How long do squirrels live? What is the average lifespan of a squirrel? Do different types of squirrels have different life expectancies? In this blog post, we will answer all of these questions and more. So, if you’re curious about how long squirrels typically live, keep reading!
The Lifespan of a Squirrel – Wild vs. Captivity:
The average lifespan of a squirrel is around two to five years. However, some have been known to live for up to twelve years. When it comes to captivity, their lifespans are often extended. In fact, some squirrels have been known to live for up to twenty years in captivity!
Life Expectancy of Squirrels Across Species
Red squirrels: Red squirrels can live up to 5 years in the wild. Their mortality rate is quite high and only 25 percent of these squirrels live longer than a year. They mature at 2 to 4 years old. The longest recorded lifespan of a red squirrel in the wild has been 10 years. The male squirrels tend to live longer than female ones. For most squirrel species, it is the opposite.
Eastern fox squirrels: have an average lifespan of 8 to 18 years in the wild. Most squirrels die before maturity. Female squirrels have been known to live up to 13 years of age, on average, whereas male squirrels are known to live for 8 years, on average.
Southern flying squirrels: Southern flying squirrels live up to three to five years in the wild. Compared to their non-flying relatives, southern flying squirrels have a shorter lifespan in the wild. They tend to live longer in captivity and have an average lifespan of 10 years.
Eastern grey squirrels live up to 12 years in the wild. Their lifespan increases in captivity and their maximum age has been recorded to be 20 years.
Ground squirrels like the Richardson ground squirrel have short life spans of 2-4 years in the wild. Most males only live two years while the females sometimes live for four years in the wild. Similar lifespans have been reported for California ground squirrels.
(Do squirrels carry rabies? See this post for more)
How Do Squirrels Live So Long?
Now that we know how long squirrels live, let’s take a look at what contributes to their longevity. Below are some of the main factors:
Diet: One of the main contributing factors to a squirrel’s longevity is their diet. Squirrels are mostly herbivores and their diet consists mainly of nuts, fruits, and seeds. This diet is rich in antioxidants which help to protect against disease and aging. In addition, nuts and seeds are a good source of protein and essential nutrients which help to keep squirrels healthy and strong.
Exercise: Another factor that contributes to a squirrel’s longevity is exercise. These creatures are very active and they spend most of their time running, jumping, and climbing. This helps to keep their heart and muscles healthy, as well as their bones.
Low-stress levels: Squirrels also tend to have low-stress levels. This is likely due to their simple lifestyle and their natural habitats. They are not exposed to the same type of stressors that humans are, such as working long hours, commuting, and dealing with family and relationship drama. As a result, they experience less wear and tear on their bodies and age at a slower rate.
(Do Squirrels Eat Meat? See this post for more)
Factors that Impact a Squirrel’s Life Span
While diet, exercise, and low-stress levels are all contributing factors to a squirrel’s longevity, there are also some factors that can shorten their life span. Below are some of the main ones:
Predators: One of the biggest dangers to squirrels is predators. These creatures are often targeted by birds of prey, such as hawks and eagles, as well as snakes and other mammals. As a result, many squirrels do not live to see their second year.
Disease: Another factor that can impact a squirrel’s lifespan is disease. Unfortunately, these creatures are susceptible to a number of different diseases, such as rabies, distemper, and mange. If they contract one of these diseases, it is often fatal.
The Average Squirrel Life Cycle:
- Newborns: Most squirrel species give birth to litters of 2-5 young. The newborns are blind and hairless. They weigh about 1/2 ounce (15 grams) at birth and are about 3 inches (8 cm) long.
- Weaning: At around 6-8 weeks of age, the young squirrels start to wean from their mother’s milk. During this time, they begin to eat solid food and learn how to forage for themselves.
- Adolescence: At around 3-4 months of age, the young squirrels reach adolescence. They become sexually mature and begin to disperse from their natal territory.
- Adulthood: Once they reach adulthood, squirrels live an average of 2-5 years in the wild. However, some species have been known to live much longer.
How Does Their Lifespan Compare to Rats?
Rats have an average lifespan of 2-3 years in the wild. This is shorter than most squirrel species, which have an average lifespan of 4-5 years. However, there are some exceptions, such as the eastern grey squirrel which can live up to 12 years in the wild.
Do They Live Longer in Captivity?
Yes, squirrels tend to live longer in captivity than they do in the wild. This is due to the fact that they are not exposed to predators and diseases and they have a more consistent diet. In addition, they usually have access to exercise equipment and toys which help to keep them active and healthy. The oldest recorded age for a captive squirrel is 20 years.
Best way to get rid of a squirrel in your house:
If you have a squirrel in your house, one of the best ways to get rid of it is to call a professional wildlife control company. These companies are equipped with the tools and knowledge necessary to safely and humanely remove the squirrel from your home. Once the squirrel has been removed, they will seal up any entry points to prevent the animal from returning. Or you can get an air gun and take care of it by yourself.
(For more on the best air rifles for pest control, see this post)