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Do Squirrels Hibernate In The Winter?


Squirrels are fascinating creatures that can be found all around the world. In Ontario, there are several different types of squirrels that inhabit the area, each with their unique characteristics and habits. One of the most interesting aspects of squirrel behavior is their ability to hibernate and enter into torpor. In this article, we will explore the different types of squirrels found in Ontario, which ones hibernate, and the science behind their torpor.

Types of Squirrels in Ontario

There are several different types of squirrels found in Ontario, each with their unique physical characteristics and behaviors. The most common types of squirrels found in the region include the Eastern Gray Squirrel, the Red Squirrel, the American Red Squirrel, and the Northern Flying Squirrel. The Eastern Gray Squirrel is the largest of these squirrels and is known for its bushy tail and grayish-brown fur. The Red Squirrel is smaller and has a reddish-brown coat, while the American Red Squirrel is similar in size and appearance to the Red Squirrel but has a distinct white eye-ring. The Northern Flying Squirrel is the smallest of these squirrels and has a broad, flat tail and the ability to glide through the air.

Hibernation in Squirrels

While not all squirrels hibernate, ground squirrels are one species that is known for their hibernation habits. Ground squirrels are one species of squirrel found in Ontario that undergoes hibernation. These squirrels are known for their burrowing behavior and will create complex tunnel systems in the ground. During the fall, ground squirrels will begin to prepare for hibernation by increasing their body fat and storing food in their burrows. When temperatures begin to drop, they will enter into hibernation, which can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months. During hibernation, ground squirrels will reduce their body temperature to near freezing, their heart rate drops to as little as five beats per minute, and their breathing slows down significantly. These changes in metabolic activity allow ground squirrels to conserve energy and survive on stored body fat until spring when temperatures warm up, and food becomes more available. Once spring arrives, ground squirrels will emerge from their burrows and begin to feed and mate.


Torpor in Squirrels

Torpor is a state of reduced metabolic activity similar to hibernation, but it is more short-term and occurs in response to environmental conditions such as temperature or food availability. Torpor allows animals to conserve energy when conditions are unfavorable and is a common behavior among squirrels, especially during the winter months. While ground squirrels are the most well-known hibernators among squirrels in Ontario, other species will enter into torpor during the winter months. Torpor can last anywhere from a few hours to several days, depending on the species and environmental conditions. Red squirrels and flying squirrels are two species of squirrels found in Ontario that will enter into torpor during the winter months. Red squirrels are known for their high metabolic rate and can eat up to their body weight in food every week. During the winter, when food is scarce, they will enter into torpor to conserve energy. Flying squirrels, on the other hand, are known for their gliding ability and will enter into torpor during extreme cold spells when food is not available.Squirrels will enter into torpor for periods of a few hours or days, during which their body temperature drops, and their heart rate and breathing slow down. This state of reduced metabolic activity allows them to conserve energy and survive on stored body fat until conditions improve.

The Science of Hibernation and Torpor

The ability to enter into hibernation or torpor is a fascinating adaptation that allows animals to survive in environments where food is scarce or temperatures are extreme. During hibernation or torpor, animals undergo several physiological changes that allow them to conserve energy and survive on stored body fat. One of the most significant changes that occur during hibernation or torpor is a reduction in metabolic activity. This reduction in metabolic activity is achieved through changes in the way the body produces and uses energy, including changes in hormone levels, enzyme activity, and cellular metabolism.

Hibernation and torpor also involve changes in an animal's circadian rhythm, the natural 24-hour cycle that regulates sleep and wakefulness. During hibernation or torpor, animals may go for long periods without eating, drinking, or eliminating waste, which can cause significant changes in their body's internal clock. These changes in the circadian rhythm can have long-lasting effects on an animal's behavior, including their ability to find food, mate, and avoid predators.

Squirrels are fascinating creatures that have adapted to survive in a wide range of environments. In Ontario, there are several different types of squirrels, each with their unique behaviors and adaptations. Ground squirrels are one species that is known for their hibernation habits, while other species, such as red squirrels and flying squirrels, will enter into torpor during the winter months. The ability to enter into hibernation or torpor is a remarkable adaptation that allows squirrels and other animals to survive in environments where food is scarce or temperatures are extreme. The science behind hibernation and torpor is still being studied, and researchers continue to learn more about how these behaviors allow animals to conserve energy and survive during challenging conditions.


Squirrels Entering Houses


As the winter months approach, squirrels often seek shelter from the cold weather. One of the most common places they can find is an attic in a home or building. While it may seem harmless, having squirrels in your attic can cause significant damage to your property and pose health risks to you and your family. If you suspect that you have squirrels living in your attic, it is essential to contact a professional wildlife control service as soon as possible.


Why Squirrels Choose Attics


Squirrels are known for their ability to climb trees and jump from branch to branch. However, during the winter months, they may find it challenging to find suitable shelter in the outdoors. Attics provide a warm and dry environment, making them an attractive location for squirrels looking for shelter. Once squirrels have entered your attic, they will often create nests, which can cause significant damage to your property. They will chew through insulation, wiring, and other materials to create their nests, which can lead to costly repairs. Squirrels may also bring in food and create waste, leading to unpleasant odors and the risk of health hazards such as diseases.




If you suspect that you have a squirrel infestation in your attic, it is crucial to act fast and seek professional help. Squirrels can cause significant damage to your home, including chewing through wires and insulation, which can lead to costly repairs. They can also create nests and bring in food, which can cause unpleasant odors and attract other pests. Additionally, squirrels can carry diseases that can be harmful to humans, including leptospirosis and salmonella.



If you think you have a squirrel in your attic, do not hesitate to contact Integrity Wildlife Control. Our team of experts is here to help you remove squirrels from your home safely and effectively, preventing future infestations and ensuring that your home is free from wildlife. You can give us a call at 289-272-9453, or simply fill out our contact form, and we will contact you promptly. Don't wait, contact us today to take the first step in getting rid of squirrels in your attic.

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