Why They’re Here
If you encounter a squirrel, the reason is simple—they are looking for food, burying and storing food, or looking for a place to nest. Sometimes, they may be doing all three things in the same place.
Squirrels eat about one pound of food a week, and they bury food to save for winter because the supply can be scarce in the coldest months of the year. It’s a practice called scatter-hoarding. Squirrels use their avid sense of smell to find the food later. They store more food than they need and the seeds and nuts they plant help replenish forests.
Fox squirrels eat acorns, hickory, walnut, beech, mulberry and hawthorn seeds. They will also eat fruits, berries, corn, insects, moths, and beetles. There isn’t a particular breeding season for fox squirrels because they can mate any time during the year. Mating typically reaches its peak in December and June, and the female will give birth to a litter of two to four babies about 45 days after becoming pregnant. Fox squirrels are born naked and blind, and their eyes won’t open until they are about five weeks old. They wean off three weeks later.
Northern flying squirrels feast on nuts, acorns, fungi, and lichens. They will also eat fruit, buds, sap, bird eggs and insects. They breed from March to May and females give birth anywhere from two to five babies about 40 days after becoming pregnant. Northern flying squirrel females only have one litter a year. They will use abandoned tree nests or woodpecker holes to wean the babies, which usually happens around two months of age.
You’ll find Southern flying squirrels where seed-bearing hardwood trees are plentiful. Hickory, maple, beech, and poplar are their favorites. They will also eat berries, seeds, fruits, lichen, tree bark, nuts, insects, eggs and dead animals. Mating happens in early spring and then again in late summer. Female Southern flying squirrels give birth to between two and seven babies about 40 days after becoming pregnant. The babies become independent at four months of age.
Eastern gray squirrels like oaks, walnuts and pine trees because they produce foods that last through the winter. These animals are very common in many cities and thrive in developed areas. They will take up residence wherever there is an abundance of tree nuts. They will also feed on seeds, fruits, mushrooms, tree buds, and blooms. They are very vocal little creatures. They squall, bark, mew, purr, and chatter their teeth to communicate with other squirrels.
Mating happens from late December to February and then again in May through July and usually produces two litters per female. One to eight babies are born per litter. The gestation period is usually around 45 days for the females.
Western gray squirrels eat berries, fungi, green vegetation, and insects, but they primarily eat pine nuts and acorns. Chances are you won’t see many of them since they are considered threatened in Washington and of concern in Oregon and California.
Mating season occurs from December to June. Females will have between one and five babies after about a 45-day gestation period. Western gray squirrels are around six months old when they leave the nest, which is longer than most other squirrels. Western gray squirrels make a hoarse “chuff-chuff-chuff” barking sound.
Of all the types of squirrels in the United States, ground squirrels are probably considered the biggest pest. Mostly because of their digging habit. Their diet changes with the season. Ground squirrels will eat grass, plants, seeds, grains, and nuts.
You can find them across the country and mating time depends on the area of the U.S. they live in, but they typically only breed once a year and females have between seven and eight babies per litter. The young grow quickly and usually wean around the time they are six weeks old.
Red squirrels mostly feed on pine seeds, but they will also eat insects, bark, sap, nuts, fruits, and mushrooms. In the fall, the animal will cut green pine cones from trees and store them in the ground. They also use logs or the base of trees to hide nuts and seeds for the winter months.
Red squirrels mate in late winter. Females will have between three and seven babies about a month after becoming pregnant. They will look for warm, safe places to raise the baby squirrels until it is time to wean them off of the mother, which is usually around eight weeks.
As more land gets developed, or forests are cleared out for timber, squirrels are forced out of their natural habitats and sent looking for new places to live. That can sometimes mean they end up calling your house home.