Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Squirrel Nesting Behavior ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: Squirrel Nesting Behavior
Category: Science > Agriculture and Farming
Asked by: edwhug-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 14 May 2004 10:09 PDT
Expires: 13 Jun 2004 10:09 PDT
Question ID: 346395
A squirrel mother is nesting in our attic.  Will the mother and her
infants leave the attic (and nest) later in the season?
Subject: Re: Squirrel Nesting Behavior
Answered By: bobbie7-ga on 14 May 2004 12:11 PDT
Hello Edwhug,

"A squirrel mother is nesting in our attic.  Will the mother and her
infants leave the attic (and nest) later in the season?"

Yes, the baby squirrels will leave the nest when they are between 8 to
12 weeks old; however to insure that the mother doesn?t return to nest
again you will have to seal or block the entry holes to your attic.

?Squirrels give birth twice a year, in the spring (January-April) and
in the fall (August-September). There are 2-4 babies per litter. The
babies are self-sustaining at about 12-14 weeks of age and will leave
the natal area in search of their own territory.?

According to the Wild Mammals of Missouri by Charles and Elizabeth
Schwartz, squirrels come out of the nest for the first time when 6 to
7 weeks old, and in another week or so are weaned. Squirrels leave
their nests early in the morning and late afternoon since this is time
that they are most active.

?Gray squirrels are early risers and leave their nests with the first
light of day. They are most active about sunrise and shortly
thereafter, and again in late afternoon. Most of the day they stay in
their nest or lie on a limb or other platform where they sleep and sun
themselves. By comparison, fox squirrels come out later and retire
earlier and are frequently more active in the middle of the day?


?The mating period for gray squirrels begins in late December or early
January while fox squirrels tend to start breeding 10 days to two
weeks earlier. Another general mating period occurs from late May to
early July. Pregnancy requires about 45 days, and most litters are
born in February or March, and July or August. One to eight young
comprise a litter, but two or three are most common. The young are
hairless at birth, have their eyes and ears closed, and possess well
developed claws. They come out of the nest for the first time when 6
to 7 weeks old, and in another week or so are weaned.?

This series is abstracted from the revised edition of The Wild Mammals
of Missouri by Charles and Elizabeth Schwartz.

Conservation Commission of Missouri

The city of Toronto provides a great deal of information about squirrels.

Breeding season:  
?Late winter to early spring and mid-summer to early fall.?  

Gestation:  40-44 Days
Litter size:  
?1-6, 2-5 is average. One or two litters per year. Only females over 2
years old can have a second litter of young. First litter is born in
spring; a second litter is often born in late summer to fall.?

?The young are weaned at two months and leave their nesting area soon
after weaning. A mother squirrel is very protective. If threatened,
mother squirrels will actually attack people or pets. If the nest is
disturbed, the young will be relocated, one by one, to a new

They are active during the day and sleep at night.

Den sites:  
?Squirrels nest in high places, generally in the crowns of trees. (..)
Will invade chimneys, attics, and garages.?

Normal behaviour:

A mother squirrel that is protecting a nest or young babies will attack people.

?Mother squirrels are very protective when threatened. Missing hair on
backs and shoulders: This is normal for a nesting female squirrel
because she uses her own fur to line the nest.?

Safe ways to make a squirrel leave your attic:

?Enter the attic and make a lot of noise to scare off an animal. Set
up a radio with a talk station on and turn it up loud. Set up a bright
light, but make sure the light is not a fire hazard.

?If there are very young baby squirrels in a nest, make sure they are
able to exit on their own.?
?Try spreading naphtha flakes in the attic.?
?You can also use urine soaked kitty litter. The smell is offensive to
squirrels but does not harm baby squirrels.?

?Hang sweaty clothing in the attic. Wild animals do not like the smell of people.?

?Squirrels are afraid of owls. Try to make a model of an owl to use as
a 'scarecrow'?
?Next, give the animal 24-48 hours to leave: They may have a nest of
young that needs to be moved. To see if the squirrels have left,
spread flour near their nest and check for tracks.?

After 24-48 hours:

?Block one hole with loosely crushed newspaper. Block all other holes
completely, with strong material. Wait another 24-48 hours. If the
newspaper has not been disturbed, you can assume all the animals have

City of Toronto


?Female Pine squirrels typically have one litter per year, and most
breeding occurs between February and March, although sometimes a
second litter is born in August or September. Average litter sizes
range from 3 - 7 individuals.?

?Juvenile squirrels are born without hair and weigh between 13 and 18
grams. Hair begins to grow on the their body by 18 days. Eyes open at
26 - 36 days, ears at 18 - 22 days, lower incisors erupt at 17 - 19
days and upper incisors at 26 - 29. Weaning begins at 6 weeks and is
complete by 9 weeks. Adult body mass is reached after 8 - 9 months.?

?Pine squirrels are active year round during the daytime. Even during
the most severe winter weather they will leave their nests for short
periods of time to forage for food. Activity is bimodal from late
spring to autumn with peaks 2 hours after sunrise and again 2 - 5
hours before sunset.?
?Pine squirrels are territorial. Their territories average in size
between 1 and 1.5 hectares in size. There is no difference in mean
territory size between males and females.?

The Squirrel Almanac
A Guide to North American Tree Squirrels
By Peg Halloran, Ph.D.

Squirrels with Babies in the Attic 

?It is best to wait to evict squirrels with babies until the infants
are grown and gone. Usually all squirrels leave the natal area 12-14
weeks after being born for territorial reasons. Sometimes, one may
stay behind, and then eviction techniques may be used. If you really
need them out immediately, then you will want to get the mother to
move the babies on her own.?


 ?If she has to find or build a new nest, it may take 5 or 6 hours.?

Blocking the entry hole is best done at mid-morning on a warm sunny
day. Squirrels are usually out eating at this time. Check to make sure
they are out before starting.

You will find the instructions for blocking the entry hole at at this URL:

From the Do-it-yourself Forum:

?If a squirrel or squirrels get trapped in the attic, it will chew a
hole to get out. Family members outside will also chew to free the
trapped squirrel(s). Typically, the mother will move the nest to one
in a tree once the young are about 7 weeks of age. If babies have been
born, the mother will not abandon them. If the mother is removed, the
babies will starve to death and decompose in your attic. If she is
excluded she will be determined to find a way into the attic again.?

Another posting:

?I have discovered squirrels in my attic. I think the mother has just
had her litter. The RSPCA has advised me that they will go of their
own accord when the babies are able to leave the nest without doing
any damage.?

Here are a few excerpts from an interesting article by Ron Jones.

?For about three weeks before her litter is born, and until the babies
are weaned and out and about, the female squirrel becomes shy and
extremely wary, especially of any disturbance inside the house, near
her nest.Her whole life revolves around her young, and she is
extremely sensitive to anything that might threaten them. She can be
extremely wary, especially during those first crucial weeks.?


?When her birth time is near, she kicks the male squirrel out, and
prepares the nest. She becomes isolated, and quieter, and will many
times stop moving around and making as much noise. She no longer
commits herself to things that she may have second feelings about,
like going into a small trap for food when there is a lot to eat out
in the yard. Her thoughts are to get the nest ready for the young.?


Some biologists say that gray squirrels have only one litter a year,
in the early spring. This may be so, but in my experience there are
three distinct times when I find myself dealing with females with
litters.  The first time is towards the end of February, and litters
are most numerous then. Then there is another flurry of births, in
late spring, and another in the summer.?

When the young squirrels are about 12 weeks old they start going
outside on their own.

Motherly Squirrels

Read the full article ?Squirrel Facts? at the Compassionate Action
Institute website.

Here are a few brief excerpts:

?The babies are born naked and helpless and do not venture out of the
nest for seven or eight weeks.  They are weaned at ten to twelve
weeks.  The spring litter is usually driven away by the mother shortly
after weaning and as the next breeding cycle begins.  The fall litter
may stay with the mother in the nest through the winter until well
after the winter courtship season.?

?Squirrels use two basic types of natural dens ? tree cavities and
leaf nests and they take liberal advantage of shelter provided by
humans in attics and other crawl spaces.  They become active at first
light, rest in the middle of the day and become active again later in
the afternoon.  They have a home range of less than four acres.?


?Squirrels have babies twice a year, early spring and again in the
fall. Generally, their nests are made of leaves and are located high
in the tree tops. At nine weeks, baby squirrels are weaned and leave
their nests. They are fully independent when they are about 11 weeks

A mother squirrel nurses her baby for about ten weeks.

Search criteria:
Squirrels litter weaned or weaning
Squirrels reproduction litter
Squirrels nest in my attic
Nesting habits of squirrels
Squirrel Nesting Behavior
Squirrel Nesting Behavior +attic
Squirrels nesting reproduction

I hope you find this information helpful! 

Best regards,

Clarification of Answer by bobbie7-ga on 14 May 2004 13:54 PDT
Here is some more information:

?About 44 days after breeding, the female gives birth to three to five
babies. Newborn squirrels are pink and hairless. By the third week,
they are covered with gray fur. By five weeks, their ears and eyes
open. By eight weeks the young squirrels venture out of the nest for
short distances and begin to nibble on nearby nuts, bark, and

By 12 weeks, they are on their own

Baby Squirrels

?Squirrels give birth to an average of two to five baby squirrels in
March or April. Blind, hairless, and helpless, the little ones need a
lot of care from their mother. (Male squirrels do not help raise the

After about six weeks, the baby squirrels have all their fur. Then
they open their eyes and begin to explore outside the nest. By the
time they are 2 months, squirrels can eat nutmeats. After two more
weeks, they can crack open the shells themselves. When something
threatens a baby squirrel, the mother rescues it. The baby curls
around her neck for a quick ride back to the nest.

The female sometimes has a second litter of baby squirrels in July or
August. Shortly before her second litter is born, the first young
squirrels leave to find new places to live.

Many yearling squirrels leave their territory in the fall and migrate
to new places.?

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Subject: Re: Squirrel Nesting Behavior
From: markiegirl-ga on 04 Jun 2004 14:54 PDT
We have a squirrel that had 6 babies under our building.  Today she is
acting very strange as if something is down in the hole.  Is there
possible that some creature (mouse, bug, etc) has gotten down in the
hole and harm her and her babies?  Is there anything we can do or
should we let her handle this as nature intends?

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy