scary squirrel world QUESTIONS/ANSWERS ABOUT SQUIRRELS

Patriots, we receive emails from folks looking for "real" information about skwerls and correspondence from disgruntled skwerlhuggers about the "misleading" and "ininformative" content of this website.

Well, it's no surprise that pathetic skwerlhuggers find scary squirrel world offensive, but we're not sure why others think the facts presented aren't gospel.

However, we understand that some people, mostly students with basic questions about the bushytail horde and/or those with questions about squirrel problems or rehabilitation, need more fundamental information than the complex issues we deal with.

In response to the demand, this page presents answers and/or referrals to the information you need. As the project progresses, more questions/answers will be added.

You can ask a question using the handy form below. Information comes from a variety of sources and is deemed accurate until proven otherwise.

In other words, for those of you doing homework, cutting and pasting from this page may get you an A or an F. So, consider the information here a starting point for further research into your subject; not the final word on it.

Also, for those of you who may come into contact with a wild squirrel, remember, squirrels bite, they bite often, and they bite hard. And did we mention they scratch? So, watch it out there or you'll be on your way to a plastic surgeon (not to mention precautionary rabies shots - even though rabies is not a serious problem in squirrels, and there've been no confirmed squirrel-human rabies transmissions in recent history).

In any event, here for your enlightenment and entertainment are questions we receive about the manaical nutzys and their nefarious ways and the "real" answers to those questions:


A Frequent Question: I have submitted about ten questions, and none have been answered. What the @#$%#$?

Reasons we don't answer: we don't know the answer and we can't point you in the right direction; the question was already answered in response to another question; the question asks for medical or legal advice; the question appears to be facetious; the question is too vague; etc. etc. Also, you're more likely to hear back if you leave an email address.

NEED REAL INFORMANTION ABOUT REAL SKWERLS?

Use the form below to ask your question about squirrels. When you click the Submit button, you'll jump to a anti-spam verification page; then to the thanks page. We will try to respond within 72 hours, but only if you include your correct email address. If we don't know the answer, we'll try to point you in the right direction. Oh, did we mention, don't forget to include your correct email address if you want a response.

A SAMPLING OF QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS...

Contract All | Expand All
Do squirrels get rabies?
Your information on squirrels & RABIES is not correct. E.G. See Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 22(2) pp 151-155.

Not sure what specific info the writer refers to because we couldn't locate the article he/she referred to on JWD's website. We acknowledge that squirrels can get rabies although this is very rare especially in tree squirrels. Marmots (aka woodchucks) are the one exception in the squirrel family. We're also not aware of any recent squirrel-human transfers of rabies (please correct us if we're wrong about this). Rabies aside, a squirrel bite may cause "squirrel bite fever" or secondary infections that need medical attention. If you're bitten by a wild squirrel, especially if it appears to be sick, and it draws blood, consult a doctor.

What should I feed my squirrel?
I just want to know what the best diet is for my squirrel. Everywhere I look has a different answer!

According to licensed wildlife rehabber, Mary Cummins: We recommend a diet of 80% rodent lab blocks, 15% fruits/veggies, 5% nuts/seeds as dessert only. We also give hamster vitamin/mineral powder or liquid and a mineral block, not a salt block. We also give cuttle bones, sterilized dog bones to chew on.

Mary's page: Squirrel Rescue, Animal Advocates 
I have female squirrel... now showing swelling of belly...
i have female squirrel and no male. she is of 2 years of age now showing swelling of belly from last 1 week. tell me what must be complication with her....so i can treat her

*You didn't leave an email address!*

According to licensed wildlife rehabber, Mary Cummins: If a female squirrel is in a cage, a male squirrel can have sex with her through the cage bars. I've seen it in my yard. Depending upon where the squirrel lives, she could also be going into heat. If the squirrel is in our climate and is a fox squirrel, the timing is right. They go into heat for a few days twice a year. Of course it could also be an infection. If she becomes lethargic or there is any discharge, then it'd be good to see a vet or rehabber.

Mary's page: Squirrel Rescue, Animal Advocates 
My 5 year old squirrel started having muscle spasms and seizures...
my adult 5 year old squirrel started crying out in server pain and seems to be having muscle spasms and maybe seizures. We have had him since he was 2 weeks old and he has been our baby. Last Night he cried out off and on for about 2 hours and seemed to have great pain. after we cuddled him and rubbed his sides and stomach he calmed down and went to sleep. Then today he seemed ok until tonight. around 1 am he stared again. Screaming out in pain almost like seizures and then he would close his eyes and seem to go out of it for a minute. He would then cry again. shaking then tensing up. please help

*You didn't leave an email address!*

According to licensed wildlife rehabber, Mary Cummins: It's MBD, a nutritional deficiency common in pet squirrels. He will have seizures, get rear end paralysis and die unless they give him proper vitamin/minerals and force fluids on him. I get a few emails a week like this. People need to feed pet squirrels pet rat food 80%, fruits/veggies 15% then 5%  nuts seeds as dessert only. They need vitamin/mineral powder for hamsters/pet rats.

Mary's page: Squirrel Rescue, Animal Advocates 
Why would a squirrel's back legs be paralyzed?
Why would a squirrel's back legs be paralyzed? Is this a sign of rabies? If a squirrel had rabies, and was paralyzed, would it still want to eat? Is there some other reason why a squirrel could not use it's back legs?

The squirrel may have suffered a spinal injury, perhaps in fall, perhaps in an encounter with another animal. The squirrel would get hungry unless it is in shock or infection sets in. Needless to say, a squirrel won't survive for long in this condition. Squirrels very rarely get rabies (Source: CDC). The other possibility is metabolic bone disease, a very serious illness in squirrels. Hydration, calcium mineral supplement, and a trip to the vet is in order.
I am worried about a (poisoned) squirrel in my garden...
I am worried about a squirrel in my garden. Recently we have had a rats in the garden and my parents put out some rat poison, this got rid of the rats but i am worried that one of the squirrels has eaten some: it's been lying on the grass, even when i approach it it doesn't move, however sometimes it jumps strangely; erratic and from side to side, it seems worn out after and crawls into the hedge. it seems to have lost its energy. what can i do?

Sounds like the squirrel was poisoned, too. If it's not dead already, and taking precautions to avoid getting bit or scratched, scoop the squirrel into a box or pet carrier and take it to your local animal control facility. They'll put it down. You also have the option to contact a wildlife rehabilitator. Animal control can refer you, or you can ask a vet for a referral.
Do squirrels living in India gets infected with rabies?
do squirrels living in india gets infected with rabbies.do we get rabbies or any transmitted disease if we get bitten?

Squirrels can get rabies, but don't, probably because they don't interact with the larger animals that do contract and spread the disease (e.g. skunks). The only squirrels known to get rabies are marmots (includes woodchucks and groundhogs), but this is a rare occurrence. You should consult a doctor if you're bitten due to the risk of infections other than rabies.
Last year I planted tomatoes on my deck...
Last year I planted tomatoes on my deck. The squirrels took bites and ruined a lot of tomatoes. If I bought a live trap and kept them in there for a few hours and let them go, would that scare them enough not to come back to my deck?

Good question because it sounds like it might work. However, the likely result is, the squirrel(s) will avoid the trap; not the the tomatoes. You might try pepper spray on the tomatoes (available at garden supply stores). Pepper spray will deter, but not necessarily stop the squirrels.
I found a squirrel tail on my driveway...
I found a squirrel tail on my driveway~ Is that an omen for something? I live at lucky #13, lot 13...

You are lucky! Squirrel tails can be sold to make fishing flys.
Today we were disturbed to see a red squirrel... (squirrel eat squirrel)
LAST YEAR WE HAD BABY CHIPMUNKS BORN DOWN IN A SPACE BESIDE OUR POOL. WE READ THAT THE MOTHER WOULD RETURN TO THE SAME NEST OR ANOTHER FEMALE WOULD TAKE IT OVER. TODAY WE WERE DISTURBED TO SEE A RED SQUIRREL LEAVE FROM THE SAME PLACE WITH A BABY.ITS OWN? OR A BABY CHIPMUNK? WOULD LIKE TO HERE YOU THOUGHTS ON THIS.

Since red squirrels prefer nesting in trees, it was probably raiding the chipmunk's burrow.

Contrary to popular belief, most squirrels are omnivorous and unattended babies, usually birds, are fair game. However, squirrels will eat other squirrels.

There are a number of reasons for this. The most common are: eliminating the competition, food shortage, nutritional needs. These can occur separately or in combination.
We have seen 2 or 3 with patches of fur missing in a band around their middle...
We feed squirrels on our back deck through the winter. We have seen 2 or 3 with patches of fur missing in a band around their middle. They seem bright eyed and eat the nuts and seeds eagerly. Sometimes the furless skin appears with abrasions, and one has what seems to be an open type wound. At first we suspected fighting, but it doesn't seem as though the fur would come off so uniformly.

Best generic guess, mange, but we'd have to see photos to give a definite answer or differential diagnosis...
What is it when a squirrel can walk on it's front legs but...
What is it when a squirrel can walk on it's front legs but has to drag it's back legs?

Most likely an injury to the spine and/or nerve damage affecting the back legs.
... Is this normal behavior?
When I call for my "Creeps" they come running and tell all their friends, Is this normal behavior? I feed them a little something a couple times a day, ( am & pm) & especially when it gets below 0...but when I have food and call out " where's my kids?" one will hear and come check out the food for the day and then run back to the nest and tell the others and pretty soon I have a dozen at my feet....Is this normal or am I spoiling them?

It is normal and you are spoiling them. However, assuming we're talking suburban or urban squirrels, and you're serving healthy food, you're probably doing the varmints a favor. The only concern is that overfeeding may lead to overpopulation, then to health problems for the squirrels and headaches for you (e.g. squirrels in the attic, damage to property, etc.).
Okay I reccently caught a female squirrel...
Okay I reccently caught a female squirrel. I honestly thought I had a mouse and she hurt herself in the trap I set for the mouse. Now she is injured, and I have contacted the F&G out in my areah and they only deal in bird,s wild dogs etc. I called the wildlife rehabillitation facility around here and they only deal in bird and lizards as well. So esseentially there is no one to take care of the squirrel but me, but she is wild and I can't get near her. I can't even open the cage for fear that she may try and get out and hurt me. So what should I do, or rather how do I go about domesticating her temporarily, till I can get her leg healed.

You can download Mary Cummin's free squirrel care guide here. Mary is a licensed wildlfe rehabilitator. You can also contact Mary via her website: Animal Advocates (opens in new window).
... I've never seen a baby squirrel in my entire life...
How about baby squirrels? I've never seen a baby squirrel in my entire life. Where are they kept and for how long? Also during what season? And are they already grown-up when they come out of their nest?

Unless you observe them in the nest, you won't see baby squirrels. Juvenile squirrels leave the nest between 30-60 days depending on the species. In our experience, it's more common to observe juvenile ground squirrels than tree squirrels, and we generally see juvenile tree squirrels just before they reach full maturity (suggesting they leave the nest later than ground squirrels). Early to late spring is a good time to observe juveniles, but the timing varies from place to place.
Is it posible to learn squirrels languge?
is it posible to learn squirrels languge?

Squirrels do not have a language. They do have vocalizations by which they communicate with each other and other animals (e.g. warning calls). They also communicate with body movements. It is possible to learn their "language" by observation and practice. You can also purchase squirrel calls that will summon squirrels (get them at a hunting supply outlet).
... Why don't i ever see dead squirrels...?
I LIVE IN A LARGE URBAN CITY. WHY DON'T I EVER SEE DEAD SQUIRRELS THAT HAVE DIED OF STARVATION/NATURAL CAUSES IN/AROUND MY NEIGHBORHOOD?

This questioned is answered far below, but you're asking about dead urban squirrels, so... Aside from road kill, most squirrels don't just drop down dead on the spot. They will crawl off and die, die in their nests, or expire in a protected spot of their choosing. From there, the carcasses are scavanged by other urban animals, especially crows, ravens, cats, and/or dogs. Those that may die in plain view are disposed of by gardeners, property owners, etc.

Or you can accept one of the following theories: One expert suggested that if the above isn't true, then when a nutzy dies, "squirrel Valkyries carry them off to squirrel Valhalla, which resembles a large bird feeder." It's also been postulated that chitterboxes don't die. They retire to an enormous tree that's suspended in space on the far side of sun. There they listen to ABBA, feast on delicious nuts, and watch Walt Disney's Old Yeller over and over (and they always cheer when that poor dog gets put down for having rabies).
Can a squirrel live without a tail?
Can a squirrel live without a tail? If it is injured can the tail be regenerated?

A tailess squirrel will be at a disadvantage physically and socially (e.g. balance problems, communicating with other squirrels). However, Mr. Stumpy may live a long, mayhem-filled life in spite of the disadvantages. A lost tail will not regenerate; a broken, hairless and/or mangy tail might regain its former bushiness if its internal parts still work (verves, blood vessels).
Do squirrels live in Perth or Adelaide?
Do squirrels live in Perth or Adelaide?

There are no squirrels native to Australia. Attempts were made to introduce gray squirrels to south eastern Australia, but the colonies failed (probably to the delight of the local marsupials). However, the Perth zoo has a free roaming colony of Indian Palm Squirrels and these have been spotted outside the zoo as well.
Indian Palm Squirrel
My dog caught a squirrel that was acting a little funny...
My dog caught a squirrel that was acting a little funny and approached her. The Squrriel was not aggressive and ran away when bit. Do I need to worry about diseases or my dogs health?

Squirrels do not carry rabies, so there's no danger there (besides your dog's had all her shots, right?). There is a risk of infection at the wound site, a small risk of muscle or nerve damage depending on where the wound is, and a small risk of your pet contracting squirrel bite fever - a flu-like disease. You should consult with your vet for more information.
There was a 'ball' of flying squirrels in my attic...
There was a 'ball' of flying squirrels in my attic... can you explain this to me? I thought they lived in nests, but these were clumped together.

Juvenile and adult squirrels, related or otherwise, will clump together in cold weather. This usually happens in the hollows of trees, but an attic will do just fine. Clumping may be encouraged by the promity to a heating duct or warm air vent. Juvenile squirrels (as opposed to adult or babies) will clump together for security. As for the nest, we'd have to see a photo to tell you if the squirrels were clumping around the nest or not (meaning the actual nest may be located somewhere else in the attic).
Can squirrels see colors?
Can squirrels see colors? If so, any colors that attract or intimidate?

Squirrels have dichromatic color vision. They distinguish color much like people with red-green color blindness. This means they can differentiate red or green from other colors, but they cannot distinguish red and green from each other. Additionally ground and tree squirrels have yellow-tinted lenses that act like sun glasses in bright light. Flying squirrels do not have tinted lenses because they are primarily nocturnal. However, squirrels rely more on their exceptional focusing ability than color distinctions to avoid predators. Their vision allows simultaneous, sharp forward vision and peripheral vision. This means they can clearly see what's in front of them and to the side, above or below them at the same time. We are unaware of any studies in which squirrels use color discrimination to avoid or approach something. If anything comes up, we'll revise this response.
If I can't get rid of it, would it be okay to take it inside?
I have skwerl that won't go away. I don't want to hurt it because i love squirrels. I am really getting worried because if has been eating my trash. It has been slowing down alot lately. If I can't get rid of it, would it be okay to take it inside?

You're kidding, right? Your friend is a wild animal and will react like a wild animal in your home. Don't even think about it. Besides, it's probably illegal to keep a wild squirrel as a pet where you live. You should get a trash container that has a secure lid, or move it somewhere that the squirrel can't get to, and he'll move on to greener pastures.
Would squirrels be he culprits that are gnawing slivers of wood...?
Would squirrels be he culprits that are gnawing slivers of wood off of my backyard deck and just dropping them to the floor?

Yes. When squirrels aren't causing mayhem in other ways, they chew. When they chew on decks, eaves, window sills, etc., they can cause thousands of dollars in damage. Some homeowner insurance policies won't pay off if the damage is an act of squirrel. A product such as Chew Stop or Ropel may help cut down on the damage. Check with your local nursery or home supply store for more info.

You can also make your own repellant:

Hot Pepper Repellant Recipe
1. One chopped yellow onion
2. One chopped Jalapeno pepper
3. One tablespoon of Cayenne Pepper

Boil ingredients for 20 minutes in two quarts of water. Then let it cool and strain the mixture through cheesecloth. You can apply this with a pesticide sprayer or a spray bottle. This will deter just about any animal from an area where it is applied. The only draw back is that it only lasts for three to five days. Some say you can get the same result by mixing 1 tablespoon of Tabasco sauce in 1 quart of water and then spraying it on the wood.
...if I live trap them and relocate them in winter, will they starve?
i have 6 squirrels who have found my platform window bird feeder. There is no end to their gluttony. I have tried to scare them off in any number of ways, including firecrackers. Nothing works. It is now utterly impossible for me to feed the birds. There is no such thing as a squirrel proof platform feeder. My question: I would prefer not to shoot them ( I live rurally) and I do have a live trap, but if I live trap them and relocate them in winter, will they then simply starve to death? If so, shooting may be more humane.

Live trapping is a poor solution at any time of year, moreso in winter. Relocated squirrels have less than a 50-50 chance for survival even under optimum conditions. Additionally, if you have six now, you can be sure there are many times that number waiting to take there place. So, moving the current gang of skwerlien thugs is only a short term solution.

One alternative might be to provide the squirrels with easy access to birdseed placed some distance from the platform feeder. This won't fix your problem, but it may cut down on the number of squirrels raiding the platform.

Another suggestion is to put chicken wire around/over the platform. This has a disadvantage in that the squirrels will work very hard to break through the barrier and larger birds will not be able to get to the paltform.
I have one that has difficulty standing up...
I have a number of grey and red squirrels that frequent my yard. I live in Northern Illinois. I enjoy watching them and have begun to identify the "regulars" by their markings, etc. I have one that has difficulty standing up, he also lists to one side when he runs. I've read about poison or a viral disease, but this little guy has been like this for well over a year now. Just now as it's gotten very cold, he seems a bit worse. What could it be? Is there anything I can do to help him out?

The behavior you describe may be a cogenital defect, possibly neurological; or the imbalance may the result of an injury or the residuals of an inner ear infection. Cold weather may aggravate the problem much like cold weather aggravates arthritis. There's really nothing you can do short of providing food and a safe yard free from cats and dogs.
During the winter alot of squirrels die from lack of food...
i have spoken to people as well as read on the net that it is a good idea for me to provide nuts to my neighbourhood squirrels during the winter as alot of squirrels die from lack of food. is it alright if i continue to feed them?

You're really asking if you should let nature take its course or intervene. Rural squirrels do not need your nuts and feeding any wild animal may disrupt the natural order of things. Similarly, suburban squirrels can fend for themselves as long as there is adequate cover and vegetation. Urban squirrels may need your help, but you didn't hear it from us.
Remember, feeding squirrels can have negative effects such as overpopulation, damage to property, health problems due to poor nutrition, etc. etc.

Links: Don't Feed Wild Animals
Are hamsters and skwerls related?
Are hamsters and skwerls related? I have a hamster and one time a skwerl gat in the house. They started playing and it took me a long time to get the skwerl out of my hamsters cage. Is this normal?

You're rattling our cage, right? Anyway, hamsters are in the same taxonomic Order, Rodentia, but they're not in the same Family (hamsters: Cricetidae; squirrels: Sciuridae). So, you could say they're distant cousins. It would not be unusual for a juvenile hamster and squirrel to "play", but adults are less likely to get along.

Links:
Wiki Squirrel
Wiki Hamster
Deformed squirrel tail...
We have a red squirrel in the neighborhood that we have jokingly named "cocktail" because its tail looks like, ahem, ahhh, well there is no good way to say this, but it looks just like a human phallus. Seriously, all joking aside, its tail is pink and about 3/4" to 1 " in diameter, semi rigid with what appears to be limited flexibility. We think he might have been electrocuted or perhaps had his tail run over. Is there some type of disease or injury that could have caused this?

We'd have to see a photo of the beast to say for sure, but it sounds like it was injured in a fight and suffered some sort of damage to its... tail. The damage might be neurological or broken bones or both. If the fur is missing, there may be circulatory damage as well. The squirrel's tail may come back, or it may atrophy and fall off, or it may simply stay as it is. It's also possible the squirrel has mange, but that generally doesn't cause rigidity or the deformity you describe.
My squirrel bit me and now I'm afraid of it...
my recently acquired young squirrel was frightened and bit me twice drawing blood. Now I am afraid of it. I have tried to let it go free but it keeps comming back. What should I do?

Squirrels bite, and scratch, and bite, and scratch, and bite, and they do not make good pets unless you have a high tolerance for pain and you don't mind having your house redecorated via squirrel mayhem... If you can't reconcile with your squirrel, contact a wildlife rehabilitator for assistance. Also note that a "domesticated" squirrel is history if improperly released into the wild.
Do squirrels eat other squirrels?
Do squirrels eat other squirrels? I watched a squirrel carry a black squirrel in its mouth into the chimney of my neighbours home.

Yes, squirrels will eat their own. That may be the circumstance you describe. However, parents will also use their mouths to carry their baby and juvenile offspring from place to place. Check the following links for more info, photos, video:
Carny the Squirrel
Mom transports juvenile
Was the squirrel just trash talking me in skwerl language?
I was sitting on my back porch the other day, and I noticed a little skwerl come up fairly close to me and stare at me. I looked back at it and it seemed to shake its little hands at me and talk. It made an odd sound and then ran away. Was it angry that I was in its territory, or was it just trash talking me in skwerl language?

When a squirrel sees you it may stand up and hold it's front paws to its chest as it observes you. If you routinely feed the squirrels, it was probably demanding tribute. If you are only an occasional visitor to your backyard, or if you surprised the squirrel, it was probably sizing you up and/or cussing you out for being there.
Is there some place that we can purchace a pre-built squirrel nest...?
We have always enjoyed the squirrels that live in our backyard. We put out nuts and corn for them to eat and they love living with us. We look but never touch. The problem we have is with their nests. The wind is always blowing the nests out of our trees, in some cases...babies our in the nests and as a result the babies usually die. Is there some place that we can purchace a pre-built squirrel nest to anchor securely in the tree for our furry little friends?

We get this question alot. However, we do not recommend any particular place or product. You can easily find links to pre-built squirrel boxes using a search engine. Also, note that it is fairly easy to make a nest and specifictions for size, etc. can be found via a search. Or you can use a nontoxic discarded container of some sort. The trick is to place the nest in a spot where squirrels will actually use it. This may be a matter of trial and error. Here's a link to a simple plan:
http://www.tricklecreekbooks.com/squirrelsneedhomestoo.htm
There is not much you can do about squirrels eating leafy plants right?
It sounds like there is not much you can do about squirrels eating leafy plants right? or is there. I have dahila's that they keep wanting to eat the leaves. The squirrels are tree squirrels, and suggestions?

There are all sorts of products on the market that claim to prevent squirrels from eating your plants. Most contain a mixture of red pepper and other ingredients; some contain "predator urine" scent. None are particularly effective. For example, spraying predator urine might discourage the squirrels for a day or two, but it might also drive the neighborhood cats into a spraying frenzy...

Other remedies include protective enclosures, providing the squirrels with an alternative food source placed away from the plants, planting plants that squirrels won't eat (ask your nursery), populating your yard with hungry cats, land mines, and the list goes on.
Can they find their way back to where they were originally trapped?
if you trap a squirrel and release them in a park less that 1 mile away can they find their way back to where they were originally trapped?

General answer: yes. 5 or more miles is recommended. Note: trapping squirrels to relocate them may be illegal where you live, or it may require a license or permit. Check with your local animal control authority for more info. Also note, relocation may be a death sentence for the squirrel even under the best of conditions.
How long do gray squirrels live...?
How long do gray squirrels live if they are well fed, and have no worries of predators?

The generic answer to this question applies to most squirrels: on average, 0-5 years in the wild; up to 15 years in captivity. There are always exceptions. Factors affecting longevity include food source/type, age at reproduction, gender, predators, home environment, and the type of squirrel.
I saw two squirrels that were being prevented from going into their nest...
I got home at sundown and saw two squirrels that were being prevented from going into their nest in the hollow of a tree. Why would they kick out these two who lived there?

In general, tree squirrels do not share their nests with other squirrels. If the squirrels all lived together up until now, you may have witnessed parents weaning their offspring away from the nest. If that's not the case, it's a home invasion (and takeover), skwerl-style. Note: in very cold temperatures, unrelated tree squirrels sometimes occupy one nest to keep warm.
I found a squirrel but he just lays there...
I found a squirrel but he just lays there; he seems not to be able to make his legs lift his body - is tehre something wrong or is he just scared?

Most likely, your squirrel has a serious injury or illness. If it's still alive when you read this, contact a wildlife rehabilitator in your area as soon as possible. Your local vet and/or animal control agency should be able to put you in touch with someone.
I noticed that one squirrel has a very flat tail that drags...
i feed the squirrels around my yard peanuts but i noticed that one squirrel has a very flat tail that drags behind, it is not bushy. also another squirrel i have noticed is losing it tail fur and it has a ling red stem pointing out where the fur should be

It sounds like your squirrels are having a war, probably over mates or territory. It's not uncommon for squirrels to suffer injuries to or the loss of their tails in fights with each other or in encounters with predators.
Where do squirrels build their nest at?
where do squirrels build their nest at? WHY CAN'T WE SEE THEIR NEST?

You can; you just need to know where to look. Tree squirrels build nests in tree hollows; or they construct dreys made of leaves, twigs, etc.; or they nest just about anywhere they think is safe and secure (like your attic or crawlspaces). Here are two examples. The first shows a squirrel outside its nest in a tree hollow; the second shows a small drey, probably not the main nest, just a rest stop...


We found a Northern Flying squirrel...
We found a Northern Flying squirrel during the daylight that was running in circles and very docile. I picked him up and put him in my pocket where he immediately curled up and fell to sleep. I brought him home, he is sleeping in a fanny-pouch. They are endangered. Now what do I do?

You didn't include your contact info for a personal reply... It sounds like your squirrel either has a head injury or other neurological impairment, or it may have an ear infection of some sort. You should contact a local wildlife rehabiliator in your area for assistance. In the meantime, keep it warm and hydrated.
A squirrel jumped on me and scratched me. Will I get rabies?
A squirrel jumped on me and scratched me. It drew blood. Can I get rabies? Should I call someone to get the squirrel?

The chances of contracting rabies via a scratch are pretty much nil. That chance is further reduced in your case because squirrels are not carriers of the disease and there've been no reported cases of rabies in squirrels in the United States for many years (and then it was a woodchuck, not a tree squirrel).

There is a very, very small possiblity that you could develop flu-like symptoms if the scratch becomes infected. Therefore, you should call your doctor for treatment options (usually just an over-the-counter topical antibiotic will do unless the scratch is deep). You doctor can also further advise you on the rabies risk (or lack thereof).

As for the squirrel itself, leave it be unless it is acting overly-aggressive towards you or others.
My dog chewed on a dead squirel. Will he get sick?
when walking my dog I noticed that a squirrel got hit by a car. then out walking my dog later that afternoon someone had moved the squirrel onto the grass where my dog had noticed it and went after it and got it in his mouth ...could he get sick from this ??

Very unlikely. However, if the roadkill began to turn, your dog might experience some gastrointestinal distress in the next 72 hours. But based on your timeline, that shouldn't happen. The only real worry would be if your dog picked up fleas or ticks from the squirrel.
A squirrel scratched my elderly tenant. Can she get rabies?
An Eastern Grey Squirrel in Warrensburg, NY (young one to the neighborhood) for no apparent reason atacked a elderly female tenant of mine while she was ascending a staircase. The squirrel lunged at her with both front arms open, teeth bared and it scratched her arm but did not draw blood. The parent squirrels have been non-aggressive for years and have been fed by another tenant even though she was told not to. These squirrels definitely have fleas and are mangy looking with sections of fur missing. They do not have tree nuts available. We feel we should trap and bring the mammal to the Health Department for possible rabies analysis. The Hospital Physician's Assistant stated (when she saw my tenant in the ER) that squirrels can't get rabies & that my tenant shouldn't worry. Just treat the scratch. Why would a squirrrel attack for no reason? Can squirrel's get rabies in Northeast NY? Is it reasonable to catch & examine the squirrel even though the ER said it wasn't necessary? Rabies is fatal isn't it? Isn't it worth the effort just in case? Thanks for any help you may be able to give us. ~Brian

Small rodents (such as squirrels, rats, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, and chipmunks, ) and lagomorphs (such as rabbits and hares) are almost never found to be infected with rabies and have not been known to cause rabies among humans in the United States. Bites by these animals are usually not considered a risk of rabies unless the animal was sick or behaving in any unusual manner and rabies is widespread in your area (Source: CDC). The only member of the squirrel family found with rabies is the woodchuck, but this is very rare.

As for the scratch, a scratch from a rabid animal could transmit the disease because there might be virus on its nails. However, the risk is practically nil; more so because no blood was drawn. On the other hand, there's a very small risk of getting Squirrel Bite Fever. Rodents naturally carry two different organisms: Streptobacillus moniliformis and Spirillum minus in their saliva and nasal passages. They are also found in urine. Exposure to these organisms can cause flu-like symptoms and rash (the former) or rash alone (the latter). Complications from the disease can be life threatening. Common names for the disease include Rat Bite Fever and Squirrel Bite Fever. The disease is very rare and most reported cases occur in Asia.

As for the attack itself, there are a number of reasons a healthy squirrel acts aggressively. Whatever the reason, it's a safe bet that your squirrel has lost its fear of humans thanks to the handouts it receives. To reduce the risk of attacks, stop the feeding. You may be able to legally enforce this under local health department regulations and/or in order to maintain the warranty of habitability for your tenants. Check with your local landlord association or your attorney for more info.
Did a growth regulating herbicide kill this squirrel?
I found a squirrel under the shrubbs. I became concerned when it tried to run from me and couldnt. I got my husband to trap it. It didnt have any signs of injury, it just was panting and was rolling around in a twist. Then it would stop and pant again. It was dead the next morning and around its eyes had turned white. The thing that has me realy concerned is the week before I found a BlueJay dead on the groung also with no visible injury. What could be the problem here? Could the growth-stunt that the city puts on my trees be harming them? I have two outside dogs that Im concerned about too! So,if you could please help me with any information to what this could be and what I should do.

It could be West Nile virus that killed the bird and/or the squirrel (based on your location). Or, the squirrel could have fallen or been hit by a car. Sometimes you don't see a visible injury but there are internal injuries. The white around the eyes is just what their eyes look like when they get watery. You can not catch West Nile from the squirrel but you can be infected by mosquitos carrying it in your area. Use mosquito repellant on you and your pets. Get rid of ponding water. Wear long sleeves and pants outside, especially at dusk. West Nile isn't usually a serious illness in humans, but better safe than sorry.

Regarding the the growth stunt herbicide that the city uses, they are not allowed to spray it with people or pets outside. It does cause birth defects in squirrels, maybe even birds. I don't know the effect on humans or dogs. You may be able opt out of the program with the City. It may not be mandatory where you live. Tell the city that you have an organic garden in the back and cannot have herbicides sprayed anywhere near your property. Then they will go back to trimming. The city should warn you of the spraying ahead of time so you can opt out.
Did we do the right thing? Squirrel running in circles...
feel really sad sunday evening. group of us found a squirrel; it was running round in circles manically and shaking its head from side to side and occasionally jumping up in shock. it could not walk or even get up a grass bank. no vets open at this time so someone euthenased it. do u think we were right to do this it was in a terrible state but no obvoius injury or bleeding it did not even squeak when we caught it

Per wildlife rehabber Mary Cummins:

It probably had a head injury. That causes them to run in circles, shake their head and have seizures. There probably was nothing that could have been done. You did the right thing euthanizing him so he wouldn't suffer any more. Thanks for caring.

Mary's free skwerl care guide here
How can I save my apples...?
How do i get to keep some of my apples from the squirrels - what they don't carry away they eat on the tree, help!

It's safe to say that there's no effective way to keep squirrels out of your trees without resorting to the the harshest means.

There are a variety of commercial products that claim to repell squirrels. Most of these contain one or more of the following ingredients: rotten egg whites, capsaicin, and garlic. Others contain "predator scent" (e.g. red fox urine). You spray these products on your trees. None of them work as advertised.

Some people report limited success by providing the squirrels with an easily accessible alternative food source (i.e. nuts). Two problems with that: 1) you're issuing an open invitation to every squirrel in the area; 2) you'll still lose lots of apples.

You might also try altering the environment around the trees. Squirrels are critters of habit and hate change. However, they will adapt; sometimes soner than later. This means you'll need to quit your day job because you'll be kept busy thinking up and implementing new and, hopefully, repelling changes...

As always, we suggest calling an arborist, a pest control company, and/or your local Department of Natural Resources (Fish and Game) for guidance.
Why do squirrels peel bark off trees?
How do I stop the Fox squirrels from peeling the bark off of the upper branches of my Hackberry tree and why are they doing this?

It's easier to tell you why than how to stop them... There are two possible reasons for their behavior: 1) for food, or 2) for nesting materials.

If the damage is severe, and as the bark is stripped away, the vessels that conduct moisture and nutrients up and down the stem are destroyed. Areas above the damage often decline or die.

We're not aware of any effective way to discourage the squirrels. Call an arborist and/or your local Department of Natural Resources (Fish and Game) for guidance.
Is it legal to trap squirrels in Illinois?
is trapping squirrels in illinois illegal?

According to Bob Bluett of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, "The Department issues Nuisance Animal Removal Permits to landowners or tenants if an investigation confirms damage to property or risks to human health or safety. The person issuing the permit (a wildlife biologist or conservation police officer) determines the fate of the animals. Most are relocated."

For people living in other states with the same question, contact your local animal control authority, natural resources department, or fish and game department for more info.
Is it possible that a squirrel is drunk...?
We have an apple tree in our back yard and I noticed that one of our local squirrels that eats the fallen unripe apples seems to fall over a lot. Is it possible that he is drunk from the unrippened apples or is this a commen behaviour?

It's possible for a skwerl to get looped on fermented fruit. However, your description suggests that it's not unripe fruit causing the problem. More likely, the squirrel has a coordination problem; perhaps due to an injury or neurologic impairment of some sort.
Why no squirrels in Australia?
why are'nt squirrels in Australia?

Fossil records indicate that modern-day squirrels originated in North America, probably in the Pacific North-West and spread around the globe. These migrations waxed and waned depending on skwerlien access to new, suitable territories (e.g. the rise of the land bridge between North America and South America, the Isthmus of Panama, about three million years ago). However, by the time skwerls reached the edges of the Asian continent, there were no land bridges to Australia.

There have been misguided efforts to import and release grey squirrels into Australia many years ago. However, the population died out. There's also a free roaming colony of introduced Indian Palm Squirrels at, and possibly around the Perth Zoo in Western Australia.

Our skwerls in Australia feature
Squirrels for Australia (offsite)
Wikipedia continent Australia page (offsite)
A squirrel bit me. Will I get rabies?
HI I like to ffeed the swirrels@ this park I go to, &I just got bit by a sqwirrel (it drew blood) do yuo thibk theres achance of RABIES????? I live in LOS ANGLES ,CA. THE sqwirrel looked "OK" I read that there are no known cases of "SWIRREL" rabies, but what do you think?? Thanx in advance for any info!!! ZIGGGY, Los ANgeles.

Squirrels can get rabies, but the Center for Disease Control Prevention says that they are almost never found to be infected. CDC also says there are no reports of squirrel to human transmission of rabies in the United States. However, there have been reports of rabid woodchucks (yes, they're squirrels - big ground squirrels) and a few cases of human exposure to rabies due to woodchuck bites occured in the eastern United States between 1981 - 1986 (as per the Marlyland Department of Health).

But keep in mind, rabies is a fatal disease in humans. You should consult with a doctor immediately if you are bitten by a squirrel of any sort, especially if it draws blood, and follow the doctor's recommendation. Better safe than dead.
Do squirrels play?
Over and over again, my best friend and I seem to see the same two squirrels appearing to "fight". It looks as if they're playing a game of tag. Do squirrels have the capacity in their little teeny brains to "play" with one another? ~Melanie

Yes. Play is usually restricted to young squirrels. Play can be solitary (e.g. "fighting" with a twig), or social. Social play includes chasing, mock fights, and sexual play. Occasionally, adults will play with their young. Play behavior starts and stops at a set stage in the juvenile squirrel's development. This period varies from species to species.

Squirrels play for a variety of reasons, but mostly to develop the physical and cognitive skills it'll need as an adult (e.g. dominance hierarchy, motor skills, etc.).
What's a good food to put in a squirrel trap?
We are being covered up with both ground squirrels and long tail squirrels. We are trying to catch them humanly in a cage and carry off but all we are catching is birds. What is a good food to attract them. We've tried peanut butter and squirrel food we bought at Wal-mart but they won't go in the cage to get. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks

Squirrels may ignore food that they're unfamiliar with. They're also naturally suspicious of traps. Try placing cashews, walnuts, pecans, or almonds outside the trap for a few days. Let the varmints get a taste for them. Then, put the nuts in the trap and see what happens.

Also, take note of the environment you're in. Is it hot and dry? Then, the squirrels may be more likely to enter a trap baited with a watery food such as watermelon.

As far as trapping and relocating the nutzys, you may need a special permit to do this, and relocation is a death sentence for most squirrels. You may want to consult with a wildlife rehabilatator in your area or a pest control company before trapping and moving them.

For folks in the Los Angeles area, we recommend Mary Cummins
How long will woodchuck babies stay with mom?
My backyard buddy Woody (The woodchuck) just had 6 babies... how long will the babies stay with mom?

Ms. Woody's offspring will be looking for their own burrows in 4-8 weeks. More info:
Animal Diversity Web - Woodchucks
Wikipedia - Groundhogs
Our Marmot Complicity feature
We have a baby fox squirrel that is lossing his hair...
We have a baby fox squirrel that is losing his hair. Do you know why? We are raising him as he is an orphan.

Accordin to licensed rehabber Mary Cummins: "Most likely mites. I use bird mite/lice spray. Spray it on a cotton ball and rub it all over him except his face and private parts. Or, you can use prescription Ivermectin, oral or topical. If he's just losing some fur around his face, maybe he got formula on it, it dried then he scratched it off along with his fur."

We'd add that if your skwerl doesn't show improvement, becomes lethargic, or displays other symptoms and signs of a more serious illness, contact a vet or a wildlife rehabiliatation expert in your area immediately.
White squirrels?
We have 2 pure white squirrels in our yard (one has mange right now), we have enjoyed them for 2-3 years. Are they considered Albino? Is mange catching? How long to the white ones live?

Genetics controls the color via a substance called melanin. A color variation can occur when there is a defect in the production of melanin. So, if no black pigment is produced, you get a white squirrel.

Most people call white squirrels albino. However, albanism is usually characterized by other defects, such as poor eyesight. Albinos can also be identified by their red-hued eyes.

All white squirrels are at a disadvantage because they are easily spotted by predators. Additionally, albino squirrels are said to have shorter life spans than their "normal" white cousins due to genetic weaknesses. In the wild, white squirrels live 1-5 years. In an urban or suburban setting, they may live longer if they're well fed and there aren't a lot of aggressive predators around.

See below for info about mange, but, yes, it can be transmitted.
Where are all the chipmunks?
Since chipmunks are a member of the squirrel family I would like to find out why for the past 9 years we have enjoyed lots of chipmunks & squirrel in our yard. This Spring, there are NO CHIPMUNKS at all!!! We had tons of them & not a one this year. Did they all die over the winter? I sure hope not. Thanks. G. Solai

Unfortunately, you don't give enough information for a definitive answer (next time include your email address so we can contact you). But here are the possibilities: 1) your area is experiencing a late spring and the chippys just haven't emerged in force yet; 2) predators wiped out the population (predators include cats, dogs, snakes, birds of prey, humans, etc.); 3) a rodent disease wiped them out; 4) an environmental factor came into play (e.g. poor seed production the year before and/or a longer than usual winter caused the decline); 5) etc. The "good" news is that whatever the reason, they'll be back sooner or later.
How do squirrels find the nuts they've buried?
I watch my little friends bury nuts etc. that i put out for them. How many different places do they, can they, remember where they have buried there food. I live in South Dakota and it is fun to watch them dig up the snacks. I feed them corn etc. all winter long as well as the other animals.

Most studies on squirrel cache retrieval were done in experimental settings under controlled conditions. Even so, the sum of the studies strongly suggest that squirrels use memory rather than visual or olfactory cues to find their nuts. They're also more likely to remember where they've cached large numbers of nuts versus smaller caches. Squirrels will also dig up and rebury their caches. Some researchers hypothisize that re-caching is a way for squirrels to "refresh" its memory on where and what it stored.

For referrences or more info, contact us via email.
Relocating squirrels: good or bad?
Can you catch a squirrel in one place and move it to another place?

Even under controlled, optimum conditions, relocated squirrels have a hard time and are unlikely to survive. Relocation should be a last resort and done by or with the advice of a wildlife expert. More from one of our experts:

It's not a good idea with ground squirrels. Even under the best conditions, i.e. a burrow is made for it, family members moved together, stocked with food, 71% die. With tree squirrels it's hit and miss. If you provide them with a nest and food, they may do okay. You still would have to do a gradual release, i.e. put them in a big cage where you want to release them, let them get used to the area, then release them. If you just trap and release squirrels, they generally don't do too well.
Can a squirrel with mange survive winter?
Hi, I have been feeding a few squirrels in my backyard and have become pretty fond of one of them. Long story short. Four days ago, i noticed him (or her)coming to the yard to eat (corn,peanuts, sunflower seeds) with the other squirrels that were there, but all the fur from it's shoulders to about halfway down its back was gone(down to skin) and thinned out around the chest area. Looks to me he got stuck in something and had to pull himself out, losing the fur. I looked with binoculars to see if it was from an attack or something but there were no cuts, bites, or bruises. His back half is fully furred and tail is fine.J ust missing hair from the middle up to his neck(mostly on his back.) My concern is that the temperatures at night have been as low as the 20's and the day temps are in the mid to upper 30's.(Southeastern Mass.) I hadn't seen him today and it was upper 30's. Can you tell me if he has any chance of survival with these temps?? Thank You in advance. ~John

It depends on the squirrel's overall health and whether the mange continues to spread. Unfortunately, survival rates in winter are less than at other times of year (see below for more info).
What's wrong with these squirrels? (Erratic behavior)
I have two unstable squirrel's in my yard. They are to the best of my knowledge eastern grey squirrel's. I live right on the Illinois/ Wisconsin border. I put food out for them and one of them can barely stand on his back legs. Most of the time when he/she tries, he/she falls over, just cannot stand up. He/she can run (although not very well) and climb a tree, but not stand. The other one can stand fairly well but must keep adjusting the hind feet to keep from falling over. Any ideas on what's wrong? ~Herb R.

The experts suggest several possibilities: 1) head injury (unlikely in this case); 2) an inner ear infection or virus of some kind; or 3) poison.

Accidental poisoning can occur when skwerls forage in open trash containers; happen upon some rat poison; or eat something contaminated with pesticides or fertilizers. Intentional poisoning without a permit may be illegal where you're located. You can check with your local animal shelter or state wildlife department.
Can squirrels survive a venomous snake bite?
why do the squirrels dont die when a snake bites?

In 2000, the University of California at Davis studied the California Ground Squirrel's ability to take on a rattlesnake, suffer bites, and survive where other animals in the same situation would die.

In staged encounters between snake and skwerl, researchers sometimes had to intervene to save the the rattlesnake from the squirrel.

The study concluded that the ground squirrels built up an immunity to the snake's venom over many generations. Apparently, proteins in the squirrels' blood have a neutralizing effect on the venom.

Interestingly, the squirrels' resistence is snake specific. So, resistence to one type of rattlesnake venom doesn't necessarily protect the skwerl from all rattlesnake venom.

Click here for more information about the study
How do you treat a chipmunk with mange?
How do you treat a chipmunk that has mange? All his fur is falling off. ~Joanne

Mary Cummins at Squirrel Rescue/Animal Advocates responds: There are several options. You can give them by prescription Ivermectin oral or topical. Oral is easier. Just put the recommended dosage on a nut and they'll eat it. This is also sold in feed stores but you have to be careful of the dosage. Chipmunks are very small; you may want to consult with a vet or small animal expert about dosages. You can also get bird mite/lice spray, spray it on a cotton ball and wipe it on their body. If this is a wild chippy, do not attempt this. You can instead trap them and spray them lightly keeping away from the face. Thanks for caring.

Caution: wild animals bite. Handle with care or you could be the one suffering!
Are squirrels smart?
Are squirrels really intellegent or are they just really stupid??

Good question. Based on simple observation, squirrels are able to problem solve, learn new routines, and display basic emotions. However, their cognitive abilities are hobbled by instinct. For example, a skwerl can easily figure out how to negotiate an obstacle course to obtain a few nuts, but their instincts kick in when facing an oncoming vehicle. In that situation, the skwerl sees the vehicle as a predator and takes the evasive action that often results in another roadkill - the ol' double-back.

For more info:
Squeak the Skwerl
Wikipedia Animal Cognition Page
How do I get squirrels out of the soffit, attic, etc.?
The obvious problem is that the squirrels do not all leave the nest at the same time. Also, it's difficult to say how long they'll stay out. A lot depends on the time of year.

The usual solution is this: block all entries except one with heavy gauge wire or some other obstruction that the squirrels can't chew or claw through.

Get a live trap from a hardware store or ag supply, bait it with fresh fruit and/or nuts (almonds, pecans, cashews), and place it securely over the one open entry. Note: some experts recommend watery fruits over nuts because attic skwerls crave water over food.

Trap a squirrel(s) and release it; then immediately replace the trap.


Photo courtesy of Wildlife Patrol

Repeat until you're sure all the squirrels are out.

Remove the trap and block or repair the entry.

Note: it may be illegal to trap squirrels in your area without a permit. This means you may have to hire someone to do the job if you can't get the permit. Also, you may be able to rent a trap, but we recommend purchasing one in case of future need.

Another problem is the possible presence of babies. It's probably not baby season where you are, but the longer you wait, the more likely it is that the babies will be left in the nest. You may want to consult a wildlife rehabilitator in your area (or local animal control) about this beforehand.

Also, note that relocating the squirrels to another area may be illegal and relocated squirrels have a poor chance of survival. But we assume that you'd send them to the moon if you could!
Does a groundhog store food in their den during hibernation?
Groundhogs (marmots) may store small amounts of food in their dens prior to hibernation. However, they gain a significant amount of body fat before entering hibernation and it's this energy source that sees them through.

As for the stored food, if the groundhog wakes for a brief period during hibernation, it can snack on its cache rather than venture from its den. The extra food supply may also allow them to emerge from hibernation earlier, which may give males a head start on finding females, or to stay in hibernation longer if it's a long winter.
What do squirrels eat?
I've been feeding my "creeps" peanut butter sandwiches and home made cookies...what other foods do they like, or will they eat (besides the obvious nuts and sunflower seeds)?

It's a good thing you asked us this question and not some pathetic skwerlhugger. Otherwise, you'd find yourself scolded for feeding the creeps poisonous junk food instead of wholesome, balanced meals.

The fact of the matter is, squirrels are ominiverous. They'll eat just about anything that crawls, swims, walks, flys, or grows. For example, during the appearance of the 13 and 17-year cicadas in the United States, squirrels will gorge themselves on the bugs to the exclusion of all other food.

Of course, feeding otherwise healthy skwerls, with access to a natural food supply, small amounts of "junk" foods won't hurt them...



Now, to answer your question... It's really a matter of trial and error. You can try various kinds of fruit, vegetables, legumes, bones (for calcium and phosphorous), mushrooms, dry cereal, rice, olives, corn etc. Avoid foods high in saturated fats, but don't worry about small amounts of salt, and foods high in unsaturated fats are especially beneficial for hibernating nutzys.

Your creeps will decide for themselves what they will and won't eat. They may reject the obvious, like a peanut, and insist on expensive nuts like pecans and almonds. They may also prefer certain foods at different times of the year. For example, fox squirrels seem to crave foods high in sodium during April and September, and chitterboxes may be interested in bones while lactating but snub this treat at all other times.

P.s. we're always interested in photos or videos of skwerls eating something unusual!
Where are all the dead squirrels?
OK. My husband keeps asking me this question and I just don't have an answer. He wants to know where skwerls go to die. There are so many of them out there, you would think you would come across a dead skwerl more often. We've only seen squashed skwerls in the road. Do they go to the valley of the skwerls or what?

We presented this question to one of our resident, bona fide experts who responded:

"Actually, the question is a good one. We have found some dead squirrels under bushes, where they are very cryptic. Perhaps we just are not sufficiently observant. Also, any squirrels that die in tree hollows will never be found. We seem to lose a lot of juvenile squirrels over the winter, and I suspect that these die of hypothermia in the night, wherever they are sleeping. You would think that some of these would be found, if they died in leaf nests, but I have not found any that I knew came from leaf nests."

From the above, we can surmise that some skwerls simply crawl off and die in a secluded spot; out of site of the casual observer. It should also be noted that squirrels are small animals and they're easily consumed and/or dragged off by scavengers after they die (e.g., crows pecking over the remains of a dead skwerl in the road).

Our expert also suggested that if the above isn't true, then when a nutzy dies, "squirrel Valkyries carry them off to squirrel Valhalla, which resembles a large bird feeder."

It's also been postulated that chitterboxes don't die. They retire to an enormous tree that's suspended in space on the far side of sun where they listen to ABBA, feast on delicious nuts, and watch Walt Disney's Old Yeller over and over (and they always cheer when that poor dog gets put down for having rabies).
How do squirrels survive in winter?
Hi Im am trying to find out how squirrels live through the winter and i am having difficulties. My name is Jazmyne My email adress is *********. I would like if u can point me in the right direction of where i could find a page on squirrels..

Squirrels are "endotherms". This means they produce their own heat internally fueled by the food they eat - just like we do.

Winter is a stressful time for squirrels due to cold temperatures and the scarcity of food. Squirrels cope with this in two ways:

1. Hibernation

The only squirrels that hibernate are some species of ground squirrels and chipmunks, prairie dogs, and marmots (ground hogs). Tree squirrels, flying squirrels, and African ground squirrels do not hibernate.

Hibernation is a process in which the animal reduces its body temperature and energy needs until it enters a sleep-like state of suspened animation. There are two kinds of hibernators: obligate and facultative. Obligates enter hibernation at more or less the same time every year based on such things as day length and their internal body signals (e.g. ground hogs). Facultative hibernators only enter hibernation if environmental conditions are stressful enough, otherwise they remain active even during winter (e.g. black-tailed prairie dog).

Prior to hibernation, the squirrel go through a period of hyperphagia (excessive eating). They do this to store up fat and may double their body weight prior to entering hibernation. The squirrel remains in hibernation for weeks or months depending on the species. However, they will periodically wake up. Most remain in their burrow, but smaller squirrels, like chipmunks, can not store enough fat for the whole winter. They experience a type of hibernation called "torpor". Torpor is not "true" hibernation because it lasts only a few hours or days. Then, the squirrel wakes up to feed on food stored in their burrow or even to venture out to find food before going back into torpor.

2. Tree squirrels do not hibernate. They store food during the fall for the winter and forage for food as well. Some tree squirrels hide their food in seemingly random fashion (e.g. fox squirrels). Others store their food in one or more spots called a cache (e.g. Eurasian red squirrels). Given enough food, tree squirrels are able to survive winter because their bodies produce an amazing amount of heat for their size due to their extremely efficient metabolism. Tree squirrels also build "dreys" (nests) which help protect them from winter.

3. Flying squirrels lack the efficient metabolism of tree squirrels and do not hibernate. They make up for this by using "social thermoregulation" to keep warm. This simply means they huddle together for warmth in their nests during the day and come out at night to feed and retrieve the food they buried during the fall. Some of these communal nests can hold up to fifty squirrels. Flying squirrels have been observed out of the nest in temperatures as low as -30C (-22F).

Source: Richard Thorington Jr. and Katie Ferrell, 2006. Squirrels: The Animal Answer Guide. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore
How do I keep squirrels from digging up my garden?
There's no easy answer to this question (and we'll add to it as we receive more info and suggestions)...

A lot depends on where you live, the type of garden or landscaping you have, and what kind of squirrels you're talking about.

If digging in a small garden is the problem, as opposed to digging up and eating everything in sight, and the offending skwerl is a tree squirrel, you can dissuade the varmints by laying down a heavy gage wire and covering it with soil. The wire makes it very difficult or impossible for the squirrel to dig, but it won't stop it from gobbling up your flowers or veggies. It may help protect bulbs, though.

heavy gauge wire can be had at a hardware store or landscape supply.

Burrowing squirrels such as ground squirrels, chipmunks, prairie dogs, and marmots are a different story. A combination of ground wire and a subsurface barrier made of concrete and/or wire may keep them at bay.

Some people try products laced with red pepper or other ingredients distasteful to squirrels. We've never seen these work when it comes to digging, and they're not much help in protecting the plants themselves either.

Cats and dogs can help, or maybe a poisonous mamba snake, but squirrels are notorious for frustrating pets until they give up (and let the nutzys run rampant), and the mamba would just as soon bite you as a skwerl.

Ultimately, a neutron bomb may be the only guaranteed cure.
What kind of skwerl...? (Mange)
Is this a squirrel? Acts like one, eats like one, sits and runs like one. What do you think? ~Jan

mangy squirrel
Yup, it's a skwerl, but the critter appears to have an advance case of mange.

Mange is a skin disease of mammals caused by a tissue-burrowing arthropod, the mange mite. A variety of mange mites exist; the ones most often identified as the cause of mange are Sarcoptes scabiei and Notoedres centrifera. The mites are too small to be seen with the naked eye, but skin changes brought on by infestation can be dramatic. The skin diseases caused by these species of mites are sarcoptic and notoedric mange.

Your nutzy probably has Notoedric mange. Survival rates vary from fair-good in warm climes to poor-none during the winter. Much depends on the general health of the animal.

If you are inclined to trap the critter in attempt to treat it, always remember that it's a wild animal and can bite through the bone (yours!). Also, although there is low incidence of transmission to humans, you should not handle a mangy skwerl without wearing latex gloves and keep it isolated. We very strongly recommend that you just let nature take its course, or hand the skwerl over to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator if you catch it.

For more mangy info go here.
Squirrels as a symbol?
What does it mean if you see a squirrel? I know that a black bear means strengh but what does squirrel mean????

Many of the indigenous peoples of North America consider the squirrel a symbol of thrift, forward thinking (planning), and trust. The point being that the squirrel teaches us to gather only what we need and to discard the rest (both physical and spiritual).

If your question is about squirrels as omens, the answer depends on which culture you're in, but in general if you observe them eating or carrying nuts, it signifies comfort through prudence and diligence; to see them running or chasing each other aimlessly suggests you are heavily involved in a pointless love or profitless business affair that you would be wise to forget about; to see squirrels running up--or sitting in--a tree is a warning of possible financial embarrassment; pull in your belt before you stretch your credit to the breaking point.
BACK TO TOP

CLICK FOR BOOK
LOOKING FOR A SKWERL BOOK WITH ALL THE ANSWERS?

Did you know that a groundhog is really a type of squirrel? That most squirrels have yellow-tinted eye lenses that work like sunglasses to reduce glare? That tree squirrels can turn their hind feet completely around when climbing down a tree head-first? In Squirrels: The Animal Answer Guide, Richard W. Thorington Jr. and Katie Ferrell unveil the fascinating world of one of the "most watched" mammals on the planet. Includes numerous photos from our favorite website, scary squirrel world.

Squirrels: The Animal Answer Guide
Richard W. Thorington Jr. and Katie Ferrell
Johns Hopkins University Press

 

LINKS TO MORE "REAL" SQUIRREL INFORMATION
SQUIRREL RESCUE/ANIMAL ADVOCATES
SQUIRREL CONTROL INFO
SQUIRRELS IN THE ATTIC - REMOVAL GUIDE
SQUIRRELS AND MORE - REHAB SUPPLIES

BACK     HOME