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Ground Squirrel Lifespan: Fun Facts About the Lives of Ground Squirrels

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Have you ever wondered what the ground squirrel lifespan is? Many people may not realize that they can live up to six years in the wild.

In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the lives of ground squirrels and learn some fun facts about their lifespan!

Ground squirrel lifespan

Where do ground squirrels live?

Ground squirrels are a type of rodent found in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Ground squirrels live in various habitats, including forests, grasslands, deserts, and scrublands.

The California ground squirrel will colonize residential areas with open grassy spaces, wreaking significant damage in the process.

Ground squirrels can destroy buildings by burrowing beneath the building foundation.

Although most California ground squirrel populations flourish in areas with mild winters, such as Northern California, there are known populations in the middle Sierra Nevada Mountains at elevations of over 7,000 feet.

How deep do ground squirrels burrow?

California ground squirrels sleep, rest, rear young, store food, and avoid danger in colonial burrow systems.

Their burrows are approximately 4 inches in diameter. Burrow systems typically range in length from 5 to 30 feet. The majority of burrow systems are within 2 to 3 feet of the ground’s surface, but they can occasionally reach a depth of 6 feet or more. Single tunnels or complicated branching networks can be seen in burrows. Burrows may be occupied by a single squirrel or a large colony of squirrels.

Grounds squirrels will go into their burrow during the hottest time of the day to cool down. This time is called “estivation.” This time is similar to hibernation and typically lasts from 10 to 14 days but may last for months!

The California ground squirrel is active for most of the year and rarely hibernates.

How big is a ground squirrel?

There are over 20 different species of ground squirrel, and they can vary in size from 6 inches to 18 inches long.

Do ground squirrels mate for life?

No, ground squirrels do NOT mate for life.

The male ground squirrel does not help raise its young.

What does a ground squirrel range typically look like?

Ground squirrels will typically travel within two miles of their nest per day but have been known to travel up to 10 miles in one day.

They are active during the day and spend most of their time foraging for food.

Ground squirrel lifespan

Most baby squirrels will die before reaching maturity.
Interestingly, ground squirrels have lived up to 10 years in captivity, but the average lifespan in the wild is much shorter due to predators and other risks.
The oldest known ground squirrel was a male that lived for 6.5 years in the wild.

Lifespans of wild squirrels

  • California ground squirrel (otospermophilus beecheyi) – up to 6 years
  • Washington ground squirrel – less than 5 years
  • Arctic ground squirrel – 8-10 years
  • Thirteen lined ground squirrel (spermophilus tridecemlineatus)- 5 years
  • Round tailed ground squirrel – 8-9 years
  • Fox squirrel – females 12.6 years, males 8.6 years
  • Eastern Gray Squirrel (Grey Squirrel) (sciurus carolinensis) – 6 years
  • Red Squirrel – 3-5 years
  • Southern flying squirrel – 5-6 years
  • Tree squirrel – 5-6 years

How often can grounds squirrels mate?

Ground squirrels may have new litters every few months, and some ground squirrels may have only two litters per year.

Ground Squirrel Breeding

California ground squirrels’ breeding season starts in December.

Breeding seasons will start later the colder the climate and depend on when the ground squirrels emerge from hibernation.

Females will mate with more than one male.

Ground Squirrel Gestation Period

Ground squirrel gestation lasts about one month. Litter sizes vary from 2 to 15 babies. The average size of a ground squirrel litter is 5-6 babies, which are called kits or kittens.

The kittens will nurse for 7-8 weeks and will then wean.

Baby ground squirrels move out of the burrow

When weaned offspring are ready to leave the burrow, they usually stay within a two-mile range of where they were born.

Ground squirrel sexual maturity

Female ground squirrels become sexually mature and ready at 10-12 months old.

Why do squirrels chase each other?

If you see squirrels chasing each other, they aren’t just playing. The chase is part of their mating ritual.

What kind of predators do ground squirrels have?

Common ground squirrel predators include:

  • Rattlesnakes
  • Hawks
  • Eagles
  • Coyotes
  • Raccoons
  • Foxes
  • Weasels
  • Badgers
  • Owls
  • Dogs

Ground squirrels are prey animals that have shorter lifespans as a result. In addition, predators, parasites, and diseases take their toll on these rodents. However, ground squirrels are also known for their intelligence and social behavior, which can help them thrive in the face of adversity.

Click this to learn how to get rid of ground squirrels permanently. Find out how I trapped 32 ground squirrels! What bait did I use to trap ground squirrels?

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