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How Long Do Squirrels Live?

A Mouse With Fur!


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Whether you’ve seen them scurrying down your street or climbing a tree in the park, those who live in cities can’t help but notice them!

We’re talking about squirrels, of course. Squirrels resemble mice and have furry tails. They are rodents that have adapted well to urban environments. They are pretty resilient because of their inquisitive nature and ability to find food in various settings.

So how long do squirrels live? They have a relatively long life expectancy when compared to other rodents. Most Squirrels have a life span typically between two and four years, but this can vary depending on several factors.

This article will look at the lifespan of squirrels and the factors that influence how long they live.

What Are the Different Squirrel Species?

Different Species of Squirrel

Squirrels have over 200 species worldwide, with many different species found in the United States. In the United States, you can find squirrels of five different varieties: fox, gray, red, flying, and ground. Some live in trees, others on the ground, and some appear to be able to fly through the air.

For example, while ground squirrels have shorter legs and less bushy fur, tree squirrels have a thick tail, pointed claws, and big ears. A bushy membrane between their wrists and ankles allows fliers to glide between trees. They’re able to avoid other trees because of it.

Grey Squirrels

You can divide squirrels into western gray squirrels (the most common variety in North America) and eastern gray squirrels (the least common). The eastern gray squirrel, which originated in the northeastern United States, has since spread throughout the United States and Europe.

You can find the western gray squirrel in three different locations in the western United States. Colors like gray, black, cream, brown, and red are just a few options for these squirrels.

Fox Squirrels

The eastern coast of the United States is the only place where you can find the fox squirrel in its various forms. Larger squirrels in the world belong to this species, which can grow up to 27 inches long. In this collection, researchers divide giant squirrels into two color groups.

The undersides of the animals are either tan or gold in color, and there are a variety of dark fur colors to choose from. Squirrels with blackheads and white noses, ears, and feet are known as black-headed squirrels. Reddish, tan, and orange hues make up the rest of the color palette. There are no white markings on the red fox squirrel’s body.

Red Squirrels

Red squirrels are about 50 percent smaller than gray squirrels. In the winter, their fur is gray-red; in the summer, it is orange-red with a white belly, making them tiny tree squirrels.

During the winter, the backs of red squirrels’ ears develop fur tufts. When other animals intrude on their territory, they frequently chatter and whistle at them to scare them off. When it’s colder out, red squirrels, also called pine squirrels, seek out pine forests in the northern states to keep warm.

Ground Squirrels

You can find ground squirrels throughout the United States. Burrowing by these tiny rodents is most common in open areas, such as prairies. These antelope squirrels with white tails live in the southwestern United States. They are the smallest and lightest of all the squirrel species.

More common species include the California ground squirrel, the spotted ground squirrel, and the thirteen-lined ground squirrel. Due to their destructive burrowing and chewing, these species are hazardous to your gardens.

Flying Squirrels

The United States is home to two species of flying squirrels: the northern flying squirrel and the southern flying squirrel. The northern flying squirrel is the bigger of the two squirrel species. At higher altitudes, you can find them in the Appalachian and Adirondack mountains and Alaska, California, Arizona, Michigan, and the rest of the United States.

Low-lying areas in the eastern part of the United States, including Florida, are home to southern flying squirrels (wild). The number of these tiny squirrels may be greater than that of gray squirrels. Still, their nocturnal habits make it difficult to observe them.

Are Squirrels Wild Animals?

Small and medium-sized rodents are part of the Sciuridae family, including squirrels, chipmunks, marmots, flying squirrels, and prairie dogs, among their rodent relatives.

In the Americas, Eurasia, and Africa, Squirrels originated, and they were brought to Australia by humans. Fossilized squirrels date back to the Eocene. They are related to other living rodent families, such as mountain beavers and dormice. They are feral animals.

How Long Do Eastern Gray Squirrels Live?

The eastern gray squirrel is well-known to the general public. In contrast to most animals, they flourish in human-created habitats. You can find them in the suburbs and urban areas alike. They can be reddish, gray, or black, with long bushy tails.

Despite their origins in eastern North America, they can be found almost anywhere on the continent and even made it to Europe in a few places. More than any other squirrel species, eastern grays can live to be very old. An eastern gray squirrel can live for up to 11-13 years in the wild, but most die before that time.

How Long Do Ground Squirrels Live?

Ground squirrels have a much shorter lifespan than their tree-dwelling cousins because they are more vulnerable to predators.

Ground baby squirrels typically live three to five years in their natural habitats. But, those kept as pets can live up to ten years if properly cared for. It is much higher than most people would expect, given how dangerous it is for squirrels to travel out on their own. They must constantly keep an eye out for threats from other animals and humans.

How Long Do Fox Squirrels Live?

You can find Fox squirrels in various colors, grayish-white to black, with orange bellies. Squirrels of this species resemble gray squirrels of the east but are larger and have a reddish coat. In the eastern part of North America, fox squirrels, like gray squirrels, have spread to almost every state in the country. In the forest and the city, they are equally at home.

They can live for up to 12-13 years in the wild and 13 years in captivity. The lifespan of a fox squirrel, especially a baby, is heavily influenced by food availability. Female squirrels appear to live longer than males, as with eastern gray squirrels. Fox squirrels can live up to 13 years in the wild, while male squirrels can live up to 8 years in the wild.

How Long Do Southern Flying Squirrels Live?

The backs of southern flying squirrels are gray, and their bellies are white. They’re tiny, light, and, like all flying squirrels, they glide in the air rather than fly. These squirrels can be found as far north as Canada and south as Central America despite their name.

Most of the southern flying squirrels live to be about ten years old in the wild; on the other hand, up to 17 years have been documented for animals in captivity.

How Long Do American Red Squirrels Live?

As the name suggests, American Red Squirrels have orange-red fur, though it can be brown at times of the year. You’ll usually find them in the forests of eastern North America. Red squirrels are physically smaller and have longer tails than other squirrels.

According to Animalia, American Red Squirrels have up to 9 years. Females tend to outlive males in juveniles under the age of one year. Adult red squirrels, on the other hand, are the polar opposite. Unlike other squirrel species, adult male American red squirrels may live slightly longer than adult females. However, there isn’t a significant difference between the two genders’ life spans.

Another factor influencing red squirrel longevity is whether or not they are born when seeds are plentiful. Surprisingly, those born during a “year of plenty” appear to live longer lives.

How Long Do Squirrels Live in the Wild?

Squirrels are naturally active creatures. They engage in various activities on land or in trees, such as climbing, hopping, and munching on their favorite food, which some people find endearing. Their susceptibility to predators also influences how long they can live.

The lifespan of a squirrel in the wild differs significantly from that of a squirrel in captivity. Squirrels must fight for their lives in the wild to survive. Because there are predators everywhere, they are usually vulnerable to attacks from their adversaries.

Those who survive their first year in the wild can live for six to twelve years. It is because they have learned to deal with the challenges of the wild, where predators constantly threaten them.

Red Squirrels in the Wild

Red squirrels reach maturity between the ages of two and four. They can live in the wild for up to five years and in captivity for eight years. Gender, however, has an impact on how long they can live. The male squirrel outlives the female in the red squirrel species, the opposite of most squirrel species.

Ground Squirrels in the Wild

In the case of ground squirrels, they only live in the wild for two to four years. A female can live for up to four years, whereas a male can only live for two.

Southern Flying Squirrels in the Wild

Southern flying squirrels are a native North American species found throughout the eastern United States. One can spot them from Minnesota to Texas and from Maine to Florida. They’re about 10 to 12 inches long and can live in the wild for 3 to 5 years.

Eastern Fox Squirrels in the Wild

The Eastern Fox Squirrels are known for having an eight-year lifespan in the wild.

How Long Do Squirrels Live as Pets?

Squirrels as pets

Squirrels typically live longer lives in captivity because they are no longer preyed upon by their predators in the wild. Nonetheless, if the captivity environment is stressful, squirrels may not live long in captivity.

Red Squirrels can live in captivity for up to eight years.

Ground Squirrel’s lifespan in captivity is approximately seven years, much more significant than their lifespan in the wild.

Southern flying squirrels can live for ten years if properly cared for as a pet.

The Eastern Fox Squirrel has the most extended lifespan of up to 18 years in captivity.

How Long Do Juvenile Squirrels Live?

Juvenile squirrels resemble adult squirrels in size.

  • Is the squirrel’s tail fluffed up?
  • Is the squirrel’s body longer than 6″ (without the tail)?

If that’s the case, this is a juvenile squirrel. Squirrels are self-sufficient at 10-12 weeks of age, and you should not intervene if you find a juvenile squirrel.

According to City Wild Life, while their mother is foraging for food, juveniles can be found roaming the streets and scavenging for food on their own. Their lack of experience has led them to approach people and other creatures, making them appear friendly or oblivious to danger. Juvenile squirrels typically spend a few weeks to a few months in the nest.

Final Words – How Long Do Squirrels Live?

We have provided you with detailed information about squirrels, their lifespan, and their habitat. Squirrels are incredibly fascinating animals! Genetics, among other factors, affects their life expectancy significantly.

Their lifespan varies according to the species, sexes, habitats, and geographic locations where they live. One of the most impressive features of the rodent family is that it has one of the longest lifespans.

It is not uncommon for wild animals to die younger in the wild than in captivity, and squirrels are no exception. As long as you enjoy feeding squirrels in your backyard, you can count on them returning to the feeder for a year or more.

If you’ve always wanted pet squirrels in your backyard, getting one and giving it a place to live will extend its life expectancy. Many people have raised squirrels and kept them as pets, despite what you might think.

Written by:
Editor-in-Chief and lead author at WhyDo

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