Building a squirrel house
If you live where there are big hardwood trees, especially oaks, ash, elms, and gum trees, you probably see squirrels in your neighborhood. They may live in hollows in the sides of the hardwood trees or, as a second choice, they might build leaf nests in the tops of tall trees. Their leaf nests are snug and warm, but they can be damaged or ruined by high winds. A leaf nest is not an ideal place to raise a litter of baby squirrels.
It’s great fun to provide a nest box for squirrels, because it will give you an opportunity to observe them closely. First the squirrels will cautiously investigate the house you build for them. When they decide to move in, you can watch them carry enormous bundles of leaves in their mouths to furnish their home. Eventually, a litter of babies will appear and the first tiny faces with big brown eyes will peek out the entrance hole to see what the world has to offer. Day by day, the little squirrels will explore more, first climbing onto the roof of their house and then onto the tree it is fastened to and finally playing recklessly on every limb.
A squirrel house should be made of 1-inch lumber, not sanded smooth. The entrance hole should be 3 inches in diameter and facing south. The house should be placed 20 to 30 feet above ground on a tree at least 10 inches in diameter and close to a branch, so the squirrels can easily dart inside. Gray Squirrels like to have their homes 50 yards or more inside a wooded area. Fox Squirrels like to live at the edge of a woods.
From A Kid's Spring EcoJournal by Toni Albert, illustrated by Margaret Brandt. Plans prepared by Bob Albert. See next blog for details on how to mount a squirrel house 30 feet up a tree!
Toni Albert, M.Ed., is an award-winning author of more than 40 books. Her lifelong love for nature, children, and books inspired her to commit her publishing business, Trickle Creek Books, to “teaching kids to care for the Earth.”