In some parts of the world, there’s a persistent myth that says grey squirrels are an invasive species that are trying to take over red squirrels. However, grey squirrels are natural. Another myth says squirrels lay eggs, but is it true?
Squirrels are placental mammals that nurture their young with milk. They do not lay eggs. Squirrels steal and eat bird eggs as well as horde lots of acorns which can be mistaken for eggs at first glance.
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Does Squirrel Lay Eggs
As mammals, squirrels do not lay eggs. Mammals are not the only species that have live young, and a couple of specialized mammals do lay eggs.
Moreover, mammals share the characteristics listed below.
- All mammals have a four-chambered heart.
- Specialized teeth allow mammals to be herbivores, omnivores, or carnivores, depending on their ecological niche.
- Mammals have three bones in their middle ear.
- This family all have some hair or fur, which are not quite the same thing. Even so-called hairless mammals like hairless chihuahuas typically have sparse hair on their bodies.
- Mammals are warm-blooded and do not need to heat up in the sun to function.
- Sweat glands are nearly universal for mammals, but mutated familial lines can lack this gene in rare instances.
- Mammal brains possess the neocortex region of the brain. This part is connected to our ability to see and hear, but it is still present in mammals who are deaf, blind, or both.
You may have noticed that live birth wasn’t on the list. Most mammals are viviparous, which means they give live birth and feed their young with mammary glands.
Squirrels are among these, but not all mammals are viviparous. The echidna and the platypus are monotremes, which means they are egg-laying animals with all the other characteristics of mammals.
Can Squirrels Lay Eggs
Squirrels do not lay eggs, but they do produce them. All animal and insect life on earth comes from fertilized eggs.
The difference is that most mammals and a few other species keep their eggs inside the body using a womb to nurture their young as they gestate. Meanwhile, egg layers gestate externally.
How Many Eggs Do Squirrels Lay
Mammals like squirrels are widely believed to have all the eggs they will ever possess already within their ovaries at birth.
However, according to Science Daily, some species “… contain a rare population of progenitor germ cells called oogonial stem cells capable of dividing and generating new oocytes.”
So far, these have only been found in mice and humans. Squirrels could possess these germ cells as well, but they have not been studied.
Typical litters of squirrel kits or kittens have two to four babies. They do not have babies in winter. Most squirrel kittens are born between February and March.
Older female squirrels may even have a second litter around August, but this is more common when the early litter is lost.
Red squirrel males often kill and cannibalize the kits of desirable females. In addition to a protein-boosting snack, the females are more willing to have additional litters later in the season.
Do Squirrels Lay Eggs In Water
Since squirrels do not lay eggs, they certainly don’t lay eggs in the water. Moreover, Squirrels don’t give birth in water. Mostly, they only drink water, but otherwise, avoid it.
That said, squirrels are good swimmers. Though they generally prefer not to immerse themselves in water, they can paddle around.
Do Squirrels Give Birth or Lay Eggs
Squirrels give birth to live young. The females are ‘single mothers,’ raising their kittens alone.
Babies are born bald, blind and helpless, but quickly grow and are weaned in about ten to twelve weeks. Until then, the mother will provide milk and keep her kits safe.
Once they are mature, the young squirrels leave the den and seek out their own tree to build a home.
Most adult squirrels can build a new home within a day, though scavenging enough food to sustain them through winter will take the rest of the warm season.
Do All Squirrels Lay Eggs
All squirrels have eggs, but they do not lay them. Instead, they estate their young internally within their wombs like most mammals.
You never see baby squirrels because they stay in the safety of their dens until they are fully furred and can scavenge and survive independently.
By the time they are fully weaned at twelve weeks, they will leave their birth home and strike out independently. Both the males and females will create their own dens.
In summer, a squirrel will gnaw twigs and leaves and create cooler nests. For winter months, they tend to find a more sheltered space for denning.
Do Tree Squirrels Lay Eggs
The myth that tree squirrels lay eggs is most likely based on simple confusion. Many of squirrels’ foods can resemble eggs. Furthermore, squirrels may eat other species’ eggs.
As omnivores, hoarders, and scavengers, eggs make an ideal portable food. Plus, eggs store well for extended periods without refrigeration.
Since squirrels aren’t averse to eating smaller animals, it would not be a problem if the eggs are fertilized or even hatch in ‘storage.’
Does Flying Squirrels Lay Eggs
According to contributor Wendy Carolan on Quora, author A A Cherkassov wrote that Siberians believed flying squirrels lay eggs.
His book, Notes of an East Siberian Hunter, dates back to 1865. Notably, scientists have since disproved this theory, but the notion is still widely circulated and believed.
Helpful Tips To Know If Squirrels Lay Eggs
Squirrels are mischievous, adorable troublemakers who do a lot of odd things. However, laying eggs is not one of their talents.
Here are some helpful tips to know if squirrels lay eggs.
- Squirrels are mammals. Although two known species of mammals do lay eggs, neither of them are related to squirrels.
- While it is rare to find baby squirrels, they are occasionally found on the ground when they fall from the nest. However, mother squirrels will often rescue these wayward kittens and carry them home by the scruff of their neck.
- You can pick up a baby squirrel and put it back inside its nest. The smell of humans will not deter the mother from caring for the kit, though she may try and bite or scratch you for getting into her home uninvited.
Squirrels give birth to live young. Though they do not lay eggs, they do have internal eggs in their ovaries.
Typically, young female squirrels have one litter of kits between February and March, but older, more experienced squirrel mothers may have a second litter around August.
The myth of squirrel eggs likely comes from Siberia, where locals noted flying squirrels, who lived in nests in trees and rarely if ever, saw their babies.
Plus, squirrels carry eggs and other similarly shaped objects around to store for winter or eat. It’s a simple enough mistake to make, but squirrels do not lay eggs.