Most of us have been privy to videos where squirrels stuff their faces and scamper off. Like many other animals, they must venture out to get food and water. However, how far do these tiny furry critters travel to get back home?
A squirrel can generally travel up to 15 miles to return to its original home. Squirrels only venture out 2 miles from home but can travel up to 10 miles when there isn’t enough food and water nearby. These animals have sharp memories that help them find their way home.
Squirrels have incredible homing instincts, proven by how they can travel back home over long distances.
Because of this instinct, it is difficult to be 100% sure they won’t find their way back to your home where they had previously resided. However, knowing how far squirrels can travel to make it back home can go a long way in preventing this from happening. So, how far can a squirrel travel to get back home?
How Far Do Squirrels Travel To Get Back Home?
Squirrels are crafty and intelligent critters who know how to get around. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that they can travel quite a distance to return home. However, even if relocated far away, squirrels have an astonishing knack for locating their homes again.
In fact, squirrels have been known to travel up to 15 miles to return to their nesting location.
It may sound impossible, but it isn’t too far-fetched when you consider how these critters go out daily to forage for food. To give you an idea, a squirrel can cover up to 2 miles daily.
They generally limit themselves to this travel range as it is where they are relatively safe. Squirrels don’t make it a habit to travel distances that exceed 2 miles.
This is because squirrels prefer to live in an area with easy access to food and water. Therefore, they ensure they settle in a place with both so they don’t have to embark on long trips that expose them to prey. However, squirrels have been known to travel roughly 10 miles each day when there is a lack of food.
As you can imagine, this is taxing for them, and they find it difficult to go back to their home. However, this proves that squirrels can pull 15-mile marathons to travel further when needed.
Unsurprisingly, their strong homing instinct plays a huge role in this.
This is also why it is recommended that if you choose to relocate a squirrel, relocate them to an area more than 10 miles away. A squirrel can usually find its way back to its preferred home within 3 to 4 days if moved to a place less than 10 miles away.
What Determines How Far A Squirrel Can Travel To Get Home?
Although a squirrel can travel 15 miles to return home, this isn’t true for every squirrel. This is because certain things influence how far each squirrel can travel to go back home. Simply put, a squirrel’s travel range is influenced by age, type, gender, and food supply.
Depending on their gender, some squirrels can travel farther distances than others. A male squirrel, for instance, is quite capable of going further than a female squirrel. The type of species also plays a role in how far they can or are willing to travel.
For example, gray squirrels have been known to travel further than red squirrels. Also, it is worth noting that flying squirrels will not travel the same distance as ground squirrels simply because they have different body parts that benefit them differently.
How Squirrels Find Their Way Back When Traveling Home
It’s fascinating watching squirrels sprint confidently to their homes when we humans have tech like GPS but still manage to get lost. Are you wondering how these small furry animals travel all those miles to get back home and not get lost?
Interestingly, for a long time, it was thought that squirrels only used their sense of smell to be able to get home safely after traveling to forage.
Although smell undoubtedly plays a part, an increasing amount of research shows that memory plays an unexpectedly more significant role.
A Look At How Squirrel’s Use Their Memory
The spatial memory squirrels possess enables them to map various areas around them when they carry out their never-ending search for food. Squirrels have a gift for retaining valuable memories of their habitats.
They seem to make a mental map and follow it. In addition to having a keen sense of smell, they can also feel changes in air pressure using their whiskers. According to scientists, squirrels use their tails to guide them like a compass.
They frequently sit straight up and balance themselves upright on their hind legs. They do this to look at their surroundings when deciding which direction to travel. Once a direction has been determined, these chubby-cheeked pests will take off, using their tail to guide them.
Interestingly, the earth’s magnetic field affects how far a squirrel can travel to get back to its home. It was recently discovered that some primates have a protein in their eyes that is somehow sensitive to magnetism. Squirrels are thought to have this valuable protein to a certain extent.
What Happens When Squirrels Are More Than 15 Miles Away?
Squirrels can only travel back home if their nesting place is within 15 miles of where they are. This then begs the question of what happens if they are relocated to a place more than 15 miles away?
Although the science is still insufficient, it is suggested that squirrels establish a home range close to food and water sources and start building nests in favorable locations within that selected home range.
This is because squirrels will get lost regardless of the homing instinct they possess. Because of this, they will want to immediately relocate to a more secure area.
Squirrels can travel an impressive distance to get home, roughly 15 miles. However, these critters won’t travel further than two miles from home if a source of food and water is available.
Squirrels relocated more than 15 miles from home tend to get lost and will find a new area to set up several nests.
Unfortunately, relocated squirrels without food and water sources are likely to perish. The decisions made by squirrels when foraging for food, their type, gender, and food supply all play a role in how far they can travel.
While scientists have yet to uncover all the secrets of these amazing animals, one thing is sure – squirrels are equipped with remarkable survival instincts.