What do Squirrels Nest Look Like?

  • By: Alex
  • Date: September 16, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

When you think of a squirrel’s nest, you might picture a messy bundle of twigs and leaves high up in a tree. And while that is certainly one type of nest that squirrels can make, it’s not the only option.

When you think of a squirrel’s nest, you might picture a messy bundle of twigs and leaves high up in a tree. And while that is certainly one type of nest that squirrels can make, it’s not the only option.

Squirrels will also build their nests inside the trunks of trees, using the natural cavity as shelter from the elements.

In both cases, the nests are generally built by male and female squirrels working together.

The female usually does most of the gathering of materials, while the male helps to build the actual nest.

Regardless of where they build their nest, all squirrels ensure it is well hidden and protected from predators.

What Are Squirrels Nests Made Of?

Squirrel nest on ground

You might not think such a small animal would need more than one nest, but female squirrels typically create an average of four or five nesting sites within their geographic range.

If the mother feels her current nest is no longer safe, she’ll pick up and move her young to an alternative site.

Squirrels also have been known to share some of their nest sites with other species members and sometimes have a communal space.

So what exactly are these nests made of?

Depending on the squirrel species, they can be constructed out of leaves, twigs, moss, bark, and even shredded paper. The female will often line the inside of the nest with soft materials like fur or feathers to keep her young warm and comfortable.

Types of Squirrel Nests.

three hollow nest

Squirrels are very strategic when it comes to building their nests. The three most common types of squirrel nests are the leaf nest, the cavity nest, and the ground nest.

  • Leaf nests are built using twigs, leaves, and other plant materials, typically in trees.
  • Cavity nests are constructed using sticks and grasses, often located in abandoned birdhouses or holes in trees.
  • Ground nests are created using leaves, grasses, and dirt, typically on the ground beneath a bush or tree.

Regardless of the type of nest, all squirrels use their nests to protect themselves from predators, extreme weather conditions, and other dangers.

Ground squirrels, tree squirrels, and flying squirrels are the three most common types of squirrels in North America.

Tree Squirrels Nesting Habits

squirrels leafy tree

The most widespread variety of squirrels in the United States is the tree squirrel, which is also the type that may build a nest in your yard. These furry little creatures are typically gray or brown in color and have long tails.

Their nests are generally made of leaves, twigs, and bark, built high up in the trees. While tree squirrels will sometimes use an tree cavity nests, they will just as often make their own nest from scratch.

If you have tree squirrels nesting in your yard, you might want to keep an eye on them.

These playful creatures can be a nuisance if they start digging up your flower beds or chewing on your trees. But they can also be fun to watch as they chase each other around the yard.

If you have tree squirrels in your area, you might be wondering how to tell if they are using your yard for nesting material.

Here are a few signs to look for:

  • Nests built high up in trees
  • Twigs and leaves scattered around your yard
  • Bark chips on the ground
  • Holes chewed in tree trunks

If you see any of these signs, it’s a good indication that you have tree squirrels in your yard.

Ground Squirrels Nesting Habits

ground squirrel nest

Ground squirrels are a type of squirrel that gets its name because it spends most of its time on the ground instead of in trees. These squirrels are typically brown or gray in color and have short tails. While they do sometimes climb trees, they generally only do so to escape predators.

Ground squirrels typically build their nests in burrows underground. These caves can be quite elaborate, with multiple entrances and chambers for storing food. Ground squirrels are the most significant type of squirrel and can grow up to two feet long.

Consequently, their nesting habits can significantly impact the environment around them.

If you have ground squirrels in your area, you might see the following signs:

  • Mounds of dirt near holes in the ground
  • Tunnels leading to these holes
  • Scattered food items near the holes

Flying Squirrels Nesting Habits

The minor species of squirrel is the northern flying squirrel. They are known as gliders because they have a membrane of skin between their front and rear legs that allows them to fly through the air. Flying squirrels are typically brown or gray in color and have short tails.

They generally build their nests in trees, using leaves, twigs, and bark to construct a nest similar to a bird’s.

However, flying squirrels will also nest in buildings and other artificial structures. In fact, anywhere that provides enough space for them to build a nest and keep warm is fair game.

If you live in an area with flying squirrels, you may notice the following signs:

  • Nests built high up in trees
  • Scattered leaves and twigs around your yard
  • Holes chewed in tree trunks

Black Squirrels Nesting Habits:

The black squirrel is a subspecies of gray squirrel, found in many parts of North America.

These squirrels are typically all black, although they may have some white on their belly.

Black squirrels generally build their nests in trees, using leaves, twigs, and bark to construct a nest similar to a bird’s.

If you have black squirrels in your area, you might see the following signs:

  • Nests built high up in trees
  • Scattered leaves and twigs around your yard
  • Holes chewed in tree trunks

Do Squirrels Have Multiple Nests?

It’s a common misconception that squirrels only have one nest. In fact, squirrels often build multiple homes, which they use for different purposes.

  • Their primary nest, known as a drey, is where they spend most of their time and raise their young.
  • However, they will also build alternative dens, which they use for refuge in danger or bad weather.

These dens are usually not as well-constructed as the dreys, but they provide enough protection to keep the squirrels safe.

Additionally, squirrels often store extra food in these secondary homes, which gives them something to fall back on if their primary food source runs out.

Why do squirrels build nests?

Squirrels are very territorial animals and will fiercely defend their nests from competitors. But why go to all the trouble of building a nest in the first place? For squirrels, nests serve a variety of purposes.

Nests may be used for various purposes, such as raising offspring or surviving winter. Tree nests help squirrels survive winter by insulating them from cold winds.

Most squirrels will hibernate in a particularly well-reinforced nest, usually built into existing cover.

Likewise, nests meant for raising offspring will be hidden or protected from possible predators. In this way, squirrels use their nests to ensure their survival and that of their baby squirrels.

When do squirrels build nests?

Squirrels typically build their dreys in the spring and summer, but they will continue to build nests into September and October. This nesting season is simple: squirrels must be prepared for winter.

By building nests in more protected areas, squirrels can insulate themselves from the wind and cold temperatures. Additionally, all squirrel dreys tend to incorporate the existing architecture of the trees the squirrels build them around.

How Many Squirrels live in a Nest?

If you’ve ever spent time outdoors in the spring or summer, you’ve seen a squirrel or two scurrying around. But have you ever wondered how many of these furry rodents live in a single nest?

Depending on the species, a squirrel nest can house anywhere from two to 9 squirrels at a time.