Where Do Squirrels Live?

There are 3 broad types of squirrels: tree squirrels, flying squirrels, and ground squirrels.1 As their names suggest, tree squirrels live in trees and ground squirrels live in burrows in the ground (in case you were wondering, flying squirrels also live in trees). Most people are familiar with tree squirrels, particularly eastern gray squirrels, so they’ll be our focus.

Where Do Squirrels Sleep?

Squirrels sleep in nests in trees. Usually, they build their nests in the branches of their chosen  tree, but they sometimes den in tree hollows as well.2 Squirrels construct nests out of twigs and leaves and then line and insulate them with moss or other soft materials.3,4

Fun fact: Squirrel nests are called dreys.

From the ground, squirrel nests look like big balls of leaves up in the trees and are easiest to see in the winter when tree branches are bare. Each squirrel can have multiple nests.4

A squirrel nest!
A squirrel nest!

Do Squirrels Live Alone?

Adult squirrels usually live alone, but in cold weather, they may den with other squirrels.4 Of course, baby squirrels live with their siblings and mother in the same nest until they’re old enough to be independent. If the mom has two litters in one year, she’ll move into a new nest to raise the second litter, abandoning the first.1

Other Popular Questions


1 Webster, D., Parnell, J., & Biggs, W. (1985). Mammals of the Carolinas, Virginia, and Maryland. Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press.

2 Jackson, T. (2006). The illustrated encyclopedia of animals of America. London: Lorenz Books.

3 Haupt, L. (2013). The urban bestiary: encountering the everyday wild. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

4 Reid, F. (2006). A field guide to mammals of North America (4th ed.). New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company.