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How Long Do Squirrels Live? The 5 Differences Between Species

Rarely does a day come to an end before receiving a scurry of hungry squirrels in my backyard. I enjoy seeing them gobble up the nuts from the trees, and I fancy feeding them.

It would not be puffery to say that I’m fond of these enchanting furballs. Whoops! I virtually forgot to tell you about my beloved pet squirrels; she is splendorous.

I’m never bored when around her, and she multiplies my curiosity of knowing many things about squirrels, e.g., how long do squirrels live?

My question needed an answer, and I had to do something. And now I am glad to share with you my findings after doing the research. Continue reading to be informed!

This article has been reviewed by Dr. Linda. Read more about our knowledge control process here.

How Long Do Squirrels Live?

Do you fear losing your beloved pet as much as I do? I believe that any pet enthusiast desires to live long with their darling animals.

Keep in mind that squirrels are abundant in number; the world records more than 200 species of these rodents. How long squirrels live varies depending on species. Some species have a lifespan that is a bit longer than others.

Furthermore, a squirrel’s sex and habitat greatly determine its life expectancy. Please tag along to be acquainted with different squirrel species and their average lifespan.

The Lifespan of Eastern Grey Squirrels

How Long Do Squirrels Live?
Wild eastern grey squirrels can live 6 years and even more in captivity

The eastern grey squirrels can live in myriads of places, including woodlands and forests. They are also present in yards and urban parks. They primarily stay in permanent dens within the tree cavities.

A wild eastern grey squirrel has an average life expectancy of six years or less in the wild, but they can live a bit longer in captivity.

The oldest pet grey squirrel in history died when she was over 20 years old.  But in the wild, the longest life recorded is 12 years.

It’s easy for females to live up to 12 years in the wild, but the males can die even before their 10’s because they have to cope with abundant challenges.

The Lifespan of Red Squirrels

red squirrel live for about 3-5 years in the wild
The mean life expectancy for a red squirrel is about 3-5 years in the wild

The mean life expectancy for a red squirrel is about 3-5 years in the wild. It applies to both males and females, but the latter can die earlier, even before one year old. But this is different for most species where females live longer.

Captivated red squirrels are under proper care and live in a safe environment, enabling them to live for many years, usually around 5-8 years or more.

But there are those lucky squirrels that manage to survive for many years in their natural environment. The first wild red squirrel to record the longest life was nine years old.

The Lifespan of Eastern Fox Squirrels

Eastern Fox Squirrels
Eastern Fox Squirrels

The majority of eastern fox squirrels die before attaining maturity because of many predators in the wild. However, lucky individuals can survive from 8-18 years. This is increased longevity compared to other species.

Unfortunately, males rarely live more than eight years, but this is different with females. The females are known to live up to 13 years or more, on average. 

Captivated squirrels aren’t endangered, and therefore record quite high longevity, and fox squirrels are no exception. A good number of them have lived up to 18 years old.

The Lifespan of Southern Flying Squirrels

Southern Flying Squirrels
Southern Flying Squirrels

In the wild, the southern flying squirrels have a reduced lifespan compared to other non-flying squirrels. They can live anywhere from 3-5 years in their natural environment, perhaps a few individuals reaching seven years.

Conversely, the same rodents have a longer lifespan in captivity, going up to ten years. The maximum age recorded for a southern flying squirrel in captivity is 19 years.

The Lifespan of Ground Squirrels

Ground Squirrels
Ground Squirrels

The popular members in this group include Richardson ground squirrel, California ground squirrel, Arctic ground squirrel, among others. We have a good number of them.

The young ground squirrels are more vulnerable to snake attacks in the burrows, and the majority of them pass on before they’re one year old. Generally, ground squirrels have a short lifespan; they usually live around 2-4 years in the wild.

Most males pass away at two years or below, while some females survive up to four years.

The ground squirrels’ lifespan is fairly increased in captivity. For instance, the maximum age reported for a captivated Richardson ground squirrel is seven years.

4 Factors That Impact a Squirrel’s Lifespan

Now you are aware that gender is a contributing factor to the lifespan of a squirrel. But aside from that, how long a squirrel can live is dependent on several other elements.

Below are the four factors that have a direct impact on a squirrel’s life longevity. There are a handful of things you need to know, so please don’t tire up!

Living Condition

Food is a key factor for our survival. Even squirrels require food for them to continue living. A starving squirrel can pass on even before reaching its average lifespan.

Furthermore, how safe the environment is tends to impact the life length of a squirrel. For example, pet squirrels and those living in urban areas are quite safe from many things.

Most wild animals can’t dwell alongside the many man-made developments in the city, but squirrels adapt very well to these places. Such squirrels have fewer enemies compared to those living in the wild.

Moreover, pet squirrels don’t need to forage for food; they get everything they need from humans. A good life and a safe environment increase the number of years these rodents can live.

Visit here for a handy squirrels food chart


The life of a wild squirrel is overly unpredictable. Squirrels are lower in the food chain, and therefore have a vast number of predators.

The list of squirrel predators includes red-tailed hawks, red foxes, weasels, badgers, coyotes, wild cats, stoats, mink, domestic dogs, and domestic cats.

Rattlesnakes and black snakes are the biggest enemies to baby squirrels which are helpless and unable to defend themselves.

Because of so many predators, the majority of the squirrels lose life at an early age. Not so many squirrels reach or go past their average lifespan.

Common Diseases and Parasites

The pet squirrels that fall sick always get treated by exotic veterinarians. However, most wild squirrels lack such an advantage, and therefore, a diseased wild squirrel can die anytime.

Squirrels are more susceptible to squirrel pox disease. The disease is characterized by rapid loss of body condition and tends to kill red squirrels more. Grey squirrels remain to be carriers of the squirrel pox virus for a long time.

A squirrel can also suffer from other diseases like Tularemia, leptospirosis, and Lyme disease. Moreover, these rodents can become hosts to a couple of internal and external parasites.

The list of such parasites includes fleas, ticks, flesh flies, single-celled coccidia, nematodes, flatworms, and trypanosomes. Ground squirrels can become victims of flesh flies.

Adult flesh flies lay live larvae on a ground squirrel’s skin, which continue feeding on the squirrel’s tissues for about six days and eventually cause death.

Tooth Loss or Loss of Vision

Squirrels have four large and sharp incisors for a good reason; the teeth help these rodents to consume food. Therefore, a squirrel that accidentally loses its teeth will starve and eventually die.

Squirrels are foragers, and this ability allows them to obtain food even from distant places. And because these critters are completely independent, a squirrel without vision suffers alone; no other squirrel will care for it.

Vision and tooth loss can cause death due to starvation. So then, in case of a broken tooth, prompt treatment is required for the squirrel’s survival.

There are cases when a squirrel’s tooth grows past its jaw or the incisors are improperly aligned. This condition is called malocclusion and requires medical treatment, or else the squirrel will die.

Are Squirrels Protected?

Maybe you’re offended by the squirrels that are coming to steal vegetables from your garden and want to know if you can kill them? But the truth is that squirrels are protected animals, which applies to many states of the world.

For instance, red squirrels are declining in many countries, and therefore, it is a big offense to injure, kill, or destroy their shelters intentionally.

If you don’t want these rodents in your home, here are the best approaches that you can use to repel them without taking away their life.

Some states allow the killing of grey squirrels but only in a humane way. However, since most people cannot adhere to this rule, it’s advised to seek help from an exotic professional if you have problems with the grey squirrels.

Also, some countries allow only people that are licensed to keep squirrels. Always confirm with your state and know the conditions they give in owning and keeping away squirrels.

In Conclusion

When it comes to keeping squirrels, so many questions crisscross in mind, one of them is being curious about the lifespan of squirrels.

There are many species of squirrels, and they differ in their way of life and how long they can live. Now you know the life expectancy of squirrels like the grey squirrels, southern flying squirrels, ground squirrels, and eastern fox squirrels.

Captivated squirrels have many things that allow them to live for many years more than wild squirrels. They are provided with healthy foods, receive treatment when sick, sleep in safe places, and have fewer predators.

Most wild squirrels live less than ten years since they have to cope with many challenges out there. They are exposed to a series of predators and go untreated when sick.

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