A squirrel’s first litter is born between late February and March with a second litter in June and July. Squirrels do not have long gestation periods and that allows them to have a second little in quick succession. Typically, squirrels have three or four babies at a time, although, it varies. Since baby squirrels are rarely seen, they spend most of their time safely hidden away in a nest.
You live in an area that is frequented by squirrels and love to engage with them, but not sure when it’s safe to do so, especially if they are breeding. If you interact with them, is it safe to do so when they’re carrying a litter?
As an animal lover, it’s important to know when squirrels mate and have their babies so you know the best time to approach them. Keep reading to learn about squirrel mating habits, and what to expect during their gestation period.
Related Reading: Do Squirrels Eat Bird Eggs? [ANSWERED]
When Does a Squirrel Have its Litter?
Squirrels begin courting in late winter; however, a female can only mate twice a year, whereas males do so throughout. Once the squirrels have mated, the male doesn’t play any further role in the rearing of the baby. The female creates a maternity nest during its gestation period.
- Female squirrels can have two litters per year, their first is born in February and March, with June and July being the chosen time for the second litter.
- Gestation takes around six weeks.
- The average litter for a squirrel tends to be three babies but can be anything up to nine.
When are the Squirrel Mating Seasons?
There are several species of squirrel, with each having its mating habits and seasons.
- The Eastern Gray Squirrel: These are noticeable with their white bellies and silver fur. They tend to breed in late winter to early spring. Eastern Gray squirrels also breed in the middle of summer.
- The American Red Squirrel: These squirrels are smaller and come with a white underbelly and brown-reddish fur. Their breeding seasons begin in late winter and midsummer. Unlike the Eastern Gray, however, American red female squirrels are only fertile for one day during each breeding season.
- The Fox Squirrels: Grey-reddish fur with orange-like bellies, the Fox Squirrel has one litter a year and breeds in January.
- The Flying Squirrel: These are nocturnal, so only come out during the night. Flying Squirrels are similar to the American Red but have brown-gray fur with white underbellies. Typically, they breed in late winter, early spring, and summer.
- Chipmunks: These are a type of ground squirrel and breed in early spring.
Most squirrels are likely to have their babies in late winter, around February and March, with second litters being born in June or July. Of course, this can vary with each species of squirrel. Once a squirrel has her babies, she will keep them in the nest until they are ready to leave.
The Gestation Period and Habits of Squirrels
Squirrel pregnancies (the gestation period) are relatively short. Most last around thirty or forty days; however, each species of squirrel has different gestational periods.
- Ground Squirrels: Typically, the gestational period lasts between twenty-five and thirty days, and is the shortest of all gestation periods.
- The Eastern Gray Squirrel: Its gestation period tends to last forty-four days, making it one of the longest for the species.
- The Flying Squirrel: Forty days is the average gestation time.
- The American Red: Usually, the American Red has a forty-day gestational period.
- The Fox Squirrel: Longest of all squirrel gestation periods, the Fox Squirrel stands at forty-five days.
Females continue to go in search of food during their gestation period. Typically, squirrels don’t nest together, and males won’t assist their mates in any way either. It’s left to the expectant mother to build a nest, if she hasn’t already done so, and find enough food for herself and her babies. She would also have to store food for the upcoming months.
How To Tell if a Squirrel is Pregnant?
It’s difficult to determine if a squirrel is pregnant just by sight. There are, however, a few ways in which to spot a pregnant squirrel.
- The Belly Button: A squirrel’s belly button might be a little more prominent than normal. It’s usually a sign the squirrel is carrying babies.
- Its Buttocks: While it might sound a bit strange, it might be easier to spot a pregnant squirrel by looking at its bottom.
- A Weighty Squirrel: Squirrels put on weight during their pregnancies, just like humans, so if a squirrel seems larger than others, it could be she’s pregnant.
- Visible Signs on the Body: Male squirrels do not have nipples, females do. If the nipples are visible, it usually is an indication of pregnancy.
- Check the Size of the Tail: Not all squirrels are noticeably larger during their gestation periods. So, you may want to look at the size of the tail to see if it looks bigger than normal.
Of course, size alone cannot determine if a squirrel is going through gestation. Sometimes, they’ve had an endless supply of food which, since they don’t have to source it, might have made them lazy. It could also depend on the month. For instance, if a squirrel looks larger by mid-October, it’s unlikely they’re pregnant since most have their babies in the early part of the year or the summer.
A more tell-tale sign of pregnancy is when a squirrel spends most of its time in its nest and craves food. This would likely indicate pregnancy. You, however, shouldn’t approach a pregnant squirrel; they usually want to be left to their own devices.
Why Baby Squirrels Are Rarely Seen Outside the Nest
Baby squirrels can’t survive on their own when they are just born. It is not safe for them to leave the nest until they are old enough to fend for themselves. Baby squirrels need their fur to have fully grown so they can survive outside the nest. Once this happens, usually around May or April, the baby can forage for food with its mother. Second squirrel litters tend to fly the nest by September.
Continue Reading: Where Do Squirrels Sleep? Do They Even Sleep?
The Beauty of Nature
A squirrel’s first litter is born in February or March, with second litters born in June and July. Every species of squirrel has its mating and breeding methods, with gestation typically lasting between thirty and forty days. Squirrels tend to be peaceful creatures and do not need to live in a pack or group; although, most are friendly.
Typically, squirrels have their babies in late winter and early summer and often won’t leave the nest until the fur is fully grown.