How Long Do Squirrels Live?

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The lifespan of squirrels varies depending on the particular species of squirrel you are referring to.

For example, the two most common types of squirrels, the Alpine Mammoth which lives between 15 and 18 years, and the Siberian Chipmunk which lives between 6 and 10 years.

In addition to the species of a squirrel other factors such as the nest location, region or area, feeding habits, food supply, and predators.

All these factors will influence how long a particular squirrel lives.

How Long Do Squirrels Live In The Wild?

Just like most animals, squirrels in captivity live longer than squirrels that live in the wild.

In captivity, many of the dangers and concerns that squirrels might face in the wild are eliminates.

This makes it much easier for squirrels to survive.

The dangers that squirrels have to deal with in the wild often cause them to die within the first year of their lie.

Some of the most common dangers that cuase squirrels to die so young are predators.

Young squirrels in the wild often fall prey to raccoons, skunks, hawks, badgers, among other animals.

Experts believe that most squirrels do not live past the first year of their life due to these dangers at such a vulnurable states.

Another common reason that squirrels live much shorter in the wild is due to humans. Unfortunately, squirrels often become victim to passing cars in their attempts to move around. Likewise, people might kill squirrels unintentionally or intentionally using baits, sprays, or traps.

In the wild, on average squirrels live around 6 years. In the best cases, squirrels can live as long as 12 years in the wild.

Experts suggest that regardless of the type of squirrel, most do not live beyond 12 years.

How long can squirrels live?

In the wild, squirrels typically do not get to live their entire potential lifespan. In captivity, on the other hand, squirrels can have much longer lives.

By eliminating the dangers that often kill squirrels such as predators, humans, and lack of food some squirrels can live up to 25 years in captivity.

Not all squirrels have the same lifespan. Depending on the typ of squirrel they can live drastically different lengths.

There are over 200 different species of squirrels around the world, but there are certain species that are more common and interact with humans more often.

In the United Sates, there are 5 common species of squirrels: grey squirrel, red squirrel, flying squirrel, ground squirrels, and the fox squirrel.

Eastern grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)


This Eastern grey squirrel, also known as the grey squirrel, is native to the Eastern United States. Over time, the squirrel has also been introduced to the western U.S, including California and Canada.

Eastern grey squirrels are highly adaptable and can establish populations even with very low counts of introduced squirrels.

Due to their adaptability, the Grey squirrel is also not found in England, Scotland, South Africa, and Ireland.

The grey squirrel is one of the longest living squirrels in nature, and they can live up to 24 years.

American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)


The American red squirrel and other red squirrel are recognized by their signature red fur.

They are different than other tree squirrels because of their deep to light red color, territorial nature, and smaller size.

The red squirrel is found throughout the United States, including Alaska. They prefer to live in coniferous forests but are adaptable enough to live in other regions as well.

The red squirrel is also found in other parts of the world, such as the UK and Italy, but their populations have been in decline over time.

The red squirrel is short-lived compared to the grey squirrel. The average lifespan of red squirrels is around 5 years old.

Squirrels are considered mature between 2 and 4 years old and considered older squirrels once they reach five years old or older.

Southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans)


The southern flying squirrel is one of two species of squirrels that live in the United States. The southern flying squirrel is common in the southern and eastern parts of the united states.

But their distribution can extend as far north as Canada and as far south as Mexico and Central America.

These squirrels are very small compared to the traditional squirrels we are accustomed to seeing.

Their head and body are typically around 5 to 6 inches with a 3 to 4-inch tails, and they only weigh around ⅕ of a pound. Other squirrels such as the grey squirrel are around 9 to 12 inches with a 3 to 4-inch tail and weigh around 1 pound.

The southern flying squirrel, unfortunately, does not live very long in the wild. On average, the squirrel only lives around 3 to 4 years.

This is drastically different compared to captivity. On average, in captivity, these squirrels live up to 10 years old, with several cases of then living as long as 18 to 19 years.

Fox squirrel (Sciurus niger)

eastern fox squirrel

The fox squirrel is one of the most common and recognized squirrels in the United States. They are considered medium-sized squirrels and are typically reddish-brown in color.

They are known for three signature characteristics, their reddish-brown color, sharp claws, and muscular bodies.

These squirrels are located in the Eastern parts of the United States, sparsely in the Western and Northern parts of the United States, as well as some regions in Canada.

Compared to the other squirrels in the United States, they are relatively large. They can measure up to 28 inches in length and weighing around 2 pounds.

The fox squirrel has a moderate life span compared to other squirrels. In the wild, on average, they live around 6 to 8 years.

In captivity, their lifespan can be increased greatly, with fox squirrels living between 18 and 20 years consistently.

Ground Squirrels

california ground squirrel

The fifth most common type of squirrel in the united states is the ground squirrel. These are squirrels that prefer to live on or near the ground rather than on trees. 

There are several species of ground squirrels that are common in the United States. 

These typically get broken down into a few different groups. First, larger ground squirrels are typically referred to as marmots or prairie dogs whereas smaller ground squirrels are referred to as chipmunks. 

Below are some of the average lifespans for ground squirrels: 

  • Black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus): 5 to 8 years old
  • California ground squirrel: 3 to 4 years old 
  • Yellow-bellied marmot (Marmota flaviventris): 8 to 12 yeards old 
  • Alpine Marmot: 15 to 18 years 
  • Common woodchuck: 5 to 6 years

What Causes Squirrels To Die?

There are many reasons that squirrels die, but they can be broken down into two reasons.


1. Predators

One of the primary natural reasons that they die is due to predators. Squirrels become prey for many different animals in nature.

For example, raccoons, skunks, hawks, snakes, owls, coyotes, wildcats, among other predators out in the wild.

This makes them both vulnerable while they are in trees and on the ground.

Since squirrels are fast, agile rodents with great balance and the ability to jump far away, they do a relatively good job of escaping their predators.

During the first year of their life, many squirrels die where these abilities are not as strong and refined as adult squirrels.

Another widespread predator for squirrels in cities is dogs. Dogs are one of the most common and frequent killers of squirrels.


2. Humans

The second main reason that squirrels do not survive is due to human interaction.

This can be due to traps or bait used for other animals that mistakenly capture squirrels.

Another primary cause is due to habitat loss. This can be due to deforestation and urbanization, giving squirrels less room to live.

Typically when this happens, this increases the chances that squirrels die due to vehicle induced traumas.

Which Squirrels Live Longer: Male or Female?

On average, female squirrels live longer than male squirrels. In many species in both captivity and the wild, females tend to live longer than the males.

While the exact reason for this difference is not clear, some indications have to do with the female’s ability to reproduce.

In other instances, scientist believe females may be born to live longer genetically compared to females.

In pervious years it was though that the females lack of activity could account for less exposure to danger and therefore longer lifespans. 

New studies show that females actually perform a majority of the work in the colony. 

This suggest that despite the increase in exposure to danger and outside factors they still live longer than males. 

Which Squirrels Live Longer: Tree Squirrels or Ground Squirrels?

On average, tree squirrels live longer than ground squirrels. In several cases with tree squirrels, they can live over 10 years, with several species living longer than 20 years.

On the other hand, many ground squirrels live for less than 10 years.

Since ground squirrels encompass different animal species, including chipmunks, marmots, and prairie dogs, which have shorter lifespans than tree squirrels.

The larger species of marmots and prairie dogs tend to live longer than the smaller species within the ground squirrels.

It is important to note that tree squirrels and ground squirrels encompass many different species.

It is possible for certain tree squirrels may have a shorter lifespan than some ground squirrels. The conclusion is that on average, the lifespan of tree squirrels to is longer than that of ground squirrels.

For example, the fox squirrel only lives around 6-8 years in the wild, whereas the alpine marmount can live between 15 and 18.

What Are The Types of Squirrels?

Unknown to most there are three key types of squirrels: ground squirrels, tree squirrels, and flying squirrels.

Tree Squirrels

Tree squirrels are the most common type of squirrel. These are the squirrels most people think of and the ones portrayed by popular culture.

Tree squirrels prefer to live in trees. Tree squirrels and ground squirrels have a few key differences.

Tree squirrels tend to be smaller and have longer bushier tails. Their size and tail make them more efficient at climbing and living on trees.

Ground Squirrels

Ground squirrels are a bit confusing because they are a subgroup of squirrels that gets grouped in with several other species.

Ground squirrels are broken down by their size. Large ground squirrels are considered marmots, groundhogs, woodchucks or prairie dogs. Smaller ground squirrels are referred to as chipmunks. Finally, medium sized ground squirrels are considered squirrels.

The medium sized ground squirrels resemble the tree squirrels the most when compared to the other families of squirrels included in ground squirrels.

Some common ground squirrels include the California ground squirrel, alpine squirrel, and the rock squirrel.

Flying squirrels

The final type of squirrel is the flying squirrel. While the name suggests, flying squirrel can’t fly, but they are capable of gliding.

Flying squirrels are not capable of powered flight like birds or bats because they do not have winds. They have what is called a patagium that helps them glide.

The patagium is a fur-covered membrane that extends from their ankles to their wrist. This membrane acts like a parachute allowing them to glide from branch to branch.

If you have ever seen a wingsuit or someone participate in wingsuit flying, these suits resemble and use the same mechanics that squirrels use to glide.

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