Where Do Squirrels Go in Winter? Uncovering Their Strategies & Behaviours!

As a nature lover and someone with years of experience in observing and interacting with squirrels all over the world, I’ve wondered where do squirrels go in the winter. This blog post aims to uncover the strategies and behaviours that these animals adopt during colder months. Through research and my own experience, I’ll provide insight into their activities, habitats, and behaviors during winter so you can appreciate them even more.

During winter, squirrels typically remain active and their behavior shifts slightly to focus on more energy efficient activities. In areas that experience harsh winters, the animals will take refuge in burrows or tree cavities where they can stay warm. They may also find shelter in abandoned buildings or other man-made structures. Although most squirrel species still forage during the colder months, they are less active and spend much of their time huddling together for warmth. This also helps conserve energy by reducing metabolic rate.

Where Do Squirrels Go in the Winter?

When winter arrives and temperatures drop, many of us rush to bundle up for warmth and make plans to hibernate until spring. However, most squirrel species don’t have the luxury of retreating into a deep slumber, so they must look for other strategies to survive the cold season.

Instead of hibernating, squirrels rely on their adaptive behavior and knowledge of their habitats to find refuge from winter. Despite being small in size, these furry critters possess remarkable survival skills that help them brave even the most extreme climates.

Behavior and Adaptations of Squirrels

Nesting Habits

Every year squirrels will search out suitable places such as abandoned buildings or hollowed out trees where they can create nests or dens to inhabit during cooler months. Once there, they will fill their homes with leaves, grasses and other soft materials which create insulation that helps keep them warm.

Squirrels also store essential food items like nuts and seeds within their nests so they can feed on them throughout winter when outdoor supplies become scarce.

Keeping Warm

Some squirrel species survive by taking refuge inside their dens and nests for warmth, triggering shivering mechanisms, or building up fat reserves. Others may be agile enough to venture farther away foraging for food with the aid of anti-freezing nectar-rich plants that are available year-round in some regions.

In areas where winters are particularly relentless, migrating is another way some squirrel species stay safe from the elements. These animals will move around between different environments until they find spots where temperatures are milder and resources are more readily available.

Does Hibernation Occur in Squirrels?

Though not all species hibernate extensively during wintertime, some creatures do enter a state known as torpor—or a state of temporary dormancy—and hibernation is one type of torpor that occurs seasonally. As far as squirrels go, however, this isn’t usually the case.

These rodents won’t completely hunker down and sleep all winter long like bears and other mammals do—instead they prefer to remain alert but slightly less active than usual while looking for ways to regulate their body temperature.

How do Squirrels Survive Winter Without Hibernating?

Mostly through behaviors that conserve energy such as reducing metabolic rate via huddling together for warmth or seeking shelter in burrows or trees. Additionally, some species may opt for migration if finding an environment with more lenient temperatures becomes necessary at any point.


How do squirrels survive in very cold temperatures?

In extreme cold, squirrels rely on various survival tactics to endure the cold. They will huddle together in dens to keep warm, eat food that is high in calories and fat such as mast and bugs, and search for frozen produce to snack on. Even during harsh winter weather, they continue to search for food items like eggs, mushrooms, soil and animal bones. In doing so, they protect themselves while also looking out for each other.

During winter, where do squirrels sleep during the night?

During the cold winter months, squirrels huddle together in their dens for warmth and safety. These dens can be situated within trees, wooded areas, or even underground burrows. Here, they are well-insulated from harsh weather conditions and can find much needed shelter from predators. In addition to its protection from the elements, a den provides an ideal place for sleeping during the night.

Do squirrels forage for food during the winter months?

Yes, squirrels come out to eat during the winter months. They forage for mast, a type of nut rich in calories and fat that helps them survive the cold temperatures. In addition, they may also consume bugs, eggs, soil, mushrooms, and animal bones. Furthermore, when the temperature allows it, squirrels may even find frozen fruit to snack on.

What do squirrels do to get food when there is snow?

When it snows, squirrels rely on their stores of nuts and other items they have gathered in the fall to get them through the winter. They use their sharp claws and teeth to dig into trees or beneath the snow to uncover these snacks such as acorns, walnuts, hazelnuts, and chestnuts. Squirrels even eat frozen fruits when available. Insects like caterpillars, moths, and beetles are also eaten by some squirrel species when found beneath the snow.


In conclusion, it’s clear to see why many species of squirrels remain active during the winter months. They are able to find shelter in burrows or tree cavities which helps keep them warm and conserve energy by reducing their metabolic rate. It seems that whether in harsh or mild areas, the answer to the question ‘where do squirrels go in the winter?’ is simple – wherever they can find a safe place to huddle up and survive the cold.

With this knowledge, we can now appreciate a little more how resilient these small animals are as they brave the elements of mother nature. If you ever catch a glimpse of a squirrel running across your garden or taking refuge in an abandoned building, chances are its found a safe haven for winter and is making the best of it!

You may also be interested in reading: