One of the most common questions asked about them is how long do squirrels live?
Some people believe that squirrels live for hundreds of years!
Discussed below is a detailed guide about the lifespans of different types of squirrels.
How Long Do Squirrels Live?
|Breeds||Lifespan (in years)|
|American red squirrels||3.5-8|
|Eastern fox squirrels||8-18|
|Southern flying squirrels||5-10|
|Eastern gray squirrels||1-12|
The lifespan of squirrels varies between different factors. It depends on the species of squirrel and her living conditions.
Here is a detailed guide about the life expectancy of squirrels across species and different life conditions.
American Red Squirrels
The American red squirrels are recognized as a subspecies of pine squirrels and usually have a high mortality rate. Only 22% of these squirrels survive more than one year. Others usually fall prey to animals like foxes, wolves, crows, and hawks.
On average, American red squirrels have a lifespan of 1 to 3 years when they are out in the wild. While they may also live up to 8 years when petted.
Eastern Fox Squirrels
As compared to other species, Eastern fox squirrels have a lower mortality rate. Even though most of these squirrels also die before they become mature. Eastern fox squirrels live up to 8 years and may also cross the age mark of 18 years. Although this usually happens when they live in captivity.
Southern Flying Squirrels
Most abundantly found in North America, Southern flying squirrels comparatively have a shorter lifespan than the squirrels of the same species. They live for about 2 to 5 years in the wild, and some may even reach the age of 7 years.
On the contrary, these squirrels that are under captivity live for much longer. They lived for about 10 years, but the highest age recorded was 19 years.
Eastern Gray Squirrels
Eastern gray squirrels are not expected to live longer than two years when they are born. Once they reach maturity, their average lifespan is 6 years in the wild and may even survive 12 years.
Their lifespan is longer in captivity, and they live for about 18 years. The maximum age recorded for an Eastern gray squirrel in captivity is 20 years. This squirrel was a female.
In the wild, most ground squirrels are prone to die before they are one year old due to animal attacks in their nests. Even if they survive, their lifespan is not that long. On average, they live for about 2 to 4 years in the wild. Their life expectancy is higher when they are captive and can live up to 7 years.
What Is The Average Lifespan Of A Squirrel?
As you have read above, different species of squirrels have different lifespans. A squirrel might not even survive for a year or may live for about 24 years.
This can only happen when they live in captivity and are given protection from natural calamities like droughts, proper treatment when ill, and also kept away from predators.
On average, a squirrel has a lifespan of 5 to 6 years, but they have been known to live for 15 years. That too in the wild!
Squirrels are recognized to be one of the rodents with the highest life expectancy in the world.
What Factors Affect A Squirrel’s Lifespan?
Certain factors affect a squirrel’s lifespan.
- One of them is the problem caused by their teeth. Squirrels naturally have long, sharp teeth to help them have food. In some cases, they might break and not grow back. If squirrels are not given medications for it, it may result in their death. Also, sometimes squirrels’ teeth are not arranged properly, making it hard for them to have food. This condition is quite painful, and the squirrels may starve to death.
- Squirrels have very sharp eyesight. Sometimes their vision is affected by cataracts, because of which they are unable to seek food and die.
- When living in the wild, one of the highest threats to squirrels is predators. The most vulnerable are baby squirrels which many times fall prey to rattlesnakes and black snakes.
- Like any other living creature, squirrels also fall sick. These diseases lead to their death, mainly in the wild. One of the most common diseases is squirrel pox which is caused by insect stings. Gray squirrels have been known to fight this disease for a long time. Other illnesses that are known to kill squirrels are Tularemia, Lyme disease, and leptospirosis. They also suffer from infections caused by parasites.
Squirrel Lifespan: Wild VS Captivity
In the wild, most squirrels may not survive for even a year. On the other hand, it is quite normal when a squirrel lives for 15 years as a pet. It is quite apparent that squirrels in the wild have a much shorter lifespan than the squirrels in captivity.
As squirrels are notably weak and dependable on their mothers when they are babies, they are likely subjected to death by severe life conditions like the predators in forests and harsh weather. Even when they mature, they do not fully escape the threat of several predators like hawks, weasels, foxes, and wolves.
Also, some squirrels are killed by humans too. People hunt them for meat or their fur. They are also killed in large numbers during infestations. In some cases, these killings are unintentional too. Squirrels are not familiar with cars and are often killed when a car runs over them.
Captive squirrels are safe from all these hazards. They are also taken proper care of when they fall ill. This makes their life expectancy much higher than those out in the wilds.
Male VS Female Squirrels Lifespan
In most cases, female squirrels have a higher life expectancy than males. Eastern gray squirrels, Eastern fox squirrels, and Ground squirrels have a higher female life expectancy than males. In all three species, females live for about one or more years than males.
On the other hand, the male American red squirrels have a slightly longer lifespan than their females.
In general, female squirrels live for about 13 years on average, while male squirrels have a lifespan of up to 8 years.
Do Squirrels Die Of Old Age?
A squirrel rarely dies of old age. It might happen when they live in captivity, but it is almost impossible for a squirrel to die of old age when they are living in the wild.
Most squirrels do not even reach the age of one when they pass away. Others who do get to mature also die early because they either become food for predators or are unable to bear extreme weather conditions.
Some of them may also die of hunger. As squirrels are active animals, they are hunted before they reach old ages.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about squirrel’s lifespan.
Can squirrels live up to 900 years?
The direct answer to this question is no. They can not live for 900 years. The highest they can live is 24 years in rare cases. This is decreased when they are living in the wild.
How long do squirrels live in the UK?
On average, females live for about 5 years while males live for 2 to 3 years. This increases when they are kept as pets. Although in exceptional cases, they may survive for 12 years in the wild as well.
How long do squirrels live in Texas, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, California, and Oregon?
They can live for up to 9 years if they survive as babies. This lifespan is much shorter when squirrels of these areas live in the wild and decrease to a maximum of 3 years.
How long do squirrels live in Canada?
Like the other squirrels, squirrels in Canada also live longer in captivity for about 20 years. Usually, they reach the age of 6 in the wild. Rarely, they live up to 12 years in the wild as well.
An actual number of how long squirrels live is a bit tough to determine. The lifespan of a squirrel may vary due to certain reasons such as their species, gender, where they live, and whether they are taken proper care of. On average, they can live for 5 to 6 years long.