Monday, February 27, 2012

Squirrel Facts: Mating and Birth

Spring is almost here, and soon our squirrel friends will be hearing the pitter-patter of tiny squirrel paws. Mating season for eastern gray squirrels actually takes place twice a year, from December-February, then again from June-August (or a little later for northern regions). So many of the female gray squirrels that you see are already carrying little ones!

The mating habits of eastern gray and other tree squirrels are anything but romantic. Squirrels most definitely do not mate for life. When a female squirrel becomes receptive, which lasts less than one day, her scent will attract males from as far away as 500 meters. The males will compete for the chance to mate with her, with the most dominant male copulating with her first. Other males may get to mate with her after he is finished. Once the act is completed, the males depart and have nothing more to do with the female or the young.

The gestation period for the eastern gray squirrel is about 45 days. Other tree squirrels have a similar gestation period, or slightly shorter for smaller species. The babies are born in a drey or, if one is available, in a cavity nest in a hollow tree. The litter will usually number from two to four babies but sometimes as many as eight, about one inch long and weighing around an ounce. The young are born naked except for whiskers, blind and deaf and completely helpless.

Newborn Baby Squirrels
The young are cared for in the nest by the mother until they are fully independent. Weaning takes place gradually from about seven to ten weeks of age. After the young are able to leave the nest, they will remain with the mother for several more weeks as they learn the skills that they will need in adulthood.


Beebz at about five weeks


11 comments:

  1. Oh..so sweet..You are capturing very good photos..

    from

    Red Squirrel

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  2. I was wondering if I put a piece of coral in my 5 1/2 weeks old squirrels bed, would that be enough calcium without getting supplements. She is still on formula 4 or 5 times a day. I am using the scalded milk with heavy whipping cream and vitamin E oil. I sometimes put pure yogurt in her formula. But still not sure if she is getting enough calcium. When I put the coral in her bed today, she went right for it. I am not sure if that is telling me she is deficient in calcium or not. If anyone knows if this is a good form of calcium PLEASE LET ME KNOW. Thanks

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    1. I HAVE A YEAR OLD HANDICAPPED SQUIRREL.WHEN HE WAS NURSING I USED THIS COMBINATION OF FORMULA,GOATS MILK ALITTLE DILUTED AND BABY OATMEAL IN A BOX AND JARS OF BABY FOOD.(CARROTS,GREEN BEANS OR SPINACH.SPINACH HAS ALOT OF VITAMIN D.AS HE GETS OLDER AND CAN CHEW FOOD BOK CHOY IS A GREAT CHOICE OR RAW SPINACH.DARK LEAFY VEGGIES.NOT ENOUGH CALCIUM CAN CAUSE SEIZURES.THERE IS NO SET AMOUNT TO GIVE CALCIUM TO SQUIRRELS.TRIAL AND ERROR.BUT YOU DON'T WANT TO OVER DO IT.

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    2. I HAVE A YEAR OLD HANDICAPPED SQUIRREL.WHEN HE WAS NURSING I USED THIS COMBINATION OF FORMULA,GOATS MILK ALITTLE DILUTED AND BABY OATMEAL IN A BOX AND JARS OF BABY FOOD.(CARROTS,GREEN BEANS OR SPINACH.SPINACH HAS ALOT OF VITAMIN D.AS HE GETS OLDER AND CAN CHEW FOOD BOK CHOY IS A GREAT CHOICE OR RAW SPINACH.DARK LEAFY VEGGIES.NOT ENOUGH CALCIUM CAN CAUSE SEIZURES.THERE IS NO SET AMOUNT TO GIVE CALCIUM TO SQUIRRELS.TRIAL AND ERROR.BUT YOU DON'T WANT TO OVER DO IT.

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  3. So, I'm trying to evict the squirrels from my under porch - crawl space. I have been researching that the best way is to wait until you see the squirrel leave, then cover up the opening so they can't get in, and they will move on? Reading your post, I see that this squirrel may have babies down there, and I certainly don't want to leave them there to starve and die, if that's the case. When would you say would be a good time to "evict" the squirrels? Also, do they ever live in groups larger than one family? Any help you could offer would be appreciated. Thank you.

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    1. Eastern gray squirrels breed twice a year, December to February and May to June, though this is slightly delayed in more northern latitudes. The first litter is born in February to March, the second in June to July - So September would be a good time to evict unless you are in a very cold climate

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  4. Furthermore, I've been looking through your list of squirrel species and I can't figure out what kind of squirrel it is. I do have a couple pictures if you would like to contact me, I will send them to you. I can tell you this: no stripes on the back, long tail - kind of a thinner squirrel compared to some of the chubbier looking squirrels in the pictures I have been looking at. Even if they don't do much damage, I still need to evict them eventually, as my husband and I are moving and will be renting our home out. Thanks again for your help.

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  5. When is the best time to clean a squirrel house so babies are not disturbed?

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  6. I " Evicted " about 18 Squirrels , last Summer/Fall , and 12 Since Beginning March with my hav-a-heart trap.
    They Can now frolic ( with their babies ) WAY up in the country , where I bought them new property , and run & jump through the trees to their hearts content ....Just Not in My trees .

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  7. I've been feeding the birds suet and bread, squirrel found the suet & told friends! I now put out graham crackers for the squirrels and Cheerios for both birds and squirrels. Suet is now a bird only thing. And the cereal has vitamins! Problem? Yes- the squirrels are burying the bread & graham crackers!! Any help???

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