The mating season of squirrels can happen anytime during the year, but it peaks in late spring and early summer. Mating season for squirrels can last anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks, and during this time, the male will “chase” the female around and try to convince her to mate with him. After she’s been mated, the couple will construct a nest together and raise their young.
The Mating Process
Mating begins when male squirrels display sexual displays to attract mates. These displays can last around two hours. What’s more, the timing of these displays varies by species.
Squirrels are rodents; like other mammals, they undergo many of the same mating rituals. For example, they’ll search for a specific kind of tree – usually one with lots of nuts. Once they find a tree, they’ll climb up to access the nuts and copulate there. Then, they’ll start chasing each other around when they’re ready to mate.
Signs That Squirrel Mating Season Is Starting
The most common sign that squirrel mating season is starting is when the squirrels start to forage more. This means they will primarily search for food in areas away from their dens and homes.
They will also become more vocal, searching for mates in different areas. Another sign that you can look out for is a sudden increase in activity near trees or other elevated places where they are known to congregate during mating season.
Factors That Influence When Squirrels Mate
Type of Squirrel
Most squirrels mate in the fall, but a few may mate throughout the year. If you live in an area with many squirrels, it’s best to monitor their mating season to avoid any messes or damage. Knowing their mating season will help you stay prepared for potential problems.
Location: Latitude, Climate, and Local Ecology
Knowing your location (latitude and climate) and the local ecology of your area can help you determine the mating season for squirrels in your vicinity. For instance, red squirrels in North America only breed during the springtime due to their ecological requirements.
Different squirrel mating seasons occur depending on location – near the equator, for example, there is a winter mating season.
The Mast Conditions of the Previous Year
The previous year’s squirrel mast (stored seeds & nuts) conditions dictate when they will mate for the following year. They are monogamous animals, so if one is not mating, it’s likely that the other is not healthy or has been somehow injured.
If you want to keep your squirrel populations down this season, try to maintain these same conditions as close to the actual mating season as possible! This includes providing a plentiful supply of food, water, and shelter.
Biology and Health of Individual Female Squirrels
The gestation period is about 34 days, after which the female gives birth to one or more young squirrels. The mating typically happens in early summer when many food supplies are available.
Squirrel Mating Behaviors Explained
During mating season, squirrels will often be seen gathering nuts or other food items. They also tend to be more active at night and near water sources. Keep an eye out for pregnant female squirrels, as they will have a sac around their neck that they’ll leave when they’re ready to give birth.
Aggressive Male Groups Looking to Mate
Squirrels can be pesky creatures, and they can be incredibly aggressive during mating season. Male squirrels in aggressive groups are looking for a mate and will attack anything that gets in their way. So be aware of this behavior and take appropriate precautions to protect yourself and your property.
If you’re unfortunate enough to have squirrels in your area, the best course is to stay away until they calm down. If that’s not possible, some aggressive squirrels will attempt to attack.
To avoid these situations, tricks to keep them away, like spraying them with water, can also work. If intimidation fails, the best thing to do is to stay away.
Nest Defense in Gray and Fox Squirrels
The active defense phase usually lasts 5-10 days after an invading male has triggered a female.
During this time, she makes various vocalizations, including high-pitched screams and barks, digs up the earth or roots to build a nest either in trees or on the ground, dispatches the invader with considerable force (and sometimes injures him fatally), builds a new nest nearby if necessary, mates soon afterward and then starts another defensive cycle.
Gray squirrels are the most aggressive of all North American squirrel species when defending their nesting territories, with red and Douglas squirrels being less territorial.
Dispersal of Young
Squirrels’ mating season coincides with the squirrels’ dispersal period, which can be pretty troublesome.
Baby squirrels are born in the springtime and will start to leave the nest around early summer. They reach sexual maturity at about 12 months old and start looking for a new home.
Male squirrels will explore their surroundings, looking for a mate, while female squirrels stay inside the nest, building their kits. So, if you see a lot of squirrels around, it’s probably because baby squirrels are looking for a place to call home!
Squirrel Nesting Behavior
In the spring, squirrels will start nesting to raise their young. During this time, they will be highly active and may damage property or cause a nuisance.
To keep your home safe during nesting season:
- Keep food dishes from where they can reach bird feeders.
- Ensure power cords are well hidden and that any containers containing nuts or seeds are closed off.
- Empty any containers that hold nuts or seeds near trees.