Those squirrel babies did not ask to be born in your attic. So, before you become a total jerk, resist the urge to dump the baby rodents in a bucket of water. Instead, eliminate the problem of squirrel babies by answering the question, when do squirrels have babies? Understanding squirrel breeding habits and squirrel gestation periods will help you nix your squirrel population problem before the soon-to-be pests are ever born.
Squirrel mating season
With the exception of the ground squirrel and fox squirrel, most squirrels breed twice a year. Mating season runs early spring from February through April, then again in late summer. This means that red, black, and grey squirrels are getting busy in summer and spring, ensuring the species will be around to chew through your wiring for years to come.
Ground squirrels mate only once a year in early spring just after hibernation. Mating lasts just a few weeks and has nothing to do with finding love. Squirrels are rarely monogamous, but ground squirrels scoff at monogamy. Instead, both genders take several partners throughout the short mating season to ensure fertilization.
Fox squirrels, the partiers of the squirrel world, have no set mating season. It’s pretty much a free-for-all year round. Males constantly challenge each other to physical bouts in order to prove who’s the strongest, most badass squirrel of all. Female fox squirrels are all about the badass males, but will still play hard to get. After the dominant male squirrel eliminates his competition, the female squirrel darts off, forcing the male to chase her. She runs around for a while, making sure that Mr. Dominant Male is in fact the strongest, most virile squirrel of them all. When she deems him worthy, she allows him to catch her.
Red squirrels do enjoy two mating seasons per year, but must put in maximum effort throughout both of the approximate 100-day mating seasons. That is because female ground squirrels are only fertile one day out of those 100 days. The dominant male squirrel in this pairing will hang around the female constantly copulating with her to ensure his DNA is carried on through her offspring.
Squirrel gestation period & litters
After all the fun of mating season, the waiting starts. Female squirrels kick the males to the proverbial curb so they can prepare for their babies. A protected nesting spot is located, which could very well be your attic, basement, or walls. A nest is built typically by destroying whatever is near such as insulation, wiring, personal belongings, tree bark, and other vegetation. After one month for most squirrels and forty-five days for fox squirrels, the baby squirrels—hairless and helpless—pop out.
Litters range anywhere from two to three for fox squirrels to seven to eight for ground squirrels. For the most common North American Gray Squirrel, expect two to five squirrels per litter. Considering the gray squirrel lives an average of three years and up to ten years, one female gray squirrel can produce 40 to 100 squirrels over a lifetime. Also troubling is that gray squirrels typically stay within two miles of their birthplace during their lifetime. This means that if left unchecked, the squirrel population, along with the damage they cause, will multiply at an alarming rate.
That is why knowing when squirrels mate and when squirrels have babies is important.
Relocating or eradicating a squirrel infestation before mating season will save you time, frustration, money, and property.
What should you do if you find a baby squirrel?
On the rare occasion you find a baby squirrel out of its nest, proceed with extreme caution. Baby squirrels are known carriers of fleas and parasites. So, touching or handling baby squirrels could lead to your home being infested with fleas, or worse, you, your family members, or pets being infected with a harmful parasite. Also, squirrels, even baby squirrels, have extremely sharp claws. Their claws are meant to help them cling to tree trunks and scratch through barriers such as your roof or siding. Don’t blame the baby squirrel if it slices right through your tender skin.
If at all possible, a baby squirrel should be left in the wild. If taken as a pet, it will grow into a pest quickly, because that is a squirrel’s nature. So, as you grow tired of it pooping all over your house and clawing through everything you value, the squirrel is growing dependent on you as its caregiver. It will not know how to survive in the wild when you finally throw the rodent out or “reintroduce it” to nature.