How Long Do Squirrels Live?

Whether you’ve seen them scurrying across your local street or running up a tree in the park, for those of you that live in urban areas you surely can’t miss them! Of course, we’re talking about squirrels. The squirrel is one of the most common animal species found all over the world with the exception of Australia and Antarctica. Most squirrels can be difficult to tell apart as they belong to the Sciuridae family along with other nimble-tailed animals like chipmunks and marmots that live by eating seeds or nuts respectively.

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most important aspects of squirrels including their average life spans, favorite foods, and diseases/parasites as well as the differences in the types.

What is a Squirrel & Where They Can Be Found?

What is a Squirrel and Where They Can Be Found

So what’s the deal with squirrels? Are they just cute bushy-tailed creatures or something more nefarious, like pests that need to be rounded up and exterminated so we don’t have an infestation on our hands! Though some will argue for the former, many take the latter stance and will look to remove them due to the property damage they can cause.

There are more than 200 species of squirrels, and they are categorized into three types: tree squirrels, ground squirrels and flying squirrels. But the main species you’ve probably come across are those from the tree squirrels category. 

These different species are; Southern Flying Squirrels (Glaucomys volans), Fox Squirrels (Sciurus niger) and American Red Squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus). 

Each squirrel species has its own unique traits but one thing most squirrels share is their curiosity towards humans – you never know when someone might try breaking into your house while you’re away at work.

Squirrel Lifespan: How Long Do Squirrels Live?

Squirrel average lifespan varies depending on a number of factors but the main factor that determines a squirrel’s lifespan is whether it lives in the wild or in captivity. Squirrels that are kept as pets usually have a longer lifespan than those that live in the wild because they are not exposed to the same dangers.

Squirrel Lifespan Factors

Male or Female

There is not a huge difference between male and female squirrels in terms of lifespan. However, there are some differences in their behavior. Male squirrels tend to be more aggressive than females and are more likely to fight for dominance particularly when it comes to matters of territory, which is seen mostly in the American Red Squirrels. They also share differences in their mating habits with females mating only twice a year whilst males mate at any time, with several males often attempting to mate with the same female.

Wild vs. Captivity

Squirrels tend to live in the wild and the average lifespan of a wild squirrel is about half as long as that of one kept captive as a pet squirrel. This is because captive or pet squirrels have access to food and water and are not exposed to predators. They also do not have to worry about finding a mate. However, captive squirrels can get bored and stressed, which can leave them with a shorter lifespan.


Squirrels can live off a variety of plants and nuts being mostly herbivores. However, they will also eat insects, small reptiles such as small snakes, and even eggs. Their diet is affected most often by where they live. For example, Southern Flying Squirrels eat mostly insects while American Red Squirrels eat mostly plants and nuts. Squirrels will generally be most actively looking for their food during dawn and dusk when they are least likely to be disturbed.

Diseases and Parasites

Squirrels can get a variety of diseases and parasites. Some of the most common include rabies, mange, and fleas. squirrel pox, and Lyme disease. They can also get parasites such as ticks and mites. Diseases and parasites can shorten the lifespan of a squirrel.

How Long Do Grey Squirrels Live?

Grey Squirrel lifespan

Grey Squirrels (also known as the Eastern Gray Squirrels) that are found in the wild have to contend with predators and changing seasons, while those in captivity are protected from these risks. The lifespan of a grey squirrel is about six years in the wild but can have a life expectancy of 20 years in captivity. This variation is due to different factors such as diet and environment. 

How Long Do American Red Squirrels Live?

American Red Squirrel lifespan

The American Red Squirrel is found in North America from Alaska to Newfoundland. (While European Red Squirrels can be found across Europe). They live in coniferous forests where they nest in tree cavities or buildings. The American Red Squirrel feeds mainly on plants and nuts but will also eat insects, small reptiles, and eggs. This type of squirrel has a lifespan of two to five years in the wild and a life expectancy of up to ten years in captivity.

How Long Do Fox Squirrels Live?

Fox Squirrel lifespan

The Fox Squirrel is found in North America from Virginia to Texas. They live in deciduous forests where they nest in tree cavities or buildings. The Fox Squirrel has a varied diet. It mainly eats plants and nuts but will also eat insects, small reptiles, and eggs. This type of squirrel has a lifespan of three to five years in the wild and around ten years in captivity.

How Long Do Black Squirrels Live?

Black Squirrel lifespan

Black squirrels are a type of Fox Squirrel. They are more resistant to diseases and parasites than other types of squirrels. This is because they have a higher level of melanin, which gives them their black fur. Being a type of Fox Squirrel, the Black squirrel shares the same life-span range of three to five years in the wild and longer if in captivity.

How Long Do Southern Flying Squirrels Live?

Southern Flying Squirrel Lifespan

The Southern Flying Squirrel is the smallest of the three types of squirrels. They can be found in parts of North America, Central America, and South America. Southern Flying Squirrels have a lifespan of about two to five years in the wild. However, they can live up to ten years.

How To Keep Squirrels Away?

There is not a single surefire way to keep squirrels away. However, there are some things that you can do to discourage them from coming around. Some of these include removing food sources, using vinegar-based sprays and trimming trees and shrubs so they cannot climb into your home or yard. 

There are also ready-made low-cost, eco-friendly and cruelty-free solutions you can also use to deter squirrels and other wild animals, with less ongoing upkeep required. Here are a few of the most effective options, all of which use motion sensor technology.

Noise Machines

These are discrete machines that can be solar-powered that sit in your backyard and sound off noises as wild squirrels approach. This infrared PIR motion sensor by Pestbye, detects the movement and body heat up to 7m away activating the machine to emit a high-frequency sound, that will deter any animal and is almost inaudible to us.


These are water-based machines that are battery-powered and can reach a range of up to 10m. This Jet-Spray Pond & Garden Protector by Defenders, contains an infrared PIR motion sensor to send a water spray at the appropriate range, deterring ground squirrels and any other wild species.


These solar-powered lights provide light during those dark dusk and dawn moments that squirrels and other urban wildlife love so much. With up to a 270° lighting angle this set of lights by Ohotter creates a larger range of luminosity than average. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Do Squirrels Live In The Nest?

Juvenile squirrels typically live in the nest for a few weeks to a few months. However, Southern Flying Squirrels may stay in the nest for up to six months.

How Long Do Squirrels Live With Rabies?

Squirrels with rabies typically only live for a few days. However, they can be a threat to humans and other animals during that time.

How Long Do Baby Squirrels Live With Their Mother?

Females tend to mother their offspring alone. Adolescent squirrels are born hairless and weaned at six to eight weeks and are able to glide soon after.  They’ll typically stay with their mother for about four months or until the next litter is born and reach sexual maturity in one year.

Are Squirrels Protected?

In the US, squirrels are not protected by law in most states. However, it is illegal to kill them or remove them from their natural habitat without a permit. 

In the UK, the most common type of squirrel, Grey squirrels have limited legal protection. Whereas the Red Squirrel is protected under schedules 5 and 6 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981).

Final Thoughts On The Squirrel Lifespan

So there you have it, we have answered your question – how long do squirrels live. Now that we have explored the different types of squirrels, their characteristics, and how captivity affects their lifespan – come up with a solution if squirrels around your house are bothering you.

If you are having problems with squirrels invading your home or property, please contact your local wildlife control company. They will help you resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

Thanks for reading!




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