What Does a Squirrel Nest Look Like: Proper Signs You Host a Rodent

Learn how does squirrel nest look like - from understanding their types to creating traps to catch the rodent
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Phyllis McMahon
Phyllis McMahon
Research Writer
Phyllis teaches English Literature at a local college and loves writing in her free time. She’s also a great cook – her British beef Wellington is something the best res read more
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Chas Kempf
Chas Kempf
Expert Consultant
Chas works in a professional pest control company and knows all the nuances of this job. Also, he’s a fantastic tennis player and loves to organize BBQ parties for his fam read more
Last updated: January 15, 2023
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From afar, squirrels can look like cute animals. But their natural tendency to build nests means you can have a lot of damage in your own home. If you’re worried about damage to your home, including parts of your siding being used to build a nest, or your attic being turned into their new nesting ground, it may be time to take action. The first step, however, is to understand what does a squirrel nest look like. Even though we often see squirrels running around our yard, we may have no idea where they actually sleep. In this post, we’ll focus on ways to identify where their nests are as well as methods you can use to take action against these possibly destructive animals.

Where do Squirrels Build Nests

The first step to knowing what a squirrel’s nest looks like is to know where to look. Here’s some basic information to be aware of.

How they’re built

Squirrels are resourceful and are constantly on the lookout for materials to use for their nests. Even after they are built, squirrels will continue to add to their nests. There are two parts to a squirrel’s nest: the outer foundation and the inner comfortable layer.

The outside part is made up primarily of branches and small twigs that are woven for support. Wet leaves are often added to act a bit like a mud layer, as they will dry and fill in any cracks in the foundation. This layer needs to be secure enough to withstand rain and wind.

Then, the inner layer is all about comfort and warmth. Dry leaves and soft materials such as moss will allow the squirrel to be comfortable. Eventually, a female squirrel will have babies, and the inner nest needs to be warm and dry for the babies to survive.

Location

What Does a Squirrel Nest Look Like: Proper Signs You Host a Rodent

Squirrels have a lot of predators they are constantly worried about, so their nests are always built up high. The nest needs to be off the ground so that coyotes and dogs can’t get to them. They should also be hidden to avoid detection from birds of prey.

As we’ll soon see, there are many places for squirrels to build their nests. While sturdy tree branches and hollowed tree trunks are the most common areas, squirrels will often look for warmer areas such as chimneys, garages, and attics.

Season

While squirrels don’t actually hibernate, they do spend a lot of time preparing for the colder part of the year. In winter, there are fewer natural food sources, so squirrels will spend a lot of time gathering nuts and seeds.

As fall approaches, they will also look to add more insular materials to their habitat. Dry leaves and moss are especially abundant during this time, so squirrels can often be seen moving the resources back to their den or nest.

What Does a Squirrel Nest Look Like

There are two ways that a squirrel can make its nest. One is a den and the other is a drey. Both are common and if you have multiple squirrels in your area, there might be a combination of the two kinds. In addition to dens and dreys, you might find a squirrel nest inside your own home, usually in attics or the soffit of your roof.

Dens

What Does a Squirrel Nest Look Like: Proper Signs You Host a Rodent

A squirrel den is the more common form of habitat and one that is often portrayed in children’s cartoons. Essentially, it is a hollowed-out part of a tree. Squirrel dens are more secure because they are part of the natural surroundings, which is why squirrels prefer them.

While some squirrels will work away at a tree trunk to create their whole, others will find abandoned woodpecker holes or natural cracks in the bark to get a head start.

To add to the comfort level, squirrels will collect dry leaves and moss to line the inside of their drey. They will add more insulation as winter approaches or if there are baby squirrels on the way.

Dreys

What Does a Squirrel Nest Look Like: Proper Signs You Host a Rodent

While you might use the term nest to refer to where a squirrel lives, the scientific name is a drey. However, they are constructed similar to a typical bid’s nest.

A drey uses natural elements for the construction. A squirrel will gather sticks, moss, and leaves, both wet and dry. Then, they will move the pieces around to create a place for them to sit in. The whole construction is actually quite impressive, as the twigs are woven together to create a firm structure.

To keep squirrels warm, especially through winter, the leaves and moss provide a cushiony layer. Squirrels will try to procreate at some point in their lives and a warm, comfortable area is crucial for baby squirrels.

You can often find dreys up high off the ground. Squirrels have a lot of predators so they will construct their habitats further up to avoid coyotes and dogs. You will often find squirrel dreys on the ground due to being windswept, like you would with a bird’s nest. While their construction is durable and very solid, when they are built up high and between branches, they are still susceptible to the elements.

Indoor nesting

What Does a Squirrel Nest Look Like: Proper Signs You Host a Rodent

The final place where you can find squirrel habitats is inside your home, and this is when squirrels truly become pests. As squirrels burrow into your attic or the eaves of your home, they will scratch the support system. Other common indoor nesting areas include chimneys, crawl spaces, and garages.

If you’re getting worried about whether you have uninvited guests in your home, the next question to ask is, what does a squirrel nest look like in an attic? First, it will be in a corner or someplace hidden to give the squirrel an extra defense against predators. Then, you can expect to find a collection of sticks, leaves, and moss. Be on the lookout for something similar to a larger bird’s nest.

What does a flying squirrel nest look like

What Does a Squirrel Nest Look Like: Proper Signs You Host a Rodent

Flying squirrels are most common in the eastern United States. Trusted Source Flying Squirrels | National Wildlife Federation Learn facts about flying squirrels’ habitat, diet, life history, and more. www.nwf.org They range from northern Maine to southern Florida, and can be found as far west as Texas. There is also a type of flying squirrel that lives along the West Coast, although it is not as common.

While flying squirrel nests will be similar to their common ground squirrel cousin, they will almost exclusively be in trees, as this is where flying squirrels are most comfortable. They prefer trees that have been hollowed out and will take over abandoned territories from woodpeckers or crows.

The biggest difference with flying squirrels is that they will often nest together, especially in the winter, in order to keep warm. Sometimes you can find up to 10 flying squirrels in the same nest.

The insides of the nest

The inside of a squirrel’s nest needs to be warm enough to keep the animals alive through the winter. Dry leaves are quite common, as are moss and small pieces of bark.

The outside layer of the nest is quite thick, in order to provide a durable construction that won’t be wrecked by nature. Inside, however, will be warm and snug. Most nests only house one squirrel at a time, except when there are babies. The nest needs to be snug in order to keep the squirrel warm over winter.

Removing Squirrel’s Nest

Whether you should remove a squirrel’s nest or not is a personal preference. Here is some information to help you with your decision.

Should you?

As with any time you want to disrupt the natural way of nature, there is a debate over what you should do. Overall, if you have squirrels in your yard but they aren’t damaging your property, it’s best to learn to live with them peacefully. 

However, if you have squirrels that are inside your home or are starting to damage your property, then you may want to take steps to get rid of them.

Squirrel bait

We don’t recommend this as your first step in removing rodents, but it is an option to consider. By using a specially-made bait, you can feed pesky squirrels and chipmunks in your yard. They will be attracted to the smell and taste but when they eat it, they will be poisoned.

If this is an option you want to know more about, please consult this list of the best baits for chipmunks and squirrels.

Squirrel repellent

The best way to get rid of squirrels and other rodents such as gophers is to naturally repel them. You can use specially-formulated pellets and discs that provide an unappealing scent to your yard. For humans, it won’t smell like much, but for animals, it can be very off-putting.

This list of the best gopher repellents is a good place to start as squirrels will also dislike the smells. If you want to go the DIY route, you can also make your own mixture of scents, such as peppermint oil and castor oil.

Squirrel traps

What Does a Squirrel Nest Look Like: Proper Signs You Host a Rodent

Another humane way of getting rid of squirrels is to trap them live. You can then re-home them in a forested area away from your property.

To properly trap a squirrel, you will need a trap as well as a non-toxic bait. This list of the best chipmunk traps will also work with squirrels and you can find one that will work with your property.

While some traps come with bait, you may need to purchase your own. If this is the case, you can try a product like the WCS NB Squirrel and Rodent Paste Bait. It is non-toxic and won’t harm any squirrels. However, the mixture of nuts and seeds will attract squirrels to your trap, so you can then take care of them.

Do squirrels leave their nests?

Squirrels are very busy creatures. They spend most of their day gathering food and finding materials to make their nests more comfortable and secure. Squirrels sleep during the night Trusted Source How Do Squirrels Sleep? How, Where, When, Times, Which Ones As humans, we want to snuggle up in a nice cozy bed with soft sheets. As a squirrel lover, I did a little detective work and found out lots of helpful information on how do squirrels sleep, and where! rangerplanet.com , so they leave their nests during the day.

If you plan on setting up traps, such as the Tomahawk One Way Door Excluder Model E50, it is best to do so at night. This way, the squirrels won’t see you working and will be less suspicious when they find the traps and the tasty bait inside them.

Final Thoughts

You see squirrels running around your yard all the time, but where do they actually live? Squirrels build nests, also known as dreys, up high in trees or even in your own home, such as your attic or chimney. They also build dens in hollowed-out parts of tree trunks. Made with natural materials such as sticks, leaves, and moss, squirrel nests are compact and built to withstand cold winter temperatures. Knowing what does a squirrel nest look like is the first step in understanding if you have a rodent problem. If you suspect you have a squirrel making their home in your home, check your attic, garage, or roofline. Then, if you see a nest, you can set up a trap or provide toxic bait to help prevent any damage.

References

1.
Flying Squirrels | National Wildlife Federation
Learn facts about flying squirrels’ habitat, diet, life history, and more.
2.
How Do Squirrels Sleep? How, Where, When, Times, Which Ones
As humans, we want to snuggle up in a nice cozy bed with soft sheets. As a squirrel lover, I did a little detective work and found out lots of helpful information on how do squirrels sleep, and where!
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