squirrel on a fence

Squirrel Nests Revealed

When trees are bare in winter, property owners might notice sloppy, loose collections of leaves balled up high in the branches. These are squirrels nests, finally visible with the falling leaves of autumn. Although they appear shabby and haphazardly constructed, they are surprisingly sturdy.

How Nests Are Built

Squirrels build their nests very carefully:

  • First, they begin with a framework of woven twigs.
  • Next, moss and damp leaves are added to fill in gaps and create the base structure
  • Additional twigs and vines are woven around this core to add strength, with more leaves and moss used to finish the outer shell.
  • Finally, the interior is insulated with leaves, feathers, pine needles, or straw.

All of these materials provide camouflage as well as warmth and stability, making squirrel nests tough for homeowners to detect.

Size and Placement

Upon completion, squirrel nests are approximately the size of a basketball with six to eight inches of usable living space inside. They are built at least 20 feet off the ground, usually near the trunk or in the fork of a large branch for stability. A squirrel prefers to build its nest in a tree surrounded by other trees. This provides protection from weather and offers multiple escape routes from predators.

Other Types of Squirrel Nest

In addition to leaf and twig structures, squirrel nests can be made from natural tree cavities or empty woodpecker holes. These are typically used in colder weather, as they provide greater protection from the elements. It is also common for squirrels to have multiple nests at any given time.

They are used for rest while foraging and sometimes built near stores of nuts for easier access to food.

Undesirable Nesting Habits

Squirrels have certain nesting behaviors that are undesirable to homeowners, specifically the desire to live in attics. Since home insulation is prized material for squirrel nests, the pests sometimes enter attics on a shopping trip, then decide to stay. Once inside, they can do further damage to wiring, wood, and stored belongings.

When nesting squirrels cross the border into a home or outdoor squirrels overrun a yard, the wildlife experts at Western Pest can manage the problem.