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When spring hits, all animals seem to burst into life. Food is more abundant, so it’s time to take advantage and ‘fatten up’. Squirrels will take food and stash it for later on; a larder, of sorts, to help see them through a lone, hungry, and cold winter. Food and a little bit of sunshine isn’t always what causes these animals to spring back into life (excuse the pun); there’s something else doing that too ...
Spring is mating season for a string of wild animals, and the squirrel is no exception. If you have ever spotted a couple of squirrels playing around in trees or parks, scampering and chasing around after each other, you may think that they were merely playing. This isn’t the case, although, technically, they are playing with each other. They are actually courting – it is part of the mating ritual.
In absolutely awesome conditions, female squirrels can get pregnant twice in one spring/summer period – once during the spring, and then again during the summer. The conditions do need to be just right, however, and the usual outcome is just one litter of young.
Female squirrels become sexually active at about a year old, with the males trailing just a little behind. When she is ready to mate, she will communicate to males, not only vocally, using chirping noises, but also by way of smell-chemicals, called pheromones. These signal to male squirrels that she is feel a certain kind of way and is ready. Just to make doubly sure she gets pregnant, this pheromone-sending timeframe will be about two weeks long, and she will mate with a number of the best males (if she has the chance) to ensure the continuation of her species.
Different species of squirrel will have different gestation (pregnancy) times, but it usually sits between one month and six weeks. It is usually around 40-45 days for an Eastern Gray squirrel.
During her pregnancy, the mother will collect food for the food stash and materials for a nest, and she’ll get to work building the latter too. The men have nothing to do with the raising of young squirrels,. The mother is left entirely alone, and she will resort to using her food stash to support herself while she is nursing, but also to feed her young once they are old enough to eat solid foods.
Females do sometimes congregate together in certain areas; almost coming together to help each other raise their children, but this rare. It is usually a case of each squirrel for itself.
The youngsters will stay with their mother for around a year, but once they are sexually active, they are free to go out into the world and start up their own little squirrel families.
Go back to the Squirrel Removal page, or learn tips to do it yourself with my How to Get Rid of Squirrels guide.