John Hanks, LDWF’s biologist supervisor for private lands in the Mississippi alluvial valley, said that, while squirrels are capable of mating anytime during the year, there are two main rutting periods.
And this month falls right in the middle of one of those breeding seasons.
“The spring rut is May to June, and maybe into early July,” Hanks said. “Late December through February is the winter rut.
“January would be the peak, but it depends on food availability and the squirrel population.”
The number of squirrels in your area is a major determining factor in just how long squirrels will be chasing each other.
“If there is a large population, the rut may last longer because it will take a while for all of the females to be bred,” Hanks said. “But if there’s a small population, the rut may be very precise and end quickly once the few females are bred.”
Normally, squirrels have one to three babies per litter, but there can be as many as six or seven.
And, despite some hunters’ claims to the contrary, Hanks said there is no evidence that cat and fox squirrels can interbreed to produce a hybrid.
“There are variations within the species that can result in squirrels in different geographical areas having different colors,” he explained. “That makes people think there are hybrids, but there is no scientific evidence that crossbreeding occurs.”
Even if cat and fox squirrels could interbreed, they probably wouldn’t because the species really don’t get along very well,” Hanks said.
“Cat squirrels are smaller and faster and more aggressive than fox squirrels and will out-compete fox squirrels in a given habitat,” he said.