Do Squirrels Lay Eggs? Reproduction by laying eggs is a natural behavior for many domesticated and wild animals. Upon incubation, the eggs hatch into offspring. Are squirrels in this category; do they lay eggs? Let’s find out.
Squirrels are accustomed to living in the wild, although these animals form the largest group of visible wildlife in human areas. Their beauty attracts many people who get enticed to tame them.
We know squirrels are attractive, but is that all for them? No is an obvious answer. Many things about squirrels remain pending in peoples’ minds, including whether squirrels are egg layers or not.
Join me, and let’s explore the article to learn in detail, facts about squirrels and to answer the question if they lay eggs, and lots more.
Understanding Egg-Laying Behavior in Animals
The term oviparous best describes animals that lay eggs. Egg-laying animals are many in the animal kingdom, comprising 95% or more, but do you know them? Are squirrels also on the list?
Laying eggs is a reproductive method for a couple of animals, including most reptiles, fish, birds, and a few mammals. Females are responsible for both laying and incubating the eggs for hatching.
The males might watch and feed the females, or they’re without duties. However, in some animal species such as doves, pigeons, etc., both males and females sit on the eggs in shifts to keep them warm and protected.
Females produce the eggs through the vent or cloaca. They seclude their eggs from the reach of other animals and arrange them at one point. After the laying period is completed, incubation follows, and its length varies depending on the species.
Do Squirrels Lay Eggs?
No, squirrels do not lay eggs. If you look at a female squirrel closely, you will notice it has a mammary gland, and of course, the most visible feature is the presence of hair on the body. What does it tell you?
If your answer is mammals, then you guessed it right. Squirrels are eutherians, meaning that they are placental mammals. All placental mammals obtain their offspring through live birth.
After conception, a female squirrel is pregnant for 4-6 weeks depending on the type of squirrel. For instance, the gestation period for Alpine marmot is 33-34 days, the Siberian chipmunk is 28-35 days, and Eastern grey squirrels are pregnant for 44 days.
Typically, the females give birth two times a year, during the spring and winter. The mother produces a litter of 2-5 newborns or more, and they are hairless, toothless, and initially blind.
There are no traceable duties of male squirrels in caring for the young ones. In most cases, after copulation, the male goes to its whereabouts, and the female is on its own. She protects the babies by herself.
How Long Do Baby Squirrels Stay in the Nest?
How often do you see baby squirrels wandering with their mother? The truth is that, baby squirrels barely leave the nest. The squirrels we see roaming around our places are adults.
Baby squirrels spend about 10-12 weeks in their nest. They are in their nest for all that time, being watched over by the mother. Any idea why the babies need to stay indoors for this long?
To reiterate, baby squirrels are weak, hairless, blind, and with no teeth at birth. These innocent creatures have no hint of anything happening around them and are only dependent on the mother.
At four weeks old, the baby’s eyes will be open, and at around 6-7 weeks, it can explore outside the nest. When the baby reaches ten weeks old, it already has fur and teeth, and weaning mostly happens at this age.
Receiving protection from the mother increases the chances of survival for the babies. Otherwise, a baby squirrel left on its own could die immediately.
What Happens to Baby Squirrels if the Mother Dies?
Baby squirrels produce a relatively faint sound, meaning that it’s impossible to hear them all the time. And this makes it pretty difficult to rescue them in case of the absence of the mother.
Also, we don’t know which wild squirrel is mother to which babies, and we are also unaware if a mother dies. So, what’s next for baby squirrels after the mother is dead or is turned into a meal for predators?
Obviously, the babies will try to leave the nest when they get hungry, and some might even die in the nest.
If the nests are on trees, the babies fall. The lucky ones are rescued; some die after falling, while others become food to predators.
Can You Foster a Baby Squirrel?
Whether fostering is a thing for squirrels is a common question from baby squirrel’s rescuers. All babies, with squirrels included, are nursed best by their mother.
We can undoubtedly raise squirrels, but be sure the care that mother squirrels give is incomparable to what we can provide. That is not something to debate on. It’s only the mother who understands her kids well.
The best advice for any person rescuing a baby squirrel would be to try and reunite the baby with its mother. If the mother cannot be found, looking for a squirrel rescue group is also a good option.
Note that, Squirrels can also adopt orphaned or abandoned babies. However, the mother does not welcome any other babies but only their orphaned relatives. The pups must be close relatives to the adoptive mother.
What Do Squirrels Do with their Dead Babies?
A baby squirrel can accidentally die in the nest. In case that happens, what does the mother do with the carcass? One thing that comes to our mind is that the dead baby becomes a flavorsome meal to the mother.
The mother can indeed eat the carcass; however, this is not common in the squirrel world. Only a few squirrels will eat their dead babies, and something must trigger them to do so, e.g., hunger.
The majority of the mother squirrels throw the dead baby out of the nest and expose it to predators.
This marks the end of my article, and I hope you haven’t wasted your time reading it. I have explained to you about squirrels and egg-laying, and it’s clear that squirrels don’t lay eggs.
Instead, these pretty rodents give rise to living babies through the normal birthing process as humans do. Moreover, squirrels produce about two litters of offspring in one year, and each litter may comprise 2-5 pups or more.
Another thing clear to us now is that a mother squirrel will only adopt the orphaned babies related to it. Baby squirrels under a mother’s protection have increased chances of surviving.