Squirrels do not hibernate. To survive winter, squirrels hoard food and build nests to withstand the cold weather.

The most common backyard squirrels include the fox and gray squirrels, tree squirrels that work hard to gain weight, grow a thick coat, and build a warm nest before winter arrives. They also gather and store nuts, berries, vegetables, grains, nuts, twigs, and more. The items they store, fat buildup, and a warm shelter will help them survive the cold winter months. Unlike others, tree squirrels do not hibernate.

Hibernation typically lasts months and occurs when an animal’s body shuts down, lowering its metabolism to the point that it can live only on its fat reserves. During hibernation, an animal does not have to eat or eliminate waste. It simply sleeps for an extended period.

Tree squirrels do not have to hibernate because they are so well prepared for the winter season. They have internal changes, like with their neuroendocrine system, that signal winter is coming and that it is time to start hoarding and building.

Squirrel Activity During the Winter

As winter arrives and temperatures drop below 30 degrees, tree squirrels will spend days sleeping in their nest. They can do this by slightly lowering their heart rate, breathing, and body temperature but not to the point of hibernation. On warmer days, they leave their nest on a mission to retrieve food from a buried stash or search for food.

Although most tree squirrels prefer to be alone, they sometimes share a nest with other squirrels during winter for warmth. If you see a squirrel shivering, that is normal. It is their body’s way of producing energy.

Squirrels can give birth twice a year, with one of those times being in late winter, around February and March. Taking care of a litter will be a priority, including feeding and keeping them warm.

Where do Squirrels Live in Winter?

Squirrels are master nest builders. Using twigs, leaves, moss, and bark, they compact the materials to form a sturdy basket-like dwelling. Nests, or dreys, are built around tree branches as high as twenty feet or in holes within trees. Squirrels will use den areas previously made by woodpeckers, raccoons, and other wildlife.

Tree squirrels usually build more than one nest, depending on how far they must travel for food. They like to be close to their buried hoards. Some squirrels build nests that have different purposes. One may be for raising their young, and others may be for safety, scanning the area, or feeding.

If you have a squirrel in your backyard, there is a chance it will build a nest in your home, which is a preferred location because it is an enclosed, safe, warm spot. Attics, crawlspaces, chimneys, and ducts are a few places homeowners find squirrels nesting.

A Squirrel in Your House

While squirrels are cute enough to want them as pets, they are not great houseguests. One reason is that squirrels have ever-growing teeth, which can be painful if they grow too large. To prevent this, squirrels chew and gnaw on everything. If in your home, expect squirrels to chew on electrical wires, insulation, wood beams, ductwork, siding, and insulation.

Some of what they chew becomes materials for a nest. Squirrels will also use inside areas as a bathroom. Each action of a squirrel can have a domino effect leading to costly repairs and safety hazards for you and your family. For example, chewing on electrical wires or building a nest in ductwork are fire hazards.

Squirrel waste and urine that piles up will seep into your wood floors and beams. It can slide down your walls, leaving stains, and will produce a terrible odor that can travel throughout your home. Waste and urine carry toxins that can lead to transmittable diseases to humans, such as tularemia and salmonellosis.

Signs a Squirrel is in Your House

You can watch for specific signs that suggest you have a squirrel living in your home, like hearing odd sounds coming from your attic or other parts of your home. Squirrel sounds include chirping, squeaking, barking, grunting, and gnawing.

Other signs include finding holes in your siding or walls, stains on ceilings or walls, and foul odors. Squirrels are very messy, so a nest may be nearby if you notice an area in disarray.

What to do About Squirrels in Your House

Getting rid of squirrels from your home is not as simple as it may seem. Depending on where you live, local or state regulations may apply. Squirrels are classified as fur-bearing animals and sometimes require special permits for trapping.

If a squirrel has given birth in your home, you want to ensure the litter will survive and remain with its mother. Also, squirrels carry ticks, like the deer tick associated with Lyme disease. Ticks can move from animals to humans. If a squirrel feels threatened, it may bite or attack in self-defense.

You can avoid all negative consequences by hiring a wildlife control operator certified to remove squirrels from your home and property. They use safe and humane traps and proper gear and equipment. Most importantly, they know the laws regarding squirrel removal during the winter.

Added benefits of hiring a professional include a thorough inspection and repairing damages caused by the squirrel. They also implement exclusions to protect your home from future squirrel activity.

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Customer Reviews

Kirk D.
It has been very effective at reducing the number of mice, lizard, and snake sightings. During one visit Edgar removed a rattlesnake he came across. We may see a snake maybe two to three times during the spring and summer months, but it has been far less than before.

Serivces: Wildlife & Rodent Control in San Diego
Robert B.
Full service. Excellent job of extracting raccoon, cleaning all animal waste, sanitizing, and spraying anti-parasitic substance. They closed all potential ports of entry, though the work did not match the vinyl, and it looks kind of tacky. They added blown insulation, which added a lot to the cost. They provide a one year warranty against animal intrusion, with an option to extend the warranty at the end of each one- year period. They were willing to work with me one the price. I will probably extend my warranty, and will definitely use them it the future.
Gene F.
I was really impressed by these guys. Got a call within a few hours of making an inquiry. Had a rep out to inspect the situation by the end of the week, and when they laid out the timeline they kept if not exceeded listed times.

Rob, Travis, and Jim were all professional, polite, and courteous and after months of hearing squirrels in my ceiling they are gone and the repair to my flashing looks excellent. Can't recommend these guys enough.
Bob I.

Jeff was incredibly professional and helpful. I'll use them again and would recommend them to anyone.
-Detroit, MI
Richard L.

Critter Control did a great job of evaluating our house for sites of entry after we found bats and a squirrel in our attic. They completed their work promptly and professionally.
-Seattle, WA
Kenneth H.
We heard some noise from the corner of our house. Concerned that it could be inside we called for an inspection. Jessy arrived as scheduled and conducted a complete inspection of our home. Based on a recording we made he determined we had a tree frog on our roof. I was pleased that we didn’t have any rodent in our house. And his inspection could a few spots I can tighten up around my house. I am very happy with the outcome.
-New Hampshire
Lee F.
We have a vacation home in Western Mass and haven’t been there much during the pandemic as we live and work in Atlanta, GA. On our most recent visit we noticed that we had some rodent intrusion as well as some un-welcomed wildlife who decided to make our vacation home their home.

We contacted Critter Control and Mr. Cahoon was quick to set up an appointment as we wouldn’t be in town very long. He came out and assessed our issues. He informed us of our options to both eradicate and control future intrusions. Keeping in mind that wildlife is wildlife! He quickly got to work eradicating the rodents and wildlife from our home and addressing the intrusion issues. We feel much better leaving our vacation home for periods at a time knowing that Mr. Cahoon and Critter Control did their job and did it right! Thanks again!
Mary L.
We bought an old cabin last spring , it was used for years as a summer vacation cabin, therefore maintenance wasn’t a priority. After our project to remodel started, we found evidence of mice droppings.

We immediately called Critter Control and they came and gave us a reasonable estimate to remove all remnants and insulation. They sanitized and replaced with new insulation and sealing up points of entry .

Seeing their professional work made us feel confident and secure that the problem was solved ! Everyone we worked with continued to show professional and respectful work. Highly recommend this company! We continue to use critter control monthly to be sure we are mice and bug free!


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