the story is way more complicated, and as I found out while researching this, ground squirrels are well-known as eaters of carrion, birds, and snakes, even, apparently, rattlesnakes.

We did not see the beginning of the attack, but the snake was still moving when we began watching. After it was clearly dead, the squirrel began tearing through the snake's skin and biting off, then eating small pieces. After a while the squirrel began to drag the snake away, perhaps to pull into its burrow so the young squirrels might enjoy a treat?  I like to imagine a future race of pumped up killer ground squirrels rampaging through the desert. The actual truth is perhaps not so far-fetched. Here is the sequence as I photographed it.


For more on longnose snakes, click here. Another story about round-tailed groundsquirrels can be found here.

And finally, I managed to upload my video of this event. (June 23, 2015).

4 comments:

  1. Squirrels are opportunistic eaters. I had one in a bird cage on my front porch. It had eaten one of my pet birds. I did release it. But put my other birds in a squirrel proof cage before putting them on the front porch again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment, Ann. My research has been teaching me a lot about the habits of squirrels... I guess because the ground squirrels are so cute we never think about what they do to earn a living in the world.

      Delete
  2. That is -- the most amazing observation you've made here ever. I never imagined they'd eat anything other than roots and nuts and maybe grasses? I'm glad we don't have to worry about that with our gray squirrels. I'd be afraid to let the dog out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Be afraid... be very afraid. I've learned some very scary things about squirrels the past couple of days. They are not sweet little herbivores. I doubt they'd go for your dog, but... they could!

      Delete