Squirrels often like to find a home in the hollows of trees or hidden away in a small den. But for many squirrels, a nest built on tree branches, or even in attics, is the perfect place they call home. Squirrel nests, also called dreys, are clumpy, seemingly haphazard, piles of debris that a squirrel uses as a place to rest.
Clumsy But Strong
Despite how clumsily-built they may appear, a squirrel drey is surprisingly strong and can hold up well to wind. Similarly to a bird’s nest, the drey is generally bowl-shaped. This keeps the young squirrels from falling out, and protects them from the elements. Squirrels will use pretty much anything to build it; like twigs, leaves, trash scraps, and more. In homes, they may even resort to using items like insulation, boxes, and books.
Where Are They Built?
Squirrels try to pick somewhere that already resists the elements well. They will often look for a place to build that is already sturdy and supportive, like a hollow tree, a chimney, or an attic. Sheds or pool storage boxes are also commonly used by these rodents. Man-made structures are often the best suited to resist winter cold, so attics are definitely prime real estate for squirrels.
How Are They Built?
Squirrels will use their mouths and front paws to carry over materials. They can take multiple days to fully build it. They use their heads to push and bend debris in order to create a frame out of living twigs; which are harder to break. Squirrels may chew on the ends of the sticks to spread the fibers, which can help keep them in place. They will use mud, twigs, and leaves to insulate and reinforce it. An outer shell of sticks gives additional support.
Squirrels tend to build their dreys in the fall season, as they gear up for the long winter. In addition to storing food in various locations, a well-built drey will ready the squirrel for the winter ahead.Squirrels in New York and New Jersey do not hibernate, so they can leave the drey and access their food stores throughout the winter.