Contrary to popular belief, many squirrel species like the eastern gray squirrel, fox squirrel, and red squirrel do not hibernate during the winter months. They are in fact one of the smallest mammalian species that does not hibernate, though they do use a number of techniques to help them get through the colder winter months.
When fall begins to set in, squirrels will begin foraging for foods like nuts and seeds which they then store in safe areas like holes in the ground or trees, or even your home if you are so unlucky. Because they do not fatten themselves up and live off of their fat reserves through the winter, they have to ensure their access to food when their sources become scarcer in the colder climate.
Unlike other creatures of similar size like bats and mice, squirrels aren’t able to retain high levels of body-fat, meaning that even if they wanted to, or if food were unavailable for a time, they would not be able to self-sustain for extended periods.
Despite their primarily vegetarian diet, squirrels have been known to prey on small birds or steal eggs when food is very scarce.
Why is it such a misconception that squirrels hibernate during the winter? When the cold weather hits, they are rarely seen as they are typically snuggled up inside a large, warm dray that they build to help protect them from the elements. When the weather is good, you may see them occasionally, but they prefer to remain in the safety and warmth of their dray.
Having Squirrel Problems?
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