Squirrels are incredible creatures and have amazing facts that make them fantastic and perhaps legal pets.
As a squirrel enthusiast, you may be asking do squirrels eat their babies? How do they nurse their young?
Squirrels are famous for eating nuts but can comfortably eat meat and fruits. Infanticide is not unheard of among mammals, birds, amphibians, and fish, etc. Sometimes, murderous animals tend to eat the babies they kill but is this common among squirrels?
In my article, we’ll get deeper into whether squirrels eat their babies or not, if squirrels do breastfeed their young ones, and among others. Stay calm and learn more.
Do Squirrels Give Live Babies?
In today’s world, squirrels are known to live in the wild, and only a few people appreciate them as pets. These are not the kind of creatures we can see every day, and some of their behaviors are probably new to us.
If you think that squirrels do birth live young, then you aren’t far from the truth. They reproduce by mating, and after a gestation period of about 29-65 days, depending on the squirrel’s size, a female gives live babies.
Usually, mating occurs in two periods; in late winter, around late February, and this mating season can go up to May and at the end of spring. And this indicates that most squirrels will produce their litter twice a year, one in late spring and one in late summer.
A female squirrel can birth about 2-5 kittens but may have more, and she takes care of them until they are about ten weeks old before weaning. The kittens are born blind, toothless, and without fur and are about one inch long.
By the time a baby squirrel is eight weeks old, the fur is fully grown, teeth are developed, it can climb and move about the outdoors.
Do Squirrels Breastfeed their Babies?
All mammals breastfeed their live young, and squirrels are no exception. A mother squirrel breastfeeds its helpless babies for about two weeks, after which they can venture outside the nest. But it doesn’t end there; the mother will still look after the kittens for around one more month until they become fully independent.
The mother nurses baby squirrels every 2-4 hours for a couple of weeks. By the time the kittens are about seven weeks old, you can hear them making noise snakes, and this time they begin to follow their mother around within the nest.
How well a baby develops into an adult depends on the nursing ability of its mother. If the mother has excellent nursing ability, this improves baby’s development capability, and, in the end, you get nothing but healthy squirrels.
Additionally, the nursing period among squirrels varies depending on the species. For instance, flying squirrels are weaned at three months after learning how to glide. Tree squirrels, on the other hand, nurse until the baby squirrels are ten weeks old.
Do Squirrels Eat their Babies?
I want you always to remember that a female squirrel can mate with several males during mating season. This results in a mother having babies with several different fathers.
For example, where a female produces 3-5 young ones, there could be more than three fathers amongst the pups. Infanticide isn’t a new thing for squirrels, and this behavior is famous in males.
Some murderous males not only kill the pups but also eat the carcass. In most cases, a squirrel in captivity is exposed to not more than one male, reducing infanticides. Therefore, there is a reduced chance of the pet squirrels eating their youngsters.
However, this is different in the wild since a female can see more than two males in her heat period and eventually mates with them. Since it is difficult to tell which babies are for which father, a male squirrel intentionally kills all the youngsters wanting to be fathered alone.
After killing the pups, that marks the end of the female’s body from lactating, and she is ready to mate again. The murderous male squirrel mates the female and guards her against other males until she gives birth. This way, the male sire these babies.
So, what is the answer for the question: “do squirrels eat their babies?”
To answer your question, squirrels can indeed eat their babies after killing them, but this is not common.
You might also like: Do squirrels mate for life?
What Do Squirrels Do with their Dead Babies?
It is not new to us that squirrels, specifically the males, eat the dead babies’ bodies after deliberately killing them.
Did you ever see squirrels burying their own? If you agree with me, squirrels don’t tend to bury other dead squirrels.
In most cases, the dead carcass remains in the nest and decays there or lies outdoors where the predators come and eat. There are times when you see a dead body of a squirrel lying on the ground, but the carcass is nowhere to be seen at later hours.
Squirrels are prey to numerous animals, including but not limited to eagles, hawks, snakes, raccoons, dogs, skunks, minks, cats, and ravens. These animals will always celebrate at the view of squirrels, which serves as their flavorsome meal.
So, the carcass’s disappearance means that there are predators nearby and are responsible for taking or munching on it. So, the mother squirrel will throw the dead babies out of the drey and expose them to predators.
Do Squirrels Steal Each Other’s Babies?
The squirrel mom typically carries her babies from one nest to another for various reasons. For instance, the mom may feel threatened, especially when predators try to find their way into the drey. Or perhaps ants are invading the nests and troubling the squirrels.
In such cases, the mother who wants her kids’ best has to migrate the babies to a different and safe location quickly. The truth is that mother squirrels don’t steal each other’s babies, as raising her own is still troubling.
After relocating the babies to a new place, the mom usually returns to the old drey and makes sure that no baby is remaining behind. Upon seeing this, a person may think the squirrel is the thief, but it is not in reality.
The wild squirrels are open to predation, and the harsh condition raises enough trouble for the nursing squirrels. And this is the place where the migration of babies is common.
Life in captivity is relatively friendly, and relocation from one nest to another is uncommon unless there are poor husbandry practices.
I appreciate that you read this article, and the thing that I want you to keep in mind is that squirrels do practice infanticide, particularly the males. The male deliberately kills another male’s offspring to increase the chance of him siring his kids when the female breeds again.
Also, some males will proceed and eat the carcass of the babies they kill, although cannibalism is quite rare among squirrels. Another fascinating thing about squirrels is that they are not used to stealing each other’s youngsters.
Squirrels are mammals, which means that they breastfeed their babies, just like any other mammal. Baby squirrels are born helpless, with no fur, teeth and are unable to see. Thus, the mother has to look after them for about three months. The males don’t take care of their babies, they usually leave after mating.