The gray squirrel is the most common species in Illinois and can be found in woodlands, suburban parks, and domestic gardens. It’s a skilled climber and will spend most of its time in trees, but also ventures down to the ground to forage. Its diet is primarily composed of buds, leaves, fruit and seeds, but it will also eat bird eggs, bark, nuts, roots and insects. Like humans, gray squirrels are scavengers and will raid garbage cans in search of food.
This is the time of year when squirrels are gearing up for winter. They’re eating everything in sight and storing up food for later. In addition, their body temperature will drop, causing them to shiver. While shivering may not seem effective, it’s actually one of the most efficient ways to generate body heat.
Squirrels often sleep curled up in a ball, with their tail wrapped around them for warmth. This position conserves body heat and allows them to stay comfortable in their nests. Squirrels are diurnal animals, so they’re active during the day and sleep at night. They’ll sometimes take short naps during the day, especially when they feel unsafe or uncomfortable.
In the winter, eastern and western gray squirrels will use their nests for sleeping, although they may also sleep in tree cavities. If a squirrel’s nest is too cold or occupied by a predator, it will leave its den and find a new one. When it rains, squirrels will usually hide in their nests and protect themselves by flipping their tails over their bodies. This may get their tail soaked, but it provides enough protection to keep them dry.