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  • Richmond Educational Article of the Month - Squirrel Nests

Squirrel Nests

Describe squirrel nests, how they are built, and where?

Squirrels usually live in naturally occurring knots or decomposed holes in Virginia trees. The arborists seem to be concerned about when the squirrel sets up a nest in a tree and how to keep them away from the trees. Well the beauty with squirrels is that they cause very little damage to the tree that they nest in because they don’t dig holes in trees, neither have they eat the wood. What they do is Richmond squirrels take an advantage of preexisting holes in trees.

When they don’t find any knot hole or decomposed hole in tree, Richmond squirrels often try to build a nest out of sticks and leaves. The nest does no harm to the tree, but at times they strip bark off as they gnaw on nuts. Nests are usually populated in Richmond places where there is abundance of oak, hickory and beech trees.

• Tree squirrels generally build two types of nests, the tree cavity dens and leaf nest.
• Tree dens are built in abandoned woodpecker holes or in natural cavities in already existing tree holes. The tree dens provide better protection to the baby and juvenile Virginia squirrels from wind, rain and snow. According to a study it has been proved that squirrels living in this tree dens have an added advantage as they maintain their body temperature using less energy.
• On the contrary leaf nests are profusely found in the Richmond areas which lack natural den trees. Squirrels usually preferoak,beech and maple trees to build leaf nest in the woods. The vital point of a leaf nest is its location, whether to build near a tree trunk, in the crotch and on which branch the longest and the largest limb or on the strongest limb of the tree, these factors usually determines their safety from other predators and extremeclimates.
• Location of leaf nest being important, squirrels usually prefer it to be located at least 20 feet up in the tree. Some biologist also found some leaf nest build in conjunction with grapevines which supported the nests. • Squirrels start constructing the nest with a platform of twigs woven together roughly along with some damp leaves and moss to build a strong compacted solid base for their babies. Keeping safety in mind they build a spherical skeleton of interwoven twigs and vines erected all around the periphery of the nest. The outer shell of the nest is also protected by additional leaves, moss, twigs and few papers collected by the squirrels.
• To build a cozy shelter place the Richmond squirrels make the inner nest cavity approximately six to eight inches in diameter lined with grass, leaves and shredded barks. The softness of the nest is very important to give the baby squirrel a soft cradle feeling.

The nest building activity is mostly prevalent during spring season, though it is considered as fall is most active period for nest building.

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