Are Squirrels Active at Night? | All You Need to Know!

Written by Thomas Matthews

Squirrels are considered nuisance rodents, but they are not as dangerous as rats and mice. They don’t carry rabies, yet they pose a health risk to humans. These cute mammals may look harmless; however, they can be aggressive.

Are squirrels active at night? Some squirrels are crepuscular, which means that they are only active at dawn and dusk. Some species are diurnal, or they are active during the day, and they rest at night. On the other hand, some of them are nocturnal and are only active when night comes.

Squirrels can be categorized into three main types – tree squirrels, ground squirrels, and flying squirrels. Tree squirrels and ground squirrels are most active during the day and can either be diurnal or crepuscular. On the other hand, flying squirrels are exclusively nocturnal, so you will not see them during the daytime.

Do Squirrels Come Out at Night at All?

Do Squirrels Come Out at Night at All

Squirrels come out at night, but you will rarely see tree and ground squirrels after sunset. These species have extremely poor vision at night, which is why they prefer to come out in the day. But as mentioned above, flying squirrels only come out at night and sleep or rest during the day.

Where Do Squirrels Go at Night?

As the name implies, tree squirrels live in trees, tree cavities, and in wooden areas. Therefore, these are some of the places they go at night. They usually build their nest (called drey) out of twigs and leaves. On the other hand, ground squirrels dig burrows that serve as their den at night. They rarely sleep in trees.

Meanwhile, there are two types of flying squirrels – the northern and southern flying squirrels. Both of them don’t really fly like bats and birds do but rather glide from one tree to another without landing on the ground. At night, they usually travel around forests in search of food such as fruits, nuts, seeds, and insects.

Do Squirrels Like Light or Dark?

Do Squirrels Like Light or Dark

In general, squirrels have very good vision in the day but are very poor at night. In short, they like light and avoid the dark. Squirrels are not afraid of bright lights, but they are bothered by flashing lights such as strobe lights. On the other hand, flying squirrels are very sensitive to light, and they don’t like it.

Meanwhile, squirrels are known to be fond of stealing and eating Christmas lights. But contrary to popular belief, they don’t eat them because they like lights. Instead, they eat plastic Christmas lights because they think of them as nuts. Their teeth also grow continuously, so they chew things to wear them down.

What Time of Day Are Squirrels Most Active?

Tree squirrels and ground squirrels are most active in the early morning and late afternoon in search of food. Nevertheless, they can be less active in the middle of the day, especially during summer or warm weather. On the other hand, flying squirrels are most active within the first several hours after sunset.

Do Squirrels Come Out at Night for Food?

Do Squirrels Come Out at Night for Food

Squirrels don’t come out at night to search for food because they do it in the daytime. But again, flying squirrels are exempted because they are most active at night. Also, there are rare occasions when you see squirrels at night. If they come out at night, they may feel hungry due to a shortage of food during the day.

What Time of Day Do Squirrels Feed?

Most squirrels eat in the morning right after they wake up, and also eat in the late afternoon so they can sleep well at night. Contrary to what many people think, nuts are not their only diet. They are actually omnivores, which means they eat plants and animals. Squirrels eat eggs, fruits, small insects, and caterpillars.

Are Gray Squirrels Active at Night?

Are Gray Squirrels Active at Night

Gray squirrels are not active at night because they are sleeping at that time. Instead, they are most active in the 2 – 3 hours after dawn and a few hours before dusk. During the rest of the day, they rest in their nest or are courting females.

This species is classified as tree squirrels and are therefore diurnal mammals.

How Early Do Squirrels Get Up?

Most squirrel species get up very early in the morning, most likely 20 – 30 minutes after sunrise, especially during warmer months. They may also get up early during colder months, but they will not yet come out from their nests. On the other hand, lactating mothers may wake up earlier to breastfeed their babies (kittens).

What Do Flying Squirrels Do at Night?

What Do Flying Squirrels Do at Night

At night, flying squirrels come out from their nests to search for food and eat. This species has superb gliding abilities and can easily escape from predators by moving quickly from one side of a tree trunk to the other. These excellent gliders build nests in tree holes but may also use nests abandoned by other squirrels.

Where Do Squirrels Go When It Rains?

Once the rain starts to fall, squirrels run to seek shelter so they won’t get wet. They usually go to hollow trees to hide from the rain. If they cannot find one, they stay in their dens with leaves as the roof. These smart mammals also use their tails as umbrellas. Sometimes, they also enter houses to seek more protection.

What Attracts Squirrels to Your House?

What Attracts Squirrels to Your House

Aside from seeking shelter from the rain and storm, squirrels will also enter your house in the colder months to keep their bodies warm and to escape from predators. These opportunistic creatures are very attracted to entering houses with lots of nuts, including beechnuts, hickory nuts, oak acorns, and walnuts.  

However, ground squirrels are less attracted to entering houses. Instead, they dig deep holes in yards and gardens to bury their food in preparation for winter. These cute critters may also damage bird feeders and fruit-bearing plants. But worst of all, they burrow under houses and gnaw on wires, which can cause a fire.

How Do You Get a Squirrel Out of Your House?

Squirrels can enter houses through crawl spaces, attics, or trees that are very close to the house. If there’s a squirrel inside your house, don’t kill it. In most states, it is illegal to kill them, especially tree squirrels. Instead, here are some humane ways how to get a squirrel out of your house:

1. Check for Baby Squirrels

If there are baby squirrels, it’s better if you let them grow big enough to leave without the help of their mother. If you let the mother out without them, the kittens will die of starvation. Aside from that, the mother may come back for them.

2. Choose an Exit Way

If there are no baby squirrels, open the door or window that you want the squirrel to exit through. If possible, choose the ones near your fireplace. Close all the other doors and windows so the squirrel will have only one way to go out.

3. Use Loud Noises

Scare the squirrel away using loud noises such as loud radio or TV, banging of metals, or screaming. If the animal still refuses to leave, try . This device does not use chemicals or poison.

4. Use Strobe Lights

Squirrels feel uncomfortable looking at flashing lights. If the squirrel is in your attic, try placing a strobe light such as Roxant Pro Mini Strobe Light . Such a device is designed to drive squirrels away. You can also adjust the flash rate.

5. Catch the Squirrel

If the squirrel is cornered, catch it using a blanket. Squirrels are fast, so drop the blanket on the animal very quickly and roll it up carefully. Release the squirrel just outside your house. Don’t forget to wear safety gloves when catching a squirrel.

Note: If the squirrel is in your chimney and could not escape from above, drop a rope to the fireplace so that the animal can use it to climb on his way out. Alternatively, open the flue so that the squirrel will drop to the fireplace.

How Do I Get Rid of Squirrels?

Again, killing squirrels is illegal in most states. Trapping them for relocation is not only illegal; it’s also cruel to them. Squirrels are wild animals and territorial, so if you suddenly introduce a new one to the group, it might get killed. Poisoning them is also illegal. Therefore, here are some better ways to get rid of squirrels:

Related: How To Get Rid of Squirrels? | Squirrel Control Methods

  • You can use a non-lethal trap. Use nuts or grains as bait. Once the squirrel is trapped, report immediately to your local animal welfare.
  • If you have bird feeders, place them at least six feet off the ground and about ten feet away from trees and your house.
  • Remove all possible food sources outdoors, and don’t feed the squirrels. Otherwise, they will come back and may attract others.
  • Trim trees that touch or are very close to your roof. Remove vines that can help squirrels in climbing trees. If possible, wrap trees with metal sheets.
  • To prevent them from entering your property, install physical barriers such as chicken wire and an electric fence
  • Sprinkle cayenne pepper, garlic pepper, or ground chili peppers around your plant seedlings and Christmas lights. Squirrels hate their strong smell.
  • Unleash your dog in your yard and let it chase squirrels. However, train your dog to drive them away, not to kill them.
  • To repel ground squirrels, fumigate burrows, especially when there is high soil moisture. Read the instructions carefully before using any pesticides.
  • If squirrels become uncontrollable, call a professional squirrel exterminator as soon as possible.

List of Sources

Baldwin, R., Meinerz, R. (2016). How to Manage Pests in Gardens and Landscapes: Tree Squirrels. University of California.

Pierce II, R. (2012). Tree Squirrels: Managing Habitat and Controlling Damage. University of Missouri.

Living with Wildlife: Tree Squirrels. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Learn About Squirrels. Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Saunders, D. (1988). Gray Squirrel. State University of New York.

Thomas Matthews
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