How long do squirrels live is a great question! The average lifespan varies greatly depending on their species and environment. In the wild, most squirrels can live for about 6 years if lucky. However, they may live a bit longer if they’ve made it past their first year—which can be full of challenges! In contrast, squirrels who live in captivity, like in a zoo, sanctuary, or with a rehabber have been known to reach the ripe old age of 20 years!
What is the Average Age of a Wild Squirrel?
In the wild, squirrels typically have a 6 to 12 years lifespan. Still, unfortunately, a significant portion of the squirrel population does not survive past their first year, with approximately 25% dying before reaching one year. However, in captivity, squirrels can live much longer, with lifespans ranging from 10 to 20 years.
Squirrel Lifespan: How Long Do Squirrels Live?
In the wild, squirrels face numerous challenges, such as predators and harsh weather conditions. As a result, their average lifespan is significantly lower than in captivity, typically ranging from 1 to 6 years.
How Long Do Domesticated Squirrels Live?
Squirrels kept as pets or in captivity, protected from predators and provided with a consistent food source, can live significantly longer than their wild counterparts. Their lifespan may range from 8 to 20 years.
How Long Do Backyard Squirrels Live?
Backyard squirrels, often Eastern gray or American red squirrels, typically live between 2-3 years in the wild. However, reaching that age isn’t a walk in the park!
Young squirrels face many challenges, including predators and harsh weather conditions, so if they make it past their first year, they can live a bit longer.
What is the Oldest Squirrel Ever?
Interestingly, the oldest recorded living squirrel was almost 24 years old (23 and 6 months old), but this is far from the norm. That little fella lived in a protected environment in Wisconsin’s Racine Zoo.
How Old is a Squirrel to Human?
That’s a fun and exciting question! If we consider the lifespan of a squirrel in comparison to a human, it might give us an interesting perspective.
The average lifespan of a squirrel in the wild is about 6 years, while the average human lifespan is roughly 72 years worldwide.
So if we do the math, each squirrel year would be roughly equivalent to 12 human years (72 divided by 6).
This means a 2-year-old squirrel could be considered similar in “age” to a 24-year-old human.
But remember, this is a rough comparison and doesn’t account for differences in development, maturity, or lifestyle between humans and squirrels.
Squirrel Life Cycle: From Birth to Maturity
The squirrel life cycle consists of four stages: birth, infancy, juvenile, and adult. Squirrels typically reach sexual maturity at one year and can continue to reproduce.
|Babies (kittens)||0-5 weeks old|
|Weanlings||8 weeks old|
|Adolescents||6-14 weeks old|
|Growing Adults||3-9 months old|
|Full-grown Adults||9 months old and up|
How Long Do Squirrels Live – What Kills Squirrels?
The habitat in which a squirrel lives can significantly impact its lifespan. Squirrels living in areas with abundant food sources, suitable shelter, and fewer predators generally have a better chance of survival and longer lifespans.
Squirrels face various threats from predators in their natural habitat, including birds of prey, snakes, and larger mammals. These predators can significantly impact squirrel populations, particularly juveniles with a lower chance of survival during their first year.
Due to their small size and high numbers, squirrels are often hunted by predators, including snakes, carnivorous mammals, birds of prey, weasels, black snakes, skunks, foxes, hawks, and owls. In addition to natural predators, humans also hunt squirrels for their fur and meat.
Cars – Roadkill Accidents
Squirrels are often killed by cars, particularly in urban areas with a lot of vehicular traffic. Squirrels are not always aware of the danger posed by cars and may dart across roads without looking, putting them at risk of being hit.
Also, squirrels may be attracted to roadsides where food is available, such as discarded fast food, which can increase their risk of being hit by a car.
Illness and Disease
Squirrels can be susceptible to various illnesses and diseases, some of which can be fatal. Some of the most common diseases that can affect squirrels include:
- Parvovirus is a highly contagious disease that can cause severe diarrhea and dehydration. It is often fatal in young squirrels.
- Distemper: Distemper is a viral disease that can cause respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous problems in squirrels. It can be fatal in some cases.
- Botulism: Botulism is a bacterial disease that can cause muscle weakness, paralysis, and respiratory failure in squirrels. It is often caused by ingesting contaminated food or water.
- West Nile Virus: This is a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes and can cause fever, headache, and other flu-like symptoms in squirrels. It can be fatal in some cases.
- Salmonella: Salmonella is a bacterial disease that can cause severe diarrhea and dehydration in squirrels. It is often caused by consuming contaminated food or water.
- Lyme Disease: Lyme disease is a bacterial disease transmitted by ticks and can cause fever, joint pain, and other symptoms in squirrels. It can be fatal in some cases.
- Tularemia: Tularemia is a bacterial disease that can cause fever, swollen lymph nodes, and other symptoms in squirrels. It is often caused by exposure to infected animals or contaminated water.
Climate, food availability, and disease can impact a squirrel’s lifespan. Squirrels living in harsh climates with limited food sources may not survive as long as those in more favorable environments.
Falling Out of the Nest
Falling out of the nest can be dangerous for young squirrels, as they are born without fur and cannot regulate their body temperature. Additionally, they may be vulnerable to predators or other environmental hazards, such as extreme temperatures or dehydration.
If a baby squirrel falls out of the nest, the mother may abandon it if she perceives that the situation is too dangerous to retrieve her offspring. The mother may also abandon a baby squirrel if she feels that it is sick or weak and unlikely to survive.
In such cases, it’s essential to seek help from a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center, as they have the expertise to care for and rehabilitate baby squirrels until they are ready to be released back into the wild.
Disclaimer: If you find a sick, injured, or orphaned animal, please don’t take on the responsibility of caring for it yourself. Please locate a licensed rehabber in your area, and remember, this is about the animal’s one chance at life.
Looking for a Rehabber? Here are 3 Resources
- Squirrel Rehab Locator Map – input your zip code or city into the search bar of Google Maps.
- Animal Help Now – licensed rehabber directory
- Squirrel Connections – licensed rehabber directory by state
Captivity vs. Wild
Squirrels living in captivity, such as in zoos or as pets, tend to live longer than their wild counterparts. This is mainly due to the protection from predators, consistent access to food, and controlled environments that captivity provides.
Grey Squirrel Lifespan: How Long Do Grey Squirrels Live?
Grey squirrels, also known as Eastern gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis), are native to North America and are commonly found in wooded and urban areas.
In the wild, grey squirrels typically have a lifespan of around 6 to 12 years, although some individuals may live longer under favorable conditions.
Captive grey squirrels may have a lifespan of up to 15 years or more.
Fox Squirrel Lifespan: How Long do Fox Squirrels Live?
Fox squirrels (Sciurus niger) are the largest tree squirrels native to North America, known for their distinctive reddish-brown fur and bushy tails. Fox squirrels are also known as eastern or Bryant’s fox squirrels.
In the wild, fox squirrels or brown squirrels generally have a lifespan of around 6 to 12 years, although some individuals may live longer under favorable conditions. It’s important to note that the survival rate for juvenile fox squirrels is relatively low, as many do not survive past their first year due to predation or other factors.
Captive fox squirrels or brown squirrels may have a lifespan of up to 18 years or more.
Fox squirrels are sometimes mistaken for American red squirrels or eastern gray squirrels. They have a beautiful coat that ranges from brown to black with a brownish-orange underside, with their tail often spanning shades of yellowish orange on one end and dark chocolate at its other tip.
Chipmunk Lifespan: How Long Do Chipmunks Live?
On average, chipmunks live between 2 to 6 years in the wild. However, their life expectancy can be significantly higher in captivity, where they are protected from predators and provided with consistent food sources. In captivity, chipmunks can live up to 8 to 10 years.
Various species of chipmunks have slightly different lifespans. For instance, the Eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus) typically lives in the wild for 2 to 3 years, while the Least chipmunk (Tamias minimus) can live up to 6 years.
The Siberian chipmunk (Eutamias sibiricus) has a similar lifespan, with some individuals living up to 6 years in the wild.
|Chipmunk Species||Lifespan (in the wild)|
|Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus)||2 to 3 years|
|Least Chipmunk (Tamias minimus)||Up to 6 years|
|Siberian Chipmunk (Eutamias sibiricus)||Up to 6 years|
|Yellow-pine Chipmunk (Tamias amoenus)||2 to 5 years|
|Cliff Chipmunk (Tamias dorsalis)||3 to 5 years|
|Colorado Chipmunk (Tamias quadrivittatus)||3 to 6 years|
|Gray-footed Chipmunk (Tamias canipes)||Unknown|
|Uinta Chipmunk (Tamias umbrinus)||Unknown|
Flying Squirrel Lifespan: How Long Do Flying Squirrels Live?
Flying squirrels are small, nocturnal rodents known for their ability to glide from tree to tree using a specialized membrane called the patagium. There are multiple species of flying squirrels, with the most common ones in North America being the Northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) and the Southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans).
In the wild, flying squirrels typically have a lifespan of 4 to 6 years, although some individuals may live longer under favorable conditions.
Captive flying squirrels may have a lifespan of up to 10 years or more.
Eurasian Red Squirrel Lifespan: How Long do Eurasian Red Squirrels Live?
Eurasian red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) are small, arboreal rodents native to Europe and Asia. They are known for their reddish fur and tufted ears, which make them easily distinguishable from other squirrel species.
In the wild, Eurasian red squirrels typically have a lifespan of around 3 to 7 years, although some individuals may live longer under favorable conditions.
Captive Eurasian red squirrels may have a lifespan of up to 10 years or more.
Ground Squirrel Lifespan: How Long Do Ground Squirrels Live?
Ground squirrels, like the California ground squirrel, usually have a shorter lifespan than tree squirrels, living between 3 to 6 years on average.
The ground squirrel is a fascinating animal inhabiting all sorts of dry and uninviting habitats. They are medium-sized animals with bushy tails seen everywhere, from North America, Europe, and Asia, living in the desert to urban parks.
They are herbivores that feed almost exclusively on plant matter, although they can survive on a diet of insects and small reptiles when necessary.
Ground Squirrel Species: A Comparative Analysis of Lifespan
|Ground Squirrel Species||Lifespan|
|California Ground Squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi)||Up to 6 years|
|Washington Ground Squirrel||No information available|
|Arctic Ground Squirrel||8 to 10 years|
|Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus)||Just a few years (90% of newborns die from predation before hibernation begins)|
|Round-tailed Ground Squirrel||Up to 9 years|
|Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel||Up to 7 years|
|Sierra Madre Ground Squirrel||Up to 6 years|
|Cascade Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel||Up to 4 years|
|White-tailed Prairie Dog||Lifespan unknown|
|Black-tailed Prairie Dog||5 to 8 years|
|Alpine Marmot||Up to 15 years|
American Red Squirrel Lifespan: How Long Do Red Squirrels Live?
American red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), also known as pine squirrels or North American red squirrels, are small tree squirrels native to North America.
American red squirrels typically have a lifespan of around 3 to 7 years in the wild, although some individuals may live longer under favorable conditions.
Captive red squirrels may have a lifespan of up to 10 years or more.
Douglas Squirrel Lifespan: How Long Do Douglas Squirrels Live?
Douglas squirrels (Tamiasciurus douglasii), also known as chickarees or pine squirrels, are small tree squirrels native to the Pacific Northwest of North America.
Douglas squirrels typically have a lifespan of around 5 to 6 years in the wild, although some individuals may live longer under favorable conditions. Captive Douglas squirrels may have a lifespan of up to 10 years or more.
Abert Squirrel Lifespan: How Long Do Abert Squirrels Live?
Abert’s squirrels (Sciurus aberti) are medium-sized tree squirrels native to the coniferous forests of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. They are known for their distinctive tufted ears and long, bushy tails.
In the wild, Abert’s squirrels typically have a lifespan of around 6 to 8 years, although some individuals may live longer under favorable conditions. It is worth noting that the survival rate of juvenile Abert’s squirrels is relatively low, with many not making it past their first year due to predation or other factors.
Captive Abert’s squirrels may have a lifespan of up to 10 years or more.
Western Gray Squirrel Lifespan: How Long Do Western Gray Squirrels Live?
Western gray squirrels (Sciurus griseus) are a species of tree squirrel native to the western regions of North America. They are known for their silvery-gray fur and bushy tails, making them easily distinguishable from other squirrel species.
In the wild, western gray squirrels typically have a lifespan of around 6 to 8 years, although some individuals may live longer under favorable conditions. It is worth noting that the survival rate of juvenile western gray squirrels is relatively low.
Many not making it past their first year due to predation or other factors.
Captive western gray squirrels may have a lifespan of up to 12 years or more.
How Long do Tree Squirrels Live?
Tree squirrels generally have a lifespan ranging from 5 to 10 years in the wild. However, some species of tree squirrels, like the Eastern gray squirrel, can live up to 12 years or even longer if they have access to abundant food sources and live in favorable conditions.
Tree squirrels generally have a lifespan ranging from 5 to 10 years in the wild. However, some species of tree squirrels, like the Eastern gray squirrel, can live up to 12 years or even longer if they have access to abundant food sources and live in favorable conditions. Factors such as habitat quality, availability of food, predation, and disease can influence the lifespan of tree squirrels. In captivity, where they are protected from natural threats, tree squirrels have been known to live up to 20 years or more.
How Long Do Squirrels Live in a Home?
In a home environment, the lifespan of squirrels can differ from their lifespan in the wild.
Red squirrels, for instance, can live up to eight years when kept in captivity, whereas their average lifespan in the wild is approximately five years.
Similarly, gray squirrels have an extended lifespan when living as pets. In captivity, they can live as long as 20 years; in the wild, their average lifespan is around six years.
Are Squirrels Endangered?
Many squirrels are not endangered, but some are considered threatened or endangered due to habitat loss, hunting, and other factors.
For example, the Delmarva fox squirrel (Sciurus niger cinereus) was listed as endangered in 1967 due to habitat loss and overhunting, but conservation efforts have helped its population recover.
The red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) is considered near threatened due to habitat loss and competition with some regions’ introduced gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis).
It’s important to note that the status of squirrels varies by species and region, so it’s best to look up the specific species in question to determine its conservation status.
Conclusion: How Long Do Squirrels Live?
Squirrels are captivating creatures with many lifespans depending on their species, habitat, and various external factors. While some squirrels may live just a few years in the wild, others can thrive for over a decade, especially when protected from predators and provided with ample food resources.
No matter their lifespan, these agile and intelligent mammals continue to capture the hearts and curiosity of nature enthusiasts worldwide.
If you’re eager to learn even more about squirrels, we invite you to explore our article on arctic squirrel hibernation for an in-depth look at this fascinating aspect of their lives.