How Long Do Squirrels Live And Why?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on August 3rd, 2022

6-12 Years is the exact answer.

Squirrels mostly consume nuts and fruits. They’re rather noisy, and when they’re in danger, they scream like “chip-chip-chip.” They are urban opportunists who can be readily tamed and trained to take human food. They are naturally energetic, and their activity levels skyrocket during mating season.

selective focus photography of squirrel eating walnut on tree brunbch

They are frequently quite protective of food sources, guarding and safeguarding them from other birds and squirrels. A palm squirrel is around the size of a big chipmunk and has a bushy tail that is somewhat shorter than its body. It has a creamy white belly and tail that is coated in long black and white hair.

The ears are short and trapezoidal, and juvenile squirrels are considerably lighter in color than adults, gradually darkening with age.

Squirrel Life Expectancy Across Species

Squirrels of various species have varying life lengths. A quick examination of the life expectancy of animals present in the United States finds the following:

Red squirrel

In the wild, red squirrels can live for up to 5 years. Their death rate is fairly high, with just 25% of these squirrels living for more than a year. They reach maturity between the ages of 2 and 4 years. In the wild, the longest known longevity of a red squirrel is ten years. Male squirrels live longer than female squirrels. For the vast majority of squirrel species, the reverse is true.

Red squirrels may live for up to 8 years in captivity.

Eastern fox squirrel

Eastern fox squirrels live in the wild for an average of 8 to 18 years. The majority of squirrels die before reaching adulthood. Female squirrels may live for up to 13 years on average, and male squirrels can live for up to 8 years on average. Fox squirrels may live for up to 18 years in captivity. In comparison to other animals, this is fairly lengthy.

Southern flying squirrel

In the wild, southern flying squirrels can survive for three to five years. Southern flying squirrels have a shorter lifetime in the wild than their non-flying cousins. They survive longer in captivity, with an average lifetime of 10 years. In captivity, their maximum age has been documented to be 19 years.

Eastern grey squirrel

In the wild, eastern grey squirrels can live for up to 12 years. In captivity, their longevity rises, and their greatest age has been documented to reach 20 years.

Black squirrel

Squirrels that seem like black squirrels are a fox or eastern grey squirrels. Their hair color varies owing to various melanin levels in their bodies. They are not abundant in the United States. However, they may be found throughout the Midwest. In the wild, most black squirrels may survive for up to 6 years. Their life expectancy rises in captivity, as it does for other squirrels, and they may live for up to 18 years.

Ground squirrel

Ground squirrels, such as the Richardson ground squirrel, have a 2-4 year life span in the wild. Males typically survive for two years in the wild, although females might live for four years. California ground squirrels have been shown to have similar lifespans. A Richardson ground squirrel may live in captivity for up to 7 years.

Squirrels in the Wild vs. Squirrels in Captivity

Squirrels often have longer lives in captivity since they are no longer preyed upon by their predators in the wild. Nonetheless, if the captive situation is harsh, squirrels may not live long in captivity.

Squirrels, on the other hand, must battle for their lives in the wild to survive. Because predators are everywhere, they are usually exposed to attacks from their adversaries.

Those that survive their first year in the wild can live for six to twelve years. This is because they have matured to learn how to deal with the hardships of the wild, where their predators continuously threaten them.

So, dependent on their species, how long do squirrels live in the wild and captivity? Let’s see what happens!

The Lifespan of Squirrels Depending on Their Species

Squirrel SpeciesIn the WildIn Captivity
Red Squirrels5 years8 years
Ground Squirrels2-4 years7 years
Black Squirrels6 years18 years
Southern Flying Squirrels3-5 years10 years
Eastern Fox Squirrels8 years18 years
Western Gray Squirrels12 years20 years
Abert’s Squirrels3-4 years7-8 years

Which Squirrels Live Longer: Males or Females?

If you feed squirrels in your backyard, you’ll probably get connected to them. It’s comforting to know how long these creatures can survive.

The life spans of different varieties of squirrels vary greatly; nonetheless, female squirrels tend to live longer than males.

Which Squirrels Live Longer: Males or Females?

If you feed squirrels in your backyard, you’ll probably get connected to them. It’s comforting to know how long these creatures can survive.

The life spans of different varieties of squirrels vary greatly; nonetheless, female squirrels tend to live longer than males.

Factors Affecting a Squirrel’s Lifespan

You are now aware that a squirrel’s gender influences its longevity. Aside from that, a squirrel’s lifespan is determined by several other factors.

The four elements that have a direct influence on a squirrel’s life span are listed below. Please don’t become too tired since there are a few things you need to know!

Living Situation

Food is essential to our survival. Squirrels, like humans, require food to survive. A malnourished squirrel may die before attaining the average lifetime.

Furthermore, the safety of the surroundings influences the lifespan of a squirrel. Pet squirrels, for example, and those living in cities are relatively sheltered from many threats.

Most natural animals cannot live beside the city’s various artificial developments, yet squirrels adapt exceptionally well to these environments. When compared to wild squirrels, these squirrels have fewer adversaries.

Furthermore, pet squirrels do not need to seek for food; they receive all they require from humans. The number of years these rats may live increases with a pleasant existence and a safe environment.


A wild squirrel’s existence is quite uncertain. Squirrels are lower on the food chain. Thus they have a plethora of predators.

Red-tailed hawks, red foxes, weasels, badgers, coyotes, wild cats, stoats, mink, domestic dogs, and domestic cats are among the squirrel predators.

Rattlesnakes and black snakes are the most dangerous predators of infant squirrels, who are defenseless and unable to protect themselves.

Because there are so many predators, most squirrels die at a young age. Not many squirrels live to or beyond their normal lifetime.

Common Infections and Parasites

Exotic veterinarians always treat pet squirrels who become ill. However, most wild squirrels do not have this benefit, and an ill wild squirrel can die anytime.

Squirrels are more vulnerable to squirrel pox. The illness is distinguished by fast loss of body condition and is particularly lethal to red squirrels. Grey squirrels have long been carriers of the squirrel pox virus.

Other illnesses that can affect squirrels include Tularemia, leptospirosis, and Lyme disease.

Furthermore, these rodents can be hosts to various internal and external parasites.

Examples of parasites include fleas, ticks, flesh flies, single-celled coccidia, nematodes, flatworms, and trypanosomes. Flesh flies can prey on ground squirrels.

Adult flesh flies lay live larvae on the skin of a ground squirrel, which feeds on the squirrel’s tissues for roughly six days before dying.

Loss of a tooth or loss of vision

Squirrels have four huge and sharp incisors for a purpose; the teeth aid in the consumption of food. As a result, a squirrel who accidentally loses its teeth will starve to death.

Squirrels are foragers, allowing them to find food even in remote areas. Because these animals are fully self-sufficient, a squirrel without eyesight suffers alone; no other squirrel will look after it.

Starvation can occur as a result of vision and teeth loss. So, urgent care is essential to ensure the squirrel’s life in case of a broken tooth.

Sometimes a squirrel’s tooth develops past its jaw, or its incisors are misaligned. This condition is known as malocclusion, and it needs medical attention, or the squirrel will die.


Squirrels live far longer than rodents, which resemble mice and rats. It is thought that protracted evolution has happened in species with low predation levels, and squirrels are suited for this.

Because squirrels live in trees and are incredibly mobile, predators have a tough time catching them. One of the reasons squirrels have acquired such a great lifting capacity for such a long life may be due to their defensive system.


Editorial Staff

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