Tree squirrels like the Eastern gray squirrels found in New York and New Jersey do not hibernate. Even when there is snow on the ground, you’ll see squirrels chasing each other through the trees and scampering around backyards foraging for food. But tree squirrels do not like the kind of frigid, windy weather that has repeatedly visited the East Coast this winter.
When Arctic temperatures descend and howling storms rip through the state, squirrels pile on top of each other to conserve body heat and stay in their leaf-lined nests for days and sometimes weeks until the weather eases. But this winter, the weather has been so extreme that many squirrels have been invading New York and New Jersey homes, seeking better protection against the cold and wind in well-insulated attics. The approach of birthing season has only heightened the animals’ urgency to find safer, warmer shelter before kittens arrive.
Eastern gray squirrels can have two litters a year; the first in February to March and a second in mid- to late-summer. Litter sizes range from 2 to 8 kits (babies are called kits, pups or kittens). Kits are born blind and helpless but mature quickly.
Constant gnawers, squirrels can be extremely destructive if they take up residence in your attic. They carry rabies and disease-bearing parasites and foul insulation. If squirrels move into your home, don’t risk being bitten or coming into contact with contaminated nesting materials. Call Stern’s nuisance animal control experts for professional 24-hour emergency squirrel removal.