You have seen a nest in a tree near your house but you aren’t exactly sure which animal it belongs to. There are lots of different animals that make nests, so it can be hard to tell at first glance. If you want to know what does a squirrel nest look like, there are certain things you’ll need to know. We will take a close look at these nests so you can properly identify the one near your home.
What Does a Squirrel Nest Look Like?
A squirrel nest or “drey” usually looks like a decent size pile of sticks and leaves inside of a tree trunk or resting securely on the branches. These nests are most visible in the winter months, though you can spot them in other seasons if you look closely and know what does a squirrel nest look like.
Squirrel nests that consist of leaves and sticks are made on tree branches at least twenty feet up. They are often made in tree forks for maximum stability.
There are also den nests, which are found in the cavity of a tree. Interestingly enough, squirrels do not make these nests from scratch. Instead they take over abandoned nests of birds. This saves them a great deal of effort. Squirrels definitely prefer these nests, as they keep them safe from the elements as well as predators.
How Squirrel Nests are Made
Before we know what does a squirrel nest look like,we should know how squirrel nests are made. A squirrel’s leaf nest is made up of numerous things that the animal finds nearby. This includes moss, twigs, and leaves. It uses a variety of materials, some of which are rigid and sturdy, while others are more flexible. The animal starts by constructing the foundation of the nest with many twigs of varying sizes.
It then takes leaves from the damp forest floor and packs them down against the leaves. This adds a considerable amount of stability to the nest, helping to keep it from falling apart. All of the individual organic materials that make up a squirrel’s nest fuse together, resulting in one very tough and secure home.
The next step in this process involves packing more twigs and other material around the bottom of the nest. They will add some moss and other things to expand the outer area of the nest. This helps to keep the inside of the nest warm and dry, which is particularly important when their offspring is born.
The inside of a squirrel’s leaf nest is typically around 8” across with a layer of moss and leaves lining it. This also helps to make the interior of the nest a warm and cozy place for these animals to call home. Keep in mind that the size of a squirrel nest can vary quite a bit, depending on the type. For instance, the gray squirrel makes a nest that is significantly larger than all others.
It is very common for squirrels to make multiple nests, as they go back and forth between various spots in the area. These animals have a sort of main nest that they call home, and all other nests are fairly close by.
Squirrels build these additional nests for a few different reasons. They can be very convenient for storing food or hiding out when a predator is on their trail. These nests can also be useful when a squirrel just needs to take a break from its high energy day-to-day life. Sometimes they will fall back on a secondary nest if their primary one gets destroyed by another animal or overtaken by insects.
What Does a Squirrel Nest Look Like and When they Create Their Nest?
Only one squirrel will occupy a nest in most cases, but sometimes a male and female will share a nest for a while. This is done at least in part to keep each other warm during the harsh winter weather. Once the squirrels have mated and the offspring is born, the male is kicked out by the female.
A mother squirrel will go outside of the nest to bring back food and supplies for their babies. Once their offspring get to be around six weeks old, they too begin going out into the big wide world. She will spend about 12 weeks raising her brood and teaching them how to survive before they finally leave the nest for good.
There are instances where a squirrel’s offspring will remain in the nest for longer until they are ready to fend for themselves. Once the second litter comes in the summer, they will leave the nest. This makes room for the mother’s new babies, which demand all of her attention and care.
A lot of squirrel nests are constructed in summer months from the beginning of June to the end of July. This is typically when the mothers start showing their offspring how to put together a nest. When autumn rolls around, tons of nests start being made. This is due to the impending winter, which demands a dry and warm place for these animals to live. They work quickly and efficiently to build nests that are strong enough to withstand the harsh conditions of the snowy season.
If you are interested in seeing some red squirrels, spring is by far the best season to look for nests. When spring has just begun, the lack of leaves make these nests quite visible. Once the foliage begins to appear, the nests are hidden away and can be difficult to spot from the ground.
Early spring is also the period of time where squirrels are busy feeding and caring for their fresh offspring. If you spot one of these nests, you will almost certainly notice cute little baby squirrels. Within about a month, they will leave the nest and construct one of their own somewhere in the area.
Squirrels typically begin searching for a mate to breed with again sometime around May. You’ll probably notice a lot of adult squirrels leaping around and trying to attract a mate. The offspring that is produced from this mating will be born midsummer.
Squirrel Nests vs. Bird Nests
Sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate between a bird nest and a squirrel nest. They are sometimes around the same size with a similar overall construction. The fact that squirrels tend to take over abandoned bird nests can serve to further confuse. It’s also pretty common for birds to make their nests in what used to be a squirrel’s drey.
If you are able to get close to the nest, you should be able to tell if it belongs to a squirrel fairly quickly. If you see that leaves make up part of the nest, it is probably home to a squirrel. The fact is that most birds do not use leaves when constructing a nest. This is one of the most reliable ways to tell the difference between these types of nests.
The location of the nest is something else to consider. Birds usually make their nests farther up in a tree than squirrels. If you notice any pine cones with chew marks on them under the test, it is a squirrel’s home indeed. You might also see scratch marks on the bottom of the tree from where the squirrel repeatedly climbs up.
Why are Squirrel Nests so High up in Trees?
Squirrels smartly build their nests fairly high up in trees in order to avoid predators on the ground. While they may still be exposed to threats from above (such as hawks), it is a chance worth taking. They tend to be more concerned with predators on the ground, as there tend to be lots of them.
Another reason that squirrels build their nests so high up is so they can get a good look at their prey. It makes hunting and eating much easier overall.
Squirrel Nest Removal
If you discover a squirrel nest around your home, you should not try to remove it yourself. The squirrels that reside in the nest could injure you, and some of them even carry diseases. It’s always best to hire a professional for this particular task. When you consider the overall risk to your health and wellbeing, it’s simply not worth attempting.
If you try to remove one of these nests during squirrel mating season, there’s a good chance you will get badly hurt. This is due to the fact that these animals tend to be far more aggressive when disturbed around this time.
What Does a Squirrel Nest Look Like? There is no question that squirrel nests are impressive, especially when you take a look at one up close. Many people wonder what does a squirrel nest look like, simply because they have never seen one.
Now you should have a better understanding of what does a squirrel nest look like, as well as when and how they are constructed. If you happen to see a squirrel nest in your area, it is because the animal has everything it needs nearby. Make sure that you do not attempt to remove one of these nests from your property, as this can be quite dangerous. If you insist on having it removed, rely on a qualified professional to do the work.