Our Squirrel Removal Expert Answers: How Do Squirrels Find Their Nuts in the Winter?

Squirrel holding a nut in its front paws on a wooden plank

Squirrels love nuts. Nuts are their main food source throughout the year, particularly when they are hunkering down for winter. Squirrels gather nuts in the late summer and fall. These creatures store them by burying them underground so they can retrieve them later when it turns to winter. 

How do squirrels find these buried nuts later on after sleeping for long periods of time? They don’t have a GPS on their smartphone, nor do they have a map to the burial location. Animal Remover’s squirrel removal expert answers, “How do squirrels find their nuts in the winter?”

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Three Main Techniques

Squirrels find their nuts in the winter using a combination of memory, smell, and random chance. They don’t keep nuts in the dens where they sleep because the aroma might attract predators. Natural predators can be an effective solution for squirrel removal.


Squirrels are very selective about where they bury nuts before winter time. They’ll select a nearby landmark, such as a large oak tree, so they remember the large tree and nearby nuts later.

Several squirrels in the area might have the same idea, which gives them a better chance of finding a cache of nuts. It’s like a squirrel’s version of a supermarket!

Sense of Smell

Once a squirrel remembers the landmark, he or she uses their excellent sense of smell to locate the caches of nuts. The key here is that when the squirrel buried the nuts in the first place, the creature loosened the soil. The loosened soil allows the aroma of the nuts to waft upward. Squirrels can detect the scent, even through a layer of snow, and then they begin to dig up the dirt!

Random Chance

A squirrel’s sense of smell isn’t perfect. Think of its nose as a proximity detector. If there are several nuts buried near the same landmark, there might be too many spots to hone in on. Squirrels might start digging randomly in the ground near that large oak tree. Once they find a nut or two, they’ll gather their stash and start eating them. Our squirrel removal expert might see these animals move from one spot to another, searching for their meal. Any nuts that squirrels don’t find in the winter sprout into trees in subsequent years.

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Got Squirrels? We’re Squirrel Removal Experts!

As winter approaches, it’s essential to inspect your attic or roof for entry points where squirrels can get in. Animal Remover can inspect your property and provide full property sealing services to keep any animals out before you need squirrel removal.

Contact Animal Remover or call 513-324-WILD (9453) for more information. We have offices in Cincinnati and Dayton!