How long do squirrels live? This is a question that many people ask – both for one that’s a pet or an invading squirrel, but there are different answers dependent on the species of the squirrel.
Squirrels in captivity such as in a zoos will live for about 24 years while those in the wild may only survive for about 6 to 10 years due to the many threats in their day to day life. Squirrel Species that Live Less than one year are Sciurus carolinensis and Sciurus niger.
- American Red Squirrel live for about 2.3 to 8 years with the males living longer compared to the male squirrels.
- Fox Squirrels live between 14 and 16 years, but can be as old as 20 if they’re away from predators.
- Black Squirrel; mainly found in the live 18 years while in captivity or 6 years while in the wild.
- The Southern Flying Squirrel are generally found in North America and will live for between 3 to 5 years.
- Eastern Gray Squirrel: these are considered “typical” squirrels because their life span is about 12 to 24 years.
Details: How Long Do Squirrels Live
1. Black Squirrel
Black Squirrels are mainly found in the North America and their life span is about 18 years while in captivity or only up to 6 years when they’re free in the wild.
The have varied melanin levels and also they’re also found in Midwest and many other places around the world. They are either the fox squirrels (southeastern United States) or the eastern grays (Great Lakes Basin) – and with varied hair colors.
Black squirrels eat nuts, fruit, bird eggs, acorns and seeds. They are not threatened by much but they will still be killed sometimes in the wild or when roaming near roadsides.
Black squirrels result from some genetic mutation and may be found in places near the Ohio River Valley. Black squirrels are more territorial and aggressive compared to the red and grey squirrels due to the high testosterone.
Females are pregnant for about a month while males will mate with more than one female during this time so they can increase their chances of mating which is also part of the reason why black squirrels are aggressive and territorial – to protect its territory from other male’s too.
2. Southern Flying Squirrel
The Southern Flying Squirrel are generally found in North America and will live for between 3 to 5 years in the wild and about 10 years while in captivity.
They are very territorial when it comes to mating and will attack other squirrels if they come close.
The Southern Flying Squirrel’s diet consists of insects, eggs, nuts, seeds and fruit – these items make up the majority of their diets but this may change with various seasons or depending on where its habitat is located.
Southern flying squirrels have a very large habitat range from the northern United States to central China. This is mostly due to their ability to glide through the air using membrane folds (the patagia that stretch between its limbs and tail).
Southern squirrels build their nests near the ground in locations such as tree cavities. They use woodpecker holes, bark, twigs, and leaves to build their nests.
3. Northern Flying Squirrel
A Northern Flying Squirrel (adults measure about 6.3 in) has a lifespan of about 11 years in the wild. In captivity, they are able to live for up to 20 years.
The diet of this species is similar to that of their southern counterparts with items such as insects and nuts making up most food intake but it may also include some seeds and fruit.
These northern flying squirrel are endangered because of habitat loss including the many threats that they face in the wild such as deforestation and logging.
4. American Red Squirrel
American Red squirrels have very early mortality rates – just about 22% of them will survive past 1 year. The females live up to about 2.3 to 8 years while the males live longer by anything like a few weeks.
The most common cause of death is from predators such as coyotes, foxes or hawks and being hunted by humans who shoot them for their fur (this is illegal).
American red squirrels live in North America (Canada) and in parts of Europe. The diet consists mostly of seeds and nuts but they may also eat eggs, some fruits, insects and carrion.
5. Fox Squirrels
Fox Squirrels live about 8 years (males) to 13 years (females) in the wild. However, the Fox Squirrels will live for 18 years while in captivity.
They have a chestnut-brown color with a white stripe on their back and they’re found throughout North America.
Their diet is made up mostly of nuts but they will also eat acorns, plant seeds, birds, fruits like apples and cherries.
They are most at risk from predators such as birds of prey, snakes and coyotes or foxes which can bring them down.
6. Eastern Gray Squirrel
Eastern Gray Squirrels are found in Midwest and throughout North America. The lifespan of an Eastern Gray squirrel is about 6 to 10 years in the wild and they could live for up to 24 (twenty-four) years while in captivity.
Their diet consists mostly of seeds, nuts, berries and flowers but may also eat insects like spiders or worms as well as bird eggs.
They are most vulnerable to predators such as raccoons, hawks or foxes which could bring them down with a strike of their paw.
Eastern Gray Squirrels have brown fur that is darker on the back and lighter in color on the stomach area.
The Eastern Gray squirrel has a tendency to live longer than Western gray squirrel as they are more resistant to disease, predators and lack of food sources.
In contrast, Western gray squirrels live for about five years while in the wild but may live for up to 25 (twenty-five) years in captivity.
Their diet consists of mostly seeds, nuts and berries as well as some insects such as spiders or worms which they’ll eat when other food sources are scarce.
Western Gray squirrels have a lighter colored fur that is gray on their back with white fur on their stomachs.
Does Diet Affect the Lifespan of a Squirrel?
Squirrels have a tendency to live longer if their diet consists of more protein and fat as well as less carbohydrate.
The diet of a squirrel is one factor that can affect the lifespan of a squirrel but there are other factors as well such as if they live in captivity or outside, and what species they belong to.
Squirrels are omnivores, meaning they eat both animal and plant-based foods which will help them get enough protein for energy. In addition, the fats found in nuts contribute to an increased lifespan.
The squirrel’s favorite foods include are fruit, nuts, seeds, and fungi plus eggs, insects and snakes. Check these squirrel repellents.
Squirrels are able to store excess food in their cheeks, which is called a “scrap pile,” and they use this as an emergency supply for when other food sources go scarce or there’s tough weather conditions.
In addition, squirrels will also hoard nuts with the intention of using them during times where it would be difficult to find food.
Another way squirrels can store their favorite foods (for use in winter) is by burying them in small, shallow holes they dig out under trees and bushes or in underground caches that are at least 100 feet apart from each other.
What’s a Squirrel?
Being both a mammal and a rodent, the squirrel is part of one of the most diverse groups in the animal kingdom. They are related to both chipmunks and prairie dogs as well as porcupines, beavers, marmosets, tamarins and many others.
As mammals, squirrels are warm-blooded, air-breathing creatures who possess a high level of intelligence and live in organized social groups.
As rodents, they have special teeth for gnawing on hard objects such as trees or nuts thanks to their over-sized and powerful incisors.
Female squirrels will typically bear two litters of one to six young in a year. Most squirrels also have a distinctive brown or grey pelage with blackish-brown fur on their head and back.
Squirrels mainly eat nuts, seeds and fruits but also enjoy bird eggs, mushrooms and even insects from time to time. They are often found in urban areas due to the availability of food sources such as bird feeders and nut trees.
Where Do Squirrels Live?
They can be classified as flying, ground, and tree – just like with the opossums.
- Flying squirrels have a membrane called patagium that helps them glide from tree to tree.
- Ground squirrels live on the ground and are usually very cautious creatures who dart in and out of their burrows or run fast across fields with short hops, but they can also be semi-arboreal as well.
- Tree squirrels are their most common type, and they live in trees. Squirrels that are tree dwellers live exclusively in trees and move through the branches using both claws and tail to stay balanced while climbing quickly up them.
They are considered typical arboreal animals and typically reside in deciduous or mixed forests.
Squirrels will store their food high up near the top of a tree, where they can’t be reached by other hungry creatures such as cats. Check the poison for squirrels.
In conclusion on how long do squirrels live; there are many factors involved such as their species, if they’re a pet in captivity or the wild.
It’s hard to say how long squirrels will live but it is known that those who survive predators and have sufficient food sources can easily reach 24 years of age.