Tree squirrels all sleep at night in their den – often called a ‘drey’. Usually made of leaves, twigs, and mosses – these dreys are wedged high in treetops.
Do Squirrels Sleep At Night In Trees?
Tree squirrels all sleep in trees at night. Squirrels feel safe up in the trees and will always run up a tree if they feel threatened or scared.
They are really cool too as they will run up the backside of a tree without being seen – to confuse whoever was chasing them (even humans).
Tree squirrels are mainly diurnal – which means that they are awake all day.
As it gets dark, they head back up into the safety of the tree canopy to sleep for the night.
Safe from ground predators until morning.
How Many Different Squirrels Are There?
Well, that is a very big question as there are two meanings of the word squirrel.
Firstly and most often it means the light-footed tree-dwelling fluffy-tailed squirrels – such as those you see in the park.
Quite at home with humans – willingly accepting food handed out – or stealing it from bird feeders instead!
Mainly seen are the gray squirrels of which there are around 4 species across most of North America.
They are chunky but plain squirrels and equally at home in cities as they are in woodland. They have taken quickly to living with humans and have been very successful in this relatively food-rich predator-free zone.
Their only real enemy these days is cars.
There are also red squirrels and fox squirrels and a few others in the U.S. too – numbering around 8 or so species as well as 3 types of flying squirrel.
There are also many different types of ground-squirrel which go by the names of groundhogs, marmots, chipmunks, and prairie dogs to name a few.
The basic template of a ‘squirrel’ had great advantages and has filled out in many different niches and forms. About 285 species of squirrel have been identified and named across the globe.
Do Squirrels Hibernate?
If we move back to our tree squirrels – then the answer is: sort of. But not really.
A lot of people link the long sleep in winter some animals do – like squirrels and bears – to hibernating. It has become a synonymous word for ‘staying in bed’.
So when we don’t really see squirrels in winter and are told they are hibernating – we just go with it.
Biologically, hibernation is a very specific thing – a thing that tree squirrels just don’t do. Hibernation is technically: “an animal spending the winter in a dormant state”
However, squirrels don’t go into a dormant state – they just don’t come out of their dens. They stay curled up in their nests – where it is nice and warm – sleeping and snoozing.
They are fully alert at all times and often nip out to grab a snack or two if they fancy it.
Ground squirrels though DO hibernate – they fully shut down their body for around 5-6 months of the year – breathing just once a minute in some cases.
How they do this is still baffling scientists – but it is great for the squirrel (as long as it doesn’t get discovered). Arctic ground squirrels can go 8 months without waking up at all. Truly amazing animals.
Do Wolves Have Better Night Vision Than Squirrels?
Wolves’ night vision explained: Wolves have exceptional night vision, enabling them to navigate through dimly lit environments effortlessly. Their eyes possess a specialized structure called the tapetum lucidum, which amplifies incoming light and enhances visibility in low light conditions. This allows wolves to locate prey and move stealthily during nocturnal hunts. In comparison, squirrels have good vision but lack the specialized adaptations that make wolves such proficient night hunters.
Are Any Squirrels Nocturnal?
Flying squirrels are nocturnal – and there are 3 species in North America. Northern, Southern, and Humboldt’s flying squirrels don’t actually fly – but glide from tree to tree throughout the night while foraging for fruit, nuts, insects, and bird eggs.
They only come out at night so they are able to fill a different niche to other tree-dwelling species.
They don’t directly compete for food with the tree squirrels as flying squirrels feed only in the trees where the gray, fox, and red squirrels tend to spend more time on the ground searching for fallen nuts etc.
If flying squirrels are ever found on the ground – they are very clumsy and tend to hide rather than bolt for the nearest tree – like their more agile counterparts.
Flying squirrels do have a fancy trick up their sleeve, literally. Not only can they glide some distance from tree to tree (up to 80 yards) – they actually glow in ultraviolet colors inside their ‘wings’ – thought to help with signaling to each other in the dark. Cool eh?