Are you ready for the squirrel-hunting season? Make sure to secure all the gear you'll need including a firearm like a rifle, shotgun, or pistol; rifle scope; and hunting apparel. The right equipment can help you bag more rodents.
It's also important to have an encyclopedic knowledge about the behavior and lifestyle of squirrels. What and when do they eat? Do they sleep at night and what else do they do? How long do they usually live and how often do they breed?
These are all big questions about the little animals. As with other kinds of small game hunting, it's critical to separate fact from fiction.
Getting wrong info about when squirrels eat and sleep, for example, can be the difference between your next hunting trip being a mild or big success. This is definitely a situation you'll want to avoid.
We're here to provide you with all the need-to-know info you'll need for your next squirrel hunting trip. You can get clear and detailed info about a wide range of issues related to squirrel behavior.
It starts with the basics like eating, drinking, and sleeping. For example, you'll want to know when squirrels rummage for food in a tree and when they search for it on the ground. You’ll also want to know where squirrels sleep and how long they catch Z’s.
You should also know some other basics. When do squirrels breed? When’s the “best” time to hunt squirrels? When’s the best time of year or month? We'll even take up some basic squirrel taxidermy issues like tanning squirrels and preserving squirrel tails.
Are you ready to start learning everything you'll need to know? The more you know, the more likely you'll have success squirrel hunting. We’ll start by taking up the rodents’ sleeping habits/patterns.
SQUIRRELS’ NIGHTTIME SLEEPING
When do squirrels sleep? The best time to go squirrel hunting is around dusk and dawn based on their sleeping patterns.
Most squirrel species sleep at night. As a squirrel hunter, you should know which species sleep then and which ones get shut-eye during the day.
It’s also critical to know where different squirrels sleep. Some prefer to sleep/nest inside trees, others in-ground burrows, and still others in rocks.
#1 Do Squirrels Sleep at Night?
Humans are usually diurnal and typically sleep about 7-8 hours per night. There are some exceptions like people who work the night shift, but generally, this is true.
If you're planning to hunt squirrels, then it's important to know about the general sleeping habits of the little animals. One of the big questions is whether squirrels are also diurnal or nocturnal. This will make it easier to plan your hunting sessions during the "right" time of day.
Squirrels can be quite active whether they're gathering/hoarding food, preparing a nest, mating, raising babies, and so on. This requires them to get enough shut-eye after all these busy activities.
The big question is: when do squirrels sleep? Several squirrel species handle their business during the day then c catch Z's during the nighttime.
After calling it a day, different kinds of squirrels go to different places to catch up on sleep. Tree squirrels got their personal dens/drays, while mother squirrels might head to their burrows where they take care of their young.
The time that squirrels sleep differ greatly based on whether they're a tree, flying, or ground squirrel. Knowing the basics can help you best prepare for your hunting trip.
A/ GROUND SQUIRRELS
As their name suggests, these squirrels spend most of their day on the ground. In Northern areas, they sleep in burrows. They hibernate during the winter due to the cold/inclement weather.
These squirrels might search for food for a while when hibernating. Then they go back to sleep. This period of 5-6 months gives the squirrels a chance to recharge and recover.
Meanwhile, ground squirrels in hot desert areas do something called "estivate" during summertime. This is the hot-weather version of hibernating.
B/ FLYING SQUIRRELS
These squirrels don't really "fly", but it certainly looks like they do. They have flaps of skin that look like webs attached to the sides of their bodies. The flaps allow them to glide from one tree to another tree.
Flying squirrels spend the majority of their time in trees. These squirrels are nocturnal, so they sleep during the daytime. Then they go out to play or forage at night.
These squirrels sometimes take naps during the day on tree branches. Then during winters 10+ squirrels often live together. The body heat provides extra insulation.
C/ TREE SQUIRRELS
This includes gray, red, and fox squirrels. They sleep in their nests known as "drays." They're typically made with things like twigs, branches, or mosses. These squirrels usually sleep in evenings but sometimes in the afternoons when they're not scurrying around.
These squirrels love the sunshine, so they tend to be active before sunset. One example is the red squirrel that makes nests up in conifer forests so they can eat pine cones. They care for their babies in the nests.
The bottom line is you should consider the squirrel species you're targeting while hunting. This will help you learn about their biorhythms and when they're active or sleeping. It will help to schedule your hunting sessions better.
#2 Where Do Squirrels Sleep at Night?
Yes, you'll need to know whether a certain squirrel species usually sleeps in the day or night. You should also be aware of where they sleep at nighttime (or daytime). This can help you schedule your hunting better in terms of dusk and dawn, for example.
Animals usually need a safe place where they can experience shelter and safety from weather, predators, etc. It's also where they can nest their young. That said, different animals have different kinds of shelters.
How about squirrels? They sleep in different places like dens, holes, and drays. There are some slight differences between these different structures. The particular ones squirrels pick is based on factors like their species and the particular situation. A squirrel hunter should know about these issues to get the best results when they're in the field.
It's critical to know the different kinds of squirrel nests. One of the most important issues is to know which types of squirrels use which kind(s) of nests.
These are where flying squirrels and tree squirrels nest. A den is made in a tree's side and is usually includes bedding made of leaves and moss. Squirrels build dens in areas like natural tree cavities or old woodpecker holes.
The majority of tree squire species like to stay in dens during the winter. That's because it provides good protection from rain/snow and wind. The exception is when a particular area has a short supply of natural dens.
A dray is built in a tree's branches and contains leaves/twigs that are arranged as necessary. This is typically a place that squirrels use for shelter during summer months, and also provide s place to raise baby squirrels.
On the other hand, squirrels might also use drays during the winter months also. Squirrels harden/thicken the drays during these cold months by adding extra twigs, leaves, and moss.
Ground squirrels also use nests, but they're underground burrows instead. Yes, that's why they're known as "ground" squirrels. It's typically easy to distinguish ground and tree squirrels since they tend to spend most of their time in one or the other areas.
In fact, consider how the critters act in similar situations. A ground squirrel will dart for an underground den when looking for shelter. Meanwhile, tree squirrels will run for a tree in the same situation. This can help to make your hunting excursions more effective by knowing these two different reactions.
It's common for squirrels to build multiple nests. In fact, it's quite common for tree squirrels to build 2 or 3 nests. This also boosts their survival rates and function as a safe house of sorts. When squirrels are out collecting food throughout the day can go to these "vacation" houses to sleep to hide from bad weather or predators.
You can spot these safe houses because they're sometimes less refined than their main homes. They're usually made of twig platforms that are piled with tree bark and leaves. Squirrels might even sleep in old bird nests sometimes.
SQUIRRELS’ GENERAL SLEEPING
Squirrel hunters should not only be aware of when and where squirrels sleep but also “how” they snooze. This will give you an insight about the best times and places to hunt the critters.
There are many questions to take up. Do squirrels just sleep during the day/night or also hibernate in the winter? Why do they sleep at night? How much shut-eye do they get when they crash?
#3 How Do Squirrels Sleep
What are the sleeping habits of squirrels? This is another key issue for hunters to know about to make their hunting trips more effective.
Squirrels sleep in different kinds of shelters based on factors like their species and the situation. Some of the different types of shelters they sleep in include dens, drays, and holes. Where they sleep is greatly based on whether they're tree, ground, or flying squirrels.
HOW SQUIRRELS SLEEP
Besides knowing where squirrels sleep it's also critical to know how they sleep. While some squirrels are nocturnal, they typically sleep at nighttime.
When there's light outdoors, they do their thing like gathering seeds, nuts, acorns, etc. Then at nighttime squirrels return to their nests, so they sleep or take care of their young.
Squirrels build nests in different locations including in trees, burrows in the ground, and holes in rocks. If you're hunting squirrels and see signs of nests in these locations, then there's a good chance squirrels are in the area.
WHY SQUIRRELS SLEEP
Hunters should also know why squirrels go to sleep. It really depends on various factors. Whether they sleep during the day or night, they catch Z's because they're from finding/storing food, playing with friends, caring for young, etc.
Squirrels tend to forage early in the morning or late at night, then spend the rest of the day resting (or sleeping). There are exceptions so it's critical to factor the squirrel species you'll be hunting. This will help you set your hunting schedule to get the best results.
The squirrels sleep either in the daytime or evening based mostly on their species. Like other animals, they need to recharge from checking off everything on their to-do list. It's not an exact science because certain species tend to sleep in the daytime or evening. That said, there are special situations like weather and predators that might cause them to tweak their sleep schedule in the short term.
This is a special type of long-term sleep squirrels do during the winter. They stay in their nests for 5-6 months. This allows them to drop their body temperature a couple of degrees. This allows the squirrels to use less energy.
It's worth noting that the squirrels don't actually stay asleep 100% of the time when they're hibernating. In fact, they're awake for 12-20 hours each week during the hibernation months.
Tree squirrels typically don't hibernate. They instead look for warm shelter during the cold months. They tend to sleep in thicker dens rather than drays. This helps to keep their body temperatures at the right temperature in cold weather.
This is a process that allows squirrels to deal with extreme weather. It happens during the summer months when there are hot temperatures. So if you live in a desert region, it's more likely the squirrels estivate during the hot and humid months. They spend more time inactive in their nests.
Ground squirrels estivate 2-3 months per year. They build up fat for the periods they'll be inactive so they can prepare for the hot weather.
#4 What Time Do Squirrels Go to Sleep
Hunters shouldn’t just know why squirrels sleep. A more practical issue is the time they go to sleep. It’s also important to know how much time they spend catching Z’s. These issues are directly related to the best times to hunt in the early morning or late afternoon.
Most humans start counting sheep between dinnertime and midnight. If you want to make your squirrel-hunting as effective as possible, you should also learn what time squirrels lie down in their den, burrow, or dray.
Most squirrels are usually active during the day yet might be a little active a night. They might get up for a bathroom break or care for their young. However, this usually just for a short time.
While there are some exceptions squirrels are generally diurnal, so they're active mostly in the daytime. They're actually classified as "crepuscular," which is a fancy name meaning they're most active in the early morning and nighttime hours.
That said, the specific sleeping patterns of different squirrel species differ. It generally depends on whether they're tree or squirrel squirrels. This determines where the squirrels spend the majority of their lives as well as where they catch Z's.
Several squirrel species gather/store food, play, mate, etc. during the day then spend the night hours getting shut-eye. Squirrels in burrows might also do tasks like caring for their young. Meanwhile, tree squirrels tend to go to their dens/drays after doing their daily work.
It's important to keep in mind that squirrels are small animals. So they get tired from all the running and nut-collecting they do all day. So it might be surprising how much squirrels actually sleep.
How much do squirrels sleep? They actually spend about 60% of their lives sawing logs. This figure is nearly double how much sleep people tend to get daily. In fact, squirrels usually spend nearly 15 hours asleep every day.
The approximate time of day squirrels sleep is based on whether they're a tree, ground, or flying squirrel. These squirrels are found in different areas throughout the world.
For example, gray and red squirrels sleep in nests known as drays. They sleep in the evening and sometimes during the afternoons. The male and female squirrels, as well as their young ones, help to build the nests.
Ground squirrels are usually on the ground. They not only spend time on the ground but also sleep in holes in the ground. Then they hibernate during the wintertime.
Then there are flying squirrels, which usually stay in trees. Their nest is critical, and they typically have 2+ nests. Flying squirrels are different from other squirrels that forage/play during the day and sleep at night.
They're nocturnal, so they're rarely seen. This is something to consider if you're planning a squirrel-hunting trip. People tend to less know about flying squirrels vs ground and tree squirrels. You should definitely do some research about them before you go hunting.
Just as important as when squirrels sleep is when they wake up. They tend to start foraging for food at dawn. However, they'll get a head start during the early hunting season when more food is available. This can definitely help to bag more if you hunt during that time of year.
SQUIRRELS’ NIGHTTIME BEHAVIOR/HABITS
We’ve taken up various issues related to squirrels’ nighttime sleeping habits. They include when, where, and how long they sleep. This will help you to anticipate their behavior and bag more squirrels in the early morning and late afternoon.
While squirrels are generally less active at night, they’re usually not 100% inactive. What do they do and why do they do those things?
#5 What Do Squirrels Do at Night
Before your next squirrel-hunting trip it's also important to know what squirrels do at night. Just as importantly, are they actually active at night or they just spend the evening hours catching up on sleep? These are big questions for hunters.
Flying squirrels are the main exception in terms of squirrels that are very active at night. Most squirrels are diurnal, so they do stuff like finding/storing food, playing with friends, and caring for young during the daytime.
An irony is flying squirrels don't actually "fly." They, in fact, scurry from tree to tree. A flap of skin on the sides of their bodies gives the impression that they're flying from one tree to another one although it's an optical illusion.
So if you go squirrel hunting, it will be much tougher to bag flying squirrels vs ground and tree squirrels. Still, while diurnal trees sometimes go out at night, nocturnal squirrels might wander out a little during the daytime.
The exact specifics of squirrels that wander out at night include the Northern and Southern Flying Squirrels. There's also a small breed called Sugar Gliders in the Amazon Forest that are also nocturnal.
That's a small group of squirrels that are active during the evening. They're the exception rather than the rule.
ARE SQUIRRELS ACTIVE AT NIGHT?
In general, the answer is: no. Besides the nocturnal squirrel species, some squirrels will wander out, but it's not really because of their biorhythms. For example, grey squirrels are attracted to light and warmth.
So if they experience these things at night, they'll try to explore their areas at nighttime. Sometimes it's warmth that attracts the little critters. Other times it's light. In other situations, it's both that draws out the squirrels.
The warmth could even be warm temperatures. So certain breeds might wander out in the evening to look for food or water, or find some nesting materials.
The bottom line is it's based greatly on a squirrels' environment and how that causes them to feel. There are exceptions to every rule and some squirrels indeed come out in the evening for a midnight snack or home improvements.
That said, as a general rule squirrels usually stay in their nest at night and are active during the day. This highlights the need to research the particular squirrel species you're hunting. That will give you the best chance to bag the most squirrels during your hunting sessions.
Since few squirrels sleep during the day, it's critical to know when they usually start heading out in the morning. This is mostly based on the squirrel species. For example, gray squirrels are most active at dawn. On the other hand, fox squirrels usually get a later start.
As a general rule, the best hunting is during the first two hours after sunrise. You can still have some luck during the third hour, but hunting tends to be less productive then. Another good time to do your squirrel hunting is at dusk. This is another time squirrels are often active.
#6 Where Do Squirrels Go at Night
Hunters should not only know what squirrels do at night. You’ll also want to know where they go. This will help to anticipate where they’ll likely be at dusk.
Squirrels are generally active during the daytime with the exception of a few nocturnal species. If you want to maximize your squirrel-hunting productivity, then it's critical to have some know-how about why squirrels leave their dens, burrows, or drays during the evening.
Some flying squirrel species are nocturnal, so they're most active in the evening. However, this is rare, and in most cases, squirrels are diurnal, so they're most active during the daytime. More specifically they tend to move around most at dusk and dawn.
Squirrels spend about 60% of their lives sleeping so for about two-thirds of any 24-hour period they're catching Z's and dreaming about acorns. That said, since most squirrels are active during the daytime, this still provides hunters with a good chance to bag squirrels during their hunting session.
Squirrels tend to be the most active during the few hours after dawn and before dusk. So if you want to give yourself the best luck make sure to hunt during those hours.
Besides sleeping about 2x the number of hours, humans do squirrels actually have similar sleeping patterns as humans. This is a plus for hunters. It's critical though to get a head start in the morning, in particular, to make sure you'll get as many hits as possible during the first few hours after dawn.
During the early squirrel-hunting season you should plan to get an even earlier start. Since trees produce more nuts, the squirrels are up early to take advantage of the big harvest. This, in turn, gives you a better chance to have more success hunting the critters.
What exactly do squirrels do during the evening? They might get up to take care of their young, eat a snack, or tend their young. This provides you with some chances to bag squirrels. Even during the winter season squirrels will sometimes wander outside their nest for a while to forage for food, for example.
Besides flying squirrels, certain species like grey squirrels might be attracted to light or warmth. This could even involve warm evenings that cause them to wake up. They'll get up to do things like forage for food or find some nest materials.
During the winter months when squirrels hibernate, they'll be less likely to run around outside. It's worth noting that squirrels don't technically hibernate physically during the winter. They instead reduce their activity and stay in their den more.
During this time the squirrels' body temperatures drop a few degrees. This also makes it tougher for them to be active since they're not getting energy from extra body fat.
The bottom line is squirrels' "hibernation" (inactivity) during the winter months makes hunting tougher. In fact, it's sometimes rare to see squirrels during both the daytime and nighttime during the cold winter months.
If you want the best luck hunting squirrels, then it's advisable to consider the first part of the season. This is when the squirrels are most active during the daytime since they're finding and hiding nuts for the winter months.
OTHER NEED-TO-KNOW FACTS ABOUT SQUIRRELS
We’ve just taken up an array of issues related to squirrels’ sleeping/nighttime behavior. As a small game hunter you should also know some other critical issues.
What are some must-know issues? You should know what squirrels usually eat, and how much water they drink. Other useful information is when and how often they breed. Even the lifespan of squirrels is good to know.
#7 What Do Squirrels Eat in the Wild
It's no secret that squirrels eat nuts. That said, is that all they eat? When squirrel hunting it's important to be as familiar as possible about the rodents. This will provide more know-how about what squirrels will look for when they're out and about.
Squirrels are most famous for eating nuts but they, in fact, eat a wide variety of foods in the wild. In fact, they're not picky eaters, so they'll actually eat lots of different items.
Some of the items they eat include:
In fact, squirrels will try nearly any type of food. It turns out they'll even eat foods that aren't too healthy for them including sugary snacks and cereals.
That said, while squirrels can eat just about anything that doesn't mean they do. Their basic diet includes things like acorns, pecans, veggies, and berries. While they'll also eat processed food like lunch meat and burgers, these items aren't the best options for the bushy-tailed critters.
Here are some of the favorite foods of squirrels:
It's safe to say squirrels are nuts about nuts. If you're squirrel hunting and there's a nut tree around there's an outstanding chance that you'll spot a squirrel scurrying around the branches to collect nuts. Squirrels eat nuts as a protein source.
In fact, trees can ironically benefit from squirrels eating their nuts. That's because the seeds will get spread to different areas and help promote the growth/survival of the tree species.
Squirrels often stash away nuts then find them later for later consumption. An extreme case is when they're preparing for winter hibernation by stockpiling as many nuts as possible. Some of the favorite nuts of squirrels include:
This is one of the all-time favorites of squirrels. They're likely to turn a fruit tree/bush into a meal. They can climb up fruit trees easily and pick fruit to nibble on. Here are some of the wide range of fruits squirrels like to eat:
When squirrel hunting keep an eye out for these trees since you're more likely to bag more of the animals around these areas.
Squirrels also enjoy berries including strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries. So they're other plants to look for since squirrels might be in the area foraging for food.
What's the big deal about fruit? Squirrels like them since it gives them an energy boost due to the natural sugars they contain. This makes it easier for them to scurry around to find food for a current or future meal.
You don't have to tell squirrels to eat their veggies. They especially like green leafy vegetables including:
They'll also eat other types of veggies like root crops, beans, peas, corn, squash, radishes, and tomatoes. In fact, squirrels will eat just about any kind of vegetable they can find. This can help you when squirrel hunting.
#8 Do Squirrels Drink Water?
The obvious answer is "yes", but it's important to know the details when hunting so you can have more success during your hunting sessions. For example, you should know which water sources they're more likely to drink from, how much they drink, how long they can live without water, and so on.
It's interesting that squirrels actually get most of their water by licking the underside of leaves. The moisture is typically from morning dew rather than rain, which might be surprising. This is definitely a key fact to know when hunting since it helps to explain squirrel behavior and why they might
Squirrels can also get water from various bodies of water like rivers, streams, and ponds. These sources are less common than ones like tree or plant leaves with dew or raindrops, but if they're nearby the squirrel's habitat, there's a chance they'll get their H2O from such sources.
Hunting near bodies of water can be a plus for squirrel hunters since it will be easier to find targets during your hunting session. That said, it's important to also consider other squirrel habitats like trees, burrows, and even rocks since they're more copious in the wild.
Leaves can also hold raindrops, which provides another way for squirrels to get hydrated. This is especially true during slow rains when the rain is more likely to linger on the leaves.
Interestingly it's also this type of rainfall that makes it easier to spot squirrels in trees. That's because the drops will linger on the branches then when the squirrel scurries across them they'll drop to the ground. This makes it easier to spot your target.
An X-factor is like humans squirrels will need to drink more water during hot/humid weather like in the summertime. So you can give yourself a better chance of bagging more squirrels by stalking areas like bodies of water or greenery.
HOW LONG CAN SQUIRRELS LIVE WITHOUT WATER?
Squirrels can live about 1-2 days without food and water. It depends on various factors though including how active they are, current weather conditions, etc.
Squirrels only eat about a pound of food per week. It's not much, but like other animals, they need food and water to survive. So if there's no water source due to a long drought, for example, they'll start scurrying around more to find H2O to hydrate.
This boosts the animals' activity, which in turn gives you more chances to bag more squirrels. So when hunting it's something to keep in mind and especially during hot/humid summer days, for example.
Like humans and other creatures, squirrels need water, so their brain and body function properly. For example, it helps to flush out toxins, improve digestion, and keep vital organs like kidneys working properly.
The hot weather months of summer and environments like deserts will limit how much water is available. This can give hunters an edge but keep in mind it can also be tougher to hunt in such conditions so make sure you stay hydrated yourself.
#9 What Time of Year Do Squirrels Have Babies
As a squirrel hunter it’s not enough to know what squirrels eat and how much they drink. Here's another aspect of squirrels' lifecycle you should be aware of since it affects their behavior during the year.
This will help to explain why the rodents seem to be acting differently for some particular reason. This, in turn, allows you to tweak your hunting schedule to get better results.
It depends on the breed. For example, grey squirrels breed two times each year. That includes once in the early spring and again in the mid-summer. This results in litters born sometimes between March/April then again in July/August.
It's worth noting that squirrels can technically be born nearly any month of the year. However, the early spring and late summer months are the most common ones.
Female squirrels in heat attract around 10 males up to 500 meters (547 yards) away. People in woodlands often mistaken one squirrel chasing another one as play when it's actually part of the mating process.
The mother squirrel has around 45 days to start constructing a nest prior to giving birth. The nest includes an opening so the mother can enter/exit the nest and the babies can do the same when they're older.
The nest not only is used to house the babies but also to keep the adult squirrels warm during the winter months. The nests are made of different materials including twigs, leaves, and moss.
The nests can take on various forms. They include in tree-holes, holes in the ground, and even inside rocks. The nests include twigs woven together to form the floor. Damp leaves/moss are put on top of the platform for reinforcement. Then the squirrels create a round frame around the nest's base to create an outer shell.
The last step is to add stuffing that includes twigs, leaves, moss, and possibly paper. This adds volume to the nest's outer shell.
Meanwhile, the leaf nest's inner cavity has a diameter of around 6-8 inches and is lined with material like bark, leaves, and grass.
The size of the nest caries based on the squirrel species. For example, gray squirrels can create nests with cavities that are 2-feet wide. These are easier to spot, so it's a plus for hunters searching for signs of squirrels in a particular area.
The litter size can vary. The full range is one to nine baby squirrels although the average figure is three to five babies. Each squirrel stays close to the mother during the first 5-8 weeks of development.
The squirrel parents will look significantly larger than their babies during the 2nd litter. That's because they're putting on extra fat and fur for the cold winter months.
The mother squirrels search for places to raise the young since tree nests are vulnerable to various predators. This explains why squirrels sometimes nest in areas of human homes like attics, chimneys, and sheds.
When you're in the wild, it's rare to see baby squirrels. That's because they stay in the nest until their body is fully covered with fur and can survive on their own without the help of their mother.
The highest survival rate for babies is during the early spring season and particularly in regions with snowy winters. That's because baby squirrels use more energy than large squirrels to find food and keep warm.
#10 How Often Do Squirrels Have Babies
Here’s another critical issue besides when they have babies. It’s important to know how many times per year squirrels mate/breed.
The number of times squirrels mate/breed per year varies. However, it's often 2x like in the case of gray squirrels. That includes the early spring and late fall. If you go squirrel hunting, you're more likely to observe the second mating season during the fall.
Female squirrels usually mate for the first time after they're one year old and the weather starts warming up from winter to spring. The female squirrel being emitting certain hormonal smells known as "pheromones" and making chirping sounds.
These scents/sounds inform male squirrels that the female squirrel is now fertile. While males are fertile throughout the year, the females are only fertile 1-2 times per year. This causes the males to get excited when they experience the sounds and smells of a female squirrel in heat.
Sometimes males will fight for the chance to mate with a female. The older males usually win the battles because they're bigger.
This is usually the only time they'll be aggressive since most squirrels are non-territorial. The exception is red squirrels. It's also worth noting the squirrels don't actually injure each other and instead just try to intimidate the other male squirrel.
The mating process takes about a minute. Afterwards, the mating season lasts for about 2 weeks to make sure the female gets pregnant. The squirrel might try to mate again with the same female but isn't involved in the pregnancy afterwards.
Here are some common squirrel species and when they breed:
AMERICAN RED SQUIRRELS
These squirrels often make their nests in evergreen trees. They breed in the mid-summer and late winter. The females are female for just 1 day during each breeding season. The male mates with the same female multiple times in one day.
These squirrels live in the ground. The species' family includes other small animals like chipmunks and groundhogs. They burrow in homes in the ground and live with other squirrel species.
If you see a squirrel stand on its back legs, it's probably a ground squirrel. This species breed once in the early spring.
These squirrels differ from other squirrel species since they're active at night instead of the day. These squirrels look outside the nest when they hear noises to see if they should relocate to another tree.
These squirrels mate during different times depending on their species. Southern Flying squirrels breed in summer months and late winter/early spring then. Meanwhile, Northern Flying squirrels breed just during the winter/spring.
The difference of the trees is where they live. Northern fliers nest in conifer trees while Southern fliers nest in deciduous trees. Northern squirrels also are a little darker.
Fox squirrels look a lot like gray squirrels with orange-like bellies. They usually mat in January and only give birth to one litter/year.
EASTERN GREY SQUIRRELS
They build nests using materials like tree branches in tree cavities. The squirrels breed in the middle of summer and late winter/early spring.
#11 How Long Can Squirrels Live
The lifecycle of squirrels obviously starts with birth and ends with death. That said, you might be wondering how long they tend to live.
The lifespan of squirrels can vary widely due to predators. The rodents have high mortality rates during their first year of life. However, squirrels can actually live in the wild up to 15 years. However, the average lifespan ranges from 5 to 6 years.
The maximum and average lifespans of squirrels is greatly due to the species. For example, the average life expectancy for gray squirrels I s1-2 years at birth. Meanwhile, the average lifespan is about 6 years. The longest recorded lifespan is 20 years in captivity and 12 years in the wild.
An X-factor is squirrels breed quickly. This can sometimes cause infestations around human populations. It's less of a problem in the wild due to various predators there.
When squirrels are on the ground their predators include:
These predators eat squirrels and other small animals whenever they have the chance.
One of the main benefits of hunting seasons for different animals is to help control the population. For example, gray squirrels were first taken to England in the mid-1800s. The population started to boom at the start of the 1900s.
In fact, the gray squirrel is one of the most common mammals in England today. In the UK country alone the population is estimated to be 2 million. It's worth noting this is just the gray squirrel's population and doesn't factor in the population of other species.
The red squirrel is actually native to the UK and only has a population of 161,000. So in terms of figures, there are over 12x more grey squirrels than red squirrels in England even though the latter type isn't native to the region.
Various threats to red squirrels in the wild include:
This includes settlement and forest clearing. The process has been continuing for centuries. This affects competition among squirrels and their food sources. It also boosts the number of wild/domestic animals that move over open areas.
The introduction to other squirrel species can have a negative effect on indigenous species. For example, the grey squirrel's population in England is over 2 million today. These squirrels are bigger and heartier than red squirrels and outnumber them by over 12x.
The number of red squirrels in England has decreased significantly. The decrease has been slow but steady.
The red squirrel, for example, is more vulnerable to certain diseases vs other squirrel species. This makes them more vulnerable to certain diseases than other species.
Different squirrel species are vulnerable to different predators. The main predators of red squirrels include big birds, red foxes, pine martens, and wildcats. Domestic cats also eat squirrels if they have the chance.
It's noteworthy that there are different predators for different squirrel species. It's related to factors like the squirrels' habitat.
In fact, various forests like conifer forests have been increasing for thousands of years. These are red squirrels' safest habitat, so it makes them less safe vs predators/competition.
Yes, you’ll need to have know-how about squirrels themselves when hunting. You should also be aware of hunting-specific issues like the best time for squirrel hunting. If you bag a squirrel, you also might want to tan a hide or preserve a tail.
#12 Best Time to Go Squirrel Hunting
BEST TIME OF DAY
What's the best time of day to go squirrel hunting? If you want to bag the most critters during your hunting session, then this is definitely some must-know information to be aware of. In fact, the answer is probably more complex than it might seem at first.
Squirrels are most active around sunrise and sunset. So if you want to give yourself the best chance of hitting more targets, you should consider hunting around this time. That includes the first few hours at dawn.
You can also get in some productive hunting during the third hour after sunrise, but there are generally fewer squirrels scurrying around then.
One issue to consider is the squirrel species you're hunting. For example, you'll be most likely to see gray squirrels at the crack of dawn. On the other hand, you can usually see fox squirrels a little later.
Another good time for squirrel hunting is near dusk. This is generally the second-best time to hunt after dawn. This is another good time to bag lots of squirrels.
How about other times of the day? The worst time for squirrel hunting is around midday. You can also observe some activity in the afternoon although you'll likely have more luck in the late afternoon just before dusk.
One X-factor to consider is inclement rain. If there's a light or moderate rain, for example without heavy rains and lightning, you should definitely consider going ahead with your squirrel hunting.
On the other hand, heavy rains can affect factors like visibility. In that case, you're likely to get only 1-2 squirrels and will have to deal with a big mess besides that.
Make sure to check the weather forecast before you head out for squirrel hunting. Nothing in life (including weather) is 100%, but you'll have a good sense if you should expect precipitation, and if so how much.
Besides the best time of day to hunt for squirrels, you should also know which months of the year are the best. That includes the fall months when squirrels are foraging for their food.
Early-season hunting tends to be better since more nuts are available for foraging. So you're more likely to get more game during August vs November, for example. As the winter months approach the squirrels start preparing for the cold winter months.
While squirrels don't technically hibernate, they're much less active during the winter months when their body temperatures drop a bit. So we'll call it hibernation in a pejorative sense.
Another good time to consider squirrel hunting is in the springtime. This is when the hibernation is done, and the squirrels leave their nests to start foraging for food.
Finally, one related issue to consider is the temperature. As the temps start dropping in the fall season squirrels become more active as they prepare for winter.
In addition, some squirrels are drawn to light and warmth, so you're more likely to see them during the early fall since it has longer days and warmer temperatures.
#13 How to Tan a Squirrel Hide
After a successful squirrel-hunting session based on good timing, you might want to preserve squirrel hides. Like the hunting itself, it's important to take the right steps in order to get the best results. This, in turn, will help to provide the best results, which is a good thing.
The process of hide tanning is somewhat of a lost art. In the past squirrel, skins were known as a durable leather that people sewed into patterns to make different kinds of winter wear like coats. Here are the steps you'll need to take:
1. Prepare the pelt
Do that by scraping away extra meat/flesh. Use a dull knife since it won't make any nicks while scraping.
2. Make a solution
Use a 5-gallon bucket to make a solution of 5 cups salt:1 gallon water. Put the pelt into the salt solution for a full 24 hours.
Scrape away any leftover flesh/membrane when the soaking is done.
3. Create a tanning solution
Start with 2 pounds of salt:4 gallons of water. Stir to dissolve the salt totally.
Use a separate container to mix 2 pounds of alum with barely enough water to dissolve it. Mix completely. Add to the salt mixture.
4. Put scraped pelt into your tanning solution
Let it sit for a full 24 hours. Stir it 2+ times per day.
5. Remove the pelt from solution
Rinse the whole pelt using clear water. Hang up the pelt with the fur side up over a railing or banister. Make sure direct sunlight isn't contacting it. Allow the pelt to hang up for many days.
6. Roll up the hide
Fold up the flesh sides together then let it sit during the night.
7. Soften the leather
You can do this by moving the hide across a straight edge. Some good options are table edges and patio railings.
8. Add a leather lubricant into the leather
Use your fingers to do this. It helps to ensure the tanned hide is sot/pliable. You can remove mats/tangles on the hide's fur side by using a brush or comb.
You can store the hides in a freezer until you're ready to tan them
You can use this method for tanning just about any kind of animal hide. If you tan bigger hides make sure you use more tanning solution and times.
You can usually buy alum at any drug store or pharmacy. You can also find it at several online retailers including the world's largest e-commerce website: Amazon. Make sure to read the instructions carefully so you'll get the best and safest results.
Salt and alum are both non-toxic to humans. So you won't have to worry about serious side-effects when working with them.
HOW TO TAN A SQUIRREL HIDE WITH BORAX
This is another option if you want to use borax to tan a squirrel hide:
1. Pin the pelt (fur-side down) to a board
Use thumbtacks. Use a sharp skinning knife to scrape away fat/flesh/muscle. Make sure don't cut holes into the skin.
2. Unpin pelt and put it in a big/shallow plastic tray (fur side down)
Sprinkle salt over the pelt. Rude salt into the belt and leave part of animal hide unsalted.
3. Leave pelt in salt for 2-3 days
Pour off extra fluid that's collected in the tray. Repeat the salting. Leave pelt for 2-3 more days.
4. Hang up pelt to let it dry
5. Fill up 10-gallon garbage can with H2O
Soak pelt 2+ hours until it softens. Change the water every half hour. Squeeze water out of pelt. Pin pelt to board and scrape inside of skin with sharp knife. Remove any shiny film on the skin.
6. Fill garbage can w/ lukewarm water
Add 10 ounces of Borax. Put in pelt and use a wooden pole to stir the mixture.
7. Let pelt soak overnight
Squeeze it out and put the pelt on board. Use the back of the knife to scrape. Rinse pelt completely using lukewarm water then remove water.
8. Make Borax paste
Use 4 ounces of Borax, 4 ounces alum, and a little water. Remove lumps by mixing the paste.
#14 How to Preserve a Squirrel Tail
After bagging a squirrel you also might want to preserve the tail. This can serve as a remembrance of your hunting trip. Here are the basic steps to take?
1. Skin the rodent and remove the tail
2. Sprinkle tail's skin with salt
Go over the exposed skin down to the shaft.
3. Put the tail on a dry/elevated platform and out of reach of kids/pets
Make sure salt doesn't spill off. Put the tail in a flat position so it will dry faster.
4. Remove lumps of salt form skin/hide
You can now hang up the tail on the wall or on bookcase mantelpiece.
So there you have it! We've just shared some of the most critical need-to-know info whether you're hunting a grey, red, or fox squirrel. We've taken up issues like the eating, sleeping, and breeding habits of squirrels. You also now know what squirrels do at night, how long they live, and even how long they can live without water.
We've also taken up some hunting-specific topics. You know the best time of the day and year to go squirrel hunting. If you want to preserve a squirrel tail or tan a squirrel hide we've also covered those topics as well.
Let's bring it all together with some helpful squirrel-hunting tips. They tie together all the above-mentioned topics into practical tips & tricks to bag more critters during your next hunting trip. Here are some must-know ones to keep in mind:
Know woods squirrels
Keep in mind these squirrels are different from the ones found in backyards and parks. Woodland squirrels aren't used to humans and want to keep it that way. They'll use a wide range of tactic to avoid interaction with predators.
Squirrels are most common in wooded areas. However, the irony is they'll stay hidden if you aren't serious about how to find the rodents on tree limbs, in squirrel dens, and under fall foliage.
Get an early start in early season
That's because squirrels work overtime to forage during in the early season. They'll often start their search for acorns, pine nuts, etc. before dawn. Look for signs of squirrels like barking/wheezing sounds, nutshell-chewing, and sounds of squirrels jumping between limbs.
Shift your focus during mid-season
During this time squirrels start foraging for nuts on the ground that have fallen from trees and sit underneath fallen leaves. Both .22 and .17 caliber rifle are recommended during this time. A rimfire rifle can be the best firearm for squirrels on limbs and logs.
During this time squirrels are most active during sunrise and sunset. They might do some nut-hunting around noon. Look for piles of shavings and gnawed nut hulls, which are signs of nearby squirrels.
Look for late-season den trees
OK, it's not quite that the critters don't want to hunt for food or make a nest. In the late season, it's more probably the squirrels inside the dens haven't eaten as much. The squirrels might just leave the den at dusk or dawn, or even stay inside for 2-3 days.
If you're doing late-season hunting search for den trees, then watch for squirrels that hunt for food at sunrise or sunset. Den trees are usually easy to spot. Look for trees that are big and twisted, and possibly dead.
You should also look for trees with lots of holes. This provides lots of hiding places for slow-moving winter squirrels.
The squirrels usually venture out just to a limb just to get some sun. They might search for nuts or even move to another tree. A hunter with sharp reflexes can reach their hunting limit from a single den tree.