Squirrels are small-sized rodents that are widely distributed around the globe. They are native to America but many of them are introduced in Australia. Squirrels also occur in Eurasia and Africa. They are shy but they do interact with humans in urban areas where they are fed in public or national parks.
Squirrel Facts For Kids
What Do Squirrels Look Like?
Depending on the location, each squirrel is recognized by its unique coloration and physical features. African pygmy squirrel for example has longer rear limbs as compared to forelimbs. It has light olive coat with underparts are slightly brown.
The Indian Palm squirrel has a bushy tail and grey-brown coat. It has also white stripes that go from the back of the head all the way to the tail.
Southern flying squirrels show dark flanks and grey brown fur from the above.
The Prevost’s squirrel is all black from head to tail but the underparts are white to orange in color.
American red squirrels have a tan brown coat and white abdomen. It has got quite bushy tail.
What is the Largest Tree Squirrel?
The fox squirrel (Sciurus niger) is the largest of the tree squirrels. It typically occurs in the North America. They have brown-grey to brown-yellow coat and a bushy tail. Fox squirrels often give look of an American red squirrel. Fox squirrels and American squirrels may co-exist in the same area.
See also: Fox Squirrel Facts
What is the Smallest Tree Squirrel?
The African pygmy squirrel (Myosciurus pumilio) is the world’s smallest tree squirrel. It is 50 – 60 mm in length. The squirrel remains active most of the day and they are typically found in the forests of Africa.
What Do Squirrels Eat?
Squirrels are thought to feed on a wide variety of foods particularly those that are rich in protein and carbohydrates. They are likely to eat nuts, fruits, green vegetation, conifer cones, and seeds.
They supplement their diet with small birds, small rodents, insects, young snakes, and eggs.
Where Do Squirrels Live?
The African pygmy squirrel, smallest of the squirrels are only found in Gabon, Cameroon, and the Republic of Congo. Fox squirrels on the other hand are native to North America.
Indian pal squirrels are distributed in the south of Vindhyas, India. They also occur in the wild of Sri Lanka, Madagascar, and Comoro Islands. Some of these species are introduced in Australia.
Squirrels like to build homes in the lower canopy which is 5 meters high above the ground.
Southern flying squirrels are thought to occupy mixed forests, eastern deciduous forests, beech trees, and large hickory of North America. They prefer to live in habitats that abundant in maple trees, oak tree, and poplar.
How Long Do Squirrels Live?
Many squirrels could not reach adulthood as they die of predation in the first year after birth. The average lifespan in the wild is about 5 – 10 years. In captivity, they are thought to survive 10 – 20 years.
See also: Red Squirrel Facts
What Squirrels have the Highest Body Temperatures?
Nearly all desert-dwelling squirrels are thought to have high body temperatures. For example antelope ground squirrel is able to withstand body temperatures up to 43.3o C. However this temperature is highly mutable as it goes up and down 5 to 10 degrees. This happens when the squirrel forages either during the hottest part of the day or it cools the shade. All desert-dwelling squirrels appear to have light-colored fur and dark-tinted skin.
How Much Do Squirrels Drink during Summer?
Unlike squirrels of North America, desert-dwelling squirrels must keep a balance between the amount of water they drink and the water they lose during summer because in dry environments water is not easily available. It’s far too hot in deserts and squirrels can’t just afford to forage in the mid-afternoon because if they do so they lose large amount of water either through urine or feces. Similarly if they don’t lose too much water there is no need to drink too much.
Do Squirrels Hibernate?
Yes, squirrels do hibernate but in winter when the outside temperature goes down. During hibernation they reduce the body temperature and energetic requirements and thus squirrels need not feed too often during the cold winter days.
However the cold winter may be some squirrels do not hibernate. Holarctic tree squirrels never go into hibernation period no matter how harsh the winter is. They will remain active all year round and they got highly efficient metabolism. Holarctic ground squirrels are the only species that hibernates during winter.
See also: Flying Squirrel Facts
The period of hibernation varies with the species as some squirrels hibernate only for few months while others hibernate for as long as 9 months. The higher the elevation where squirrels inhabit the longer the period of hibernation will be.
Squirrels such as woodchuck are thought to hibernate alone while bobak marmots hibernate in a shared burrow.
Sometimes hibernation carries a little risk in that when squirrels could not store enough fat in summer they may starve to death during hibernation. Similarly if the hibernation period prolongs then chances are that even the healthy squirrel may die in its burrow.
Do Squirrels have Predators?
Squirrels are small mammals and thus they fall victim to many predators that hunt during the day. Prominent among the predators are owls, bears, wolves, coyotes, herons, wild dogs, martens, snakes, largemouth bass, foxes, raccoons, badgers, crows, and ferrets.