After a long, cold winter, most animals get busy. As the breeding season of Spring begins, many wild animals in our area will begin to raise the next generation of offspring. During this time, animals will likely look for safer places to den and raise their young. Animals like squirrels, rats, opossums, and raccoons will give birth to a litter in the Spring. This article will discuss some of the breeding patterns of animals common in the New York / New Jersey area.
Squirrel Breeding Patterns
Squirrels breed twice a year, producing 2-8 young per litter. The first breeding season occurs between December and February, with young being born around March in our area. The second round usually occurs in the midsummer, after the Spring litter has matured enough to live on their own.
Raccoon Breeding Patterns
Raccoons will generally breed anytime between January and June, but will generally mate in the late Winter or Early Spring. After a gestation of about 2 months, the mother will give birth to 2-5 kits. The mother will separate herself from other raccoons while it raises the young. A mother raccoon can be territorial and very protective of her young.
While we recently wrote an article on how quickly mice can reproduce, rats can also reproduce rapidly. The Norway rat (also known as the brown rat) can reproduce year-round. After a gestation period of only 3 weeks, a rat can birth up to 14 young. Each of these young will reach sexual maturity in roughly 5 weeks. A few rats can quickly explode into a full-blown colony in just a few months.
Opossum Breeding Seasons
The opossum will usually breed anywhere from 1-3 times a year. They can breed during almost any time of the year. While the usual litter will contain roughly 8-9 young, some can birth up to 20. The gestational period is incredibly short, lasting up to 2 weeks. After that, the hairless young are about the size of a dime. These young will continue to grow within their mother’s marsupial pouch for another 2-3 months. After this time, they will ride on the mother’s back while she searches for food. During this time, they will learn survival skills from her. If one of her young becomes separated, it will make a sneeze-like noise to help her locate it. After 2 months out of the pouch, the young opossums are ready to go out on their own.