Just like most mammals, mother squirrels care so much for their babies. They feed them and protect them from any harm. Baby squirrels are tiny and very fragile, but their mother’s instinct is very helpful. The baby squirrels solely depend on their mother until they are old enough to move without their support.
When do squirrels have babies? Squirrels have babies twice a year, usually between March and April and in August or September. The exact day of each birth will mainly depend on the type of squirrel, the weather, as well the length of the gestation period, which is the number of days between conception and birth.
Mothers know best! Interestingly, this is also applicable to most mammals, including squirrels. The mother squirrels know exactly what to do with their babies, and through this guide, you will be amazed at how they take care of them. On the other hand, you will be shocked to learn how some males treat baby squirrels.
How Old Are Squirrels When They Mate?
Squirrels start to mate once they are 10 – 12 months of age. At this point, they are now sexually mature and are ready to mate. Male squirrels may mate any time of the year, but most females become fertile every start of the year, either January or February. During this time, females will attract males and will choose among them.
Squirrels have some interesting mating habits, which include males chasing the females. This scene may be mistaken for playing, but actually, females are testing the males if they are suitable for them. In most cases, males fight each other to win a female’s heart, and the older ones are likely to have an advantage.
Do Squirrels Have One Mate for Life?
Squirrels don’t have only one mate for life. They are polygynandrous mammals, which means that both males and females mate with several partners. In fact, male squirrels also mate with their offspring and relatives. The actual mating process may take only about a minute, but they mate several times a day for weeks.
What Do You Call a Baby Squirrel?
A baby squirrel is called a kit or kitten but is also sometimes called a pup. They are usually 1 inch long and weigh about 1 ounce only. These hairless kittens are born blind and have no teeth yet, so their mother breastfeeds them. At seven weeks of age, they may start opening their eyes and will follow their mother.
When Are Baby Squirrels Born?
In general, squirrels mate twice a year – in the middle of summer and the latter part of winter. Squirrels have a gestation period of between 38 and 46 days, depending on the species and the season. The first batch of baby squirrels is born in the spring months, while the second will arrive in late summer or early autumn.
How Many Babies Can a Squirrel Have?
On average, a mother squirrel can have 2 – 5 kittens in one birth. However, some squirrels may have 9 babies in a single birth. And because kittens are still helpless, mothers devote their time to taking good care of them. Sad to say, fathers don’t raise their babies, and mothers carry all the responsibilities.
How Do You Know if a Squirrel Has Babies?
If there’s a squirrel in your attic and it refuses to leave no matter how hard you scare the animal, there’s a huge chance that it has babies with her. In most cases, you may even hear the baby squirrels crying for milk. This is also why you should check the attic thoroughly before driving a squirrel out of your house.
Outdoors, you can easily identify a mother squirrel and another female with no babies yet. From a distance, a breastfeeding mother can be seen with elongated nipples that are going up and down while they are moving. Also, the skin around their nipples has already lost its fur. Young females usually have a flat chest.
Why Do We Never See Baby Squirrels?
You will never see baby squirrels because they stay in their nests under their mother’s care until they can survive independently. For tree squirrels, their nests are in the trees, usually six feet above the ground. But unfortunately, some baby squirrels fall to the ground, and this is the only time you are likely to see them.
It is also very unlikely to see babies of ground squirrels because they stay in underground dens with their mothers. These dens could be between 3 and 6 feet deep, and baby squirrels are still too weak to get out of their own. Ground squirrels are social animals, so lots of mother squirrels stay together in one den.
How Long Do Baby Squirrels Stay In the Nest?
Baby squirrels stay in the nest until they are about 10 weeks of age. At this point, their eyes are already wide open, and they are now fully covered with fur. At about 4 months old, most of them will decide to leave their mother for good. They will build their nest somewhere else but will still live near their mother.
Do Squirrels Come Back to the Same Nest?
Squirrels come back to the same nest but only the adult ones. On the other hand, juvenile squirrels will never return once they leave their nests. For females, they may also reuse the same nests for their second batch of babies. They only move to another place if their existing nest is no longer safe for them.
Do Squirrels Carry Their Babies in Their Mouths?
Squirrels carry their babies in their mouths, but only the mothers do it. Female squirrels carefully hold their babies by the scruff (back of the neck) when they move them from one place to another. Amazingly, sleeping baby squirrels don’t wake up. They also do this if a baby falls to the ground from their nest.
Do Mother Squirrels Abandon Their Babies?
Mother squirrels never abandon their babies. In fact, they take good care of their young from birth until they can live on their own. As excellent mothers, they teach them how to climb, search for food, and play with them. On the other hand, fathers abandon their babies and find other females to mate with.
What Do Squirrels Do With Their Dead Babies?
Currently, no records prove that squirrels bury the dead bodies of their own babies or eat them. But unfortunately, some squirrels kill baby squirrels and eat them. This untoward event is called infanticide, in which tree squirrels and ground squirrels were said to have been doing this for a very long time.
A study suggested that male tree squirrels kill babies of other males because they want to mate with the mother. Killing the babies will shorten the lactation of the mothers, thus leading them to enter into estrus, the stage where females are in heat. Meanwhile, this phenomenon is said to be rare in ground squirrels.
What Is the Average Lifespan of a Squirrel?
The average lifespan of squirrels varies, depending on their species and where they live. Gray squirrels may live up to 20 years in captivity but may only live for 11 – 12 months in the wild due to the presence of predators such as foxes. On the other hand, fox squirrels live up to 18 years in captivity and only 10 years in the wild.
Squirrels are sometimes a nuisance in homes and gardens. But it does not mean that you should not care for their babies. As mentioned above, most baby squirrels live in trees, but they may accidentally fall to the ground. Therefore, be careful when trimming down trees, especially during their breeding season.
List of Sources
Quinn, N., et al. (2018). How to Manage Pests – Pests in Gardens and Landscapes: Ground Squirrel. University of California.
Braker, N. (2021). Fox Squirrel, Sciurus Niger. Carleton College.
Bushytails. Northern Arizona University.