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What Do Squirrels Do in Winter?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Squirrels are a common sight outside all summer long, but during the winter they are noticeably scarcer. We know they aren’t heading to the high country for skiing, but what do they do all winter?

Preparing for Winter

A hint about what squirrels do during the winter is given by what they’ve been up to these last two months. If you’ve been watching them chase around your yard frantically, or had to chase them away from your Jack-o-Lanterns, you may have noticed that they’re a little fatter than usual. This isn’t from sitting on the couch eating nachos and watching the Broncos play, it’s storing up fat for the winter.

Squirrels also make caches, or small storehouses, of food to help them get through the winter months when food is scarcer. The problem with these caches is that squirrels have really bad memories. They don’t remember where they stored their food. Instead, they count on their sense of smell to lead them back to their caches, so many of the thousands of seeds they bury each year will be left behind to germinate and grow.

Warm, Cozy Dens

As you may have guessed, squirrels don’t hibernate. If they did, they wouldn’t need storehouses of food. Instead, squirrels try to limit their activities during the coldest days, staying in their dens most of the time, and foraying out during some of the many sunny days they get.

Unfortunately, when squirrels are looking for the perfect dens, they are often in search of warm, secure places, and some of the warmest places around are likely in your attic. If you haven’t adequately sealed your attic against squirrels, you may find yourself with an active visitor in your home all winter long. At least the types of squirrels we have in Colorado–mostly fox squirrels in Denver and along the Front Range, with some Abert’s squirrels in Evergreen and other places in the mountains—bear young in the spring, so you won’t have to worry about litters in your attic this winter. However, squirrels do mate in December and January, which may mean frequent chasing around dens, which can be a nuisance.

If you think a squirrel has taken up residence in your home, we can help. Please contact Animal & Pest Control Specialist today for help anywhere from Boulder to Castle Rock.


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