With over 200 species of squirrels around the world, they share the common traits of being nimble, inquisitive, and smart enough to figure out a lot of ways to get their food. Some people consider them pests, while others adore them.
Interesting facts about squirrels:
- Squirrels belong to the family of mammal rodents called Sciuridae and including chipmunks, prairie dogs, and marmots.
- Many people don’t know that there are actually three types of squirrels: ground squirrels, tree squirrels, and flying squirrels; and each type has subsets within their groups including Mountain Tree, Spotted, Albino, Antelope, Douglas, American Red, Grey, Pygmy, Northern Flying, Fox, Arizona Grey, Arctic Ground, Southern, Idaho, Black, White, Richard’s, Rock and Albertson’s.
- We can find squirrels everywhere in the world with the exception of Antarctica and Australia.
- Squirrels live in places depending upon the type: most live in trees and some burrow into the ground and other types will remain in their burrows to hibernate in the cold months.
- Flying squirrels live in trees but prefer to build their nets in-branch crooks or tree holes.
- Squirrels vary in size. The largest squirrel is the Indian giant that will grow to 1 meter (36 in.) and can weigh up to 1.8 kg (4 lbs.). The African pygmy squirrel is the smallest and is only 7-13 cm (2.8-5 in.) and weighs 10g (0.35 oz.).
- Squirrels are extremely territorial and they will battle other squirrels and animals to protect their area. Mother squirrels are the most aggressive when defending their young. If you see a group of squirrels together, it is called a ‘dray’ or ‘scurry’.
- Squirrels are only out at dusk and dawn and are therefore classified as ‘crepuscular’.
Squirrels are omnivores and that means they will eat plants as well as meat.
The average squirrel will each around 1 lb. of food each week. Squirrels will eat fruit, nuts, seeds, fungi, small insects, eggs, small animals, young snakes and caterpillars.
Squirrels are smart and will often figure out elaborate and sophisticated methods to access food.
A female is pregnant for 33-46 weeks and usually has from two to eight babies. Baby squirrels are called ‘kits’ and are born without fur and are blind.