Do Squirrels Mate for Life?

My son named this squirrel “cutie pie” after watching it splooting on the back fence. It was hot that day and somewhere between 95-102.
© Cannon Candids/

Written by Kristin Hitchcock

Published: February 10, 2024

Share on:


Squirrels do not mate for life. They are actually very promiscuous, mating with several partners in a single breeding season. Females will mate with several males during their short breeding season, and males will compete heavily for the attention of females. After mating, the males do not play a role in raising their young.

Of course, some squirrels mate differently than others. However, they practically always follow a pattern of non-monogamous mating. If you see a pair of squirrels scurrying around, they are not matted partners or anything of that sort.

The Mating Habits of Squirrels

Two baby Tree Squirrels looking out their nest in a natural tree hole

Squirrels nest in cavities in trees, with their mother exclusively taking care of them.

©Anna-Carina Nagel/

For much of the year, squirrels are solitary creatures. Each has its own small territory that it hangs around in, searching for food and hanging out in trees. Squirrels do mark their own territory, but boundaries often overlap. They may argue about food or territory with other squirrels.

That said, twice per year, squirrels will mate. Squirrels tend to go a bit crazy during this time, usually in January, February, May, and June. Males use scent to tell when the females are ready to mate and will begin chasing them. They will also make a soft buzzing sound that mimics the sound of babies, which may calm the female down.

Females pick which males they want to mate with, though. Therefore, the chase is more about proving their worth than catching the female. These chases can involve lots of dramatic jumping. Males may also fight with themselves substantially during this time.

Both sexes will mate with multiple partners. There is no sort of “monogamy,” even within one mating season. However, the first male to mate with a female is often the one to sire the babies (though not always.) The males insert a “plug” into the female that blocks the sperm of other males.

Interestingly, males seem to be very successful or very not successful. Some genetic tests have indicated that many squirrel babies in a small area are sired by the same male, indicating that the male was incredibly successful while the others were not.

Do Male Squirrels Stay with their Babies?

No, male squirrels do not help with the babies in the least. They completely disengage after mating, and the female returns to her solitary living. Squirrels are not monogamous, so there is no way for the male to know if he is really the father or not. Therefore, there is no motivation for the male to raise the babies.

Squirrels are also solitary throughout much of the year. Mother squirrels are designed to be single parents. They build nests in their trees, which are called dreys, and nurture their newborns to adulthood.

Male squirrels are in constant competition for food and territory with other males. They prioritize their own survival and future mating opportunities. It just makes more sense for them to focus on producing more offspring than caring for offspring that may not be related to them.

While some mammals do participate in paternal care, it isn’t unusual for them not to. Therefore, it isn’t odd for male squirrels not to care for their young.

Share this post on:
About the Author

Kristin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering dogs, cats, fish, and other pets. She has been an animal writer for seven years, writing for top publications on everything from chinchilla cancer to the rise of designer dogs. She currently lives in Tennessee with her cat, dogs, and two children. When she isn't writing about pets, she enjoys hiking and crocheting.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.