Where Do Squirrels Live in the Winter?

Just like people, squirrels in winter stay inside and put on plenty of layers to beat the cold temperatures. Squirrel hibernation varies in length depending on climate and species. Some species are only out of commission for a few months, while the Richardson’s ground squirrel, a native of Southern Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, may hibernate as long as seven to nine months.

On the other hand, tree and flying squirrels are active year-round. Instead of hibernating, they rely on sheltered dens in trees, fat reserves, and food caches to survive the cold weather. During mild winters when the pests are outside more often, homeowners may notice that squirrels look portlier than their sleek, warm-weather selves. This is because they build up layers of fat to survive foraging trips in cold conditions.

“Squirrelling” Away Provisions

To make finding food easier during winter, squirrels often create food caches. These underground stockpiles of calorie-rich nuts and seeds take different forms depending on species. While a single grey squirrel may create several thousand buried caches each season, red squirrels work together to create one communal hoard. In addition to nuts, the pests forage for insects, bird eggs, mushrooms, and animal bones during cold weather.

Problems & Damage

While nut caches help to disperse the seeds of hardwood trees, they can create damage to yards. Tree and flying squirrels may tear up well-groomed lawns in multiple places while stockpiling food or eat from gardens and trees. In addition, squirrels in winter often seek shelter in attics, sheds, and garages. While ground squirrel hibernation means they pose few problems during winter, burrowing during warmer seasons can kill trees, cause mounds that damage lawn equipment, and create tripping hazards. To get rid of squirrels during the winter or any other season, call the pest experts at Orkin Canada.