Squirrels are incredibly wacky and cute small rodents seen in parks and woods chasing around in the summer. However, they can sometimes be a real pain with their nagging habit of sneaking and stealing food from bird feeders in backyards, and indeed, you’d cry for them to disappear. And perhaps they do when the cold months start…
Unlike most other states in the US, Florida experiences mild winters. All squirrel species that live in Florida do not hibernate. Instead, during the colder winter months they spend most of their time sleeping in their nests, only coming out to get a nut or savor a bug when it’s cold outside. They will not come out until the temperatures get warmer. However, gray squirrels usually show up in open places in the winter, although they may appear less active as they normally are.
What Kind Of Squirrels Live In Florida?
Florida is endowed with three squirrel species, mainly the Eastern Gray squirrels found in the Pine Islands, Boca Grande, Cape Coral, and other parts in southern Florida. They are the most dominant species and are often regular visitors in yards and attics, nagging most homeowners with their bird-feeder eating habits. The Eastern Gray squirrels are native to the state and somewhat invasive in other adjacent areas.
Other species found in Florida include the Fox squirrels and the Southern Flying squirrels, although they don’t appear as active as the gray squirrels due to their timid nature. The southern flying squirrels thrive throughout the state except in the Keys. Similarly, the Fox squirrels can be found in the Mangrove swamps and open woods, although some live within the pine and cypress stands.
All three squirrel species in Florida don’t hibernate in cold weather, instead, they become less active than they should. They spend most of the time hiding in their nests and dens as they shield from the cold.
However, the gray squirrels are the most active in the winter months and can locate buried food as they move about feeding. Gray squirrels are known to be homeotherms, which means that they maintain their body temperature at a constant level throughout the year, thus, they don’t need to hibernate.
How Do Florida Squirrels Live Through The Winter, And Where Do They Go?
Florida squirrels are highly adaptable and survive through the winter through behavioral changes. The fox and southern flying squirrels intuitively prepare for the winter by feeding and bulking up during the warmer months. They also collect and bury food during the fall and summer months when they sense changes in the barometric pressure that signal winter.
With enough food in place, these small creatures almost vanish from sight and spend most of their time sleeping and curling in their nests. However, the gray squirrels are usually not bothered by the lower air temperatures, and while they’ll sleep most of their days off, they occasionally come out to feed. For that reason, they’re the only active squirrel species in the state during the winter.
Where Do Squirrels Sleep In Florida?
Squirrels in Florida sleep inside tree caves and cavities, but some build leaves, sticks, and moss nests called dreys. They also expand tree holes left by woodpeckers and other wildlife, and build nests inside where they spend their nights and days during the winter.
However, they are more active when the days are warmer, and some, including the southern flying squirrels, may even have a peek outside in the dark.
It’s typical to find a bunch of ground squirrels clasped together to keep them warm during the winter months, as they resort to sharing a nest at this time. Likewise, male and female squirrels share a nest during the mating season.
How Do Squirrels Prepare For The Winter?
Squirrels are highly intuitive critters, and they instinctively sense the onset of winter months ahead of time. Usually, they detect the changes in barometric pressures quite subtly and start bulking up through relentless feeding. Besides, they also stash their reserves with enough food to take them through the cold months when they are not that active and asleep most of the time.
Squirrels are highly industrious and can store food to feed them through as much as three years. And aside from preparing for their stomachs, they also ensure that their sleeping nests are up to scratch by bulking them out with more leaves, moss, or twigs. That way, they keep the cold out, ensuring a comfortable sleep.
How Do Squirrels Stay Warm In The Winter?
Squirrels have thick fur that keeps them warm in the cold. Even so, they usually build up fat reserves in the summer months by eating plentifully. These fat reserves serve two primary purposes; for energy when food is scarce and to keep them warm during the winter months. However, those squirrels living in dens and cavities can share nests as they clasp together for warmth.
Contact us today so that we can help eliminate common nuisance animals such as squirrels that take over and control your property. If you live in South Florida, the Wildlife Troopers team is your local specialist for performing wildlife control services, including squirrel trapping, removal, and control.