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Do Squirrels Hibernate? What They Do During The Winter | BeCause Tees

Do Squirrels Hibernate? What They Do During The Winter

Squirrels are known for their energetic behavior, especially when they're darting around collecting nuts and acorns during the fall and stealing seeds from bird feeders! But have you ever wondered why you don't see many squirrels during the winter? Do squirrels hibernate? Let's find out!

Squirrel in the fall 

What is Hibernation?

Hibernation is a state of dormancy that some animals enter into during the winter so they can survive when food is scarce and temperatures are cold. Hibernation means a decrease in body temperature, slow breathing, low heart rate, and low metabolic rate.

Examples of animals that hibernate include some species of bats, bumble bees, ladybugs, and wood frogs.

Do Squirrels Hibernate?

Tree squirrels do not hibernate, but most species of ground squirrels do hibernate. Instead, tree squirrels will spend much of their time inside their dens when the weather is very cold, but they'll still venture out.

Squirrel inside tree cavity

How do Squirrels Prepare for the Winter?

Squirrels employ several methods that help them survive the challenges of winter:

1. Create Food Reserves

Squirrels are famous for hoarding (called 'caching') food. They collect and bury nuts underground during the fall in various locations, so they have plenty of food to see them through the cold winter months.

Fun Fact: these food reserves don't just benefit squirrels - they help the ecosystem too. Squirrels don't remember all of the hiding places they've created, so the seeds they've forgotten about will sprout into new trees or plants.

Several other creatures also hoard food to eat at another time, including chipmunks, crabs, hamsters, and birds.

2. Build up Fat Reserves

As well as creating food reserves ready for winter, squirrels also prepare by eating more food than normal in order to build up their fat reserves.

Other creatures use this method to prepare for winter months, including bears who even have a week dedicated to this called Fat Bear Week!

3. Create Insulated Nests

Squirrels build well-insulated nests, often called dreys, in the branches of trees or inside tree cavities. They use layers of materials to keep nests insulated, including twigs, leaves, moss, and grass.

These nests provide protection from the elements and help maintain a stable temperature for the squirrels inside.

Squirrels nest in a tree 

What Do Squirrels Do During the Winter?

Unlike animals that hibernate, squirrels remain somewhat active throughout the winter, venturing out of their nests on milder days to retrieve food they've cached, if they can remember where they've hidden it! 

Squirrels have dense fur coats that help keep them warm when venturing out in cold weather. Their fur also provides additional insulation when they curl up in their nests. 

Shivering is a tactic they employ to stay warm, as it helps them to generate heat.

Whilst squirrels are usually solitary creatures, they may share nests during the winter to help each other stay warm.


Tree squirrels do not hibernate during the winter, but they employ methods to prepare for and survive the colder months when food will be scarce. So, if you wonder why you don't see many squirrels during the winter, this is why! Appreciate the nutty antics of these furry friends? You can see squirrels all year round with our Western Grey Squirrel Collection of clothing and accessories!

Wester Grey Squirrel Hand Towel 

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