Do Squirrels Carry Their Babies?

Do Squirrels Carry Their Babies?

There is something captivating about the life of squirrels that arouses curiosity. One of the most frequent questions is probably how the mother squirrel takes care of her young ones, especially when relocating to a new nest. This intriguing aspect of their life cycle sheds light on how squirrels nurture their young. This article will unfold the mystery behind how squirrels carry their babies for relocation while also comparison with other rodents.

How Do Mother Squirrels Move Their Babies to a New Nest?

Reasons Mother Squirrels Relocate Their Babies

Relocation is a common behavior among wild squirrels. The mother squirrel may relocate her babies to a new nest due to several reasons. Top among these is the safety of the litter. If a predator has located the current nest or the nest has become exposed to harsh weather conditions, the mother squirrel is triggered to seek a safer abode for her babies. Furthermore, a cavity in the tree trunk that houses the nest might have expanded, making it larger and less secure.

Process of How Squirrels Carry Their Babies

When the mother squirrel decides to move her babies, the process involved is quite fascinating. Typically, the mother squirrel carries her baby with her mouth, holding onto the baby squirrel’s loose skin at the back of its neck. For example, gray squirrels, one of the common species, can move as many as four babies one at a time, over a period.

Considerations for the New Nest

When choosing a new nest, the mother squirrel takes into account several factors. Foremost is the safety offered by the location. The new nest has to be secure from predators and sheltered from adverse weather conditions. It also needs to be close to a food source.

Understanding Squirrel Reproduction and Care for Their Young

Reproduction in Squirrels

Squirrels reproduce one to two times a year producing a litter that averages around six. The baby squirrels, also known as kittens, are born blind and depend on the mother for their survival during their first few weeks of life.

The Role of Male Squirrels and Mother Squirrels in Child Rearing

Male squirrels play no role in raising the babies. Female squirrels, on the other hand, invest a lot of time and effort in taking care of the young ones. Apart from feeding the babies, the mother squirrel also protects her litter from harm.

Common Traits of Baby Squirrels

Baby squirrels are often born around six weeks of age. Initially, they are deaf, blind, and toothless, which makes them highly dependent on their mother for survival. As they grow older, young squirrels become more active and curious, much like other mammals.

Observing a Squirrel’s Nest and Its Safety for the Babies

Characteristics of a Squirrel Nest

Squirrel nests, also known as dreys, are intricately built structures. They are usually made up of twigs and leaves and are lined on the inside with soft materials such as moss, grass, or even squirrel fur.

When and Why a Nest Becomes Unsafe for Baby Squirrels

A nest becomes unsafe when it can no longer guarantee the young ones’ protection. Exposure to predators, extreme weather conditions, or a largely expanded cavity in the tree can all trigger the mother squirrel to relocate her babies.

How Mother Squirrels Protect Their Nest

Aside from regularly moving their babies, the mother squirrel takes various other measures to ensure the safety of her nest. These include building the nest in a hard-to-reach location, creating multiple escape routes, and frequently checking the surroundings for signs of danger.

Squirrels Vs Other Rodents: Do They All Carry Their Babies?

Do Ground Squirrels Carry Their Young?

Unlike tree squirrels, ground squirrels usually give birth in burrows and rarely carry their young when relocating since they do not climb trees.

Is the Chipmunk’s Method of Carrying Babies Similar?

Chipmunks and squirrels share several common traits, but when it comes to moving their babies, their methods differ. Chipmunks, much like ground squirrels, prefer to birth in burrows and generally do not move their young ones from location to location.

Eastern Gray Squirrel Vs Eastern Gray Chipmunk: Differences in Carrying their Young

The Eastern Gray Squirrel, being a tree squirrel, will carry its young to different nests using its mouth. On the contrary, the Eastern Gray Chipmunk doesn’t have this behaviour due to being a ground dwelling species.

What to Do When You Find a Baby Squirrel

Proper Course of Action When Discovering a Baby Squirrel

If you find a baby squirrel, it is best to observe from a distance. The mother squirrel may be nearby and might return to carry it back to the nest. However, if you notice that the baby appears sick, or is in immediate danger, you might need to intervene.

How to Determine if a Baby Squirrel Needs Help

Determining whether a baby squirrel needs help can be challenging. If the baby squirrel appears injured, is covered in parasites, or is dehydrated, it likely requires assistance. A baby squirrel following humans around is also a sign that it needs help.

The Role of Human Intervention in Squirrel Relocation

If necessary, a person can help relocate a baby squirrel to a safer location. However, this should be done carefully to prevent injury or undue stress to the young squirrel. If unsure, it’s advisable to call a wildlife rehabilitator.


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