Squirrels use different nesting sites depending on their species, the region in which they live and season. Typically, squirrels will nest in trees cavities, as these types of habitats offer protection from weather fluctuations and access to food. In some cases, squirrels build their nests in exposed tree branches at a safe distance above the ground, typically 60 feet up or more. However, tree cavities seem to be their favored spot, and openings of 2 to 8 inches in diameter offer the most ideal locations. Squirrels will nest in variety of tree types, but are most commonly found associated with coniferous trees. Sometimes, Ground squirrels may dig a network of underground tunnels in loose soil as another habitat option.
What Are Squirrel Nests Made Of?
Squirrel nests are made of a variety of interwoven material including twigs, bark, fur, feathers, leaves and grass. Nests will typically be shaped like a globe and be about one foot in diameter. If you are unsure if something is a squirrel nest, the pictures below may help you confirm your identification.
Female squirrels will typically create an average of four or five nest sites within the geographic range of their primary nest throughout the year. If the mother feels one nest is no longer safe, she will move to an alternative nesting site with her young. Squirrels may share some of their nest sites with other squirrels and sometimes have a communal space. Squirrels have litters twice a year and each litter averages about 3-5 young. If you notice squirrels in your yard, you may start seeing nests with young in early spring or summer. However, squirrels use nests for more than just raising their young. Squirrels also use their nests for resting and shelter, especially during the cold winter months since squirrels do not hibernate.
In one study, grey squirrels in the U.S. seemed to alternate nest types depending on the season and geographic location. It was reported that squirrels tended to use nests made of leaves and branches, referred to as dreys, more during the warmer months. Nests known as dens, or nests inside tree cavities, were occupied more frequently during the winter. Dens may be favored during colder months because they provide better protection from the harsh weather conditions and predators.
If you notice a squirrel’s nest on your property, don’t attempt to remove it yourself. Squirrels may bite and/or attack if you try to handle them, especially if their young are present. Squirrels may carry bacterial diseases that can be spread to humans through bites or by coming into contact with their feces. There are also pests (e.g., fleas, ticks) associated with squirrels that may carry pathogens that can cause disease. Allowing squirrels to nest on your property can lead to home damage and garden destruction. Don’t let the problem multiply. Contact Terminix® today to schedule a free inspection with a wildlife technician.