Do squirrels sleep with their eyes open?

Squirrels are very busy and active during the day, they run around gathering and hoarding food, they keep their young safe, they mate during the mating season and they raise their young. This all takes up a lot of energy and tires them out. They sleep during the nighttime, this is when they replenish their energy reserves. Some people say that squirrels sleep with their eyes open, but is this true? This article explores the question of ‘do squirrels sleep with their eyes open’

Just as with humans, squirrels do not sleep with their eyes open. Squirrels sleeping with their eyes closed at night keeps light out of the eyes ensuring a peaceful night sleep. Closing their eyes while sleeping also keeps the eyes from drying out which would otherwise cause dry eyes. In addition, closing their eyes while sleeping keeps them protected from insects and debris throughout the night 

Do squirrels sleep with their eyes open?

Squirrels do not sleep with their eyes open, just as with many animals, they sleep with their eyes closed. Animals keep their eyes closed for three reasons: to protect the eyes, to keep the eyes moist and to keep light out.

Eyes of all types are fragile, even the tiniest bit of debris can irritate them or cause damage, thus, squirrels keep their eyes closed when they sleep to protect them. Keeping eyes closed during sleep prevents insects from crawling on the eye and debris from scratching the eye at night while the animal is sleeping.

Eyes need to be kept moist to prevent them from drying out. The moisture balance maintained on the surface of the squirrels eyes ensures that the animal does not develop an infection. Dry eyes can also lead to scars and scratches developing on the cornea, as well as a lot of pain. Keeping eyes closed during sleep prevents this from happening

In order for squirrels to get a good, peaceful night rest the eyes have to be closed to block out light. If light were to enter the eye it would trigger the squirrel to wake up and be alert. Keeping the eyes closed ensures that the squirrel gets a good nights rest.

Where do squirrels go at night to sleep?

Squirrels such as the fox squirrel, the red squirrel and the grey squirrel like to sleep in dens made in the sides of trees. For the den to be comfortable enough for the squirrels to sleep in, it has to be padded with moss or leaves. A dray, similar to a den, is where squirrels raise their babies and stay cooped up during the long and cold winter months. Drays are branches of trees that are furnished with leaves and twigs to create a nest 

How many hours a day does a squirrel sleep?

Squirrels do not all sleep for the same number of hours, certain types of squirrels may need up to 15 hours of sleep a day. This makes them active between dusk and dawn. If a squirrel is particularly fond of the sun, it may stay out in the sun all day long during the summer when the days are longer. That being said, these animals know that they are quite low on the food chain, because of this, they will hide away in their nests away from predators of the night. 


In conclusion, no, squirrels do not sleep with their eyes open. Opening their eyes while sleeping can result in damage to the cornea from debris or insects scratching on the eye, opening their eyes while sleeping can cause the eye to become dry and infected and can prevent them from having a good nights sleep. These animals usually sleep in dens or drays and they can need up to 15 hours of sleep a night. 

If you enjoyed this article then you may also be interested in other squirrel related articles. Here are some articles that you may be interested in: Do squirrels get attached to humans?, What does it mean when a squirrel stares at you?, Do squirrels blink?, Overly friendly squirrels, are they safe?,

Do squirrels sleep with their eyes open?
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