How Long Do Squirrels Live? ALL You Need To Know (2023)

How Long Do Squirrels Live

This Article Was Written By Israel Olaniran Reviewed By Dr Jenna Fred.

Last Updated on June 29, 2023 by israel olaniran

Squirrels, with their lively and nimble nature, have captured the curiosity of many people. These small, bushy-tailed creatures can be found in various habitats, from urban parks to dense forests. One question that often arises when observing squirrels is, “How long do they live?” In this article, we will explore the lifespan of squirrels, factors that influence their longevity, and delve into the different squirrel species and their respective lifespans.

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How Long Do Squirrels Live?

How long squirrels live depends on various factors such as species, habitat, food availability, and human impact. On average, squirrels have a lifespan of 5 to 10 years in the wild, but some individuals can live longer. Red squirrels typically live 3 to 7 years, while gray squirrels can reach up to 20 years in captivity or pets.. Flying squirrels have a shorter lifespan, averaging around 5 to 6 years.

Environmental factors like habitat quality, access to food, and predation risks influence their survival. Human activities, including habitat destruction and interactions with vehicles and domestic pets, also impact squirrel populations. By understanding these factors and promoting conservation efforts, we can contribute to the well-being and longevity of these fascinating creatures.

Squirrel SpeciesLifespan (Wild)Lifespan (Captivity)
Red Squirrels3-7 yearsUp to 12 years
Gray Squirrels5-10 yearsUp to 20 years
Flying Squirrels5-6 years5-6 years
Fox Squirrels8-18 years8-18 years
Eastern Chipmunks2-5 years2-5 years
Western Chipmunks3-5 years3-5 years
Ground Squirrels3-8 years3-8 years
Douglas Squirrels4-6 years4-6 years
Arctic Ground Squirrels10-12 years10-12 years
Alpine Marmots10-15 years10-15 years
How Long Do Squirrels Live?

Lifespan of Squirrels

General Lifespan

Squirrels generally have a relatively short lifespan compared to larger mammals. On average, the lifespan of a squirrel ranges from 5 to 10 years in the wild. However, there have been cases where squirrels have lived up to 15 years or more, albeit rare. The lifespan of a squirrel can vary depending on several factors.

Factors Affecting Lifespan

Multiple factors influence how long a squirrel can live. Genetics, environmental conditions, availability of food, predation risks, and human interference all play significant roles in determining the lifespan of these agile creatures. Let’s now explore specific squirrel species and their lifespans.

How Long Do Squirrels Live
How Long Do Squirrels Live? Image by Wayne from Pixabay

Squirrel Species and Lifespan

Red Squirrels

Red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) are native to Europe and parts of Asia. These vibrant, russet-colored squirrels have an average lifespan of 3 to 7 years in the wild. However, in captivity, they can live up to 12 years or more with proper care and nutrition.

Gray Squirrels

Gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) are widespread in North America. These adaptable rodents are known for their gray fur and bushy tails. In the wild, gray squirrels typically live for about 5 to 10 years. Similar to red squirrels, gray squirrels have been observed to live longer, up to 20 years, in captivity.


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Flying Squirrels

Flying squirrels encompass several species, such as the Northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) and Southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans). These nocturnal squirrels have the ability to glide through the air using a specialized membrane called a patagium. Flying squirrels generally have a shorter lifespan compared to their non-gliding counterparts. In the wild, they usually live between 5 and 6 years.

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Environmental Factors

Habitat and Survival

The lifespan of squirrels is intricately connected to their habitat. Squirrels thrive in diverse environments, including forests, woodlands, and urban areas. Availability of suitable nesting sites, access to food sources, and protection from predators are crucial for their survival. Squirrels living in urban areas often face different challenges, such as exposure to traffic and limited natural resources.

Food Availability

The availability of food greatly impacts the lifespan of squirrels. These omnivorous creatures have a varied diet consisting of nuts, seeds, fruits, insects, and even bird eggs. During seasons of abundance, squirrels gather and store food to sustain themselves through periods of scarcity, such as winter. A consistent and plentiful food supply contributes to their overall health and survival.

Predators and Threats

Squirrels face numerous predators in their natural habitats, including birds of prey, snakes, foxes, and domestic cats. The ability to detect danger and employ agile evasive maneuvers is crucial for their survival. Additionally, human activities, such as deforestation, habitat destruction, and vehicle collisions, pose significant threats to squirrel populations, impacting their lifespan.

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Reproduction and Survival

Mating and Breeding

Squirrels typically reproduce once or twice a year, depending on the species. The mating season varies, with some species breeding in the spring and others in the winter. After a gestation period of around 30 to 45 days, female squirrels give birth to a litter of 2 to 8 pups. Survival rates of squirrel offspring are relatively low, with only a fraction reaching adulthood due to predation and environmental factors.

Nesting and Raising Young

Female squirrels build nests, known as dreys, to protect and raise their young. These nests are constructed using leaves, twigs, and other materials found in their environment. The mother squirrel provides care and nourishment to her offspring, nursing them until they are old enough to venture out on their own. The survival of young squirrels depends on the availability of resources and the protection provided by their mothers.

Aging and Mortality

Natural Causes

As squirrels age, they become more susceptible to natural causes of mortality. Factors such as disease, malnutrition, and wear and tear on their bodies can impact their overall health and lifespan. Squirrels also face the challenge of maintaining their teeth, as they continuously grow throughout their lives. Teeth that are not worn down properly can cause difficulties in eating, leading to health issues.

Human Impact

Human activities can significantly affect squirrel populations and their lifespan. Habitat destruction due to urbanization and deforestation reduces available resources and nesting sites. Furthermore, interactions with humans, such as vehicle collisions and domestic cat attacks, pose significant threats to squirrel populations. Conservation efforts and creating wildlife-friendly environments can help mitigate these human impacts and support healthy squirrel populations.

How Long Do Squirrels Live?

Final Thoughts On How Long Do Squirrels Live?

In conclusion, the lifespan of squirrels varies depending on species and environmental factors. Red squirrels, gray squirrels, and flying squirrels each have distinct lifespans. Environmental factors like habitat, food availability, predation risks, and human interference play significant roles in determining how long squirrels can live. By understanding these factors and promoting conservation efforts, we can ensure the long-term survival and well-being of these fascinating creatures.


Do squirrels live longer in captivity?

Yes, squirrels can live longer in captivity compared to their wild counterparts. With proper care and nutrition, some squirrels have been known to live beyond their average lifespan.

How do squirrels find food during winter?

Squirrels gather and store food during seasons of abundance to sustain themselves through winter. They create caches by burying nuts and seeds in various locations, which they rely on when food sources become scarce.

Can squirrels die from dental problems?

Yes, dental problems can be a significant issue for squirrels. If their teeth are not worn down properly, it can lead to difficulties in eating and overall health problems.

Are squirrels affected by deforestation?

Yes, deforestation negatively impacts squirrel populations by reducing their available habitat and resources. It can disrupt their nesting sites and limit their access to food, leading to population decline.

What can I do to help squirrels in my area?

You can support squirrels by creating a squirrel-friendly environment, providing nesting boxes, and ensuring a diverse and sustainable food source. Additionally, advocating for conservation efforts and minimizing human interference can contribute to their well-being.

What is the maximum lifespan of a squirrel?

The maximum lifespan of a squirrel can vary depending on the species and environmental factors. While the average lifespan is around 5 to 10 years, some individuals have been known to live beyond 15 years, although it is rare.

What is the lifespan of a grey squirrel?

Grey squirrels typically have a lifespan of 5 to 10 years in the wild. However, some individuals have been observed to live up to 20 years in captivity with proper care and nutrition.

How old is the oldest squirrel?

The exact age of the oldest squirrel is not known, as it can be challenging to determine the age of a wild squirrel accurately. However, there have been reports of squirrels living beyond 15 years in exceptional cases.

Do squirrels make good pets?

While squirrels may appear cute and playful, they are wild animals and are not recommended as pets. Squirrels have specific care requirements, and their natural behaviors can be challenging to accommodate in a domestic setting. It is best to admire and appreciate squirrels in their natural habitat.

How long do grey squirrels live?

Grey squirrels typically live for 5 to 10 years in the wild. However, as mentioned earlier, they have been known to live up to 20 years in captivity under favorable conditions.

How long do red squirrels live?

Red squirrels generally have a lifespan of 3 to 7 years in the wild. However, in captivity, they can live up to 12 years or more with proper care and nutrition.

How long do grey squirrels live in captivity?

Grey squirrels can live up to 20 years or more in captivity with proper care, a suitable environment, and a balanced diet.

How long do brown squirrels live?

Brown squirrels, commonly referred to as grey squirrels, have a typical lifespan of 5 to 10 years in the wild.

How long do tree squirrels live?

Tree squirrels, such as grey squirrels, have an average lifespan of 5 to 10 years in their natural habitat.

How long do ground squirrels live?

Ground squirrels generally have a lifespan of 3 to 8 years in the wild, depending on the species. Some ground squirrel species, like the Arctic Ground Squirrel, may live up to 10-12 years.

How long do squirrels sleep?

Squirrels do not have a specific sleep pattern like humans. They have periods of rest throughout the day and night, usually taking short naps and remaining active for the majority of their waking hours.

How long do fox squirrels live?

Fox squirrels have a lifespan of 8 to 18 years in the wild, depending on various factors such as habitat, food availability, and predation risks.


  • israel olaniran

    Israel Olaniran is an accomplished animal content writer with five years of expertise in creating engaging and educational material about cats, dogs, and other animals. When he's not writing, he dedicates his time to caring for his beloved four-year-old rescue puppy. Israel's work has been featured in renowned publications like "Pethouse," and he actively collaborates with local animal shelters and rescue organizations to raise awareness about their important work. His vast knowledge in animal care and ownership, as well as his up-to-date understanding of various breeds, making him a trusted source for global readers seeking reliable pet content.

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