How Long Do Squirrels Live (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 6-12 Years

The squirrels mainly eat nuts and fruits. They’re pretty loud and they scream like “chip-chip-chip” in danger. They are urban opportunists, easily tamed and taught to accept food from humans. Naturally active, and their activity reaches madness during the mating season.

They tend to be very careful with food sources, often guarding and protecting them from other birds and squirrels. A palm squirrel is about the size of a large chipmunk with a bushy tail, slightly shorter than its body. It has a creamy white belly and tail, covered with alternating long black and white fur.

The ears are small, triangular in shape and the young squirrels are much lighter in color, gradually darken with age.

How Long Do Squirrels Live?

The longest recorded lifespan of a red squirrel in the wild is 10 years. In captivity, squirrels can live up to 8 years.

The average lifespan of oriental fox squirrels in the wild is 8 to 18 years. Most squirrels die before reaching adulthood. It is known that female squirrels live on average for 13 years, and males up to 8 years and many years on average, they live up to 18 years that is a long time compared to other animals.

Southern flying squirrels live from three to five years in the wild. Compared to their flightless relatives, southern flying squirrels live shorter lives in the wild. They tend to live longer in captivity and have an average lifespan of 10 years, its maximum age in captivity is 19 years.

Eastern gray squirrels live up to 12 years in the wild, their lifespan increases in captivity and their maximum age has been recorded as 20 years and the black squirrels are actually oriental fox or gray squirrels. Hair color changes due to different levels of melanin in the body.

Most black squirrels can live in the wild for up to 6 years. Like other squirrels, their lifespan increases in captivity, and they can live up to 18 years.

Ground squirrels like Richardson’s gopher do not live long in the wild for 24 years. Most males live only two years, while females sometimes live four years in the wild. The longest life span of the Richardson squirrel in captivity is 7 years.

Summary:

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SquirrelsLifespan
Red squirrels8-18 years
Flying squirrels10 years
Gray squirrels12-20 years
Black squirrels6-18 years
Ground squirrels7 years

Why Do Squirrels Live So Long?

The lifespan of a squirrel can vary depending on its species. Most squirrels can live no longer than the first year of life because they are more susceptible to predator attacks. Squirrels that can survive the first two years of life live an average of six to twelve years in the wild.

Different squirrels usually have different lifespans. Life expectancy profiles of species found in the United States showed the following results that the squirrels can live up to 5 years in the wild. Their mortality rate is quite high. Only 25 percent of these squirrels live for more than a year and mature in two to four years.

Squirrels may not live like humans, but they live much longer than other rodents. For the most part, the life span of an animal depends on the level of predation. In this regard, squirrels are very lucky. They have quick reactions, excellent eyesight, and are very good climbers and jumpers. This helps them avoid enemy attacks.

Young squirrels are most vulnerable because they cannot defend themselves as well as adults they are often contaminated with viral diseases such as squirrel pox. It spreads through insect bites and causes tumors on the body.

Squirrels can also become hosts for a number of parasites. For example, ground squirrels can become prey to the predatory fly Neobellieria vitelliform. Adult flesh flies can parasitize the larvae living on the body of the ground squirrel. Squirrels are also infested with fleas and ticks, but for them, it is not fatal.

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Conclusion

Compared to rodents, which look like mice and rats, squirrels live incredibly long. It is believed that a long evolution has occurred in animals with a low level of predation, and squirrels are ideal for this. Since squirrels live in trees and are very mobile, it is difficult for predators to catch squirrels. The defense mechanism of the squirrels may be one of the reasons they have developed such a high lifting capacity for long life

References:

  1. https://www.ag.arizona.edu/research/redsquirrel/oldsite/res_pdf/Other%20Squirrel%20and%20Sky%20Island%20Publications/J%20Mamm%20Fox%20Sq%20Longevity%20Koprowski%20May%2088.pdf
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1379384
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