What Do Owls Eat? Everything You Need to Know!

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  • Post last modified:February 24, 2023

Owl Eating Rabbit in the wild

What Do Owls Eat?

Owls are well-known for their ability to hunt at night, and they have several adaptations that help them do so. They have excellent hearing and vision, and their feathers are specially adapted to allow them to fly silently, allowing them to catch their prey more easily.

Owls are carnivorous birds of prey that primarily eat small mammals, insects, and occasionally other birds. The specific prey species consumed by owls can vary depending on their location, habitat, and owl species.

The following are some of the most common prey items for owls:

  • Rodents: such as mice, rats, voles, shrews, and rabbits. Insects: such as moths, beetles, grasshoppers, and crickets.
  • Birds: such as small songbirds, woodpeckers, and occasionally waterfowl.
  • Fish: some species of owls, such as the fish owl, are known to feed on fish.
  • Reptiles and amphibians: such as lizards, snakes, and frogs.

What Is Favorite Food of an Owl?

Owls, unlike humans, do not have the concept of “favorite food” in the same way. They are primarily motivated by instinct and will eat whatever is required for survival. 

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The preferred food of an owl varies according to species and habitat. Some owls prefer specific types of prey, while others are opportunistic and will eat whatever is available.

Barn Owls, for example, prefer small rodents like mice and voles, whereas Great Horned Owls eat a wide variety of prey, including rabbits, rodents, birds, and even skunks. Snowy Owls are known to feed primarily on lemmings in the Arctic.

Do Owls Eat Fruit?

Owls are carnivorous birds of prey and they rarely consume fruits. However, when prey is scarce, owls may considered fruit as a food source.

Owls digestive system is specialized for breaking down and absorbing nutrients from animal protein, and they lack the enzymes required for efficient plant digestion. As a result, they must rely on a diet primarily composed of small mammals, insects, and, on rare occasions, other birds or fish.

Owl Trying to capture rabbit

How Much Food Do Owls Consume in a Day?

The amount of food that an owl consumes each day varies depending on the species. Large owls consume a lot of food, whilst small owls consume less. An adult barn owl, for example, requires up to three voles every day.

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Because snowy owls are exposed to food less frequently than other owls, they may be able to consume up to 400 grams of lemmings per day. When food is accessible, they tend to overeat.

How Do Owls Hunt?

Owls hunt by utilizing a variety of adaptations that allow them to be effective predators. They fly silently, have excellent eyesight and hearing, strong talons, and a sharp beak.

To catch their prey, they use a sit-and-wait strategy, as well as flushing and hovering techniques. Owls are skilled hunters who have adapted to hunting in the dark and in a variety of environments.

snowy Owl Eating animals

What Do Barn Owls Eat?

Barn Owls eat mostly small rodents like mice, voles, shrews, and rats. In fact, these small mammals account for roughly 90% of their diet. In addition to rodents, Barn Owls may consume bats, birds, frogs, and insects on occasion. However, in comparison to rodents, these are not a significant part of their diet.

Barn Owls have excellent hearing and can locate their prey using only their ears in complete darkness. They hunt by flying low over open areas like fields, meadows, or marshes, listening for prey sounds.

What Do Snowy Owls Eat?

Snowy Owls eat mostly small rodents like lemmings, voles, and mice. These small mammals comprise the majority of their diet, particularly during the breeding season when they must provide food for their young.

Snowy Owls may also eat small mammals other than rodents, such as rabbits, hares, and squirrels. They may also hunt birds such as ptarmigans or waterfowl on occasion, as well as fish when available. However, these other prey items are not as common in their diet as rodents.

What Do Great Horned Owls Eat?

Great Horned Owls have a varied diet and eat a wide variety of prey items. They are opportunistic hunters, taking whatever prey is available in their surroundings.

Great Horned Owls eat small mammals such as rabbits, squirrels, rats, mice, voles, and shrews, birds include pigeons, doves, waterfowl, and other smaller bird species, reptiles and amphibians include snakes, lizards, frogs, and toads, fish, especially in areas where there are bodies of water and invertebrates include large insects and spiders.

What Do Barred Owls Eat?

Barred Owls have a varied diet and are known to consume a variety of prey items such as voles, mice, squirrels, rabbits, shrews birds, snakes, lizards, frogs, toads, large insects and spiders.

What Do Burrowing Owls Eat?

The majority of Burrowing owl’s diet consists of insects such as grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, and other insects. They have also been observed eating small mammals like mice, voles, and shrews, as well as small reptiles like lizards and snakes. They may also eat birds, including fledglings and eggs, on occasion.

They hunt at all hours of the day and night, and they frequently perch on low branches or fence posts to scan the ground for prey. They are quick hunters who can catch insects on the wing as well as pounce on ground prey.

What Do Screech Owls Eat?

Screech Owls are known to consume a wide range of prey items such as mice, voles, shrews, squirrels snakes, lizards, frogs, and toads.

What Do elf Owls Eat?

Elf Owls primarily feed on insects that are active at night, such as moths, beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, and other insects. They have been observed eating spiders, scorpions, and other small invertebrates. They may also eat small reptiles like lizards and geckos, as well as small rodents like mice and voles.

What Do Baby Owls Eat?

Baby owls, also known as owlets, have different diets depending on their species and age. Some owls, such as Barn Owls, feed primarily on rodents, whereas others, such as Great Horned Owls, have a more diverse diet that includes mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects. In general, baby owls eat similar to adult owls, but with some differences based on their developmental needs. 

Baby owls are typically fed a diet of small, soft-bodied insects by their parents for the first few weeks after hatching. Their parents gradually introduce larger prey items such as rodents, birds, and reptiles as they grow.

What Birds Do Owls Eat?

Owls are carnivorous birds of prey and are known to feed on a variety of bird species. Some common bird species that owls eat include:

  • Songbirds: such as finches, sparrows, and warblers.
  • Waterfowl: such as ducks, geese, and swans.
  • Shorebirds: such as sandpipers and plovers.
  • Game birds: such as quail, grouse, and pheasants.
  • Raptors: such as hawks, falcons, and other owls.
  • Seabirds: such as gulls and terns.

Do Owls Prey on Dogs?

Yes. Some pets can be eaten by owls, according to the International Owl Center. Large owls, on the other hand, are usually the only ones to be concerned about. Great horned owls, for example, are frequently large enough to carry off small dogs.

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However, owls aren’t very good at catching dogs. Because they aren’t common prey for owls, they don’t get much practice catching them. When their other prey is unavailable, owls will often resort to catching dogs.

Even yet, any pet left outside could end up as an owl’s food. As a result, you should never let tiny pets outside unattended. If your dog weighs less than 5 pounds, he or she may be in danger. Other predators, such as bald eagles and hawks, can also pose major threats.

Do Owls Prey on Squirrels?

Owls will consume almost any tiny animal they can catch, though this depends on the size of the owl. Due to their small stature, many owls will be unable to catch squirrels.

Brown owl eating mice

Some huge owls, on the other hand, will be able to do so with ease. Squirrels, on the other hand, are not always a favored diet of owls. They can be tough to capture because they spend the most of their time in trees.

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It is considerably more frequent to consume mice and other similar creatures. Many owls primarily consume insects or fish, making squirrels inappropriate for these owls.

Do Owls Eat Rats?

Most owl species—including Great Horned, Long-eared, Short-eared and Snowy Owls—eat small mammals like rats, mice and squirrels. Owl pellets contain recognizable bits of rodent fur and bone as evidence of their food intake.

Do Owls Eat Rabbits?

Because rabbits are huge prey species, only large owls can eat them. Bunnies are heavier than owls. Although great horned owls may easily consume rabbits, many smaller owls are far too small.

Owl Eating Rabbit in wild forest

In any event, bunnies aren’t an owl’s principal food source. They are far too large and difficult to capture. Mice and other similar animals, on the other hand, are far more common meals.

Do Owls Eat Cats?

The question of whether owls eat cats is a complicated one. They most certainly can and do, but it isn’t really something they choose to do. A person’s cat may be vulnerable to an owl attack, for example, if it goes outside at night when an owl is hunting.

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It’s not that owls have any particular hunger for cats; rather, it is just another animal (or bird) in their path or territory that they might feast on if given a chance.

Do Owls Eat Chicken?

Let’s get one thing out of the way: owls don’t eat chickens. Sure, they can take them if they want to and it might happen on occasion, but do chickens constitute a large part of their diet?

No. So why do so many people say that owls eat chickens? The answer is simple: because when you Google owls and what do owls eat, that is what pops up.

Do Owls Eat Snake?

Owl eating snake in his nest

Snakes are one of many kinds of prey for owls. Other types of snake include king snakes, indigo snakes, water snakes and coral snakes. If an owl spots a nest full of snake hatchlings, it will snatch up as many as it can in its feet and fly away to devour them elsewhere.

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The advantage for an owl is that snake hatchlings are vulnerable creatures at birth with no means to defend themselves.

Do Owls Eat Bats?

Bats are a common prey of owls. All species have been observed preying on bats, but most especially Long-eared, Short-eared and Barn Owls.

It is thought that they catch bats while they are on their nocturnal flight in open country, or by taking advantage of them when roosting in trees and buildings. With wingspans just as wide as an owl’s body, flying foxes and other fruit bats may be caught while still aloft at dusk or dawn.

Do Owls Eat Frogs?

The frog is one of those animals that an owl will eat. You should be aware of your surroundings if you are in a forest or jungle, and an owl is something to keep an eye out for!

Owl Eating small animal

They are carnivores, so they will hunt and eat smaller animals like frogs. Owls may hunt more than just during nighttime, too; some owls are nocturnal and others might hunt during both day and night.

Do Owls Eat Dogs?

Well, they will eat any bird or mammal they can hunt and catch. So yes, owls have been known to eat dogs but its very rare. But generally speaking, if you see an owl out in a field eating something it’s probably eating a rabbit or groundhog.

Do Owls Eat Lizards?

On average, an owl can eat 2.5 lizards in one day. While an owl prefers some types of lizards over others, it’s not all that picky when it comes to its dinner. As long as a lizard has decent size and isn’t too poisonous or toxic, it’ll be on top of an owl’s dinner menu for that night.

Owl eating rat

Do Owls Eat Fish?

Owls and other fish-eating birds usually hunt by swooping down on their prey from high in the air. Their excellent vision helps them spot a potential meal from great distances. Some owls also like to dine on fish.

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Fish are easier for an owl to catch than most land animals, but they’re still dangerous prey—which is why most fish-eating birds including owls have hooked bills or talons that help them get a good grip on slippery fish scales.

Do Owls Eat Small Rabbits?

The owl is a night hunter, and it’s particularly fond of small rabbits. Owls can pounce on their prey within mere inches of its resting place. Small rabbits are extremely vulnerable at night and an owl swooping down from above presents a deadly surprise.

Do Owls Eat Reptiles?

Owls will eat any reptile they can catch, but they have a particular fondness for lizards and snakes. Owls are particularly vulnerable to snake venom; in fact, owls’ keen sense of smell makes them more susceptible to snakebites than other birds.

Owl captured rat in his claws

Do Owls Eat Skunks?

Skunks can be found living in a wide variety of environments, including grasslands, forests, tundra and wetlands. Most of these species are nocturnal—which is why so many people are surprised when they wake up to an owl perched on their porch or walk outside to find a dead skunk on their lawn.

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Do Owls Eat Birds?

Birds, such as chickens and pigeons, are easy prey for an owl. Once an owl has spotted one of these winged creatures, it will swoop down and attack by going directly at its target—making a series of quick nosedives until it manages to catch hold of its victim in its talons.

It then takes flight to a high perch where it can enjoy itself in peace. Other birds that owls eat include turkeys, ducks, crows and seagulls.

Do Owls Eat Squirrels?

These pesky rodents are notorious for destroying gardens, crops and furniture. They’re also quite tasty when served up with a side of mashed potatoes—as long as you have an owl handy. It’s no secret that owls eat a lot of mammals, including rabbits, mice and even rats. Squirrels, however, can be one of their favorite snacks.

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Do Owls Eat Mice?

In reality, owls will eat mice in addition to small birds and large insects. Often, they nab these creatures by swooping down and grabbing them while they sleep in their nest or burrow. Owls have particularly sensitive hearing, which means they can pinpoint sleeping prey with ease.

Great Horned owl

Take Away Message

Owls are obligate carnivores for the most part. To put it another way, they solely eat the meat of prey animals. They spend the majority of their waking hours eating or hunting. The creatures that these birds consume will vary depending on their species.

Most owls specialize in one sort of food, however some are more opportunistic than others. Certain species fish or predominantly consume insects, while the majority simply eat whatever they can get their beaks on.

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Small dogs, as well as fruit, are sometimes prey for these birds. However, this is uncommon and usually occurs when other prey items have become scarce.

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