There are two breeding times each year for grey squirrels, one in mid-summer and another in early spring. Young squirrels are usually born between March and April, and they arrive around July or August with a second litter. Females may give birth to one to nine babies at a time, but it is common somewhere in the three to five range. For the first five to eight weeks of development, each baby squirrel is fully dependent on its mother and stays close to the nest during this period.
Many persons are acquainted with squirrels, but sincerely only a few wonder what time of year these squirrels bear their children. You must have seen these creatures everywhere, chasing each other around your neighborhood, chewing or destroying your telephone lines, on the lawn, and in many other places. Many persons however do take squirrels as being adorable, while others look at them as yet another nasty rodent creature.
The birthing and mating seasons of squirrels do occur at least twice in a year, always between December and February, the squirrel mating season occurs once, then again later in late June through August.
The Female squirrels do give birth in early spring (February through April) or late summer (August / September), and their gestation period always lasts for about 38 to 46 days.
Squirrels also pass through a period called “estrus,” unlike humans that go through a menstrual cycle that does occur on a monthly ovulation basis. Estrus is a hormonal cycle that does occur in animals such as dogs and cats, during which their bodies ovulate and become extremely responsive and attracted to mating. This time of ovulation, like humans, is when squirrels get impregnated, but the similarities with human beings end there.
In most cases, most new mothers do seek for protected areas to raise their little squirrels just like how human being does, caring for their young ones. They seek out for protected areas because the tree nests they do use most time of the year will leave their young ones vulnerable to many types of predators. This is one of the reasons why squirrels often travel closer to human homes during their birthing seasons, often taking up residence behind walls or in attics, sheds, and chimneys.
Must read: Why Do Squirrels Chase Each Other
North America houses many different species of squirrels and they are mostly found in this area. Their reproductive habits are very similar since all squirrels are mammals, but gestation, litter size, and mating problems can differ from species to species.
To understand the similarities and great distinctions between many squirrel species, they might however be subjected to comparing their gestation period. These many common species of squirrels include foxes, red, green, flying, and ground squirrels.
Flying squirrels is one of the most common species found in the eastern United States, southern parts of Canada, and in Central America, much like the fox squirrel. While flying squirrels are common, not much research has been made to decipher the interactions between males and females, so little is known about their mating habits. What researchers do know is that, typically in early spring and late summer, mating does occur twice in a year and their gestation always takes approximately 40 days, so two mother flying squirrels can give birth to 2 to 3 babies on average.
Fox squirrels are mostly found to inhabit the central and eastern United States, as well as in Canada and Mexico, and are always a form of tree squirrel. Males and females of this species breed with males vying year-round to decide which ones of them get to mate first. During one breeding cycle, the female has the ability to mate with multiple partners. Their gestation period usually lasts 45 days until pregnancy occurs. On average, two to three babies are always welcomed by the mother squirrels in this species of squirrel, but she may have up to seven babies in one single litter. Most time, only one litter of babies is born to a mother fox squirrel per year, and two is always the maximum possible.
These species of squirrel always have their mating period to take place rapidly because the females are only fertile one day in each breeding season i.e, (105 days in each season). The female will be chased by a dominant male, then will copulate with her several times to ensure a successful breeding session. After mating, pregnancy happens almost immediately and gestation only lasts 35 days. Usually, the red squirrels have two litters each year, but they may be available in the northernmost parts of their territory (which includes most of North America).
The green squirrel’s mating behavior shares some similarities to that of the red squirrel along the eastern coasts of North America and Canada. A group of about 10 males will chase the female Squirrel when it is nearing her fertility period. Usually, after a brief period of a said courtship, the most dominant of the males will end up winning the right to mate with her. These breeding seasons always occur twice a year, usually in the middle of summer and also close to the end of winter. After successful mating, the female undergoes a gestation period which lasts for as much as 44days. They have the ability to bear up to 9 babies in the gray squirrel species litter, and also there are always just 2 to 3 in the normal litter.
The ground squirrel mates just once a year, immediately after hibernation finishes, the mating season begins and normally only lasts a few weeks. The Males and females of this species always mate with multiple partners during this period. In fact, numerous males can be said to have a single litter of babies. The gestation for ground squirrels is between 25 to 30 days. Litters can be very large inside comprising up to 15 infants per litter but only seven or eight young Squirrels are the typical size. Of these, it is probable that only five or six will live to maturity.
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.