Are Squirrels Nocturnal?

Some species of squirrels are active at night, especially the flying squirrel, which is the only kind that can be considered nocturnal. 

Squirrels are mammals, and like most mammals, they are active during the daytime which makes them diurnal animals. They do all of their daily endeavors while the sun is still up and rest during the night. However, some species of squirrels are active at night, especially the flying squirrel, which is the only kind that can be considered nocturnal. 

Life Habits And Biology Of Squirrels

Squirrels are classified into the biological family Sciuridae. That family contains smaller rodents. But they can also be divided into other subspecies such as flying squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, and many others. They are native to Europe, Asia, North and South America, and Africa, but were also brought to Australia by humans.

Squirrels are almost always tiny, have delicate bodies with large hairy tails. Some species can, however, grow much larger, and can weigh up to 18 pounds. They also have big eyes that grant them fantastic vision and a well-developed sense of touch. Squirrels use their claws for climbing trees and can be found in every type of terrain except the arid deserts and the polar regions.

A squirrel peeking behind the tree trunk
A squirrel peeking behind a tree trunk.

They mostly eat nuts and various seeds, although some are known to feed on insects. A large number of squirrels can die during the first year of their lives. If they reach adulthood, they can live anywhere from 5 to 10 years. In captivity, they are known to survive even longer than that. The cause of such early death is often the squirrel’s nest falling from the tree. 

Squirrel Behavior

The mating period of squirrels happens two times per year at most. The number of offspring can vary from one species to another. Squirrels are born blind, naked, and without teeth. The females take care of the young by themselves until they are ready to join the other squirrels. Those that habituate the grounds often live in colonies and are social, while the species that live on trees lead more solitary lives.

To survive, squirrels need foods rich in protein, fats, and carbohydrates. They bury the nuts they collect into the ground, which often creates a problem in warmer regions. During the early spring, the nuts that were buried begin to sprout, which means squirrels cannot eat them anymore, and other sources of food are still not attainable. Some squirrels are known to eat meat when facing extreme hunger. 

Squirrels As Nocturnal Animals

As mentioned earlier, the majority of squirrel species are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day. The only species active during the night are flying squirrels. The reason flying squirrels are nocturnal is because they are not able to efficiently escape birds that hunt during the daytime. Flying squirrels do not fly in the same way birds do; they can only glide from tree to tree. They do not have wings, but a furry membrane that connects their wrists with their ankles called a patagium. They also have long tails for stability.

They are very similar to other squirrels in almost every other way. They do, however, have longer bones in their limbs and eat almost anything they can find, from seeds to insects.

About the Author

Antonia is a sociologist and an anglicist by education, but a writer and a behavior enthusiast by inclination. If she's not writing, editing or reading, you can usually find her snuggling with her huge dog or being obsessed with a new true-crime podcast. She also has a (questionably) healthy appreciation for avocados and Seinfeld.


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