Where Do Squirrels Sleep – Not Where You Think

Squirrels are entertaining to watch when scampering about collecting and burying nuts all day. Have you ever stopped to wonder if they ever take time to rest? When you see a squirrel, it’s a safe bet that it will be up in a tree. So, where do squirrels sleep? Check out this guide to learn where you might find squirrels sleeping.

where do squirrels sleep - squirrel sleeping on branch

What are the 3 Types of Squirrels?

Squirrels are found on every continent on Earth except Antarctica and Australia. Science divides the over 200 squirrel species into three categories.

  • Ground squirrels
  • Tree squirrels
  • Flying Squirrels

Where do Ground Squirrels Sleep?

Ground squirrels spend most of their time on the ground, rightfully so since they are named ground squirrels. Ground squirrels sleep in ground-level burrows and hibernate for the whole winter when living in a frigid climate.

When a climate is exceptionally hot or desert-like, the squirrel will estivate. Estivation is not heard of as often as Hibernation. More on estivation later.

Where do Flying Squirrels Sleep?

Even though the name implies they fly, flying squirrels don’t exactly fly.

Their web-like skin flaps on their sides allow the flying squirrels to glide, not fly from one tree to the next.

Flying squirrels live in tree dens. They build their shelter in the summertime using bark, grass, leaves, small twigs, and moss. However, sometimes you may see a flying squirrel sleeping on a tree branch or a hole in a tree left by a woodpecker.

Where Do Tree Squirrels Sleep?

Gray, Red, and Fox squirrels are the most well-known tree squirrels.

Tree squirrels sleep in dreys or dens built high up in the trees.

where do squirrels sleep - squirrel sleeping on branch
A squirrel sleeping on a branch

Do Squirrels Sleep on Tree Branches?

Squirrels are known to sleep in various places, including on tree branches. While it’s not the most common place for them to catch some shut-eye, it’s certainly not unheard of.

If a squirrel feels safe and secure on a particular branch, there’s a good chance it will snooze there for a while.

Where Are The Best Squirrel Hiding Spots?

Squirrels sleep in different places depending on the season. In the winter, they look for a place to store their food and find shelter from the snow. They enjoy sleeping in bushes and shrubs that provide cover and shade in the summer.

where do squirrels sleep - squirrel on branch at twilight hour

They also need to be near water, which is why some squirrels sleep in hollowed-out trees near water sources. Squirrels love to have multiple entrances to their nests. This way, they can get out of harm’s way quickly if necessary.

3 Things a Squirrel Finds Important When Looking for a Good Hiding Spot

  • whether or not it’s near water
  • is it secure
  • Is there a place to store food

A squirrel can lead a happier life with all three “amenities.”

What Does a Squirrel Nest Look Like?

A squirrel makes a drey using twigs, branches, leaves, and mosses. The drey is built high up in a tree between tree branch forks. Squirrels also sleep in tree holes made by woodpeckers or other natural elements such as weather.

Dens provide more protection from weather and predators than a drey and prefer shelter over a drey. To learn more about squirrel nests, visit The Ultimate Guide to Squirrel Nests.

Where Do Squirrels Sleep for Cat Naps?

Despite their lively and playful nature, much of a squirrel’s time is spent sleeping. Can you believe they sleep almost 60% of their day? A squirrel sleeps roughly 15 hours a day. Wow, that is how long my cat sleeps.

It is not uncommon for you to see a squirrel napping on the top of a birdhouse or curled up inside a cavity on a tree. If there are no holes that provide easy access into your yard, you may have seen them climbing up the side of the house!

Where Do Squirrels Sleep – in a Birdhouse or Nestbox?

It is not uncommon for you to see a squirrel napping on the top of a birdhouse or curled up inside a cavity on a tree. Squirrels love to have multiple entrances to their nests. This way, they can get out of harm’s way quickly if necessary.

Squirrels have a vital role in our forest ecosystem. The forgotten seeds buried in the ground eventually sprout into plants and trees. Have you ever thought about providing a nice warm nesting box home for such an essential animal to our environment?

There are nesting boxes available that are designed specifically for this purpose. This nesting box from Back2NatureWood is a perfect solution to offer our backyard squirrel gardeners a secure home away from predators.

Their other high-quality hand-made products include squirrel feeders, birdhouses, butterfly houses, and planters. I guarantee you will not be disappointed choosing one of these products. There are over 2000 5-star reviews from Etsy buyers.

Where Do Squirrels Sleep During Hibernation & Estivation?

In winter, ground squirrels hibernate to store their energy for activities like having babies, caring for their young, and storing away food. Ground squirrels hibernate to reserve energy for the warmer months when they have babies, care for their young, and fill their nests with food.

During Hibernation, the squirrel’s heart rate and body temperature drops by just a few degrees warmer than the temperature outside. The squirrel may only be awake for 12-20 hours a week to help it survive the cold winter.

where do squirrels sleep - Columbian ground squirrel
Columbian ground squirrel

Where Do Squirrels Sleep During Estivation?

Estivation is the opposite of Hibernation. The squirrel spends most of its day underground during estivation, shielding it from the hot sun. Another way to remember estivation is to think of it as hot-weather Hibernation.

This time of inactivity (dormancy) helps them live through droughts and extreme heat and avoid overheating from daytime activity. Estivation also accumulates body fat to help the squirrel survive the winter.

How Many Hours Do Squirrels Sleep?

Tree squirrels typically sleep for around 12 hours each day. This is broken up into two main periods, one during the day and one at night. They will usually take a few short naps in between these two main periods.

What Time of Day is a Squirrel Active?

With all the activity that goes on around squirrels, how do they manage to get 15 hours of sleep every day?

Most squirrels, except flying squirrels, are crepuscular. Crepuscular means they are mainly active during the twilight period from dusk to sunset and dawn to sunrise. Tree squirrels love the sun, and you may see them busy during the day during warmer months.

How Do Squirrels Sleep?

Squirrels, like most animals, need sleep to maintain their overall health and well-being. Their sleeping habits can vary depending on the species, time of year, and individual factors. Here is some general information about how squirrels sleep:

  1. Location: Squirrels typically sleep in nests called dreys, which they build in the forks of tree branches or in tree hollows. Dreys are made from twigs, leaves, moss, and other natural materials, providing a warm and secure place for squirrels to sleep and rest. Some squirrel species, such as ground squirrels or chipmunks, may burrow and create underground nests for sleeping.
  2. Position: Squirrels usually sleep curled up in a ball, with their tails wrapped around their bodies for warmth and protection. This position helps them conserve body heat and stay comfortable in their nests.
  3. Sleep schedule: Squirrels are diurnal animals, which means they are active during the day and sleep at night. However, they may also take short naps during the day, especially when they feel safe and secure or when the weather is unfavorable.
  4. Hibernation: Some squirrel species, such as ground squirrels and certain types of tree squirrels, may hibernate during the winter months. During hibernation, their body temperature, heart rate, and metabolism slow down, allowing them to conserve energy and survive the cold season with limited food resources. Other species, like the Eastern gray squirrel, do not hibernate but may become less active and sleep more during the winter months.
  5. Torpor: Some squirrels enter a state of torpor, a short-term hibernation-like state, during colder periods or when food is scarce. In this state, their body temperature and metabolism decrease, conserving energy and allowing them to survive challenging conditions.

Overall, squirrels sleep in secure nests or burrows, usually curled up in a ball, and are primarily active during the day. Their specific sleeping habits may vary depending on the species and environmental factors.


Squirrels not only have a busy day but are vital to our forest system. During the day, they scurry around building their homes, collecting nuts, seeds, acorns, and pinecones.

But when the sun begins to go down, squirrels run home to their dreys (nests), dens, or nesting boxes to care for their kittens (baby squirrels) and rest for the night.

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