I started looking at Squirrel Houses for Sale for my backyard friends and found three great options that I wanted to share with folks. We do not make these at our wood shop yet but they are on our “to do” list 🙂
Squirrels Need Houses and Nesting Boxes
Squirrels are perfectly capable of building nests in trees so the idea of a putting up a house for them might seem silly. It turns out that there are two very good reasons to put up a nest box for your backyard squirrels.
Putting up a nesting box for squirrels can help protect your house.
Squirrels breed and have litters twice per year. One breeding season is in the early spring while the other is typically mid summer. The open nests that squirrels live in for most of the year are exposed to predators and a mother squirrel will often tear her way into houses to find a more secure area to raise her babies.
By putting up a box that can be used as a squirrel den you can encourage Momma squirrels to stay outside instead of gnawing their way into your attic.
Squirrels will also try to invade your home in the late fall to early winter if they cannot find an enclosed cavity to protect themselves from cold, winter weather. Your squirrels need a safe place to nest and sleep.
Putting up a nesting box for squirrels is FUN!
It is a blast to watch squirrels scurry around their new home and raise a litter of babies. When you see the baby squirrel stick its head out of the nest box hole for the first time you will be hooked and want to put up more!
The youngsters will begin to chase each other as they develop their strength and coordination. If you have a keen eye then you learn to tell the babies apart as they scamper and play.
Don’t miss this: Why Do Squirrels Chase Each Other? Are They Fighting?
Most Popular Nest Box: “Squirrel Condo” by Chuck-a-Nut.
The Squirrel Condo is a simple cedar box with dimensions of 12 x 8 x 8 inches that has a three inch hole on the side for squirrel entry.
The box is highly functional and squirrels are quick to move in to their new home. This house is the most popular on Amazon because it has a cute name and is the lowest priced option.
The downsides of this nest box are:
- No internal shelf under the opening for use as a predator guard.
- The box has to be disassembled if you want to clean it out.
Personally I don’t think you need to be cleaning out squirrel nest boxes. Squirrels are plenty smart enough to get stuff out of their nests that they don’t want.
Most Practical Nest Box: The Squirrel House by Coveside.
At first glance the Coveside squirrel house looks extremely similar to the Squirrel Condo. However there are several significant differences.
The Coveside house is:
- Significantly LARGER than the squirrel condo (18 x 9 x 11 inches) versus (12 x 8 x 8 inches)
- Made from Eastern White Pine instead of Cedar. Some people claim cedar is bad for squirrels but I don’t think that is true.
- Has a swinging side panel for easy cleaning
- Has a Predator Guard located inside the box to deter raccoons from raiding the nest.
The Coveside squirrel house costs a few bucks more than the Squirrel Condo but you will get a better product. These squirrel houses are made in the USA.
One caution to keep in mind with this squirrel condo is that since it is made of pine, the furry inhabitants will sometimes get the nutty idea to chew on the top platform. This will then expose the nails/screws that hold the house together.
A good time to check the structure is at the end of the “baby season” when you’re cleaning out the nesting materials. If you need to make any adjustments, you can do it then.
Most Deluxe Nest Box: The Ultimate Nut House
The Ultimate Nut House has all of the great features of the Coveside nest.
- An easy climb interior
- Predator guard shelf
- Spacious interior
The Nut House is made from recycled poly-lumber which is a bit of a mixed bag in my opinion. On one hand it doesn’t seem right to make a squirrel house out of plastic instead of wooden boards. On the other hand this nest box will last much longer than any wood box and by purchasing this box you are encouraging recycling and keeping material out of landfills.
How to Install a Squirrel House
You should place the squirrel house as high as possible in a tree (at LEAST 10 feet, 20 feet is preferable). The entry hole should face either East or South…basically you want the hole to NOT face the prevailing wind direction.
You should not install a nest box on a fence post where is could be easily accessed by predators or on a flat surface such as the side of a barn/garage where the squirrels would struggle to reach it.
Squirrels use the boxes the most in the winter so early fall is an excellent time to buy and install the house.
It is not necessary to clean the box between litters but it can be a fun excuse to check the box and see how it is holding up.
You can also make life a little easier for the squirrels by mounting the house on the same tree that has your squirrel feeders. If you don’t have a feeder yet or just want a cuter one then check out these squirrel feeders for sale.
How Squirrels Use Nests and Houses
The Missouri Department of Conservation published an interesting review that indicated that a pair of squirrels actually has three nests. The male and female have their own individual nests and they use a third nest to raise their young.
The male and female share a nest up until the babies are born at which time the Daddy gets kicked out of the house. He has to go make another nest to hang out in while Momma is doing the hard work of raising babies.
When the babies grow up and leave Momma’s nest then Daddy gets to come back home. The young squirrels that just moved out now have to find nests of their own and the cycle repeats.
These Houses Work as a Drey or a Den
In nature tree squirrels have two types of nests: dreys and dens.
Dreys are large collections of twigs and leaves that are found in the forks of large trees (source). A completed drey has a spherical interior with a diameter of at least 12 inches. The interior of the dry is usually lined with soft materials such as moss or pine needles.
A squirrel den is a nest that is made inside a cavity of a tree. These cavities are often abandoned woodpecker nests.
When given a choice, squirrels prefer nesting in dens instead of dreys because dens do not have to be built and offer a greater level of security.
These nest boxes are on the exterior of the tree like a drey but offer all of the enhanced protection of a den.