What is a Spring Squirrel?
The question of what is a spring squirrel might seem to be a very simple one – a seasonal change. However, spring and fall are actually different times for the squirrels. In spring, they will begin searching for food during the early and late afternoon. Unlike their fall counterparts, they will be feeding on soft mast, berries, buds, and nuts that have already been eaten. You may notice them hanging around your water source or squirrel dens.
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Flying squirrels have yellow tipped tail hairs
The southern flying squirrel is an elusive nocturnal mammal that ranges throughout eastern North America. Its range extends from southern Canada to south Texas and southward into Central America. Known as a “flying squirrel,” it prefers to live in mixed or deciduous forests, preferring old trees with cavities for shelter and berries. This species also regularly feeds on tree bark and insects, as well as tree seed.
Red squirrels are the smallest among squirrels, weighing in at 33 to 45 grams. Their tails are nearly as long as their bodies, and they are brownish in color. They have two molts a year, one beginning in the hindquarters and progressing toward the head. The second molt in the summer begins at the nose and continues through the tail and is completed by early June in New York.
Peaks in breeding activity occur in spring
Red squirrels are diurnal but largely crepuscular, with peaks in activity three to four hours before dawn and again two to three hours before dusk. During winter, peak activity is in the morning, while the peaks of spring breeding activity are in the afternoon and evening. During autumn, squirrels spend about 63 to 91% of their day foraging for food and resting.
Squirrels’ breeding activity and home ranges vary, but the majority of their daily activities are concentrated within a few acres. The size of each squirrel’s home range varies depending on the season and availability of food. Their breeding activity peak in spring, when their food supplies are plentiful, is the best time to spot females and young. However, males are promiscuous and may maintain relationships with both females and young, which may last all winter.
Squirrels are active during daylight and late afternoon
Squirrels are most active during the mornings and late afternoons when the sun is shining. However, you can still catch them during the day. You can watch them foraging for food around a pond or lake. In the spring and summer, they will also come out during the day and eat fruits and vegetables. The food they consume is varied and they prefer citrus fruits, nuts, berries, and seeds.
During the spring, the activity of the red squirrel increases. Its activities are mostly nocturnal and peak three to four hours after dawn and two to three hours before dusk. During the winter, red squirrels stay largely in their burrows and nests. However, they can be seen out in the afternoon and at night but they do not make much noise. Therefore, it’s important to observe the behavior of the red squirrel during these times to better understand its habits.
Hunting restrictions in some states
Hunting spring-specific squirrels in some states is permitted only during specific times. While the spring season is shorter than the fall season, hunters are able to find plenty of these tasty rodents. This is the perfect time to take the family out for a day of squirrel hunting. Spring-specific squirrel hunting season dates can be found in Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. The spring season in Arkansas is the second-longest after the fall season. It begins May 15th and runs through February of the following year. There are some restrictions on how many squirrels hunters can shoot per day, though.
In some areas, hunters should be prepared to use a spotlight. While most squirrels feed on acorns, they will also consume blackberries, mulberries, and other seeds and insects. In addition, the hunter should bring bug spray and thermacell, since these pests are common during the spring season. Additionally, acorns are not at the top of the list for food in this season. Still, a cutting call can draw a squirrel’s attention.
Getting out in the woods
The time of day to hunt for squirrels is 15 minutes before daybreak. Sit in a large tree or in a place frequented by squirrels, and listen for the first half-hour of daylight. You may shoot the first squirrel you see during the day from your seated position. Then, wait until you see more squirrels. They will leave the tree before you do. If you’re unsuccessful, try another location if the first one doesn’t leave.
Squirrel hunting in the spring can be difficult, especially if you’re not prepared for warm weather. While warm weather is hard on most animals, it’s more bearable for squirrels. Getting in before daybreak will allow you to be ready for action as soon as the sun starts to rise and cool temperatures begin to drop before dark. You’ll also be in prime hunting position for a late-morning scurry.
Finding active den trees
If you want to attract more spring squirrels to your property, you can start by finding active den trees in your area. Squirrels often use holes in trees, including those made by woodpeckers. These holes are easily accessible, but they may already have been gnawed to fit a squirrel. When you find active den trees, you can take advantage of this by leaving them intact. But beware! If you find these trees without a den, your hunt will be a failure.
If you’re not sure which species of trees your area has, try scouting out a few nearby. You want to find hickory, oak, or beech trees. These trees provide an abundant food source and are likely to be active during the spring and fall. You can also check out the forest floor for evidence of caching. Look for hickory nuts with toothmarks. You might also notice nutshells. If you spot a squirrel in a tree, it’s likely it’s feeding.
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.