The lifespan of a gray squirrel is approximately 5.5 years, but the exact length of life depends on many factors. While grays live in densely populated forests, they are also susceptible to predators, including birds. The eastern gray squirrel is a diurnal species, which means that its peak activity times are two to five hours before sunrise and two to four hours before sunset. This makes them nocturnal during the day but more active in the winter.
The Eastern Gray Squirrel
The eastern gray squirrel has two breeding seasons. The first occurs in January-February and the second occurs from June to July. Each season lasts three weeks, and only females older than two years old will breed. When the breeding season begins, females call continuously in the treetops, which attract several males. The males then gather, determining which animal is the dominant animal. When the time is right for mating, the female races through the treetops, stopping to look at the sexy dominant male.
During the courtship, multiple males will chase the female. The male will eventually mate with the female and the young will be born in either late winter or midsummer. The young will grow to adult size in about nine months, and the first litter of squirrels will be blind and hairless. They will start to open up and develop their furry coats when they reach about four months of age. By the time they reach sexual maturity, the young will have ventured out of the nest.
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While the eastern grey squirrel lives most of its life in daylight, it often enters its reproductive phase around midnight. In winter, the activity of eastern grays is highest around midday. The species does not hibernate and is most active during the warmer months. When the season is over, they remain inactive during the day. However, the female will only become fertile once the male has a breeding partner.
The eastern grey squirrel lives in trees and spends most of its time in the trees. It moves with amazing agility and can reach speeds of up to 25 km/h. While climbing tree trunks, it usually moves head first, but if danger threatens, it will often sit motionless against the bark. This characteristic is important for the survival of the species. If it survives, it will not live too long in the wild.
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The lifespan of eastern grey squirrels is about six to seven years. In contrast, captive grays can live as long as 15 years. The lifespan of a western gray is longer than that of the eastern one, but it is still not a small animal. Its population is larger than that of its eastern counterpart. A single adult can live for up to nine years, which is quite high for a rodent.
Jessica Watson is a PHD holder from the University of Washington. She studied behavior and interaction between squirrels and has presented her research in several wildlife conferences including TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg.