Do squirrels pose a threat to tortoises?

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GeoTerraTestudo

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We often talk about the threat posed by carnivores like raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and dogs. That's why many folks cover their outdoor tortoise enclosures: to prevent these predators from preying on our pets. It's also known that rodents like mice and rats can seriously injure vulnerable hibernating tortoises by gnawing on them. But what about squirrels?

Now that spring is here (yea!), I leave my tortoises in their outdoor enclosure for many hours at a time. I've noticed that a resident squirrel seems to like watching them, and I'm wondering why. Is he afraid, curious, or is he actually thinking about biting them the way a mouse or a rat would? Have any of you had bad experiences with squirrels injuring your tortoises, and if so, what have you done about it? Or are squirrels just harmless little neighbors that can live peacefully alongside tortoises? I'd really like to know.
 

jaizei

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I probably wouldn't worry about a larger tortoise as much, but would be cautious with a smaller animal.
 

Yvonne G

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I'm wasn't sure if squirrels are carnivorous at all, but mice and rats are, so I GOOGLED it. The answer was that mainly they are herbivores, but have been known to eat carrion. So, yes, I would be worried about little tortoises if you have squirrels around.
 

AustinASU

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I've seen squirrels kill birds and eat them but it's usually because they nested in their tree....more territorial act than anything.
 

Yvonne G

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I don't have personal experience with rats/mice and tortoises, however I've heard first hand stories and they all involved hibernating tortoises. I would think that a russian tortoise of that size, and a wide awake one at that, would not be in danger from squirrels.
 

GeoTerraTestudo

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Yvonne G said:
I don't have personal experience with rats/mice and tortoises, however I've heard first hand stories and they all involved hibernating tortoises. I would think that a russian tortoise of that size, and a wide awake one at that, would not be in danger from squirrels.

Oh, thank goodness! :cool:
 

ascott

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The worst experience here so far has been gophers back filling a brumating tort solid into their burrow and digging a smaller opening into the burrow for their needs....it was a scary thing to come across this a couple of years ago...as well as the new smaller hole provides a place for water to enter into the burrow that the tort did not design when going into rest for the winter....
 

rideburton87

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A couple summers ago my mom caught a baby red ear slider and researched predators for the baby and one of them was a squirrel.. as well as birds..
 

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My leopard breeder regularly sees ground squirrels eating hatchlings like a Big Mac.

I eliminate them from my tortoises environment every way possible.
 

GBtortoises

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I think this subject has different meaning based on what part of the country that you live in. I briefly lived out west for 4 years decades ago. Much of what people call squirrels there live in the ground. I knew them as gophers. I witnessed on several occasions, gophers eating their own dead after being hit by a car. I never personally saw them attack and consume a living animal. Maybe they do, I just never saw it. Squirrels here in the northeast live in trees and close to human activity and are not known to be or thought of as being carnivorous. I've watched and hunted a lot of them. I have never, ever seen any evidence of them consuming another animal. I have heard that they will raid bird nests. I have never seen evidence of that either. I have seen them chew into people's homes, raid birdfeeders for seed and be general pests. Our equivalent of a "ground squirrel" is a chipmunk, small, cute and equally a pest as a squirrel. They too pose no known harm to other animals but they can be extremely destructive to buildings, cars and gardens. The little buggers get into everything! The greatest concern here in the northeast as tortoise care outdoors is field mice and voles. We seem to have a never ending supply of them here. They will take up residence in outdoor tortoise enclosures given the chance and will multiply rapidly if not kept in check. They tunnel under enclosure sides, nest in the tortoise hides and leave large piles of droppings in the hides also. For years I have heard stories of mice chewing on tortoises shells but have never had it happen to any of mine, many of which brumate outdoors and their enclosures are full of mice throughout the winter. Tortoises here bury their entire bodies under about 2" of soil so it could be that the mice simply do not go after them.
 

GeoTerraTestudo

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GBtortoises said:
I think this subject has different meaning based on what part of the country that you live in. I briefly lived out west for 4 years decades ago. Much of what people call squirrels there live in the ground. I knew them as gophers. I witnessed on several occasions, gophers eating their own dead after being hit by a car. I never personally saw them attack and consume a living animal. Maybe they do, I just never saw it. Squirrels here in the northeast live in trees and close to human activity and are not known to be or thought of as being carnivorous. I've watched and hunted a lot of them. I have never, ever seen any evidence of them consuming another animal. I have heard that they will raid bird nests. I have never seen evidence of that either. I have seen them chew into people's homes, raid birdfeeders for seed and be general pests. Our equivalent of a "ground squirrel" is a chipmunk, small, cute and equally a pest as a squirrel. They too pose no known harm to other animals but they can be extremely destructive to buildings, cars and gardens. The little buggers get into everything! The greatest concern here in the northeast as tortoise care outdoors is field mice and voles. We seem to have a never ending supply of them here. They will take up residence in outdoor tortoise enclosures given the chance and will multiply rapidly if not kept in check. They tunnel under enclosure sides, nest in the tortoise hides and leave large piles of droppings in the hides also. For years I have heard stories of mice chewing on tortoises shells but have never had it happen to any of mine, many of which brumate outdoors and their enclosures are full of mice throughout the winter. Tortoises here bury their entire bodies under about 2" of soil so it could be that the mice simply do not go after them.

Okay, I am glad to hear that. The animal I am referring to is a true tree squirrel, specifically the western tree squirrel (Sciurus griseus). They like to hang out on our roof, and sometimes come onto our large second-story balcony, which we use as an outdoor tortoise enclosure during the day (with shade). If they don't have a predatory bone in their body, then they must just be watching Mork and Mindy out of curiosity. :)
 

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Out here we have tree squirrels, ground squirrels and gophers.

Tree squirrels can be irritating pests, but are basically harmless.

The ground squirrels are the bad ones. They tunnel in and out of every enclosure and yes they have an opportunistic carnivorous dark side. They are also extremely over populated here due to their toughness and ability to survive and find food. Also, their predators seem to like to keep their distance from human activities, while the squirrels don't seem to mind tunneling right under our feet. I do my part to control their population.

The gophers are not directly dangerous, but they tunnel in from outside the wall and destroy the roots of my trees and plants. They make holes everywhere that can injure my other animals and allow all my carefully placed irrigation water to just drain right out. I HATE gophers. I trap and kill them all year long, but more just keep coming. The problem is I don't even know they are there until AFTER the damage is done. I lost a really nice 12 year old mature mulberry tree to them, and countless cactus plants, grapevines and really well started weed patches.
 

Momof4

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Tom said:
My leopard breeder regularly sees ground squirrels eating hatchlings like a Big Mac.

I eliminate them from my tortoises environment every way possible.

I hate ground squirrels. They are getting to close to the house. I'm with Tom. My husband now has a new hobby. I think we have been watching to much Duck Dynasty!
 

mike taylor

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We have moles I hate them little guys. Always digging tunnels and leaving big dirt mounds in my yard. So the only way I found was the easiest way of getting them out was a 12 g. and some bird shot . You wait at the new mound when he pokes he's head up bang. We also shoot the squirrels to . If not they get out of hand its part of living in the woods.
 

lynnedit

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We have the western Grey Squirrel in the Portland area and the red squirrels at the Oregon coast. Neither has shown any interest in my tortoises over the years. I have seen Grey Squirrels occasionally scamper through the enclosure, past a tortoise, (as I lept to attention) but they were heading for somewhere else.
I feed the birds Safflower seeds, which squirrels hate but birds love, instead of sunflower seeds, to avoid attracting them.
I still dislike them.
 

Tom

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Momof4 said:
Tom said:
My leopard breeder regularly sees ground squirrels eating hatchlings like a Big Mac.

I eliminate them from my tortoises environment every way possible.

I hate ground squirrels. They are getting to close to the house. I'm with Tom. My husband now has a new hobby. I think we have been watching to much Duck Dynasty!

HA! Duck Dynasty:
Photographer: "Is that safe?"
Phil: "Not for the squirrel."

Best line EVER uttered on television!
 
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