Squirrels are the subject of lots of speculation. What do they do on a day-to-day basis, what do they eat and where do they sleep? There are even conspiracy theories which suggest that squirrels are CIA agents, or at the very least, working for the CIA to listen to your secret conversations.
Anyway, we know Squirrels are most active during the day and spend most of their time searching for food – which may not come as a surprise. As the sun begins to set, they look for a safe and secure place to rest for the night. But where do they go? The location of their sleeping area will depend on the species of squirrel and the area in which they live.
If we are looking at the most common squirrels in the UK, then we’ll be talking about the Red and Grey Squirrels (also referred to as Tree Squirrels). Each species of squirrel build its nests, also called dreys, high up in the thick leaves of trees. These dreys are usually made from foraged twigs, leaves, grass and anything the squirrel can forage. Mostly, they are and are usually located in the crooks of branches but sometimes up high among the highest leaves.
They are so high that the nests provide a safe and warm nook to sleep in, protected from the elements and potential predators. If you’re wondering where squirrels go at night? Well, home!
However, some other species of squirrels do not live in trees. Ground squirrels, for example, live in underground burrows. These burrows provide protection from predators, as well as a place to rest and raise their young. Similarly, flying squirrels live in holes in trees or in tree cavities, which provide them with a secure place to sleep and rest.
We will run down some of the other squirrel species and where they sleep at night.
While they may be called ‘flying squirrels’ there is not need for you to worry about a squadron of them shooting over your head. They actually don’t fly – or at least not in the same way as a bird does. In many ways they just fall – but their web-like skin flaps on their sides enable them to glide between trees, which may make you feel like they are taking flight.
Mostly, flying squirrels live in little ‘tree dens’ which they build during the summer using bark, grass, leaves, small twigs and moss. Kind of like a bird in that respect to be fair. It is uncommon to see a flying squirrel sleeping on a tree branch or a hollowed-out hole in a tree, either. It is also possible that they get close to human dwellings and live in the attic / loft or even tree houses. If this is you – then you’re very lucky to have them!
Tree squirrels are the most common squirrel in the UK, and they are what you’ll see hopping around your local park or garden. The famous red squirrel is native to Europe while the Grey is from the Americas. In recent years, you’ll have noticed that Grey squirrels are the most common type in the UK as they are more aggressive, and are pushing the reds out of their traditional territory.
Regardless, all tree squirrels sleep in ‘dreys’. The squirrels strategically position the drey between tree branch forks, or high in branches but they are pretty common in homes too. If you live in the countryside, and you’re surrounded by trees, then you could have a nest on your roof without even knowing it.
The species which bucks the trend here is the ground squirrel. They spend most of their time on the ground – because they are afraid of heights (that was a joke, they just like the ground).
The old ground squirrel loves to sleep in ground-level burrows – usually where winters are harsh, ground squirrels hibernate throughout the winter, while squirrels that live in warmer climates estivate (essentially hot-weather hibernating) during summer when the temperatures are hottest. In both occasions, they use the underground nestings to protect themselves from the elements and hide away with their food. Some Squirrels may estivate for up to seven months.
How long and when do they sleep?
They’re crepuscular, which means they’re only active at dusk and dawn.
During the winter, tree squirrels (most common in the UK) will often sleep for long periods of time, sometimes up to 20 hours a day. Like a university student. This is because they are conserving energy and staying warm during the colder months. In the summer, however, squirrels will typically sleep for shorter periods of time, as they are more active during the day and have more opportunities to forage for food. Also like University students.
When they’re not running around looking for and hoarding food (or mating if you must know) squirrels will be in their nests resting or sleeping.
Squirrels like to sleep. That is my final thought.
As we’ve just discussed, the most common squirrel in the UK (the tree squirrel) like to spend their time high in the branches of trees, in their nests. That is where squirrels sleep!