Female squirrels that are pregnant, go into nesting mode looking for a dry, safe place to have their babies. If your house has an unprotected access to your attic from outside, you are a prime candidate for unwelcome tenants in your attic or crawl space.
At this time of year, an attic has everything a mother squirrel would desire. It’s dry, it’s protected, it has an abundance of materials for shredding to make a nest, it’s even warm, by squirrel standards, from heat escaping from warm rooms below.
The danger this poses to your house is twofold. First is the destructive behavior of building a nest, A female will find and shred any materials in your attic to build a nest. The second is the need of squirrels to gnaw to wear down their ever growing Incisors teeth. If they happen to gnaw on exposed wiring, it is possible for a squirrel to electrocute and set fire to themselves and your house.
There’s also the possibility that a mother squirrel could be killed while she is out foraging for food, and leaving a litter of orphaned babies in your attic that could number up to six. If they don’t find their way out, they will die and decompose in your attic, creating a smell that you won’t forget!
This brings me to the subject of the reasons why people find orphaned squirrel. As I already stated, if a mother squirrel dies, or is killed, her babies will leave the nest when they get hungry. In their wanderings, they fall out of the nest, or in the case of being born in your attic, they may find the attic access hole and fall to the ground. Often, these are never found, and either die or get eaten by cats, birds of prey or other predators.
Babies that are born in leaf nests, ( or Drays as they are called,) are some of the most vulnerable to being eaten or orphaned. Believe it or not, the greatest predators these babies face, are Crows. This is because Crows are intelligent and cunning birds that pre-plan their predation. There are many videos on YouTube that show just how intelligent and cunning these birds are. One of the most eye opening for me, was a study of just how smart the are: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89C5gsdaSXg
After watching this study, I realized that they were the reason why I found my first squirrel, and, why they are the number one reason why a baby squirrel rarely survives to see its first birthday. Crows, with their powers of observation, are able to pre-plan exactly when to attack leaf nests to snatch and eat baby squirrels.
They sit and observe female squirrels when they are in their nesting phase. A female will make multiple nests so she has a primary, and back-up nests to move her babies to if one gets damaged by weather, or if she feels unsafe in any way. The crows will watch when she confines herself to give birth. A female will nurse her newborns for up to two weeks straight after giving birth, never leaving the nest while they triple in size and start getting hair on their naked body. When the time is right, she will leave them for short periods of time to go eat and drink.
This is when the crows know to swoop in and tear the nest apart to snatch the babies. They throw the babies all over the ground before the mother is able to get back to the nest. The screeches from her babies send her into a panic mode, While she scrambles to try to retrieve her babies, the crows double team her. Several will keep her occupied on the ground, while others go around and pick up her babies one at a time and fly off with them to be eaten.
This is a cruel fact of Nature that has gone on for centuries. If predation doesn’t get to them, the weather can. High winds are another reason baby squirrels get orphaned. Leaf nests are very vulnerable to wind and heavy rain. I always know that when a hurricane or bad thunder storms go through an area during birthing season, I’m going to get hundreds of e-mails from people who have rescued an orphaned squirrel or two. They go out after a storm to assess damage, and hear babies screeching for their mother.
Tree climbing snakes and raccoons are also predators that prey on baby squirrels. It’s really amazing that any baby squirrels survive being born in a leaf nest! If they are not born in a hollowed out den in a tree, or in your attic, it’s not a surprise that the statistic, "that it’s rare for a baby squirrel to survive to see its first birthday," is true.
Squirrel populations wax and wane based upon the number of predators and the availability of food. If you enjoy having squirrels around, feeding them well is a sure way to keep the ones you have healthy. If you want to keep the population numbers in your area healthy, consider putting up a squirrel box or two.
A squirrel box provides a dry, safe location for a female squirrel to give birth, and protect her babies from predation. If you keep her well fed, she will have healthy babies that will populate your yard. A healthy squirrel population keeps animals all the way up the food chain healthy. As much as I love squirrels, and hate to see them killed, I also know that I cannot preserve and protect all of them.
I have modified the behavior of crows in my area by scaring them out of my neighborhood by using bottle rockets when ever they come around, so they pretty much leave my area alone. The results I’ve had are amazing and my population of squirrels is quite impressive. That, coupled with numerous squirrel boxes around my property, has made my backyard a haven for squirrels, much to the delight of my wife and myself.
For information about Squirrel Boxes, we offer free plans for building them, plus free information about feeding them the right way. To request any information, we have a contact form on the bottom of our home page of our website: http://www.squirrelnutrition.com/ .
There is also information on how to obtain a Squirrel Box Kit: http://www.squirrelnutrition.com/squirrel-nesting-box1.html
Or even a finished Squirrel Box on our Squirrel Mall: http://www.squirrelnutrition.com/squirrel-mall.html