When Do Baby Squirrels Leave the Nest? A Detailed Look

As a nature lover who is passionate about squirrels, I often get asked: “When do baby squirrels leave the nest?” This is an excellent question that many squirrel enthusiasts want to know the answer to. In this blog post, I will provide a comprehensive look at when and how baby squirrels leave their nest.

Baby squirrels leave the nest when they are around 12 weeks old (3 months). However, the exact timing depends on factors like litter size, food availability, and the mother’s experience.

Baby Squirrel Development in the Nest

baby squirrel

To understand when baby squirrels leave the nest, let’s first look at their development inside the nest after birth:

  • Newborn: Pink, no fur, eyes closed, about 2-3 inches long
  • 2 weeks: Light fur growing on back, eyes still closed
  • 3 weeks: About 4 inches long, lower front teeth emerging, eyes closed
  • 4 weeks: 5 inches long, fur growing on the underside, eyes open
  • 5 weeks: 6 inches long, upper front teeth erupting
  • 6 weeks: Back cheek teeth developing, can hold food, it becomes more active. They start exploring around the nest.
  • 7-10 weeks: Full adult fur, learning to climb, still smaller than adults. They are weaned off their mother’s milk.
  • 12 weeks: The juvenile squirrel usually leaves the nest.

Based on this timeline, most baby squirrels will start exploring around the nest anywhere between 8-10 weeks of age. Then they will usually leave the nest at about 12 weeks old.

Here’s an interesting video from the BBC showing the squirrel nesting timeline and how baby squirrels leave the nest:

Play Video

Anyway, the exact timing for baby squirrels to get out of their nest depends on factors like:

Litter Size

Typically, female squirrels reproduce twice in a year. The initial batch of babies is usually born during the months of March or April, while a second batch arrives in summer, in the months of July or August.

Squirrel litters range from 1-8 babies, with 2-4 being average. In larger litters, the babies may develop a bit slower and leave the nest a bit later because of increased competition for food. In smaller litters, they may stay closer to 10 weeks before venturing out.

Food Availability

When food is plentiful, the mother squirrel can provide enough nutrition to wean the babies faster, allowing them to leave the nest as early as 10 weeks old. However, when food is scarce, weaning takes longer which delays nest departure closer to 12 weeks or even later.

Mother’s Experience

First-time mother squirrels often keep their young in the nest a bit longer. More experienced mothers are better at weaning babies and preparing them for independence, so their litters may leave closer to 10 weeks of age.

Signs That Baby Squirrels Are Ready to Leave the Nest

In addition to timing, there are behavioral signs that indicate baby squirrels are developmentally ready to leave the nest, such as:

  1. Moving around the nest frequently and vocalizing
  2. Starting to eat solid foods brought by the mother
  3. Growing fur that covers their entire body
  4. Playing with siblings to develop physical coordination

These natural behaviors show the babies are mature enough for life outside the nest with their mother. The mother squirrel closely monitors the babies and determines the right time for them to go based on these cues.

The Process of Leaving the Nest

When the timing is right, how do baby squirrels physically leave their nest? This is a gradual process that usually takes about a week or 2. Here are the typical steps:

  1. Some babies venture out first while others take longer to get the confidence.
  2. The babies crawl and climb cautiously outside, gripping the tree tightly.
  3. They start to explore the world nearby their nest, then return inside it.
  4. They gain more confidence and start going further from the nest.
  5. Finally, they will leave their nest completely.

This process usually takes place gradually over several days. Some squirrel babies may return to the nest temporarily after their first ventures out. But within a week’s time, the entire litter will be going out daily with their mother to forage and learn survival skills.

What If a Baby Falls Out of the Nest Too Early?

Sometimes baby squirrels accidentally fall or are blown out of their nest before they are fully ready. This usually happens between 4-7 weeks of age.

You can use these signs to identify if a baby squirrel you find needs help or intervention:

  • Eyes open, over 6 inches long – Juvenile that can survive on its own.
  • Eyes closed, under 6 inches long – Infant that still needs parental care.

If you find a baby squirrel on the ground that is uninjured but too young to be out of the nest, here are some tips:

  1. Wear thick gloves to handle the baby squirrel to avoid bites.
  2. Place the baby in a small box or pet carrier lined with soft cloth.
  3. Keep the baby warm by placing a microwavable heating pad or covered hot water bottle in the box, set on low.
  4. Do not feed the baby or give it water.
  5. Place the box on the tree near the nest, secured safely as high as possible.
  6. The mother will usually retrieve the baby and return it to the nest.
  7. If the mother doesn’t come for the baby in 6-8 hours, contact a wildlife rehabilitator.

It’s vital to quickly reunite healthy premature babies with their mothers to ensure their best chance of survival. Always avoid direct handling of wildlife unless necessary.

If you can’t find an available wildlife rehabilitator, then you may want to learn what baby squirrels eat and how to hand rise them.

Risks of Having Baby Squirrels in the Home

While cute, baby squirrels can cause property damage by chewing on insulation, wires, and wood. They also may carry diseases transmittable to humans and pets. Contact a professional wildlife removal service to humanely extract squirrel families from homes and attics.

Having baby squirrels in the home poses numerous risks such as damage to property, disease transmission and possible harm to humans. It is important to be aware of these risks before attempting to make a home for them. Here are some of the major risks associated with having baby squirrels in the home:

  • Property Damage – Squirrels can cause serious damage to structures inside your home due to their chewing and digging habits.
  • Disease Transmission – Baby squirrels can potentially transmit diseases like rabies, leptospirosis and salmonellosis among others.
  • Harm to Humans – Baby squirrels can bite or scratch, which can cause injury and potential infection.

Removal of Baby Squirrels from the Home

Removing baby squirrels from the home can be a delicate process due to their small size and fragile nature. If you find yourself in this situation, contact a wildlife professional or animal control expert to safely remove the animals. It is important to remember that baby squirrels have no defense against potential predators and need to be handled with care. Never attempt to capture them on your own as you could injure them or even cause harm to yourself. Additionally, it is illegal in many states to attempt such captures without a permit.

Call for Professional Wildlife Removal

If you find yourself with a family of baby squirrels on your property, it can be a daunting task to manage them. While they may bring joy and a sense of wonder into your home, they may also cause damage or carry diseases that could affect other animals and humans living in the area.

To ensure the safety and health of your property, it’s best to call a professional wildlife removal service as soon as possible. These services can safely trap, remove, and relocate the squirrels back to their natural habitat, minimizing any potential risks for you or your family.


Should I take away a squirrels’ home?

It is not recommended to remove a squirrel‘s nesting site as it may cause distress and further disruption to the animal. Instead, it is best to attempt to prevent squirrels from entering your home in the first place. This can be done by sealing entry points and trimming back vegetation from close to the property. If you do notice a nest in or around your property, contact an expert for assistance.

When is the best time of year to get rid of squirrels?

If you have squirrels in your home, it is important to remove them as soon as possible. The best time of year to do this is in the colder months, such as autumn and winter. Squirrels become less active when temperatures cool off and are easier to trap or drive out during this period. Taking preventative measures like sealing entry points can also help reduce the chances of having a repeat infestation.

Can young squirrels live independently without their mother’s care?

Baby squirrels, or kits, can survive without their mother under certain circumstances. They may be successful if placed in a suitable environment and given access to food, such as nuts and seeds. However, it is important to note that without proper care, the kits may not reach adulthood or have any chance of living a full life. Additionally, it is recommended that squirrels be reintroduced into their natural environment as soon as possible for the best chance of survival.


In conclusion, most baby squirrels are ready to permanently leave the nest by 10-12 weeks of age. Their mother squirrel determines the right departure time based on the babies’ development.

After leaving the nest, the babies have an intense learning period to pick up survival skills while gradually establishing their own homes. With their mother’s dedicated training during the first months of life, baby squirrels grow into nature’s nimble tree-dwelling acrobats.

I hope this overview helps explain when baby squirrels leave the nest and the process behind their early development into independent juveniles.

As a passionate squirrel enthusiast, I’m always eager to share my knowledge about these lively creatures. Feel free to leave a comment down below with any other squirrel behavior questions!

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