Happy Valentine's Day Squirrel
Have you recently witnessed squirrels in love? Although you won’t see hand holding or kissing, there is plenty of furious chasing! The chasing usually involves males chasing females and results in the birth of 2-3 bouncing baby squirrels 44 days after mating. This early breeding period happens in winter and has them twitterpated from January through Valentine’s Day! Gray squirrels and fox squirrels often produce two litters of babies each year, the first one typically in March and the second one at the end of summer.
Squirrel babies are born naked and weigh about ½ ounce at birth. Like most mammals they are toothless and live on the mother’s milk until their teeth are developed enough to be capable of chewing solid foods. They start out eating soft foods like buds and new tender leaves near the nest, gradually progressing until they can eventually chew the hardest of nuts like a champion. The young begin making forays out of the nest into their big woodland or suburban world by eight weeks of age.
The rascally and amorous male squirrel takes no part in the raising of the young and they are polygamous. Sounds scandalous but the female is programmed and well equipped to manage the raising of the young quite deftly on her own. Squirrels can live as long as ten years, but most live much shorter, intensely busy lives. So happy Valentine’s Day squirrel!
Penny Borgman, Naturalist