Squirrels are adorable little creatures. I’ve seen a lot of squirrels in my backyard, and it always made me think about how they can live without the fear of being chased by a dog, how long they live, or how they can survive with little food and shelter.
How they do it is still a puzzle to me, but one thing that I managed to figure out is how long squirrels live.
Let’s cut to the chase,how long do squirrels live? There are many types of squirrels, and each has a life expectancy, but the average is 6-18 years. While this is the average answer, I’ve researched and found some interesting facts.
Squirrels can live more than most rodents. Let’s dive into it.
How Long Do Squirrels Live For – In The Wild vs In Captivity
Yes, a significant difference exists between a wild squirrel and those kept in captivity or, in some cases, as pets. The life span of a squirrel can be different from breed to breed. Most squirrels don’t even manage to live the first two years of their life. They have an average lifespan of six to twelve years in the wild.
Life Expectancy Of Squirrels
There is a wide range of life spans among squirrel species. Following is a brief look at the life expectancy of species found in the United States:
Red Squirrel Lifespan
A red squirrel can live up to 5 years in the wild. Their life expectancy rate is relatively high, and only 25 percent of these squirrels live longer than a year. They reach maturity between the ages of 2 and 4. A male squirrel tends to live longer than a female squirrel. For most squirrel species, it is the opposite the female tend to live longer than the male.
The lifespan of a red squirrel in captivity can reach eight years.
Eastern Fox Squirrel Lifespan
Eastern fox squirrels live up to 8-18 years in the wild. Most die before even maturing. Female squirrels tend to live up to 13 years, while your average male expectancy it to live up to 8 years on average.
The lifespan of a fox squirrel in captivity can reach 18 years. Compared to other animals, this is quite long.
Southern Flying Squirrel Lifespan
The lifespan of a southern flying squirrel is three to five years in the wild. Flying squirrels have a shorter lifespan than non-flying squirrels. The average lifespan in captivity is ten years, which is longer than in the wild.
Their maximum age in captivity is from 15-19 years.
Eastern Grey Squirrel Lifespan
The lifespan of an eastern gray squirrel in the wild can reach upto 12 years. Their lifespan in captivity can reach upto 20 years.
Black Squirrel Lifespan
These squirrels are not that common in the U.S. In the wild, they can live as long as six years. In captivity, their life expectancy increases, and they can live up to 18 years.
Ground Squirrel Lifespan
Ground Squirrel has a short span life of 4 years. Most male squirrel only lives for two years, while females can live up to 4 years in the wild.
In captivity, they can live around 5-7 years.
How Do Squirrels Live So Long?
Squirrels may not live like humans or other animals, but they have a longer life than any other rodent. Most animals are victims of their predators. If their lucky, they can live a long life, but if they let their guard down for a moment, their predators will come and take them away. But squirrels are lucky in this aspect because they have quick reflexes, excellent eyesight, and are excellent climbers and jumpers, which helps them escape predator attacks.
Baby squirrels are a bit more vulnerable as they cannot defend themself as compared to adult squirrels.
Captive squirrels live longer than their wild counterparts. Because they don’t get exposed to disease as often, have a reliable food supply, are protected from predators, and have fewer fights over matters of territory and mating.
Things That Impact A Squirrel’s Life Span
Many things impact a squirrel’s life. But here are some main points
- Common Diseases and Parasites
- Tooth loss
- Loss of Vision
Common Diseases and Parasites
It is common for squirrels to contract viral diseases such as squirrel pox. It spreads through insect bites which causes tumors to appear on their body. Squirrel diseases are complex, European red squirrels can die because of squirrel pox, but grey squirrels are immune. Each breed has different immunity.
The virus can cause lesions, skin ulcers, and scabs in red squirrels. It is also possible for lesions and scabs to swell and discharge liquid. Squirrels infected by this virus will become extraordinarily lazy and will eventually die.
Squirrels can also become host to a series of parasites.
Ground squirrels, for instance, may become victims of the flesh fly Neobellieria vitelliform. In addition to laying live larvae on the body of a ground squirrel, adult flesh flies can also carry disease. The larva causes lethal myiasis in the squirrel, which settles down inside the skin of a squirrel and feeds on its tissues. Usually, the infestation can last for 5 to 6 days, after which the ground squirrel dies.
Fleas and ticks also infect squirrels, but this does not prove to be fatal for them. In addition to single-celled coccidia, squirrels can also be infected by other parasites. They are found inside a squirrel’s digestive system. They can carry parasites such as trypanosomes in their bloodstream, spinal fluid, and lymphatic system. Nematodes and flatworms can also harm squirrels.
A squirrel’s teeth grow throughout its life. They need to keep them sharp so they can consume food easily. A broken or damaged teeth can result in starvation and ultimately death due to starvation. Squirrels with broken teeth need treatment to survive. Without proper treatment, the tooth will not grow back normally. And if their teeth grow, they will grow slowly, compromising the squirrel’s life.
Squirrels can also suffer from Malocclusion, which causes improper alignment of their teeth. Malocclusion requires medical treatment. If not given, it will limit the squirrel’s life. This can be due to starvation or the teeth penetrating through the squirrel’s skull or jaw.
Don’t hesitate to contact a wildlife rehabilitation center if you find a squirrel with a broken or misshapen tooth. The squirrel will likely die if you don’t.
Loss of Vision
As age hit’s any squirrel, they tend to lose some of their natural ability. Vision is one of them. Healthy squirrels have excellent ideas and depend upon their eyesight to spot predators. It is still possible for a blind or vision-impaired squirrel to hunt for food, but it becomes incredibly vulnerable to predators.
Like all other prey, the main problem with them is their predators. They are primarily preyed upon by owls and hawks. In addition to squirrels, weasels, foxes, and skunks also prey on them. Snakes such as rattlers and black snakes also prey on squirrels, but these tend to prey on baby squirrels rather than adults.
Squirrels in Urban Areas Adapt Well
Urban areas are pretty friendly to grey squirrels. The gray squirrel can survive quite well in the midst of man-made developments, unlike most wild animals. As well as being less vulnerable to predator attacks, urban animals do not have to forage as much for food.
Many things determine on how long do squirrels live’s for. They are tough creatures, and unless they get attacked by a predator or become infected by a fatal disease, they can outlive their rodent competitors.
You can help the squirrels in your yard live longer by putting up a nesting box or two, so they will always have somewhere to go in from the cold. You could even put up one of our fantastic squirrel feeders to ensure they always had something tasty to eat!
1 thought on “How Long Do Squirrels Live? | What Is Their Life Expectancy?”
Aw, this was a very nice post. Spending some time and actual effort to create a really good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a whole lot and never seem to get anything done.