How Does a Squirrel Reproduce?

By April Sanders
How Does a Squirrel Reproduce?

The Mating Season

Female squirrels reproduce by mating and then birthing live young. They are able to begin the mating process at the age of one year. The first mating season begins in late winter, usually around the end of February. The season can last until May. The second mating season occurs at the end of spring and lasts until late summer. Most squirrel species have two litters; one at the end of spring and one at the end of summer. Some species only bear a little once per year. The baby squirrels are called kittens.



The Mating Process

Female squirrels give off a strong scent that the male squirrel can detect. Once the male squirrel scents the female, he will chase her at high speeds through trees. He will also slap the bark of the tree loudly with his paws. If more than one male is chasing one female, the males will often also try to chase off each other. This results in amazing acrobatics through the trees. The female will choose the strongest male to mate with. She will be able to recognize him from that day forward and will take pains never to mate with him again. After mating, the male squirrel leaves for good. He has nothing to do with the raising of the kittens.

Baby Squirrels

The average litter of a squirrel consists of two to five kittens. The gestation period is around six weeks, although some species of squirrel have a gestation period as short as four weeks and others as long as eight weeks, such as the gray and fox squirrel.

Baby squirrels, or kittens, are tiny at birth. They weigh around one ounce and are about one inch long. They are hairless, without teeth, and are almost blind for the first one to two months of life. However, they grow quickly and are usually completely weaned by ten weeks of age. By the time they are four months old, most baby squirrels have left their mother's nest for good.