Kristie Leong M.D. is a family practitioner who believes in the power of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle to prevent and fight illness.
What does a pregnant squirrel look like? Squirrels are some of the most adorable and active creatures on the planet. These furry rodents are endearing, fuzzy, and often mischievous creatures that hang out in parks, gardens, and woods around the world. The way they play, dance along tree branches, and poke their heads out of their holes make anyone watching them smile.
Squirrels typically mate twice per year. The first mating season is between December and February and the second is in August and September and goes on to give birth in early spring and late summer. But would you know how to recognize a pregnant squirrel, and could you identify one if they ran into your yard?
How To Identify a Pregnant Squirrel
Like humans and other animals, squirrels exhibit signs that they’re pregnant, and if you look closely, you can identify one. Signs you should look for that suggest a squirrel is pregnant include:
- An increase in body weight
- Larger size
- A prominent belly button
- Visible nipples (non-pregnant squirrels don't have visible nipples)
These signs will be more visible if a squirrel is further along in its pregnancy. Therefore, it may be hard to know whether a squirrel is pregnant in the early stages when they haven’t gained weight.
Squirrels that are pregnant may also have subtle changes in their behavior. Behavior characteristics of a pregnant squirrel may include:
- A higher activity level, especially around nesting sites in the early stages of pregnancy.
- An increased appetite and thirst as the mother squirrel prepares for the birth of her offspring. It's normal for a pregnant female squirrel to eat more than usual during this time. But if she feels threatened or scared, she may stop eating altogether until after giving birth.
- Reduced tendency to be playful or interact with male squirrels.
What Is The Gestation Period for a Squirrel?
You might also wonder what the gestation period is for a squirrel. The gestation period is the length of time it takes for an animal to give birth from the time of conception. It is usually measured in days and is the time from fertilization (when an egg is fertilized by a sperm) to the time of birth.
For humans, the average length of gestation is 280 days (~40 weeks), although it can vary from 38 to 42 weeks. The gestation period of an animal varies with the species. For squirrels, the gestation period is 38 to 44 days and squirrels typically have baby squirrels twice per year.
Baby Squirrels Are Called Kittens
Squirrels usually have 2-4 kittens in a single litter, with more than 9 being rare. The mother squirrel will take care of the babies until they are old enough to fend for themselves. Baby squirrels are called kittens and weigh about half an ounce at birth and are about 3 inches long.
Newborn squirrels are furless up until two weeks of life when they start to grow sparse hair on their backs, but they won't develop a full body of fur until six weeks of age.
Kittens open their eyes after 4 weeks, but it takes more than two months for them to be fully weaned from their mother's milk. By 12 weeks, baby squirrels should be ready to leave their parents' care and live on their own in the wild!
Identifying a Pregnant Squirrel Can Be Challenging
What does a pregnant squirrel look like? Hopefully, you now know how to identify a pregnant squirrel, although a pregnant squirrel may be easy or hard to identify, depending on how far along the mother squirrel is. By the time she’s well into pregnancy, you can see tell-tale signs like visible nipples, a big belly, and a prominent belly button.
When you see these signs, you know it won't be long until she brings adorable squirrel kittens into the world to frolic in gardens and the park. So, pay close attention the next time you see a squirrel and see if you see those telltale signs that a squirrel is about to become a mama.
- "Squirrel Mating and Pregnancy - Nature | ScienceBriefss.com." 23 Oct. 2021, https://sciencebriefss.com/nature/squirrel-mating-and-pregnancy/.
- "The Art and Science of Squirrels | Smithsonian Institution." https://www.si.edu/spotlight/squirrels.
- "A shortage of males causes female reproductive failure in ... - Science." 02 Oct. 2015, https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.1500401.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.