Have you ever found squirrels scampering about in the woods? Squirrels are one of the cute and bubbly animals that will make you stop and watch them whenever you are out for a walk or hike. They always remain busy collecting seeds and nuts. But have you found them sleeping? They look equally cute while they are sleeping.
It is easier to spot a squirrel while they are active but finding them asleep is difficult since some of them have unique sleeping routines and places that are difficult to spot. If you want to spot them sleeping, you must know how, when, and where squirrels sleep usually.
Where Do Squirrels Sleep?
Squirrels belong to the rodent family and are categorized into three main types. There are tree squirrels, ground squirrels, and flying squirrels. A squirrel’s nature, behavior, and even sleeping pattern can vary depending on the category they belong to. Also, there is no single place where they reside.
While the majority of them are found in the forest, some can be even spotted inside a house or in the backyard. And if you want to know where exactly squirrels sleep then below we have mentioned some of the common spots where they are found asleep.
The tree squirrels including eastern gray, red, and flying squirrels are usually found sleeping in trees. They usually create or find their nest (or dens) in trees and spend one to multiple days sleeping.
The leaf nests are usually home to red, fox, and gray squirrels who sleep inside them. The leaf nests or drey are constructed by the squirrels themselves or they might find an already made drey. The nests made by squirrels are usually composed of twigs and sticks that are lined with the help of moss, grass, strips of bark, and leaves.
These types of dreys are usually found in the fork of a tall tree. However, some people have even witnessed them inside the attic of a house or in the outside walls of a home. The leaf nests are usually occupied during the night and some parts of the day when they take a break from their food hunting activity.
Grounds are the favorite spot of ground squirrels who dig holes in them for staying warm during the colder days. Due to their sleeping routines, they are often referred to as burrowing animals who are even found hibernating themselves in those holes. Such squirrels create their nest within the ground by digging down in the dirt (typically below a rock or stump) and constructing tunnels to their nest. The squirrels have evolved a lot and changed their sleeping habits since some rural areas have gone urban. Formerly they were found asleep mostly in the forest areas, however now, they can also be spotted inside a house. It is often reported that ground squirrels hibernate in sheltered places on the ground to ensure their security.
How Many Hours a Day Do Squirrels Sleep?
Be it flying, ground, or tree squirrels, according to their sleeping patterns, most of them fall under the category of crepuscular which is a term used to define animals who stay awake during dusk (night) and dawn (sunrise). On the other hand, some squirrels love to remain active during the daytime. Such squirrels usually spend their entire day outside their nest during the summers.
However, when squirrels are inactive, that is usually when they are not on their food hunt or mating, they remain inside their nest sleeping. Another reason why they remain inside their nest most of the twilight is due to the nocturnal predators who are out in search of them. If we calculate the total amount of time they utilize for sleeping, 62% of the whole day which equals 15 hours is spent by them doing nothing.
Although they are diurnal creatures, they spend a considerable portion of the day sleeping. It means they sleep during the middle of the day and remain active during sunrise time and dusk time (late afternoon). During their hibernation period, they consume more time than usual while sleeping.
These are some of the factors that affect their sleep patterns. The most important element that manipulates their sleeping habits and time is the weather and the type of squirrel.
During winners, some ground squirrels sleep longer than usual. This state is termed the hibernation period where they only remain active for 12 to 24 hours in a whole week.
What is hibernation?
During winters, the body temperature of squirrels falls and it causes their heart rate and breathing rate to slow down. Hence, some squirrels hibernate themselves until the weather turns warmer. During this state, they sleep for weeks without waking up. However, they do wake up to hunt food but for a shorter period.
During summers, some squirrels undergo dormancy because of the hot climatic conditions. During these times they remain asleep for longer periods and accumulate enough body fat that can help them fight the harsh colder weather.
What is Estivation?
Red squirrels are found estivating during the summers when they sleep for several days to escape the scorching heat. In such hot conditions, their body temperature falls due to which their heart rate, metabolic rate, and breathing rate reduce. This is why they spend some days sleeping unless the weather turns colder.
How Do Squirrels Sleep?
The sleeping styles of squirrels again depend on several factors. If we talk about winters, squirrels usually curl their bodies to protect themselves from chilly winds and keep themselves warm. On the other hand, there is no specific style.
Squirrels usually curl their bodies while sleeping to keep them warm, especially in colder months. During warmer months, they sleep the whole night and in the middle of the day. Males usually sleep alone, while females sleep with their young. However, their sleeping nests may not be too far from each other.
Difference Between Squirrel Types and Their Sleeping Routine
Although squirrels might seem playful and energetic, they spent 60% of their day sleeping. According to species types, there are many subcategories of squirrels and each of them might have a different sleeping pattern depending on their class. If you want to know how every kind of squirrel sleep, we have categorized a few of the primary squirrels below:
A ground squirrel as their name implies sleeps under the ground. A ground squirrel can be found throughout the world and dig a burrow deep under the ground to sleep. During winters, a ground squirrel hibernates and during summers, it observes estivation.
Ground squirrels found in northern climates observe different bodily changes due to which they hibernate themselves for a significant amount of time. For instance, their body temperature falls and their heart rate drops which also affects their breathing as well. Ground squirrels sleep for weeks and months inside the burrow and only awaken when they are hungry. After hunting and eating, they go back to sleep for weeks again.
Ground squirrels found in desert regions hibernate due to the hot climate. To escape severe heat they spend sleep for weeks and months which is known as estivation. The typical ground squirrels might sleep for 7 months inside their underground burrow to shield themselves from the scorching heat during the summer months.
They are usually found in conifer and hardwood forests and dwell in a fir tree inside their nest. They spend most of their time either in their nest or out in the woods to search for their food. You can sense their presence through the chewed-up remains of pine cones which is their favorite food. During colder seasons, they do not hibernate themselves. Instead, they search for food during the daytime and sleep when they are not active.
During winters, you will find these squirrels sleeping most of the time in their dens or leaf nests to stay warm. Their leaf nests or den is usually made of grasses, twigs, mosses, leaves, and barks in hollowed-out holes in trees. You can find flying squirrels in their tree nest or hollowed-out-hole in a tree while walking across a tree or attic.
A flying squirrel might be called a ‘flying squirrel’ but they actually do not fly. However, they might seem like flying since they use their web-like skin flaps that help flying squirrels glide from one tree to the next. If you are extremely lucky, you might find a flying squirrel sleeping only if you catch it off-guard.
The most common type of squirrel that falls within the class of tree squirrels is Gray, Red, and Fox. tree squirrels like gray and fox are found typically in America. Red squirrels are found in Europe and their coat is usually made up of reddish-brown fur. Gray squirrels, on the other hand, have a coat made of white. Black, brown, or gray color. They usually have bigger eyes.
Tree squirrels shed their coats during summers and change their color. If we talk about how tree squirrels sleep, they are usually found sleeping in their dreys which are made of branches, twigs, mosses, and leaves. Squirrels usually position their dreys between the tree branch fork. You may even find a tree squirrel along the wall of a house or in attics. The tree squirrels are often confused as the gray squirrel species due to the similar characteristics and appearances.
Does Age Affect Squirrel Sleeping Time?
Age plays a vital role regarding how and when squirrels sleep. Squirrels who dwell on trees live and sleep in their nests when they are born. For instance, red, flying, gray, fox, and tree squirrels. However, as they grow, their sleeping pattern continues to change.
Adult squirrels typically sleep 18 to 20 hours a day than the baby tree squirrels to remain energetic while awake.
Baby squirrels, on the other hand, need more sleeping time to restore and develop their mental and physical energies. They might sleep for 22 hours a day.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do all squirrel types sleep in the same place?
Squirrels are categorized into many types and each of them has unique sleeping patterns which mean they do not sleep in one place.
Where do squirrels sleep during the winter?
During winters, flying squirrels and tree squirrels hibernate themselves in their nest or tree. In contrast, ground squirrels sleep under the ground.
Do Squirrels Stay In the Same Place?
Squirrels might change their location if predators or pests disturb them. Otherwise, they prefer staying at the same place.
Do Squirrels Sleep Together?
Unlike ground squirrels, some solitary animals like trees and flying squirrels sleep alone. On the other hand, male and female squirrels do not sleep together usually. However, ground squirrels sleep together.
Squirrels can be classified into many species and types. However, the most common of them are flying squirrels, ground squirrels, and tree squirrels. Since species and subfamilies are divided according to their unique traits, squirrels also possess distinctive qualities and characteristics that make every kind of squirrel unique.
As a result, their sleeping routines and habits can vary drastically. While the most common types of squirrels are the tree, ground, and flying squirrels, each of them sleeps differently. Their sleeping hours, patterns, and places are not the same. If you want to know how and when squirrels sleep, we hope this article has been helpful. We hope that this interesting read about one of the most interesting wild animals was worthwhile.
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