Current Moon Phase:

Waning Gibbous

Waning Gibbous

70% Of Full

What’s Going On With All The Dead Squirrels?

If you live in New England, you may have seen an increase in squirrel activity, including the number of dead squirrels on the roadways. What's going on? We have the answer.

If you live in New England, you may have seen an increase in squirrel activity, including the number of them dead on the roadways. It seems you can’t travel 100 feet without having a squirrel dart out in front of you as they make their way across the road; some don’t make it. We’ve gotten countless messages on our Facebook page and comments on our website from people asking, “what’s going on with all the dead squirrels?” wondering if it has anything to do with the harsh winter we’re predicting.

While folklore tells us that squirrels gathering nuts early is one of the 20 signs of a hard winter, there appears to be a bit more going on.

Here’s what we found out.

So Why So Many Dead Squirrels?

According to a Maine state wildlife biologist, we had a “mast” year (meaning more than usual) for acorns and other nuts last fall which has led to a population explosion of squirrels (who have an average of 3-6  young in a litter). So there are more squirrels this year gathering nuts from the back-to-normal food supply of the current year. Unfortunately, they’re displaying erratic behavior and taking more risks to gather their food supply (which we assume is where folklore comes in about the harsh winter ahead—they’re getting ready), resulting in increased road deaths.

A New Hampshire state wildlife biologist confirmed that they, too, are seeing a large number of squirrel roadkill in their state. In fact, one motorist reported counting 390 dead squirrels in a 50-mile drive to the Massachusetts border. Unfortunately, this flurry of squirrel activity is going to continue right through the fall.

How To Avoid Hitting Them?

Experts say don’t swerve. Squirrels dart about to confuse predators as a survival mechanism. So because they see automobiles as predators, your best bet is to drive in a straight line.

What about where you live? Have you been seeing a lot of squirrel activity and roadkill? Tell us in the comments below.

This article was published by the staff at Farmers' Almanac. Interested in becoming a guest author? Contact us to let us know!

Keep Exploring

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
230 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Gary

Spring or 2020 had a late freeze which destroyed the buds that turn into acorns and other nuts, thereby eliminating the fall harvest that the squirrels so depend on. While the squirrels were numerous thru the fall and into winter, they were having a difficult time finding food. Then came the three feet of snow late winter that lasted on the ground for over a month, putting the finishing touch on an already suffering squirrel population. Very, very few squirrels here in northern NJ, Fall of 2021. The ones I see are only in the yards, none along the hiking trails in the woodlands. Chipmunks seem to have done a bit better, but they hibernate thru the winter.

Jean

Had a ton of squirrels here in Connecticut all Spring and Summer. Now in September (2021) they all seem to have disappeared…wondering why.

Kelley G

Hello from Rhode Island where we have an abundance of squirrels everywhere. In the past week I started seeing them dead on the road which led me to look up this article. There were 3 killed just on my 1/2 mile of road to the main road this week.

Sally

I live in Rockaway Township, Nj and I usually put bird seeds in the feeder and the squirrels would demolish it. As well as the blue jays and deer’s. After Ida hit I saw two squirrels and that was really it. No blue jays and maybe a small handful of deers. A current one that used to come by everyday I don’t see him anymore. And right now in September I have tons of acorns falling on my house it sounds like hail falling. But it’s just the 2 large oak trees. We also have a lot of cicadas. My neighbor said the acorns is a sign that this will be a bad winter. You would think with all of the acorns I would see more squirrels but none. Last year there were soooooo many. I also miss seeing the blue jays. This is very alarming and sad.

Susan Higgins

Hi Sally, I just read an article from 2013 stating that during cicada years, birds tend to disappear. Take a look here.

Joy

Seems lots of dead ones in yards not near roads in PA

Maryann

0 gray squirrels! I do see Home Depot with piles of advertising for rat poison right ar every checkout

Tracy

I live in Hopatcong, NJ, and have a great love for my squirrel, chipmunk, and bird friends. I love the other animals too. Every morning I throw seeds out to my squirrel and chipmunks and they come running over. Over the past five years, I usually have had a minimum of 8 squirrels and 10 or more chipmunks. This year I have about 5-6 chipmunks but since spring was lucky to have 1 squirrel. As of today, I now have two squirrels running around and gathering the seeds but it is very concerning to wonder where all the others have gone.

Susan Higgins

Hi Tracy, we’re hearing reports from readers that they’re not seeing as many squirrels but it’s no cause for alarm. It most likely means the food supply where you are is robust.

Loretta

I am in Morris County, NJ. There was no food shortage for the squirrels that live around my yard so that lack of nuts explanation doesn’t cut it. If that were true, the dead squirrels found along the roadside last year would all be emaciated. I have one regular squirrel and I see another pair occasionally. There are a couple of chipmunks. As for birds, some are missing, including the blue jays. My neighbor said she found three dead blue jays in her yard this year. Sorry, it is not 5G, Ciccadas or the neighbors poisoning them. We do have hawks that hunt squirrels, but I am not seeing them overhead either.

Jackie

I’ve lived in northern Virginia for over 30 years, and we normally have squirrels everywhere. But for the last year they have completelyrics disappeared from my neighborhood. Not sure what’s going on.

Patricia Ann Moody

The owners of these , homes & gardens, are poisoning & exterminating them . These beautiful Squirrels were such a Joy to watch, chipmunks 🐿 also. Now , These Suburban areas are Dead!, without them! There is NO Law to protect them!

Francine

Could it have anything to do with the 17-year return of the Cicada’s??

Moe

Zero squirrels and chipmunks by me in Westchester, NY. Last year we had loads.
I’m wondering 5G?

Just rolled out while we were all locked down.

Check out your area.

Ookla 5G Map
@Ookla5GMap
·
May 24
A massive AT&T Mobility 5G update of over 17,000 deployments in the U.S. has been added to the map. Several new O2 commercially available deployments in the U.K. have been added as well. Take a look at the map for all the details: http://speedtest.net/ookla-5g-map

Susan Higgins

Hi Moe, we have 5G here in Maine but the squirrels are plentiful. We’re looking into what’s going on because there have been reports from many readers about disappearing squirrels. Stay tuned!

Carbor

We’re into May 2021 now and speaking of squirrels, something strange has happened. There are no squirrels this year. We had an over abundance of them last year but strangely squirrels and chipmunks have disappeared in the northern areas of Bergen county in NJ in my observation as of May 2021. Anyone notice this? Forget about dead squirrels. What about no squirrels? I think this is something to be concerned about. I’ve reached out to a number of organizations but have yet to hear back.

Susan Higgins

They must have all traveled to Maine because there are plenty here! I don’t think it’s cause for concern. They are going where the food is.

Kim

We are in Bergen county too. We were just talking about not seeing squirrels these days which led to me Googling and this post?!

Francine

You are the first person who also notices this!!! I’m a little freaked out!!

Francine

Could it have anything to do with the 17-year return of the Cicada’s??

jodi paige

I’m in Essex County- my neighbors and I have been asking the same question about why the noticeable lack of squirrels – it’s eerily strange. I was thinking maybe cicadas moved in and scared off the squirrels too??

Justin Henry

What brought me to this site is that I queried this. I live in Ringwood and there are NO squirrels and chipmunks this year. Just a few months ago there were lots and lots. I was wondering if the Dr Fauci of squirrels knew what was up.

Todd Peluso

Same here in Oakland (NJ) just noticed today i have not seen any squirrels this year and they normally drive me bonkers digging up my lawn. Very strange

Victoria Palmieri

We have 2 squirrels that we’ve seen this year when normally we see at least 50 when we go on walks. Warwick, NY

Erika Bello

I thought it was just my area! For the past 8 or 9 months I haven’t seen a single squirrel in our area where we normally can see 8 or 10 a day. This is after last year where we had an enormous amount of dead squirrels found on the road. Does anyone know where we can report this to?

Diana delgrosso

I live in Lawrence Park and I’m a birder. I was sad enough to read that blue jays have a mysterious illness this year, and the population is dwindling. I used to have at least 10 to 15 blue jays at my feeders regularly. now there are two. Last year we had so many squirrels and birds and chipmunks, that they eating our entire crop of tomatoes . This year, not one one chipmunk, nd one or two squirrels.
WHATS GOING ON?

Timothy Breslin

No squirrels in Emerson nj either what’s really going on. I have 2 oak trees and always have a bunch of them around. I haven’t seen any in months 😕

Scott Sundberg

I live in Tampa Florida and have noticed a much higher than normal amount of dead squirrels. The other day while riding my bike, I saw one run right under a car driving around 20 MPH. It could have easily avoided this situation. Another cause of death appears to be from falling out of trees. It does appear to be a reasonable explanation that they are taking more risk. But I’m not sure why. Is it something in the air? Are they having a pandemic? I’m just guessing.

Bethany Amaral

I’ve been seeing a lot of dead squirrels at the park in Attleboro, Ma where I walk my dog. They’re usually near trees. In the summer one day I seen 3 dead. I also just seen 2 dead lying in the snow, along with other ones in the past month. Do you think someone could be poisoning them as plenty of people “ feed” the wildlife.

CHUCK FORBES

I am also in Ringwood, NJ. I saw 1 on my deck rail the other day. The next day I realized I had not seen any others in weeks. We do not have cicadas either so I rule that out. Hickory nuts are falling in my yard and there are no squirrels. Something IS strange.

A.Maida

every 3 feet I see a freshly dead squirrel along I-87
from exits 15, South many miles to Bronx Pkwy.
every weekend I see the old dead ones and newly dead.
very sad.

Miranda Carpenter

Hundreds of dead squirrels from Danbury, CT to Rye, NY and back. From I-84 West, I-684 South, 287-East, I-95 South and back. Very heartbreaking. I have never hit one because I stop for them and I don’t care how angry the people behind me get. People drive erratically, these squirrels don’t have to be struck by cars.

Dana

I live in Hoboken, NJ and we are seeing dead squirrels everywhere. They haven’t been hit by cars. Some have just curled up and died sleeping next to telephone poles. Another three were right in front of our parking garage. One young squirrel laid down and died in front of a street advertising sign. That one had blood coming from it’s ears mouth and. Nose. Another older one was found days later like it just laid down and went to sleep and died. Another may have been hit by a car or also laid down and went to sleep and died, then got ran over. I’m worried about them. We saved one and don’t know where to take it.

Susan Higgins

Dana, call your animal control officer. It’s best not to deal with wildlife on your own, especially rodents.

jsj

Rye Brook in Westchester County, along the Hutchinson River parkway onto & down the ramp to 287 North (about 3-4 miles)- counted 140 dead. I could see more in the distance if I kept going south on the Hutch. crazy & sad. but we could all drive a little slower.

Patricia

Bangor Maine area here .I have to brake check for what I like to call suicidal squirrels on my entire trek to work .

Severin Cornelius

Definitely. Squirrels had free reign when we were in quarantine. Now they have to adjust to more commuters.

Severin Cornelius

Definitely. Dead squirrels all over the place. I figured since humans have been in quarantine, squirrels had a lot more freedom. Now that people are moving again, squirrels have to adjust.

Joann craig

New York has a lot of squirrels and yes dead ones also A lot of them. And not much food for them. No acorns.

Joan MacHill

They eat pumpkin so beware when you set yours outside this year ! If there are that many of them your porches will be visited when those delicious morsels are placed out as decorations even if you don’t carve them those squirrels know they are tasty treats!

Susan Higgins

Joan, we have a great tip you might like to keep them out. Check it out here.

Paul

Sadly, I can confirm that northern New Jersey has dead squirrels on almost every roadside. And sincere concern has driven me to seek out some sort of explanation. Thank you! Some areas have 10 or more built up in a small section of highway. It really makes you think about the frailty and value of life. Love those tree climbin’, nut buryin’, chip-chatterin’ furry little critters.

Melinda Torres

I’m in New Jersey and have been seeing an abnormal amount of dead squirrels on the road. I googled it to see if something was up and came across this page. So it’s pretty much all over the eastern side of the country it seems.

Diana delgrosso

Colorado SPRINGS HAS A PLAGUEgoing on killing all the squirrels. Can someone with some knowledge of animals please tell the public what’s going on? Someone must know.

kelly

I was wondering the same thing. Falls Church, VA this year we have no squirrels! Plague? that would be good to know!

Nora

Tons of squirrels, dead and alive!! North Jersey

Kevin Armstrong

We have been seeing them a lot on the New York State thruway. Especially down in the Tarrytown are.

Coco Murray

Yes I have been seeing more dead squirrels on the Sprain and Taconic in Yonkers New York!

Jill

Montville, NJ seems to have more squirrels than live people ‍♀️

Giandalone Anne

Could the increase in road kill be that the squirrels had the run of the road during the Covid lockdown?

Paul

I thought this as well. And, I think this article helps explain the situation too.

Nikki

All down the parkway in nj so strange

Debby blyler

There were so many squirrels in my neighborhood this year, they ate all the tomatoes in my garden; first time in 45 years this has happened.

Duncan

Same here. Tomato terrors!

Steven Justo

Yes! Hi my name is Steven Justo. I live in North Jersey. I too have noticed an increase in squirrel road kills. About a one week ago, I was doing my morning run when a squirrel happened to notice/hear I was coming. It too darted into the street but it was the worse timing. Why you ask? Because a vehicle was approaching at a fast speed on a 25 and got caught underneath the car. I knew that squirrel was a goner. When I looked back, all I can see was the squirrel got hit bad. It just flew up after the car ran it over, rolled and just laid lifeless in the middle of the road. I was devastated to even witness it firsthand. It might not be a human being but it’s a living thing I actually really love. I too love squirrels and seeing this saddens me thinking about what happened. If I knew how to communicate with each and every squirrel in the world, I would tell them, “Stay away from the roads & moving vehicles!”

Susan Higgins

Hi Steven, seeing such a devastating thing is hard. Hopefully, it was quick and the critter didn’t feel a thing. Sometimes they just dart out in the road and there’s nothing you can do at any speed.

k

omg my husband and I live in NJ and we were just talking about this

Sandra Patterrson

We live on a small lake in northern NJ. There have been at least six sightings of squirrels swimming across the lake. Have never seen this phenomenon in the 50+ years we have been here.

Marcella

I live in NJ and I have seen so many dead squirrels on our roadways as well. I wondered what was wrong. I saw 8 dead squirrels in one spot. It’s disturbing.

Kimberly

I just said the squirrels were acting strangely and I felt they were darting infrastructure of the car for no explained reason..now I know. I had never seen this weird behavior happen before and try not to hit them but I am in North Jersey and it is happening NOW

Carrie Williams

Oh my gosh!!! I swear…just said this to my daughter. The squirrels have been crazy….in and out of the streets, saw one dead at the park…and ran over on the roads….

Aissa P

I noticed this in Connecticut an increase in squirrel roadkills as well. I myself had to slow down for several squirrels in the past two weeks to avoid hitting them! It’s actually crazy! I also noticed new squirrels that never lived in my backyard, we now have a gorgeous black one that was never there in the 8 years I’ve been here.

Louise

So we have dead rats on the sidewalk, and just last week a smaller what seemed to be Vulture eating another rat, neighbour saw a rat in her garden also !! assuming they are coming up from city as all the restaurants are closed

Tracy Marshall

Yes. In Suburban New York there are sometimes several in the same locations and on Thruways and Parkways. Just discussing with my neighbor

Babette

Rt 208 north and south in fair lawn nj

Gene B.

We counted 30 in one two mile stretch on 208 North.

Bill Murray

bumper crop…hmm, excuse the pun

Bill Murray

Interesting article. And, yes, have observed the road kill here in NJ as well; and have heard it commented upon. And good advice re avoidance (or not). Cringed to have hit a chipmunk the other day and possibly a squirrel as well. Not sure how an abundance of acorns one year increases their fertility the next, unless a primal signal to her fecundity that food will be abundant. And, of course, then there’s enough to nourish the broods. Please CAPITALIZE proper nouns. The seasons should be capitalized Spring / Summer / Fall / Winter. As should the word ‘state’ be capitalized as in Maine State, etc. – the name of a particular person, place or thing is known as a proper noun and is capitalized. These usages are fast disappearing from many texts. Thank-you.

Dan Aykroyd

Sorry to break it to you, Bill, it neither seasons nor the word “state” in that context should be capitalized, according to AP style. That is the widely accepted standard in the journalistic and publishing world. Those rules have been standard with AP for more than 20 years, and possibly much longer. That’s just how long I’ve been in the business. (Also, don’t hyphenate thank you in that context, if we are being picky.)

Moe

Wrong.

Susan Higgins

Hi Bill, thanks for your comments. It’s very sad when we have collisions with wildlife. As for punctuation, we use the Chicago Manual style: seasons are never capitalized. But we appreciate you taking the time to write.

Moe

Correct.

Kim

Northern Bergen county New Jersey… .an insane amount of dead squirrels. At one off ramp we counted over 75 dead grey squirrels. I thought is was a result of inexperienced young squirrels having grown up during the quarentine and not having much fear of roads and cars.

Steven Justo

Kim, I think your on to something. That just might be the reason. In the beginning of the pandemic, when we were all quarantined, they were probably feeling more comfortable not seeing or hearing people/vehicles. Now that things are getting somewhat back to normal, they are confused.

Dee

I was surprised to see the article because I thought I was seeing things. I live in Westchester County in NY and I have noticed more than the usual amount of dead squirrels on the road.

Joe M

I was driving on the highway this past week, I counted as many a 100 dead squirrels in a 3 mile ride. Northern New Jersey Route 208.

Nicole Rende

I had this exact question
I have observed a definite increase in squirrel roadkill in my area (Putnam & westchester county NY)

Laurie Zak

Yes, I have seen an increase of squirrels . I am figuring that the Covid quarantine in spring allowed for more animals to roam more freely and survival of offspring to increase.
I counted 95 animals (squirrels, rabbit, deer, raccoons and unrecognizable animals ) in a 25 milestretch ) !

Robert Silvestri

Yes!!! I’m in Rockland county in New York State. It’s so heartbreaking to see the amount of dead squirrels. Some sections of the NYS Thruway has clusters of 8-10 dead in one spot . So sad

Donna

There are tons of dead squirrels in Westchester county NY. Normally you would see them on side roads, these are on the highway!

Plan Your Day. Grow Your Life.

Sign up today for inspiring articles, tips & weather forecasts!

{"cart_token":"","hash":"","cart_data":""}