The other evening I was sitting out in the back porch watching the squirrels at the feeder. It was getting late and starting to rain, it got me thinking, “do squirrels come out at night? If you’re like me, I love watching the wildlife play in my backyard, that’s why I thought I’d share some tips on what they do at night and their sleeping habits.
Do Squirrels Come Out At Night?
The common Eastern Grey squirrel does not come out at night, the best times to see them at your feeder are in the early morning hours or in the evening. However, all species of the flying squirrels active at night and are strictly nocturnal. (we’ll cover this more in depth later on)
Do Squirrels Eat At Night?
Squirrels are diurnal, which means that that they are active during the day and sleep at night like humans. During the light hours, they will spend their days foraging for food and water.
What Time Do Squirrels Come Out?
If you’re sitting on your deck enjoying your morning coffee, you won’t have a hard time seeing them, especially, if you’ve set up your yard to attract squirrels. But you might want to know if they also come out in different weather elements such as the rain, winter, summer, and etc.
Just like you and I, there are certain elements that they try to avoid to protect themselves.
It’s not unusual to see a squirrel foraging for food during a light rain. Their bushy tail can be flipped over their body to help provide them protection from the rain, kind of like an umbrella for us.
However, you won’t find them outside when it’s pouring down rain, because if their fur becomes soaked, it’s harder for them to control their body temperature.
It’s not uncommon for them to stay in their dens when the weather turns windy or stormy.
During the winter, most squirrels are hibernating or sleeping a lot. They do not like bitter cold weather so they stay hunkered down in their den or drey.
That’s one of the reasons that they spend so much time foraging for food during the warmer months. This provides them with a good supply of food while they stay for extended periods in their nest.
Squirrels have a body temperature between 98 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. They don’t get as hot as humans, but they do become hot and sweaty if the temperature gets too hot.
During the hot summer months, a squirrel will change their activity pattern and avoid coming out when it’s really hot and humid. They’ll spend most of their time foraging for foods – nuts and seeds- they are more active in the morning hours and late afternoon when it’s cooler.
Can Squirrels See At Night?
Most squirrels can’t see at night and don’t make a lot of noise after dark. However, just like you and I get up to pee at night or care for our young, the same is true for squirrels.
They are classified as crepuscular, which means that they operate best in the twilight hours and early dusk hours of the day. This allows them to avoid the midday heat.
All species of the flying squirrels are considered nocturnal and that’s what makes them harder to see.
Do Flying Squirrels Come Out At Night?
The North American Flying Squirrels are the only night squirrels that we know of, and it’s not uncommon to see them gliding from tree to tree at night.
By day flying squirrels sleep in tree cavities. Southern flying squirrels inhabit the most deciduous and mixed deciduous/coniferous woods. It’s not unusual to see or hear them in wooded areas that are dominated by beeches or oaks.
They forage for food during the night when their predators are less active. At night, you can see them gliding up to 250 feet from tree to tree. They even have the ability to make 90 degree turns in mid-air, it makes them look like they are flying.
However, they can’t really fly, they are actually gliding.
Unlike other squirrels, the flying squirrel does not hibernate, they survive the cold weather by huddling together in small groups to stay warm.
Where Do Squirrels Go At Night?
Tree squirrels such as the fox squirrel, red squirrel, and the gray squirrel are not nocturnal and at the end of a busy day of foraging for food, they will head to their dens or dreys. They create their dens in preparation for the long winter months and spruce it up with moss or leaves.
During the warmer months, the dry acts as a shelter for sleeping and for raising babies during their mating season.
Unlike tree squirrels, ground squirrels such as chipmunks, prefer sleeping in underground homes. They are not nocturnal and are diurnal animals that spend their time foraging for food during the daylight hours.
Chipmunks usually head back to their den to sleep when the sun starts setting. At night they will burrow in their dens if they’ll only come out at night if they have to. They are NOT totally blind, but they cannot see very well.
If you want to see squirrels eating at your feeders or jumping around playing in your yard, you’ll need to make it a point to sit out in your backyard in the early morning hours or early dusk.
You’ll start getting to know their daily routine once they have been visiting your backyard for a while.
We sit outside in the early morning hours to enjoy the grey squirrels. The latest I’ve seen them at the bird feeder or their feeder is around 7:30 PM.
Other Squirrel Facts You Maybe Be Interested In:
References and Further Reading
MNN – A Few Interesting Facts About Flying Squirrels
National Wildlife Federation – Flying Squirrel