HABITAT: Squirrels are opportunistic wildlife, thriving in a diversity of habitats throughout most continents. Although adaptable to almost any environments, the squirrel prefers an urban habitat where they can easily take advantage of abundant food and shelter associated with people and urbanization.
DEN SITES: Squirrels living in both wild and urban setting will build large nests in trees using twigs and leaves for nesting material. In urban surroundings, chimneys, attics, walls, garages, shed roofs and other off the ground areas are usually preferred. Urban nests are made of a wide variety of available materials such as cardboard, newspaper, cloth and even attic insulation. Squirrels nesting in attics will primarily make use of the abundance of fiberglass insulation for nesting. Although insulation fibers are extremely irritable to human skin, the hairless skin of newborn squirrels does not seem to be adversely affected. As a point of interest, research is now considering fiberglass (the same as asbestos) as a possible cause of lung disease in people. The constant inhaling of fiberglass particles could theoretically shorten the life span of wildlife denning in attics.
REPRODUCTION: In late winter and late summer a string of male squirrels may be seen pursuing sexually mature female squirrels in a noisy, energetic chase through the treetops, on rooftops and on the ground. This chasing behavior is thought to be a vital phase of squirrel courtship. During the mating process the male squirrel excretes a wax plug that obstructs the female’s vagina and prevents further mating by other males.
Twice a year, about 42 days after mating, the female gives birth to a litter of 1 to 7 young with the average urban litter being 5 or 6 youngsters. Baby squirrels do not open their eyes until 32 days after birth. Squirrels born in the spring are forced to fend for themselves at the age of 10 to 12 weeks. However, baby squirrels born in the fall usually stay with their mother until late winter when she breeds again.
LIFE SPAN: Approximately 3 to 6 years
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