Squirrels in the Knoxville area are mostly gray, but sometimes we see red squirrels. On average, adult squirrels weigh about one pound. Although the life expectancy of squirrels are said to be up to 10 years, in the wild, their life expectancy is probably more like 3-4 years. Squirrels usually give birth to two litters each year, with one being late in the summer and the other sometime in the winter. After mating, both the male and female squirrel usually work together to build their nest for the upcoming babies. After a 44 day gestation period, female squirrels usually give birth to 3-4 young. Baby squirrels are both pink in color, and without fur. Squirrels grow quickly and after about 10 weeks, they are usually weaned from their mother.
Squirrels move around mostly in the morning and evening. They eat mostly nuts, berries, seeds, hay, dry leaves and twigs, but also indulge in food from bird feeders and food from fruit trees. They adapt to each situation they are confronted with, and live in Knoxville area neighborhoods, gardens, parks suburban areas and forests. Places that have an abundance of trees and shrubs are very attractive to squirrels! Squirrels will travel for miles if they can’t find a food source.
Once squirrels find food, they build nests called a ‘drey’, which are usually seen high up in trees. Their nests are constructed with materials they gather, including leaves, twigs, hair & cloth. Quite often squirrels make use of nests already built by birds. They also build their nests in hallowed out trees. If squirrels can’t find a high tree or hollowed out tree, the next best thing is an attic! It’s quiet, dry, secluded and usually warmer than outside. After their home territories are established, their form of communication is by chattering, flickering their fluffy tails and via their scent.
Squirrels are like many animals – they are hoarders! They spend a big part of their day looking for nuts of any variety and other food sources to stash away to use during seasons where food sources are not so plentiful.
Several animals find their way into our homes, but one of the most obvious signs you have a squirrel in your home is if you hear strange or unexpected noises in your attic, walls, under the floors or in your chimney early in the morning and in the evening. This is when squirrels are most active. Many animals are nocturnal, so you only hear them at night. Often, you’ll hear a ‘scratching’ noise or very quick scurrying around. Squirrels can also be active during the day.
If a squirrel finds its way into your uncapped chimney, it will often panic and you’ll hear it scurrying up and down and scratching, trying to find its way out! They often find their way into your fireplace and home.
In your home or attic, look for droppings, as signs of rat and squirrel invasions are often quite similar. The stool of a squirrel is usually brown or red with curved edges, and a rat’s droppings tend to have pointy ends and are dark brown or black in color. All homeowners should make regular inspections of their home monthly. If you see openings or gaps along the roof or soffit, have them sealed up and be wary of strange markings and smells.
If you have squirrels getting into your attic, you’ll see body staining from the squirrels on your roof. This comes from the oils on their belly.
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