You may see squirrels running around during the day, but come nighttime, it seems like they disappear into thin air. Fortunately, squirrels don’t disappear; but they do sleep in their own safe spaces. These spaces are well hidden from humans and predators, so the squirrels and their young can remain protected. So let’s take a look at their sleeping behaviors.
Ground squirrels, flying squirrels, and tree squirrels will choose different areas to sleep in. Ground squirrels will always create burrows and sleep in these burrows. Flying squirrels will sleep in trees or tree branches. Tree squirrels will sleep in burrows in the ground or in trees.
Where Do Different Types Of Squirrels Sleep?
There are three types of squirrels, tree, ground, and flying. Each has its own sleeping habits, preferences, and preferred locations.
Let’s explore their sleeping habits and behaviors.
Tree squirrels have the best of both worlds when it comes to choosing where they sleep. Similar to flying squirrels, tree squirrels also sleep in dreys and use leaves, branches, and twigs to build them.
Everyone is familiar with the gray, fox, and red squirrels because these are the ones that are most abundant in public areas.
Tree squirrels sleep in nests and dens during the night, and while they may sometimes create them in the ground, they could also move into other squirrels’ nests or nests they find inside of trees.
Ground squirrels spend about 84% of the day sleeping and have a very simple way of finding a place to sleep. They will nest in the ground or burrow underneath a stump or rock. Sometimes, they will dig a tunnel to sleep, whether they are raising young or not.
It would be good to note that many rural areas are becoming urban and suburban areas, which means many of these ground squirrels don’t have enough open spaces to dig tunnels to sleep in.
Therefore, it is not uncommon to find a ground squirrel making a tunnel in your backyard to sleep or live in.
Flying squirrels will most often create drays in the strongest and largest branches of trees or use an old woodpecker hole, along with any other hole in the side of trees, to sleep in.
In these holes, flying squirrels will create a den, also known as a drey, to sleep in. Flying squirrels create their homes using bark, moss, leaves, or small, weak twigs.
Other Types of Squirrel Species
Most of us have seen the Eastern Gray squirrel because it is the most common type found in parks, cities, and backyards. However, 65 species of squirrels live in the United States.
Below are some other members of the squirrel family and where they sleep.
Prairie dogs build and sleep in underground burrows. These burrows are extensive warrens of tunnels and chambers, marked by many mounds of packed earth at their surface entrances.
These rodents are very efficient burrow builders. They create extensive tunnels and chambers with sleeping areas and even specific areas for waste.
The burrows shelter them from predators and flash flooding.
Marmots are large ground squirrels, such as; groundhogs, that create extensive burrows and live in colonies. They are diurnal animals, meaning they are most active during the day.
During the warmer months, they spend their time foraging for food, mating, and preparing for winter. In the winter, they hibernate in colonies.
The size of a marmot colony varies depending on the species, location, and environmental conditions.
For example, Yellow-Bellied marmots are social animals and live in colonies of 10-20. Within the colony, one dominant male defends the colony and mates with several females.
Like prairie dogs, chipmunks build elaborate burrow systems that protect them from predators and the elements.
During the winter, they enter a state of torpor to conserve energy. The duration of torpor varies depending on the environmental conditions and the age and health of the rodent.
They wake from their torpor state to occasionally eat and drink water for short periods before returning to their torpor state.
Where Will Squirrels Sleep During The Winter?
A squirrel’s sleeping behaviors will depend on the species. For example, most people think all squirrels hibernate during the winter, which is like a very long nap, but this is not the case.
While all ground squirrels will hibernate in winter, tree squirrels and flying squirrels do not.
It could be difficult to determine where squirrels go to sleep during the winter accurately. Still, the most accurate response would be that they enter their usual sleeping spaces for extended periods.
However, as winter approaches, all squirrels will display the same behavior. They will upgrade their current nests by building better protection and insulation to stay safe during the cold and dangerous weather.
Ground squirrels can sleep for as long as five months when they hibernate. However, keep in mind that they technically won’t sleep for the full five months and may be awake each week for about 1 to 20 hours.
These ground squirrels may also live together in their dens during the long sleep, and some of these dens or dreys may consist of ten or more squirrels sleeping.
Where Do Squirrels Sleep In The Rain?
Like us, squirrels seek shelter to get out of the rain. When it’s pouring outside, tree squirrels seek shelter in hollow trees or their drey to stay dry. However, they will remain active during a light shower or mist and continue foraging for food.
However, no matter the weather, they will remain wary of their surroundings, especially during inclement weather. This is because their predators, such as hawks, continue hunting unless the rain is too heavy.
When Do Squirrels Sleep?
While most people think squirrels are nocturnal, however, some species are crepuscular, meaning they will be most active during dawn and twilight.
This is why they spend most of their time sleeping during the day and take several shorter naps. According to studies, a squirrel spends 63% of its day asleep, averaging 15 hours daily.
These shorter naps during nighttime are mainly due to a way of protecting themselves. By remaining alert or sleeping lightly, for the most part during the night, they will quickly wake when they, their young, or their den is in danger of predators.
Why Would You Find A Squirrel Sleeping In Your Home?
Like many other wild animals, you may find a squirrel sleeping in your home. Squirrels are part of the rodent family and will find their way into your home by chewing or squeezing through the smallest gaps in your roof, walls, floors, or even partially closed windows or doors.
Once a squirrel finds their way inside your home, it will set up a nest in your ceiling, chimney, attic, or even inside your walls.
When you find a squirrel sleeping in your home, they have their reasons. They will move indoors when the conditions inside your home seem better than outdoors.
This is due to many reasons, such as hot or cold weather or when a predator has found them or their nest. For example, when temperatures are over 100 degrees, they will use your home as a haven.
In some areas, cold and wet weather, such as storms or rain, could cause their nests in trees or ground to become too cold or even flooded. Unfortunately, squirrels are also prey to many animals, such as foxes, hawks, or even owls.
You may find one in your home if they are on the run from these predators. However, it’s crucial to remember that squirrels are difficult to get out of your home.
If you notice one making a nest, you must call a professional immediately.
Different squirrels will have different ways to create their dreys and sleep in different places. It all comes down to which place is easier to nest for the particular squirrel. Due to so many squirrels losing their homes, you may even find one sleeping inside your home on rare occasions.
- How Do Flying Squirrels Get In Attics?
- Ground Squirrels Vs Gophers Vs Chipmunks
- Tennessee Squirrel Hunting Season