How Long Do Squirrels Live? Interesting Facts You May Not Know | Kidadl


How Long Do Squirrels Live? Interesting Facts You May Not Know

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Squirrels are rodents who possess powerful incisors like many other small animals that fall under the order Rodentia.

Biologically, squirrels are mammals as they give birth to young ones and do not lay eggs; squirrels also possess mammary glands in order to feed their children during the early days. Interestingly, you can find squirrels all over the world except for in Antarctica.

According to experts, there are more than 200 different species of squirrels on the Earth. Scientists have concluded that within the rodent family, the closest relative of a squirrel is a mountain beaver. Some other animals belonging to the squirrel family include the likes of prairie dogs, marmots, and chipmunks. All squirrel species have a varying natural habitat and diet, and thus, varying life expectancy, too. Squirrels can be widely divided into three categories on the basis of the place where they live. They can be divided into ground squirrels, tree squirrels, and flying squirrels. The ground squirrels, as the name suggests, dig burrows in the ground and take shelter. Tree squirrels, on the other hand, resort to building burrows inside a tree or building a nest between two branches. Flying squirrels to an extent use a similar habitat to that of a tree squirrel but some flying squirrels tend to change their shelter every night to protect themselves from wild animals as it is convenient for these squirrels to fly from one tree to the other.

How long do squirrels live in captivity?

Like most other animals, the life expectancy of squirrels living in the wild is significantly less than the average life expectancy of the squirrels that live in captivity. Many of the factors that the squirrels would need to face and deal with in the wild do not possess a threat to it when it lives in captivity, the focal reason why squirrels tend to live longer in captivity.

It has been noted that on average, adult squirrels live for 5-10 years in the wild and this becomes possible only when they survive their first year. In fact, most of the squirrels that live in the wild do not make it past their first year itself due to accidents and threats from predators. In captivity, on the other hand, it has been recorded that squirrels lived for up to 20 years, which is around double the average life expectancy of a squirrel in the wild. For instance, squirrels like the eastern fox squirrel live for around 10 years in the wild but as soon as they are in captivity, they are now capable of living up to 18 years. The female of this species has a higher life expectancy than that of the male. Female eastern fox squirrels live on to become 13 years old on average but the males usually die when they are merely eight years old. Falling off the nests while sitting up high up on the tree branches and being attacked by predators are the two main reasons why a squirrel's life span is cut short in the wild and it does not get to live longer than one or two years.

How long do squirrels live as pets?

As pets, squirrels can live a pretty long life in comparison to their life span in the wild. Squirrels live for merely 8-10 years in the wild on average, and some species such as the gray squirrel for instance lives for only six years on an average in the wild but the same gray squirrel species has lived for up to 20 years when it has been kept as a pet.

Although squirrels aren't exactly pet animals, when they are taken care of properly, they live longer. By nature, these creatures are omnivores as they will eat anything ranging from fungi to fruits to even small snakes but this is their diet when they live in the wild. When squirrels are kept as pets, their diet is carefully monitored. It eats nuts and a squirrel's diet as a pet largely comprises nutrients and other food that it will benefit from. Additionally, when a squirrel is kept as a pet, it lives longer because it does not have to worry about its food. When squirrels live in the wild, they have huge troubles during the winter when they search for food to eat once they run out of the food they had stored. During winter, many of these creatures eventually die as they cannot survive without food. Although to date it isn't yet clear if the type of food a squirrel's diet comprises of affects its lifespan, it is safe to say that without food, any squirrel shall succumb to death. Did you know, if you give nuts or fruits to a squirrel it will probably come back to your house repeatedly as squirrels have a tendency to return to the food source where they once got food from? Hence, it is thought that these creatures remember humans who have fed and taken care of them!

During the summer, it's not unusual to see a young squirrel running on the trees or in the backyard.

How long do red squirrels live?

Red squirrels are largely found in the northern parts of America and in the southern parts of Canada such as the Appalachian Mountains. These squirrels usually live in the ground, tree burrows, and sadly have one of the smallest lifespans of all squirrel species.

According to data, on average, red squirrels live for only five years in the wild but this statistic increases to around eight years when they live in captivity. Only one-fourth of the total number of red squirrels that are born tend to live their entire lifespan. These animals become mature by the age of two to four. As a typical fact about the red squirrels, the males of this species have a longer lifespan than the female which is contrary to all other squirrel species where the females have a longer lifespan. Moreover, the longest a red squirrel has ever lived is 10 years, keeping in mind that they usually attain an age of five at the most. Hence, living till the age of 10 is a significant achievement.

How long do ground squirrels live?

The squirrels which usually live on the ground by digging burrows for themselves instead of making nests on the trees are classified as ground squirrels. There are various squirrel species that fall under the category of ground squirrels include the likes of antelope squirrel, California ground squirrel, Richardson squirrel.

In the wild, ground squirrels are known to have an average lifespan of merely two years to four years. This is largely due to the fact that they often become prey to predators who are located higher up on the food chain. When these ground squirrels are kept in captivity, they live a longer life as they live up to six to seven years. In fact, it has been found that ground squirrels are one of the most aggressive squirrel species of all and at times eat small birds as well. Contrary to the tree squirrels who live in solidarity, the ground squirrels usually live in well-built colonies. Even though squirrels do not have a very high survival rate after being born and often become prey to predators at a young age, it has been seen that there is a high population of squirrels all over America, and this is due to the fact that the male and the females mate a couple of times a year and the gestation period is of only around three to six weeks. The size of the litter varies with the squirrel species but on average, there are three young ones in a litter. The newborn squirrels in turn become sexually active by the time they are one year old and further carry on the reproduction process. Did you know, a squirrel is unable to digest cellulose and which is why its diet largely comprises carbohydrates, proteins, and fats? Some of the most common items in a squirrel's diet are fruits, seeds, nuts, other green vegetables. At the same time, many squirrels consume small insects, eggs as well when there is a scarcity of other food items. There are many myths associated with squirrels and one such is that squirrels can live for 900 years! Well, this is not true as the longest living squirrel to date was a little over 23 years old.

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Aryan Khanna

<p>A dedicated and hardworking content writer currently pursuing his Bachelor's in Management Studies from St. Xavier's University, Kolkata. Aryan aims to gain corporate exposure and enhance his skills while creating well-researched and engaging content that is SEO-friendly. Aryan is a talented individual who puts in the effort to overcome any obstacle in his way.</p>

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