Squirrels are adorable and are quite smart as well. Not only are they well-equipped to deal with living outside but they also make for excellent housepets, as they’re known to live long while in captivity.
They’re easy to maintain and one of the best pets to look after. In case you’ve got a bunch of squirrels at your place, and are wondering exactly how long do squirrels live, you can find all the information you need here.
How Long Do Squirrels Live? Different Kinds of Squirrels
The duration of a squirrel’s life highly varies depending on its breed. Here are the lifespans of a few squirrels that are commonly found in America.
#1. American Red Squirrels
Also called the pine squirrel, these are among the most commonly spotted squirrel species in the US. They may live anywhere between 2 and 8 years at best.
But here’s the kicker, American red squirrels are prone to die, more often than not, while they’re babies. With a high early mortality rate, only 22% of these squirrels can live up to a year.
#2. Southern Flying Squirrels
These squirrels are one of the species that can flourish when in captivity.
When living in the wild, southern flying squirrels can only live about 3-5 years. However, some nourishment and safety can push their lifespan for up to 12-13 years.
They’re quite small and need a lot of your attention in the first few weeks of bringing them home. According to PetMD, holding them and hand-feeding them every day helps forge a strong bond with your flying squirrel.
They can be very affectionate when they trust you, and thus can live longer when under supervision.
#3. Fox Squirrels
They are found all over the eastern and central US. Fox squirrels are tree squirrels who are quite adept at escaping their predators by hiding in tree branches.
They’re quite agile and can manage to live in the wild for 8 to 12 years after they’ve managed to escape the perils of early life mortality.
The longest living fox squirrel was known to live for a staggering 18 years.
#4. Black Squirrels
These little fellas find their best living situations in the eastern part of the US. Black squirrels are quite the acrobats both on trees and the ground.
They prefer to curl up and hide at the sign of a predator and can even swim well for miles. Usually managing a lifespan of 1-2 years, they can live up to 6 years as adults. The maximum lifespan of the black squirrel has been recorded to be 12 years in the wild and 20 years in captivity.
#5. Eastern Grey Squirrels
The mean life expectancy of eastern grey squirrels is a meager 1-2 years under the constant threat of a vast range of predators like owls, foxes, hawks, and even human hunting.
They can live up to 12-23 years if left undisturbed by danger.
Like their red counterparts, only 15-25% of these squirrels survive their first year. They thrive in captivity and take to being pampered quite well.
3 Factors That Impact the Lifespan of Squirrels
In comparison to other rodents, squirrels do have a longer lifespan. So how long do squirrels live? It depends. While squirrels are quite agile and can easily escape the most dangerous situations, there are some factors that do have an impact on how long squirrels can live.
Squirrel pox is, unfortunately, a disease that often targets squirrels. It occurs through insect bites and leads to tumors all over the body. It can also be fatal for certain species of squirrels.
The skin breaks out horribly with lesions, scabs, and inflammation. Without treatment, the affected squirrels can perish.
They are also prone to parasites such as flesh flies that can feed on the squirrel and kill them within a week. Ticks and fleas are also common but aren’t as fatal. They may also have parasites inside their bodies.
Squirrels can also suffer from vision loss in old age and lose their quick edge. Tooth loss can also be fatal; without their incisors, squirrels will not be able to properly chew their food. This would lead to indigestion and starvation. Misaligned incisors could also compromise their health.
Some species simply fare better in urban areas as they are not constantly under the threat of predators.
Squirrels that are nurtured in captivity can also live longer than squirrels in the wild. The unpredictability of wilderness means a lot of things can go wrong for a wee animal like a squirrel.
Squirrels are undoubtedly prey animals.
They are often hunted by larger birds and animals, including the likes of hawks, owls, foxes, skunks, etc. Baby squirrels are a specific target of certain species of snakes as well.
They tend to get ambushed by other species quite easily, so the presence of predators will always make their lifespan quite unpredictable.
Who Lives Longer: Male or Female Squirrels?
Typically, it is the male of most species that tends to live longer than their female counterparts.
However, that isn’t the case with squirrels. It is the female squirrel that has a longer lifespan than the male squirrel, owing to the latter’s high mortality rates. Male squirrels tend to explore a lot from a young age, which increases their chances of exposure to danger.
They also engage in violent fights with other squirrels, especially during the mating season in order to win their females. This attracts the attention of predators.
The longevity of female squirrels over males has been confirmed after consistent sighting of a higher number of female squirrels in the mating season as opposed to males.
Does Diet Affect a Squirrel’s Lifespan?
Squirrels consume an average of one pound of food per week.
You may assume that nuts are the only things squirrels love to eat, but the reality is that they are omnivores. They also enjoy seeds, fruits, and fungi along with meat such as caterpillars, baby snakes, and small insects.
Squirrels require a balanced diet, just like every other species. It may not be the best idea to feed junk food to your pet squirrel; make sure they get the necessary nutrients they require.
A Few Parting Words
Squirrels are nimble, quiet creatures that are fun to hang out with. You could watch them in your backyard, or take care of one inside your house. So, how long do squirrels live? If taken care of properly, they could live for a long time.