Where Do Squirrels Sleep?

December 23, 2023

Despite their energetic, playful-seeming behavior, squirrels spend most of their time sleeping. In fact, according to a study in the Journal of Mammalogy, ground squirrels spend 84% of their day asleep. That’s a lot of shut-eye!

Tree squirrels sleep in their nests or tree cavities at night. Sometimes they build these themselves, but often they move into pre-built nests or drays that are found in trees. This allows them to conserve energy for the important activities of eating, mating, and raising their young. Ground squirrels, on the other hand, sleep in ground-level burrows.

These critters are vulnerable to predators at night, so they try to stay hidden and in the dark. They also have poor vision and don’t want to draw the attention of owls or snakes hunting for them.

A squirrel’s blood serum concentration is high when it’s active, but as it enters a torpid state of hibernation or estivation, this drops significantly. During this drowsy state, the squirrel is not thirsty and doesn’t need to drink water. Upon awakening, the squirrel’s body temperature returns to normal and its heart rate gradually picks up again.

Some ground squirrels bury themselves in leaf litter to keep them warm during the winter. However, they still need to get enough air, so they need to come out of their slumber from time to time in order to breathe. As the weather turns warmer, these critters will leave their burrows and move into open areas, such as fields and forests.

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