Squirrels are a joy to watch in the garden, leaping from tree to tree, searching for food such as fruit or sunflower seeds, whilst looking for shelter or a warm place to build their nests.
There are two species of squirrel in the UK, the common grey squirrels and rare red squirrels. Grey squirrels can be found across the country and make their home in gardens, wood land areas and can quite happily live in urban environments.
Red squirrels on the other hand prefer rural areas with plenty of trees, and are extremely rare. As a result, its important provide red squirrel nest boxes in certain areas to ensure that they are able to build their own nests and bring up their young away from predators.
What are the benefits of squirrel houses and squirrel nesting boxes?
Squirrels, like all other wildlife, need a safe, warm place to build nests and raise baby squirrels. Squirrels spend most of their time in trees and only venture to the ground to search for food, therefore a squirrel nest needs to be sturdy and strong in order to protect the animals inside it.
Manmade squirrel houses and squirrel nesting boxes provide exactly that, and are a great addition to your garden or outside space if you're looking to encourage squirrels and watch them from the comfort of your own home.
A good quality squirrel house should offer a secure space for them to raise their litter, away from the dangers of predators. Providing access through a small entrance hole, a squirrel nest box is usually made from wood panels and should provide enough floor space for them to feed and build a nest whilst giving protection from the elements especially during the winter months.
You can also encourage squirrels by putting up feeders in your garden situated around the box. Feeders are a great way of attracting other wildlife including birds. You can find a range of bird feeders across the Awesome Wildlife Company's website.
Where should I erect squirrel houses?
You don't have to have a wooded area in your garden to attract squirrels into your outside space. As long as you can place or hang it in a high point away from the ground and offering them protection, for example in a tree, squirrels may decide to build a nest in it. We recommend that any squirrel house is placed between 3m and 4m high.
If you live in an area which has red squirrels, you can buy a specialist red squirrel nest box. This particular box will have a small opening in the side panel, and it should be placed within mature woodland if possible. Remember to face it away from direct sunlight and ensure that it is sheltered from extreme weather conditions.
How can I go about creating the ideal habitat for squirrels?
Squirrels are prey animals - as a result they can be skittish and scared of humans. This means that they may be weary of coming too close to your house. As a result, ideally you should try to create an attractive area for the squirrels in order to support them feed and raise their young.
A squirrel nesting box is a great place to start, however there is lots more you can do. We've outlined some tips below for creating the perfect corner for these furry friends.
Introduce a food source
Its important that squirrels feel safe when their young are eating, so a good tip is to introduce a feeder nearby. You can fill this with wild bird feed or other specialist wildlife food. You may even find you attract more birds into your garden too.
Have some fun
Squirrels love to run and jump from different vantage points, and you can create a fun obstacle course in your garden by adding feeders and boxes at different heights around your garden, close to your squirrel house.
You'll soon find squirrels popping out from hole to hole, leaping from each box and crawling along rope to get to their feed. They certainly create a cute show to watch outside your house and its a great way to get your kids engaged with wildlife too.
Create a haven for wildlife
Its a great idea to have a few different food sources, feeders, nest boxes and squirrel houses into your garden as you can create a unique haven for all types of animals, not just squirrels.
Here in the UK we have diverse variety of different species, many of which are endangered (for example red squirrels), so its important that we do all that we can to protect these animals, particularly during winter.
It doesn't matter whether you live in the countryside or your house is in the middle of town, building a wildlife haven can really make a difference and provide a safe area away from danger.
Make a cosy house for squirrels
Squirrels love to get warm and snuggle up, and they would be glad to discover some kind of insulation or bedding within their squirrel house. This could also encourage them to have their litters within the box. You can't go wrong by adding some additional nest materials such as straw, leaves or hay to give them a helping hand.