Are New York squirrels ever active at night?

We see them at parks and in backyards. Our Rochester dogs cannot help but bark at them when they see one. Often, our attempts at gardening berries or fruits are ruined because these little mammals like to nibble on them when we’re not looking.

Unlike any of the other small Rochester animals we may encounter in the woodlands or in the forest, squirrels are actually diurnal – meaning that they are at their most active during the day. Actually, squirrels can be quite loud during the day. If you live in a forest area, you’ll be able to hear loud squeaking noises, most probably coming from squirrels. On the other hand, if you hear any during the night, the noises are unlikely to be from them, but rather from other woodland creatures like mice, racoons or even foxes. On the other hand, differently from our average, ground neighborhood squirrel, flying squirrels are nocturnal.

Ground squirrels will spend their nights sleeping inside the ground in built dens and burrows, or among rocks. During winter time, squirrels can hibernate and sleep for the impressive length of five to six months. In the daytime, squirrels spend most of their time running around, gathering and storing food, raising their babies and mating. Squirrels are very energetic and have incredibly fast beating hearts, so it is essential for squirrels to have enough rest during the night, so recharge their batteries and start their routines all over again the next day.

Because of their quick paced lifestyles, squirrels need a substantial amount of sleep to keep up with daily responsibilities. Therefore, squirrels tend to be asleep for around 60% of their time. That mans that on average, squirrels sleep about 15 hours per day.

In fact, squirrels and humans share a lot of similarities in terms of sleep patterns. Like we can wake up because of a noise, thirst or hunger, squirrels can wake up for the same reasons. On the other hand, they are unlikely to roam around for a long time. It will simply wake up to fix themselves with what they need, and then go back to sleep. This also includes a squirrel’s need to mate or to ‘use the toilet’.

Like humans, the time for sleep for a squirrel ends when there is enough light source or too much noise. Light, warmth and noise are ways to indicate that the day has begun, and that it is time to wake up and continue to hoard food. The same way, darkness and cold temperature translate to having to return home to their babies and to the safety of their homes.

To answer the question of if squirrels can be nocturnal, the answer is generally a ‘no’, although they can move around and show signs of having woken up. But this does not mean that they are nocturnal animals whatsoever.

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