Do Squirrels Sleep with their Eyes Open or Closed? The Importance of Squirrel Eyelids

Squirrels are super cute rodents who are very active during the day, running around, gathering food, storing food and safeguarding their young.

But, because we are usually sleeping the time as squirrels, we don’t know much about what they do at nighttime, particularly how they sleep.

So, it begs the question:

Do squirrels sleep with their eyes open or closed?

Squirrels sleep like humans, they sleep with their eyes closed. It keeps the light out and helps ensure a peaceful night’s sleep. It also prevents their eyes from drying out while protecting them from dust, debris and insects.

image squirrel sleeping with closed eyes
Sleeping Squirrel

Squirrels are very much like humans, cats or dogs in this respect. They need to sleep tucked away in a safe place with their eyes closed.

Why Do Squirrels Sleep with Their Eyes Closed?

There’s good reason for squirrels to keep their eyes closed while they sleep. It keeps the eyes moist, blocks out light and protects the eyes. Majority of animals sleep this way and squirrels are no exception.

One of the more obvious clues to this is how baby squirrels keep their eyes closed for several months after coming into the world.

Closed Eyes Protects during Sleep

One of the most important aspects to a squirrel sleeping with their eyes closed is to prevent them from drying out. The moisture balance is incredibly important.

So, keeping them closed helps to maintain this moisture on the surface of the eyes. Such a thing prevents infections and protects the cornea from developing scratches and scars.

Protecting Fragile Eyes

This is because even the smallest particle can cause damage, scratching and irritation to the fragile ocular tissue of the eye. Plus, because most squirrels either sleep in a tree or underground (depending on their species), closing the eyes prevents insects from getting in.

Closed Eyes Ensures a Good Night’s Sleep

Squirrels’ having their eyes closed while they sleep ensures they rest well and peacefully throughout the night. If light enters their eye, they will awaken.

So, if you see a squirrel lying down, or not moving, with their eyes open, they aren’t sleeping, they’re just taking a light rest or they could be experiencing an injury, or a predator is in sight.

Is It Important for Squirrels to Keep Their Eyes Closed While They Sleep?

There are several reasons why the protective action of keep their eyes closed at night is an important facet to the squirrel’s existence. Their eyes are big and sit at the sides of the head but in a higher position than what you see in other animals, including humans.

Squirrels Have a Wide Field of Vision

They have a field of vision that’s wide, allowing them to see everything around them at a near 360°.

squirrel field of vision
How squirrels see

They can partially see what’s behind them and they have perfect focus all the way around, including their periphery. Damaged eyes on a squirrel mean it will be difficult to avert predators, cars or other potential dangers.

Vision Is Essential to the Squirrel’s Survival

Having super-hero-like sight helps them perform daily activities and tasks. For instance, it allows them to jump five feet in the air, 10 feet across from tree to tree and helps them dig up acorns they save. Plus, squirrels are excellent swimmers, though it’s rare to see.

Along with a calcium rich diet, all of these skills require keen, uninhibited eyesight and keeping eyes closed during sleep helps with this. In short, if they didn’t keep their eyes closed, they would not survive for very long.


So, the main takeaway here is that squirrels have eyelids and they sleep with their eyes closed.

f they kept their eyes open, it would invite a host of problems such as damage to the cornea, insects getting inside and preventing a proper night’s sleep.

If you see a squirrel, eyes open, not moving, it’s very unlikely to be sleeping.

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