Squirrels are small, bushy-tailed rodents found all over the world, and hibernate throughout various seasons, depending on their species and habitat.
Sleep is an essential part of almost every creature’s life. The sleeping habit of a Squirrel differs from species to species and usually depends on their type as it determines the place where they spend most of their time and when they go to sleep.
How long do Squirrels sleep?
Squirrels appear to be quite vigorous and playful but, most of their time goes in to sleeping as a squirrel spends 60% of its day, that is, approximately 15 hours a day sleeping! This however differs, depending on the type of squirrel.
At what time do Squirrels go to sleep?
Squirrels are Crepuscular in nature, meaning that they are active only during the evenings and early mornings. Many species of squirrels, especially Tree Squirrels, love the sun and may stay out of their nests for the whole day during summers.
Since most of the animals that prey on squirrels like are nocturnal, squirrels spend almost 15 hours of the day, including the night, avoiding the predators and resting and sleeping in their nests when they are not running around in search of food.
Sleeping Patterns of Squirrels
Squirrels are more than 200 species of squirrels and they are found almost everywhere in the world, apart from Australia and Antarctica.
However, squirrels can be categorized in to three main types listed below:
Sleeping Pattern of Flying Squirrels
Despite their name, flying squirrels don’t really fly, but it often seems like they are due to the presence of web-like skin flaps on their sides.
These flaps allow them to glide from one tree to another which makes them appear as if they are flying.
They are usually found in attics and treehouses, or sleeping peacefully on a tree branch or a hollowed-out hole in a tree. Flying Squirrels are nocturnal in nature as they come out at night to feed and go back to their nests to sleep during the day.
Sleeping Pattern of Tree Squirrels
Tree squirrels sleep in the ‘drays’ made by using twigs, branches, mosses, and leaves. The squirrels deliberately position the dray between tree branch forks and are often found in attics or along the wall of a house or its attic.
When tree squirrels are not in search of food, Tree Squirrels can be found underground in their burrows taking care of the young one’s or sleeping at night, as they call it a day by when they lead back to their dens or drays.
The three most popular types of Tree Squirrels are Gray Squirrels, Red Squirrels, and Fox Squirrels. Red Squirrels are found in Europe, while Gray and Fox Squirrels are found in America.
Sleeping Pattern of Ground Squirrels
Ground Squirrels get their name from their habit of spending most of the time on the ground as they stay and sleep in ground-level burrows.
Ground Squirrels that live in the North American states where winters are frosty, hibernate all through the winter. On the other hand, Ground squirrels that live in deserts and other hot climate areas hibernate throughout the summer when there is boiling hot temperature.
During estivation, the squirrels spend most of their time, around seven months, sleeping in a concealed burrow that protects them from the hot sun above ground.
Where do Squirrels sleep during Rain?
Squirrels are small creatures and have a small body, equal to surface area ratio, which makes them lose their body heat faster than large animals.
Therefore, it is important that their bodies don’t get soaked by rain because the water makes it harder for them to control their core body temperature.
In order to protect themselves from getting soaked, squirrels use their shaggy tails to cover themselves from the rain by flipping the tail over their body like an umbrella.
During this time, their tail may get soaked but the rest of the body remains comparatively dry. However, this protects them only from light rain.
In order to escape from the heavy downpour, squirrels hide in their nests. Their nests are often built and positioned in such a strategic way that it provides maximum protection against heavy rain, thunderstorm, and cold. Hence, nests are the best places for squirrels to sleep during rain.
Where do Squirrels sleep in the Winter season?
Ground squirrels hibernate during the winter by going in to their burrows. They conserve energy by lowering their body’s metabolic processes and go into a state of prolonged sleep for as long as five months. During each week of hibernation, they might be awake for about 12 to 20 hours and sleep the remaining time.
Flying and Tree Squirrels do not hibernate and usually fortify their nests, thereby giving better insulation and protection against the cold weather. Flying squirrels also take their safety in to consideration. Therefore, they may live together in groups of 10 or more during the colder months.