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Most people have seen squirrels, and with over 200 species, you may not be surprised that you have heard them. You may not have realized the sound you heard was a squirrel, but they can be very vocal. Squirrels live throughout North America, Europe, and Asia in rural and urban areas. I often hear squirrels communicating with each other in my garden and have worked out what some of their different calls mean.

Squirrels use alarm calls made up of barks, rattles, screeches, and snorts to warn others in the area. A sound like a kuk, muk-muk, and quaa sounds are used during the mating periods. Squirrels used sound to protect themselves and their territories and communicate with others. 

There are three classes of squirrels worldwide. These are tree squirrels, flying squirrels, and ground squirrels. Although squirrels may appear small and quiet, they are very vocal creatures. There are various sounds that squirrels make when they communicate with each other.

The intensity of the noise they make varies. You will find that some particular species are more vocal than others, but each has its identifiable sounds. Squirrels sound different due to their age, gender, and circumstance.

Sounds that squirrels make

There are different kinds of sounds that squirrels make, and each communicates a specific message.

RattlesDefending territory
ScreechingDefending territory
BarkingAlarm call
BuzzAlarm call
Kuk-kuk-kukWarning sound
QuaaWarning sound
SeetTerrestrial predator
Seet-barkAerial predator
Muk-mukMade by young squirrels or when mating
High-pitched chirpYoung calling for mother
CryingYoung squirrels

Squirrels will defend their territories and are territorial. They will not allow in any intruders. Overstepping the boundary will make a squirrel angry, and they will make an alarm call. The alarm calls are made up of vocal rattles and screams.

These sounds are an attempt to make the intruder aware of the squirrel’s presence.

Squirrels will make a screeching or screaming sound to threaten predators or intruders to leave their territory.

An alarm or warning call is another sound made by a squirrel. If a squirrel notices danger in the vicinity, it will communicate with other squirrels about the impending danger. 

When a predator is nearby and encroaching onto squirrel territory, the squirrel makes a warning call. The warning calls sound like a series of barks or snorts. The snorts can sound like a ‘buzz’, a quick sound made from breathing out through the nostrils. These sounds are very low-intensity and quiet, but other squirrels will hear them, even if the predator doesn’t.  

The next warning sound made by the squirrel sounds is the most common and sounds like ‘kuk.’ The ‘kuk’ is a short bark made repeatedly.  The ‘kuk’ is then followed by a sound of ‘quaa.’ This is of lower intensity. 

The squirrel uses a combination of sound and tail waving. They will first wave their tail to signify the danger to others. Their vocalization depends on the type of predator and gives other squirrels more information. Land-based animals get a different kind of sound from a bird.

Squirrels make a combination seet-bark sound, which starts with a seet and ends with a louder bark. Barks are preserved as a warning for terrestrial predators like dogs and humans. ‘Seets and ‘seet-barks’ are mainly used for aerial predators.

Did you know there is an animal that lives forever?  Find out more here

Do young squirrels make noise?

Young squirrels have very distinct sounds. These sounds differ depending on their age. Young squirrels tend to produce very soft noises. 

Although rarely heard, these quiet noises help stop them from attracting the attention of predators. When hungry and needing to feed, they call out to their mother with a ‘muk muk’ sound. The sound is described as a soft, puffy noise.

Newborn squirrels barely make any sound, but baby squirrels can make a squeaking sound at three days old. At three weeks, they can growl to signify they are hungry. At four weeks old, they produce short screams.  

When scared or alarmed, young squirrels will make shrill, high-pitched noises. The higher frequency sounds allow the sound to pass further to reach their mother.

Do squirrels make noise at night?

The flying squirrel is the only species of squirrel active at night. They don’t fly but glide from one tree to the next using skin flaps just behind their front legs that make them appear to fly.  

Flying squirrels are nocturnal and are more active at night. Flying squirrels are not as vocal as other species and tend to make less noise.

Flying squirrels do produce high-pitched chirping sounds when communicating with others. They are also capable of making ultrasonic sounds. The ultrasonic sound operates at a very high frequency that humans do not hear. The pitch is altered according to the mood of the animal.

Why do squirrels cry?

Distress calls are often interpreted as a crying noise of a squirrel.  If a squirrel has spotted a predator, they make a crying noise to alert others to the danger.

Squirrels may also make a crying noise when hurt. Injuries to a squirrel will make them make a crying sound.  

Different species make different sounds, but they do not always mean the same. Some species of squirrel make a crying sound when fighting over food.

Young squirrels also make a crying noise when hungry and call their mother to feed them. They may also cry out as they are alarmed about something and call out for their parents. Their cries are not loud but can be heard by the mother if she is nearby.

The sounds of squirrels mating

Male squirrels use different sounds to signal to a female in estrus. Males imitate the sounds made by young baby squirrels. Males will chase after the female and creates a soft ‘muk muk’ sound. This sound is meant to reassure the female that he is no threat.

When ready to mate, female squirrels produce ‘kuks’ and ‘quaas’. These moans indicate she is ready for copulation. These sounds are made before and after mating. 

Squirrel communication

Squirrels also use other ways of communicating. They do not just use vocal sounds only when they want to pass a message to other squirrels.

To show hostility, squirrels chatter their teeth. It is a warning sign for the threat to back off. If the predator does not, the squirrel may bite and attack the intruder. 

Another way that squirrels communicate is by waving their tail. This can signify more than one thing, although one of them indicates 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. They will wag their tail to signal to others to stay away. 

Squirrels also stomp their feet as a warning to a predator, and when they do this, they are alert and ready to fight.

Are squirrels a pest?

Squirrels are better off living in their natural habitat than in your home. There is nothing wrong with attracting them to your garden, and bird feeders often do this. However, if they happen to infest your home, they can become very destructive. Aside from causing significant damage to your house, they can also be very noisy. 

Flying squirrels are most active at night and will most likely give you a sleepless night should they gain entry into your home. They tend to move around a lot and make loud, screeching noises.

Other species of squirrels may chirp or bark as they communicate with other squirrels. In this case, the best thing to do is remove the squirrels. Squirrels are vocal creatures by nature and need to be removed as soon as possible.

Removing squirrels with sound

Squirrels are easily scared, and sound can be used to remove them from your home. When a family of squirrels moves in, there is a quick, easy, and cheap way of getting rid of them.  

Squirrels are afraid of unfamiliar, loud sounds. Loud sounds like banging pots or pans will startle and drive them away. Loud music can also be used to scare squirrels and immediately force them out to look for another place for shelter.

If you have ever heard a scream in the middle of a night, it may have been a fox.  Find out why they scream here