Squirrels breed in mid-December or early January and again in June. During the breeding season, noisy mating chases take place when one or more males pursue a female through the trees. When not breeding squirrels are solitary. They usually have two litters of one to eight pups. The young are weaned after they are two months old. The diet of squirrels dictates its habitat. Squirrels can be found in any area that supplies sufficient amounts of nuts and seeds to sustain the population. Urban backyards also have become prime habitat for squirrels.
Both Red squirrels & Gray squirrels are native to Oklahoma. They live in tree cavities, human-made squirrel boxes, or in leaf nests. Although squirrels prefer to nest in cavities, they often construct leaf nests by making a stick frame that is then filled with dry leaves and lined with leaves, strips of bark, corn husks, or other materials.
Fox and gray squirrels have similar food habits. They both eat a great variety of native foods. Typically, they feed on mast (wild tree fruits and nuts) in fall and early winter. Acorns, hickory nuts, walnuts, and osage orange fruits are favorite fall foods. Squirrels often hoard nuts for later use. Tree buds are a preferred food in late winter and early spring. In the summer they eat fruits, berries, and succulent plant materials. Fungi, corn, and cultivated fruits are taken when available. During population peaks, when food is scarce, these squirrels may chew bark from a variety of trees. They also will eat insects and other animal matter. Red squirrels are heavily dependent on coniferous forests for cones and buds but also will eat a variety of other foods common to gray and fox squirrel diets. Red squirrels do not spend as much time in trees as the other squirrel species. They find a large percentage of their food on the forest floor. Flying squirrels’ food habits are generally similar to those of other squirrels. However, they are the most carnivorous of all tree squirrels. They eat bird eggs and nestlings, insects, and other animal matter when available. Flying squirrels often occupy bird houses, especially bluebird houses.
DESCRIPTION OF DAMAGE
In residential areas, squirrels cause damage because of their tendency to gnaw on structures. They will chew siding and under eaves to make openings for their nests. Because of their small size, flying squirrels are prone to making nests in attics and other areas they can get into. Many mountain cabins have groups of flying squirrels living in the closets and between walls. Once they have made a nest, squirrels will chew on insulation and the insulation around wires. This habit is dangerous because the bare wires may cause a fire. They also travel along powerlines and may short out transformers.