Do Rats and Squirrels Get Along? Science, Facts, Tips


So, you’re a rodent lover who, by chance, plays parent to both a pet rat and a pet squirrel. Or perhaps you simply enjoy pondering the more obscure questions in life and find yourself wondering; do rats and squirrels get along?

In the majority of situations a rat and squirrel would simply ignore each other if they were in close proximity. Also, many factors keep squirrels and rats from spending much time together, including where they live and nest and what they eat.

However, squirrels and rats aren’t likely to become bosom buddies any time soon, and it’s good to keep that in mind if you do, perchance, own one of each of these animals and think it might be a good idea to introduce them to each other. 

This article dives deep into the complex world of rat and squirrel interaction and attempts to provide you with as comprehensive an answer as possible to the question, “Can a rat and squirrel live together in peace?”

squirrel eating a nut among some leaves

Do Squirrels and Rats Like Each Other?

The basis of any two animals getting along relies on whether or not they like each other or simply see the other as a threat to their territory and food sources. 

Thankfully, rats and squirrels don’t share the same home or living environments. 

Most squirrels live in trees, while rats live in burrows, bushes, sewerage pipes, and the walls of easily accessed houses.

Due to this, it’s unlikely either squirrel or rat has any preconception about whether the other is friend or foe. Whether or not they like each other, or at least can stand each other for any amount of time, varies on an animal to animal basis. 

Rats spend most of their time scavenging for food in residential areas and usually give birth and raise their babies near humans, who provide an easy food source. 

Far fewer squirrels rely on human wastefulness to fill their bellies. They scavenge in nature, collecting nuts and rarely venturing too close to peoples’ homes. 

This doesn’t mean squirrels and rats never run into each other. It just means it doesn’t happen very often, so no natural rivalry between the two species has developed. 

Therefore, there’s a good chance a rat and a squirrel could live in the same room, or house, without trouble, although they may become hostile over time. 

Do Squirrels and Rats Often Interact in Nature? 

Most of the time, squirrels and rats don’t see all that much of each other. 

Rats build their nests in the spaces between walls, basements, or in the roofs of houses, while most squirrels spend their time in trees and also nest there. [Source]

Due to this separation in living quarters, rats and squirrels don’t interact all that much.

Very little information exists on what might happen if they’re kept in close proximity for extended periods of time. 

Squirrels are also most active during the day, and rats more so at night. This means despite them sharing territory. They may not ever interact because, by the time rats start scavenging, squirrels are fast asleep. 

Will Squirrels and Rats Fight Over Food? 

We’ve established there shouldn’t be much of a turf war between most squirrels and rats, but will they fight over food? 

Squirrels primarily feed on nuts, seeds, berries, and other natural produce. Of course, they’re not above grabbing scraps out of bins or park visitors’ hands; they’re just not as likely to go dumpster diving as their rodent counterparts.

Rats are omnivorous scavengers who will eat pretty much everything and anything they can chew and swallow. 

As a result, rats see trash cans, rubbish dumps, and littered streets as their nutritional holy grail. They don’t need to find fresh, natural produce when they’re just as happy munching on a half-eaten, week-old Big Mac. 

Due to this, squirrels and rats rarely fight over food sources, which could help them get along in the long run. 

Since neither sees the other as a significant threat to their survival, there’s a chance they may just live together while blatantly ignoring the fact that the other is in the room. 

Grey rat in the grass

Do Squirrels and Rats Have Any Sort of Natural Rivalry?

There is one situation, and one only, when a fight to the death between a rat and squirrel may be inevitable: a food shortage. 

Despite rats and squirrels preferring two very different diets, both have a taste for meat under the right circumstances. 

Rats will eat whatever they can get their paws on, including dead animals, humans, or two-month-old, fungus-covered bread loaves.

Although squirrels prefer fresh produce, they will also consume eggs, small birds, and mammals if food is scarce. [Source

If a food shortage occurs and a rat and squirrel are in close proximity, they may change from seeing each other as mere passers-by to viewing the other as a tasty, protein-rich snack. 

Squirrels have been caught red-handed, killing rats, mice, and birds. They will also eat dead rats or kill live ones to feed themselves and their young. [Source]

As a result, rats in the wild may be very hesitant to approach squirrels for fear of becoming lunch. 

However, rat meat is not a squirrel’s preferred food, so if they are provided with enough to keep them full, there shouldn’t be any murderous meal making occurring even if they are kept in the same enclosure.

Are Rats Scared of Squirrels? 

Since rats sometimes serve as prey for ravenous squirrels, many may have an excellent reason to fear and steer clear from their bushy-tailed cousins. 

Despite their fluffy appearance and cute faces, squirrels can be ruthless and go as far as killing and eating their own babies if they get hungry after birth.

Owing to this knowledge, the interactions between rats and squirrels will always be cautious and skittish. 

Unless you own two very unusual rodents, the chances of them becoming friends or enjoying each other’s company are relatively slim. 

To a squirrel’s defense, they won’t go out of their way to hunt rats if other food options are available. 

Are Rats a Threat to Squirrels? 

By now, you may be thinking, “Squirrels are really mean.”

Rest assured rats aren’t angelic sweethearts either.

Not only will they steal a squirrel’s food if given the opportunity, but they’re just as likely to feast on a dead squirrel’s body if they’re hungry, maybe even more so because of their omnivorous natures. 

Can I Keep My Pet Rat and Pet Squirrel Together?

There’s no real benefit to housing a pet squirrel and pet rat together, but there shouldn’t be much of a problem doing so as long as each animal is given enough food and space of its own. 

Rats and squirrels will never be best pals. Still, they’re not mortal enemies either, and their reactions toward each other typically rely entirely on their surroundings and the circumstances around their cohabitation. 

However, if you notice any hostility while your pets are in the same cage or room, remove them from each other immediately to prevent a fight.

Conclusion

Whether you’re looking to keep a pet rat and pet squirrel in the same room or cage, or you’re simply philosophizing the complex social interactions of the two rodents, the fundamental truth is that squirrels and rats have little to no opinion of each other. 

Neither sees the other as an outright friend or foe, and they most likely will get along provided there are no external pressures that cause a rivalry to emerge between these two adorable little animals.

Brigitte Cave

Bridgitte grew up on a farm and eventually spent 5 years on Mahe Island in the Seychelles during her teen years. Her time living on a farm was spent mostly around animals including dogs, cats, cows, horses, and all sorts of fowl (chickens, ducks, and geese included). You can find out more about Bridgitte at https://mercurypets.com/our-writers/ Bridgitte is a keen horse rider and has competed in many showjumping competitions. She loves writing about pretty much all animals, and particularly dogs, cats, small mammals, horses and reptiles.

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