Carnivorous Ground Squirrels!?

While exploring with his camera in Mata Mata Rest Camp in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Joubert came across something really remarkable, if somewhat gruesome: Southern African Ground Squirrels feeding on the carcass of a Cape Turtle Dove. While it is doubtful the squirrels killed the dove and it isn’t clear how the dove succumbed (probably attacked by a raptor), Joubert captured some really fascinating behaviour, as none of the literature we consulted give any indication at all that ground squirrels will eat meat (other than an occasional hapless insect).

These photos were all taken by Joubert (who turns nine soon).

(Edit 08/08/2018 – The WILD Magazine also did a short piece about Joubert and these photos, have a readΒ here)

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40 thoughts on “Carnivorous Ground Squirrels!?

  1. Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    I think that soon you’ll be introducing us to the youngest blogger/photographer in the family! great observations of nature!

    i wrote a longer comment offline and lost it – grrrrr… i think that squirrels might take advantage of any easy meal op — but wow, that squirrel sure looks funny with bird feet in the image!
    ………..
    ha, and i got home and found this still on the screen… internet is very slow.

    thanks for your empathy re the deforestation and fire; cutting continues – this week it’s balsa trees…

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Thanks very much, Lisa! A major local magazine with much the same theme as de Wets Wild has actually interviewed Joubert and me about these photos and we’re looking forward to seeing their article!

      I’m really heartsore about those beautiful forests of yours being mown down and going up in smoke. Won’t we ever learn!?!?

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      1. Playamart - Zeebra Designs

        Please share the article when it’s published! yay! and yes, it’s been difficult, and as you know, there’s a fine balance w/activism… either find positive ways or wait til one can do something that makes a difference.. but doing nothing will never help!

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      That does make perfect sense – Squirrels are rodents, and rodents will eat whatever’s edible that they come across. Still was most unusual and unexpected to see!

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  2. naturebackin

    We once photographed a ground squirrel carrying around and eating a dead finch, at Mabuasehube in Botswana. We also could not find anything commenting on such behaviour and wondered how common it might be.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Thanks, Tim. Siobhan has pointed out that this behaviour’s been observed in some North American squirrels, and therefore isn’t foreign to the family. It must be an opportunistic event in any case.

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