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They are quite funny to look at, the cute little fellows with their bushy tails and brush ears when they jump from branch to branch and tree to tree. They romp so exuberantly through the branches and play as if nobody could harm them. Nevertheless, the squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) have to be careful, because dangers and natural enemies lurk everywhere, not only in the forest and in the fields, but also in the home garden.

Squirrel enemies in the garden

The small, fox-red to brown-black fast runabouts with a size of up to 25 cm, an equally large bushy tail and brush ears are also known as squirrel cats. Normally, the forest is their habitat. However, due to intensive forestry and ongoing urbanization, there is an ever-widening overexploitation and associated deforestation. This restricts the natural habitats of many wild animals, including squirrels.

Unlike other animals, squirrels try to escape this misery and follow humans into the cities, where they can find sufficient food and shelter. They are increasingly appearing in parks, cemeteries and in home gardens on. Over time, they even lose their fear of humans. Even if the little rodents look so cute and cuddly, they are still wild animals. That should be respected, because some close encounters can sometimes be painful. Squirrels have pointed and sharp teeth.

Even if they now feel quite comfortable around people, they always have to be on their guard, because there are lurking around here too driven. Some of these can come from people themselves, for example the increase in road traffic. However, there are also some natural enemies that are up to no good.

squirrel pup

notice: According to the Federal Nature Conservation Ordinance (BArtSchV), Sciurus vulgaris are listed as a native species. They belong to the specially protected wild animals and may not be caught, injured or killed. Violations can be punished with fines of up to 50,000 euros. The same applies to the destruction of their resting places and dwellings.

Natural enemies of squirrels

Squirrels also like to settle in gardens if there for them good living conditions are to be found. Tall deciduous and coniferous trees, maybe a hazelnut bush and you already have the opportunity to observe squirrels in your own garden. They build their nest, also known as a roost, to protect themselves from enemies at a height of at least six meters above the ground, usually directly on the trunk of the tree or on strong forked branches. Also, squirrels gladly accept bought or self-built huts as a dwelling place. However, squirrels also have to be on their guard in their new habitat, the garden, because various natural enemies see them as prey.

Pine Marten (Martes martes)

It is also known as the "noble marten" because its fur was very popular in earlier times. Pine martens are probably the biggest enemies of squirrels. Both animals share a territory in their normal habitat. It mainly lives in deciduous and mixed forests, large parks and small field trees. Like the squirrel, he is an excellent climber and just as agile. He can rotate his feet 180 degrees. During his forays he can end up in the home garden. Special features of the pine marten are:

  • chestnut to dark brown fur
  • yellowish-brown throat patch
  • 45 to 58 cm body length
  • bushy tail, 16 to 28 cm long
  • Weight 1 to 1.8 kg
  • loner
  • nocturnal
  • Omnivores: insects, small rodents, birds, eggs, nuts, berries, amphibians

The marten can be very dangerous to squirrels as it is up during the night prey hunt goes. Sometimes he can surprise the squirrels while they are sleeping. Even if the Kobel has an entrance and an exit, it can end badly for the sleeping animals. With targeted neck bite the pine marten then kills its victims. The offspring are mainly at risk here. During the day, squirrels have an advantage over pine martens due to their low weight (200 to 400 g) when escaping.

Foxes (Vulpes vulpes)

Normally, the fox lives in the forest and roams the fields and meadows on the hunt. But like the squirrels, this nimble predator has adapted to humans. Very often the red fox can be found in residential areas, in cemeteries and parks. He is nocturnal. Thanks to its excellent sensory organs, it can orientate itself very well at night. Typical features of "Reinecke Fuchs" are

  • thick fur
  • Body length 65 to 75 cm
  • Tail length 35 to 45 cm
  • Reddish on top and white on underside
  • lower part of legs and behind ears black
  • white throat and tip of tail
  • live with the family
  • Omnivores: invertebrates, birds, small mammals, eggs, berries, carrion

Squirrels can have problems if both animals meet on the ground, for example at feeding stations. However, the fluffy ears will quickly flee to the next tree. Here they are safe from the fox.

notice: Squirrels can be supported in the garden by placing feeding stations and bird baths. However, these must not be placed directly near the ground, but should always be attached near a thick branch or branch fork. This protects the animals from predators.

Weasel (Mustela nivalis)

The "herman", as it is also called, is at home on the edges of forests, in tree hollows and piles of stones and wood, as well as rat and mouse burrows. They also like to retreat to barns, stables and attics in winter. Weasels are very dangerous as well aggressive hunters. They hunt every night. Characteristic of these animals are

  • Body length between 16 and 23 cm
  • Tail length 2 to 8 cm
  • brown upper side, belly white
  • brown feet and tail
  • mainly crepuscular and nocturnal
  • loner
  • Food: Small mammals, mice, rabbits, birds, reptiles, squirrels, moles, eggs

The weasel tracks down its prey by smell. It also usually kills much larger animals such as rats and rabbits. The prey is killed with a targeted bite on the neck. Weasels can really fall into a "blood frenzy". If they encounter multiple animals, they will all be killed first before being eaten.

Corvids (Corvidae)

They, too, belong to the culture followers of man. They share their habitat with the squirrels and therefore become enemies of the squirrels. They can be found in meadows, forests, cities and industrial areas. They live in family groups. are particularly dangerous

  • ravens
  • crow
  • magpies
  • jay

They are considered omnivore and nest robbers. Their hunting behavior consists of: waiting and observing, finally pouncing on their prey. The main danger for squirrels is when both animals meet at feeding stations. For example, both have a fondness for fat balls. They also rob the squirrels' nest and feed the young to their own brood. The young animals are at the mercy of their enemies in the Kobel.

notice: Only about a quarter of young squirrels live past a year.

Birds of prey (Accipitriformes)

The birds of prey pose a limited threat to the squirrels. As a rule, they only hunt in their territory. In addition to small mammals such as mice, rats and hamsters, their diet also includes insects, small birds, reptiles and carrion. It can be dangerous for Sciurus vulgaris if they are on an open area stop. Protected by dense bushes and trees, there is no threat because the birds avoid such places when hunting. Particularly dangerous hunters are

  • brown owl
  • buzzard
  • hawk
  • eagle owl


Especially in gardens, cats can become a real threat to the squirrels that live there. These solitary animals are active during the day and also at night. They are primarily carnivores. Their prey favors small mammals such as mice, rats and birds. It can be extremely dangerous if the squirrel grabs the cat's food. Sometimes it can even be that cats ambush the little speedsters there. Even if cats like to climb, they are no match for the squirrels in this regard.


Not to forget the danger of dogs in the home garden. However, problems should only arise if squirrels are on the ground and do not notice the impending danger of the enemies. Otherwise, dogs cannot become dangerous to the small rodents.

Quick reaction required

Because of their excellent sense of hearing and sight, squirrels always have an advantage over their natural predators. With their big eyes are a all-round view and spatial perception possible. They have a viewing angle of almost 180 degrees. This allows them not only to judge distances, but also to perceive enemies in good time. Since they are nimble climbers, they can retreat quickly. Squirrels can easily reach speeds of up to 25 kilometers per hour.

They can confuse their enemies, mainly birds of prey, by letting small rodents in circular movements run up the tree trunks. It is also no problem for them to get to safety from enemies in treetops. They then simply let themselves fall from the heights to the ground. Its bushy tail acts as a "parachute". They rarely get injured.

However, the natural enemies of squirrels have little impact on population reduction. In the garden there are more ominous dangers for squirrels that can end fatally such as

  • open rain barrels or
  • applied poison such as slug pellets or
  • granular garden fertilizer, such as "blue grain"

notice: In the wild, squirrels have a life expectancy of between two and eight years.

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