the essentials in brief
- Squirrels build nests from twigs and leaves in tree hollows or on forks of branches
- The animals are also happy to accept squirrel houses made of wood by humans
- As in the Kobeln, the inside should be padded with moss and bark
Way of life
Squirrels are diurnal and very good climbers, who spend most of their time in the treetops. Squirrels only come to the ground to forage. The rodents feed mainly on seeds, nuts, fruits and parts of plants. It also happens that squirrels are predatory and eat carnal food. The animals build their nests, called Kobel or Kogel, in tree hollows or forks of branches.
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Mating and gestation periodSquirrels can give birth up to two times a year. The first litter usually occurs between March and April, while the second litter is born between May and August. The first attempts at approach by the males can be observed from the end of January. If the food resources are insufficient to raise the young, the first mating can be omitted. Females give birth after a gestation period of 38 days. During this phase they have an increased energy requirement.
It takes between three and five days for squirrels to complete their nest. Sometimes they also accept abandoned hawk or magpie bird nests, which are then converted. A Kobel can have a diameter between 30 and 50 centimeters. The interior is slightly smaller and has a diameter of 15 to 20 centimeters.
This is what the nest looks like:
- spherical structure with two loopholes
- assembled from twigs and leaves
- padded inside with moss, leaves and feathers
Function of the Kobel
The nest serves the animals as a waterproof and sheltered place of retreat in summer and winter. Two loopholes are necessary for squirrels to flee in case of danger. If the main entrance is besieged by a robber, the rodents can escape through the rear exit, which always points downwards.
In addition to a main goblet, squirrels build many other secondary nests. In these so-called shadow nests, squirrels now seek protection. These kobels have a simpler structure than the main nest. The rodents also set up so-called emergency nests. These are used when the main kobel is dirty from birth or when it is no longer sufficiently safe.
Instructions for building yourself
Building a Kobel doesn't require a lot of expertise. With the following building instructions you can build a simple model that gives the squirrel enough space to raise the young.
You can adapt the building instructions as you wish. If you cut off the side walls with a slope, the roof will later be inclined and ensure better water drainage.
- Wooden panels
- Nails or screws
- Screwdriver or cordless screwdriver
- Pencil, compass and folding rule
What to look out for
Use materials that do not pose any health risks to animals or the environment. The wood should be untreated. Softwoods such as maple, beech and pine are ideal. The wood is ideally 1.5 centimeters thick. Depending on which type of wood you are using, the material must be treated with a glaze.
|beech||durable and very strong||heavy, tends to crack|
|maple||hard-wearing, easy to work with||not weatherproof|
|jaw||light weight, cheap||not weatherproof|
Draw the outlines for the components on the wood and saw them out with a jigsaw (€ 70.75 on Amazon *). Then mark the holes with a compass on two side walls. The rear loophole should be deeper than the front entrance. The roof plate is slightly longer than the base plate so that it protrudes slightly above the box. All components are assembled into a box with nails or screws.
Dimensions for the components:
- Base : 26 x 26 centimeters
- Side walls : four panels, each 26 x 30 centimeters
- Roof plate : 30 x 26 centimeters
- Loopholes : seven centimeters in diameter
To better protect the Kobel from the weather, you should treat the wood with an environmentally friendly glaze before installation. There are various natural products that are ideal for impregnating wood.
Oily substances are applied several times in thin layers until a water-repellent film forms on the wood. Solid substances are less well absorbed in the wood. After hardening, they form a protective layer on the wood. The drying times of the glazes (59.87 € on Amazon *) are different. Linseed oil dries through at a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius after about a week, while resin oil is dry after 24 hours.
|Rosin oil||dries quickly, doesn't get greasy||expensive|
|linseed oil||penetrates the pores||old glazes become sticky|
|Beeswax||Wood remains breathable||low durability|
You can line the house yourself with moss, pieces of bark, feathers and leaves after assembling, or you can leave the interior to the squirrels. Keep in mind, however, that the rodents are substances. It is not uncommon for climbers to use clotheslines and items of clothing to disappear without a trace.
Cut old fabrics such as fleece blankets, bed linen or jute sacks into pieces about 20 x 20 centimeters and offer them in a basket.
Ideal places for the nest
Squirrels prefer to live at lofty heights. It happens that the rodents build their nests under the roof. You feel comfortable in the treetops, which are at a minimum height of ten meters. Feeding places attract the animals to lower altitudes. However, dangers such as martens or cats lurk here, which can be dangerous to the squirrels.
Squirrels prefer lofty heights and canopy of deciduous trees. Here they are safe from predators and if there is danger they can flee through the branches.
Hang up Kobel
Hang the house on a tree that is as tall as possible. A minimum height of five meters is ideal. The higher you can hang the Kobel, the more comfortable the animals will feel. Do not attach it to the house. Adult animals can climb rough house facades, but their offspring are easily endangered. Young animals cannot hold on sufficiently and easily fall out of the nest.
How to hang the Kobel correctly:
- close to the main trunk
- ideally in a fork of a branch
- tilted slightly forward so that no rain flows into the main hole
- shortly before the mating seasons in winter and spring
Tips to attract
If the squirrels don't settle in your goblin by themselves, you can help out and attract the rodents. Offer the climbing artists a varied range of food. In summer this consists of leaves, shoots and buds. Mainly provide unshelled nuts. Just before winter, replace them with shelled nuts. Squirrels collect the delicacies and take them to their hiding spots, which the animals feed on in winter.
What squirrels like:
- Acorns, beechnuts, chestnuts
- Dried fruit, carrots and corn in small quantities
- Walnuts and hazelnuts
Remember to make your garden safe for squirrels. Cover open rain barrels (€ 149.95 at Amazon *) or provide an aid to get out, as squirrels can easily fall into the water when trying to drink. Hang a branch in the bin for the animals to hold onto and climb out.
frequently asked Questions
What is the name of the squirrel's nest?
The technical term for the squirrel nest is Kobel. Occasionally the term Kogel can be found.
Where does the squirrel build its nest?
The rodents either use abandoned bird nests to transform it into a spherical nest, or they find branches themselves and use them to build a goblin. The nests are placed in the treetops. Occasionally they also build their goblins under the roof.
How long do squirrels stay in the nest?
The young leave the nest for the first time after six weeks. Until then, they depend on the protection and care of their mother. They feed on breast milk until they are eight to ten weeks old. Only then do the young animals search for food themselves.
Who builds the nest?
Squirrels are mostly solitary and meet each other during mating season. Therefore, males and females each build their own nests to rest and sleep. The female is responsible for building the main goblet, in which the young are born.
What to do if a squirrel falls out of the nest
Get an overview of the situation and try to find out if the squirrel is injured. Abandoned young animals need help because they have not yet developed a pronounced coat and can easily freeze to death or starve to death. There are a few emergency call centers that you can contact. Nature conservation organizations such as Nabu and LBV are also points of contact when a squirrel is in need.
Should I remove the nest in winter?
To prevent parasites from spreading, the cave should be cleaned twice a year. If there are young in the nest, they must not be disturbed. Even in winter you should not open the goblin, because then the animals retreat to their nests for hibernation. Wait until the young and mother have left the nest. Only clean the house with hot water.