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What Do Snowy Owls Eat? Are They Carnivores?

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two snowy owls on rock

Snowy white owls are native to the arctic regions of the world, where they conveniently blend in with their surroundings. These animals tend to hunt for food both during the day and night, depending on the circumstances and the opportunities available to them. So, what exactly do Snowy Owls eat? This is a great question with an interesting answer! Here is everything that you need to know about the Snowy Owl’s diet.

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Snowy Owls Are Carnivores

Contrary to what some people believe, Snowy Owls are not omnivores. Instead, they are carnivores, just like all other owls. They do not feed on wild berries, seeds, or grasses like other birds tend to do. They also do not eat bark or anything else considered vegetation. These birds of prey do not live in an environment that would enable them to easily do this, so they have not evolved as omnivores.

Therefore, they tend to stick to animals and insects to get the nutrition that they need. Even Snowy Owls in captivity stick to a carnivorous diet. They will not peck at any bird feed left out for them. They would prefer to wait until live prey makes an appearance, even if that means going hungry.

angry snowy owl
Image Credit: Lilly3012, Pixabay

This Is Exactly What an Owl Eats

Lemmings are a mainstay in the Snowy Owl’s diet. They are easy to find and prey on and offer plenty of nutrition to help an owl thrive. In fact, a Snowy Owl can eat up to a whopping 1,600 lemmings a year. However, the lemming population rises and falls over time, so lemmings are not always an option for Snowy Owls at mealtime.

These owls are opportunistic, so if they find prey of another kind, they will not hesitate to make it a meal if they are hungry.

Types of animals that a Snowy Owl might feast on include:

  • Hares
  • Ducks
  • Lemmings
  • Carrion
  • Voles

Snowy Owls are also known for enjoying their fair share of mice. They will even eat the flesh of large dead animals, such as walruses and polar bears. Snowy Owls typically do not have to travel far to find food. However, they will migrate slightly south when food sources get scarce to find supplementation.

snowy owl flying
Image Credit: Pixabay

Here Is What Eats Snowy Owls

Adults Snowy Owls do not face any real threats from predators because they work together to protect each other, and they stay away from places where predators like bears could get them. Sadly, the same thing cannot be said for young Snowy Owls. Nests are interesting to other birds of prey, such as hawks and eagles. When an opportunity arises, these birds of prey would happily make the effort to snatch a young Snowy Owl as a snack. Nests that are too close to the ground are at risk of attacks from foxes and wolves that are hungry.

Related Read: Do Owls Eat Other Birds? Hunting Techniques & Most Common Owls

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Snowy Owls are beautiful birds with excellent hunting skills. Their talons make the job of getting food for themselves and their young ones easy. Since they do not eat vegetation, they must stay alert and always on the lookout for prey. Most people never get to experience the actions of wild Snowy Owls, so all we can do is imagine their hardships and accomplishments when it comes to hunting.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.