You may have heard squirrels but not know which animal you were listening to. There are 200 known species of squirrels, and they make various sounds. In North America, squirrels are common in both rural and urban areas. I often hear squirrels and wanted to find out what their different calls mean.
Squirrels use sound to protect themselves and their territories. Their alarm calls are made up of screeches, rattles, barks, and snorts. The kuk, muk-muk, and quaa sounds are used to show interest in mating.
Squirrels in North America are divided into three categories. The tree squirrels, flying squirrels, and the ground squirrels. Most animals communicate through sound and squirrels use various sounds to communicate with each other. They may appear small and quiet, but they are very vocal creatures.
The intensity of the noise they make varies by species. You will find that some particular species are more vocal than others and have their own specific set of identifiable sounds. The volume and type of sound made largely depend on age, gender, and circumstance.
What Sounds Do Squirrels Make?
There are different kinds of sounds that squirrels make, and each communicates a specific message.
Sounds of Squirrels
|Muk-muk||Made by young squirrels or when mating|
|High-pitched chirp||Young calling for mother|
Similar to many wild animals, squirrels will defend their territories and will not allow any intruders. They get angry when an intruder oversteps their boundary and will sound a warning. This warning is made up of rattle sounds and screeches.
This has been observed in American red squirrels. The red squirrels prefer to live in coniferous trees. The rattles are a way of making the intruder aware of the presence of the squirrel.
The screeching sound that a squirrel uses is a way of threatening any intruders to leave the area.
Another type of sound made by a squirrel is the alarm call, also known as a warning call. If one squirrel notices a predator in the vicinity, it will make sounds to signal the impending danger to other squirrels in the area.
The squirrel will first wave its tail to portray that it is alarmed. The type of sound made also distinguishes the kind of predator, whether it’s a land animal or an impending attack from the air.
When the predator is nearby and approaching a squirrel territory, the squirrel will start making warning calls. They are described as a series of barking calls. These sounds can be a ‘buzz’, more like a quick sound emitted through the nostrils. These sounds are very low-intensity and almost inaudible.
The next warning sound made by the squirrel sounds like ‘kuk.’ The ‘kuk’ is a short bark made repeatedly. The ‘kuk’ is followed by a sound of ‘quaa.’ This is more of an extended version of the ‘quaa’ sound and is of lower intensity. The eastern gray squirrel also makes these types of sounds.
The North American red squirrel prefers a sound of ‘seet‘ and a ‘bark‘ as its alarm calls. The barks are generally loud and have high amplitude. On the other hand, ‘seets’ are sounds that have a high frequency but low amplitude.
The squirrels make a combination of the seet and bark sound, which usually starts with the seet and ends with a loud bark. Barks are preserved as a warning call for terrestrial predators like dogs and humans. ‘Seets and ‘seet-barks‘ are mainly used for aerial predators.
Have you ever seen squirrels chasing after each other and wondered why? I have written an article which you may find interesting. You can find it here.
What Sounds do Baby Squirrels Make?
Baby squirrels have very distinct sounds. The sounds made vary depending on the age of the baby squirrels. However, baby squirrels tend to produce very soft and subtle tones.
You can rarely hear them, which serves as a way to keep them from attracting the attention of predators. When they are hungry and need to be fed, they call their mother with a ‘muk muk‘ sound. The sound is described as soft and puffy.
Newborn squirrels can barely make any sound, but their vocals advance quite fast with age. At three days old, a baby squirrel can make a subtle squeak sound. At three weeks, it can growl out to its mother when hungry, while at four weeks old, they can produce short screams.
When scared or alarmed, baby squirrels will make high-pitched shrill noises. These are of a higher frequency, so the message can pass further to reach their mother.
If you want to know what sounds a chipmunk makes, you can find out in an article I have written here.
What Noise Does a Squirrel Make at Night?
There is only one species of squirrel that is active at night, the flying squirrel. They have skin flaps just behind their front legs that make them appear to fly. They don’t fly but glide from one tree to the next.
Flying squirrels are nocturnal, being more active at night. However, they tend to be more silent and make less noise.
They most notably produce high-pitched chirping sounds when communicating with each other. They are also capable of making ultrasonic sounds. These are sounds made at a very high frequency which humans cannot possibly hear. The sound pitch is altered according to the circumstances and mood of the animal.
Why do Squirrels Make a Crying Noise?
The crying noise of a squirrel is perceived as a distress call. If a squirrel has spotted a predator, they make the crying noise to alert the others of danger.
Furthermore, a squirrel may emit a crying noise when hurt. Injuries to a squirrel will make them emit a crying sound.
Different species of squirrels make different sounds, but they do not always mean the same thing. Some species may make a crying sound when fighting over food.
Baby squirrels also emit a low cry when they are hungry and seek out the mother to come to feed them. Similarly, this sound may mean that the baby squirrels are alarmed about something and call out for their parents. Their cries are not that loud but can be heard by the mother if she is nearby.
Do Squirrels Make Noise When Mating?
Male squirrels use sounds to signal to a female squirrel that is in estrus. Males imitate the sounds made by the baby squirrels. As the male chases after the female in estrus, he emits a soft ‘muk muk‘ sound. This sound is meant to reassure the female that he is not a threat to her.
Female squirrels, when ready to mate, produce the ‘kuks‘ and ‘quaas‘ sounds. They are described as a moan that signals she is ready for copulation. These sounds are made before and even after mating.
How do Squirrels Communicate?
Squirrels do not just use vocal sounds only when they want to pass a message to other squirrels. They also use different ways of communicating.
Squirrels chatter their teeth when they want to portray hostility. It is a warning sign for the threat to back off. If the predator does not, the squirrel may attack and bite the intruder.
The second way of communicating is through the wagging of the tail. This can mean a couple of things, and one of them is to indicate the presence of a predator. On other occasions, the squirrel may have found something good to eat and does not want to share it with other squirrels. It will wag its tail as a way of signaling to counterparts to stay away.
Squirrels will also stomp their feet. This is another warning to a predator, and at this time, the squirrel is alert and ready to fight.
Why are Squirrels Considered a Nuisance?
Squirrels are better off living in their natural habitat rather than in your home. There is nothing wrong with attracting them to the garden, but they can become very destructive if they happen to infest your home. Aside from causing significant damage to your attic, they can also be very noisy. If you want some tips on how to get rid of pests from your home, I have written an article on this here.
Flying squirrels are most active at night and will likely give you a sleepless night should they find a haven in your home. They tend to move around a lot, and screeching sounds can be heard.
Other species of squirrels may keep on chirping or barking as they try to communicate with other squirrels. The best thing to do in this case is to remove the squirrels. Squirrels are vocal creatures by nature and need to be removed as soon as possible.
How Do You Know If You Have Squirrels In Your House?
If you have squirrels, then they will typically nest in the attic. The sound will generally be the first you hear of them. If you can hear scurrying noises or scratching then, this may be your first indication that squirrels have started nesting up there. If you can hear an animal gnawing, rubbing, or scraping sounds, then it may be a squirrel.
High-pitched squeaking sounds are the most common sounds to hear from squirrels in your home. Squirrels will nest using a variety of materials, including leaves, twigs, small branches as well as insulation, and anything else they can find in your attic.
Squirrels can also get into your walls, so you need to make sure that all holes and openings are sealed up. Squirrels can damage the structure of your home, so it is essential that you do everything you can to stop them from coming in.
What Sounds to Use to Remove Squirrels From Your Home?
Some sounds can easily scare squirrels. When people have their homes infested with squirrels, there is a quick, easy, and most importantly cheap way of getting rid of them.
In most cases, squirrels are afraid of unfamiliar and loud sounds. You can use loud sounds such as banging pots or pans to startle and drive them away. Additionally, the loud sound of music can be used to scare squirrels and immediately force them out to look for another place for shelter.
Recommended Squirrel Feeders
This fun picnic table feeder will allow squirrels to dine in style. The picnic table design can be attached easily outside allowing you and the squirrels to enjoy it.
This classic feeder will bring a host of wildlife to your garden. This hand-made feeder will allow you to attract squirrels, chipmunks, woodpeckers and cardinals by using just one feeder.
If you want to keep birds and squirrels separate in your garden, then this is the ideal squirrel feeder. Birds cannot get into the food inside the steel construction, allowing squirrels to have full all the fun.