How To Identify Squirrel Nests?

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One way to protect your home from squirrels is by knowing How to identify Squirrel Nests.

While Squirrel nests are typically found in trees, they can also be found on roofs and walls of homes. Therefore, it is important to protect your home from squirrels as they can cause damage with their teeth and claws.

Let’s get started!

What Are Squirrel Nests Made Of?

Squirrel nests are typically made of leaves, twigs, and other materials from the surrounding area. They can be identified by their shape and the materials used to create them. Nests are often high up in trees, making it difficult to see them from the ground.

The nest of these critters is typically about a foot in diameter.

do squirrels build nests? Why?

Yes, female squirrels will typically create an average of four or five nest sites throughout the year. Now, why do squirrels make nests? They will use these nests for different purposes, such as giving birth, nursing their young, and storing food.

Squirrel Nests

However, one of the main reasons squirrels build nests is to rest and shelter themselves.

This is especially important during the cold winter months when squirrels do not hibernate. In fact, some squirrels will even use their nests to store food supplies.

Furthermore, If a squirrel feels that its current nest is no longer safe, it will move to an alternative nesting site with its young.

The mother squirrel will usually choose a new site that is safe and has plenty of food.

How to identify Squirrel Nests?

There are a few things you can look for to identify a squirrel nest. One is the presence of chewed-up wood around your property.

This is one of the most common signs of a squirrel nest nearby.

You can also look for nests high up in trees, as well as in attics, garages, and sheds.

So, what does a squirrels nest look like? It looks like one of the below:

Typically, squirrels construct two types of nests:

  • a drey, which resembles a bird’s nest, and
  • a den, which is built into tree cavities and other hollow areas.

Squirrel Dreys

Closeup Squirrel on The Branch Back to The Nest

A drey is a nest that squirrels make. It is typically a round, dome-like structure built out of leaves, twigs, and other natural materials; thereby, it can be very difficult to spot.

They often resemble a bird’s nest.

Squirrel Dreys are generally located in tree forks where the base is solid and supportive. This allows the squirrels to sleep in them without fear of falling.

Squirrels build drey by gathering building materials, then piling them all together with their mouths or paws and transporting them to the nest.

They use various materials, including leaves, twigs, bark, moss, feathers, and hair.


Eastern Gray Squirrel Peeking from Oak Tree Hollow II

A tree cavity or den is often first created by other creatures such as woodpeckers as they are looking for a place to nest.

However, once the woodpecker has found and excavated a spot, it will abandon the site, and squirrels will move in.

Squirrels are very territorial and will mark their territory with urine and feces.

They also use these cavities to store food, raise their young and take refuge from predators.

Furthermore, squirrels will also build a nest in an attic, barn, or other man-made structure if they cannot find a tree cavity.

However, they often prefer to use a tree cavity because it provides more protection from the elements like bad weather.

Besides these two basic types of Squirrel Nests, other nesting sites include:

Indoor Nests

Squirrels are known to build their nests in various places, both indoor and outdoor.

If these rodents feel that they are running out of options for an outdoor nest, they will try to break into homes in the winter or breeding season.

They can cause a lot of damage by gnawing through walls and electrical wires.

Multiple Homes

Squirrels spend the majority of their active daytime hours hunting for food, and they often establish additional nests.

These alternate dreys or dens are typically built more haphazardly than the main ones. Still, they provide excellent security if the squirrel needs to flee from predators quickly or if the weather abruptly changes.

Squirrels could use the multiple dwellings to store additional food or rest before going out to forage again.

Do Squirrels Return to the Same Nest?

When it comes to squirrel nesting patterns, one of the most commonly asked questions is whether they return to the same nest year after year.

The answer to this question depends on a variety of factors, including the age of the squirrel, how many nests it has, and how much competition it faces for resources.

Typically, it’s not uncommon for squirrels to return to the same nest.

Also, Squirrels may be able to return to the same nest they had previously, as well as any other secondary or tertiary nests they may have.

If you have problems with squirrels on your property, it is important to consult with a removal specialist.

Squirrels Build Nests at What Time of Year?

squirrel on top of house

Different species of squirrels build their nests at different times of the year. Some, like the eastern gray squirrel, build their nests in the fall.

Others, like the Douglas squirrel, build their nests in the winter. It is important to know when to look for nests to identify them correctly.

In general, squirrels concentrate their nest building during the spring and summer months; this is when these critters are most active and have time to gather materials and build their nests.

Do squirrels nest in houses?

Yes, squirrels will often nest in houses. While they typically build their nests in trees, if there is a lack of trees in the area or if the tree is too close to a house, they will nest in the house.

The most common places for squirrels to nest are in attics, garages, roofs, and wall cavities.

In case you have a squirrel infestation, it is best to consult a professional squirrel removal agent. They will be able to identify the nests, remove the animals, and repair any damage that has been done.


Squirrel nests should be removed as they may pose a threat to people.

These critters are known to bite and/or attack humans if they feel threatened, especially if their young are present.

Furthermore, a human can contract various bacterial infections from their bites and come in contact with their feces.

Squirrels are also associated with parasites (such as fleas and ticks) that can transmit disease-causing illnesses.

Besides that, Squirrels are notorious for chewing through wires and causing power outages. They can also contaminate food supplies with their droppings and urine.

Allowing squirrels to establish nests on your property could cause harm to your home and yard. Don’t let the situation get out of control.

That being said, it is crucial to exercise caution when dealing with squirrel nests and therefore employ professional help for safe removal.

How to Remove a Squirrel’s Nest

Square cropped portrait of Eastern gray squirrel emerging from nest in the eaves of an old porch with left paw folded over chest facing camera.  The background is raw and green painted wood.

Squirrels are opportunistic creatures and will take up residence within your home if they find it suitable.

In order to evict them, you need to remove their nests.

  • First, it is strongly advised that you equip yourself appropriately for squirrel and nest removal. Gloves and even protective clothing that covers exposed skin should be used. In case you detect the area is contaminated with excrement and urine, you may also wear an eye mask and a nose and mouth shield.
  • Before dismantling the nest, a live trap is often utilized to capture the animal. After capturing the squirrel, examine the nest to check whether there are any offspring within. If there are any infants present, let them stay with their mother until they are both released into the wild.
  • Following the removal of the critters, the nest can be easily disassembled and removed (incorporate the use of gloves all along). 
  • After this, it is advised to clean the region with an antimicrobial fog to eliminate any germs or contagious diseases. 

However, Removing a squirrel’s nest can be a difficult and dangerous task. It is important not to attempt to do this yourself as you may get sick from the nesting material or from contact with the squirrels themselves.

Furthermore, leaving any evidence of the squirrel’s presence behind, even after the removal squirrel and its nest, can expose you to bacterial infections and diseases.

Therefore, If you fear squirrels are infiltrating your home, employing professionals to handle the nest removal and clean-up process will be the best alternative because you can rest assured that everything will be done correctly.

Ways to Keep Squirrels from Building a Nest in Your Home

Once you have removed the squirrel and its nest from your house, finding ways to prevent squirrels from nesting in their house can prove highly beneficial.

In fact, there are a few things that homeowners can do to help prevent squirrels from nesting in their houses.

  • Block access to any potential entry points into the home. For e.g., keep exterior doors closed when not in use.
  • Install fencing or netting around the property to stop squirrels from climbing up onto the roof or into the attic.
  • Remove the food sources that attract these critters. This means keeping bird feeders away from your house, cleaning up fallen fruit, and sealing off any holes or openings that could provide access to your home.
  • Finally, they can contact a professional wildlife control company to remove any existing nests and help keep squirrels away in the future.


Squirrels use a variety of nesting places based on their species, the region they live in, and the season. Typically, squirrels dwellings include dreys and dens.

And while these rodents prefer tree cavities because they provide cover from weather variations and access to food, they can also infest your home building nest in places like attics, garages, roofs, and wall cavities.

Getting professional help is the best approach to cope with an infestation. It is, in fact, highly recommended.

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.