Last Update April 6th, 2016 Squirrels are little rodents which natural habitats are forests, backyards and parks all over the world.
There are approximately more than 200 different species of squirrels, but seven common species can be found in your own backyard if you look close enough.
Squirrels are fascinating creatures and the actual term “squirrels” was first used in the year 1327; keep reading to find out more fascinating facts about squirrels.
1. Fox Squirrels
Native habitat: North America
Favorite foods: tree seeds, grain, birds’ eggs, insects, lizards, small snake species, fruit
Fox squirrels can easily be described as the single largest species that inhabit trees. People often mistake this species for Eastern Gray Squirrels. From afar, the species often look similar, but upon close observation, it is noticeable that there are differences in size as well as color.
Fox squirrels generally breed during the months of December and June. Young squirrels are blind and furless at birth, but usually reach independence at approximately three months. Fox squirrels are considered adults after one year. It is sad to note that most of these squirrels die before ever reaching adulthood, but can live up to a shocking 18 years when in captivity.
Photo Courtesy of Ingrid Taylar
2. Eastern Gray Squirrels
Native habitat: Southern to Easter Canada, Eastern and Midwestern U.S.
Eastern gray squirrels are a species of native tree dwellers found in the United States, but also parts of Great Britain. This species is often characterized by gray fur, but in some cases the squirrels may have a red tone to their fur. A large bushy tail can be easily glimpsed as well as a white underbelly.
The Eastern gray squirrel is what is considered a scatter-hoarder and collects food to store for later. The species generally breeds during the months of December to February and May to January.
3. Western Gray Squirrels
Native habitat: Western coasts of Canada and the U.S.
Western gray squirrels are a noticeably shy species and will often avoid humans and animals alike. They usually run up a tree for safety and converse in a barking call to signal danger. Western gray squirrels reside in forests that have an elevation level of at least 2,000 meters. These tree dwellers often travel from tree to tree to get places, and the time they spend on the ground is spent collecting food.
This species will usually mate for an extended period of time through the months ranging from December to June. An average litter will contain anywhere from one to five kits. The young will usually remain inside of the nest much longer than it is custom with other species.
4. American Red Squirrel
Native habitat: North of the United States and Canada, except for the pacific.
Favorite foods: White spruce seeds.
The American red squirrel is a tree squirrel that can be found from the north of Georgia to most of Canada.This species is different from one of the other three species of tree squirrels by their reddish color and smaller size.
The American red squirrel should not be confused with the Eurasian red squirrel found only in Europe and north of Asia.
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5. Flying Squirrels
Pteromyini (Part of the Sciuridae family)
Native habitat: North America
Favorite foods: fungi, fruits, nuts, birds’ eggs
Flying squirrels are one of the most fascinating species. A nocturnal species, adapted to only flying at night in order to avoid being attacked by predators. This the oldest known species in existence. Most of the modern species we know, have evolved from the flying squirrels.
Flying squirrels aren’t actually able to fly for extended periods of time. They can glide at a distance of about 90 meters, but they generally go from tree to tree. The squirrel’s two arms and legs help propel them through the air and the tail serves as an air brake for safe landing.
6. California Ground Squirrels
Native habitat: Western U.S.; Oregon, Baja California, Nevada, Washington
This species is unique as it lives in burrowed holes that they excavate themselves. They spend most of their time near their burrows for safety, but may become tame in human occupied areas. Some California ground squirrels may take food from humans if they are around them long enough.
California ground squirrels often fall prey to rattlesnakes, foxes, badgers, raccoons and eagles. In the ’70s, a study was conducted which showed that the ground squirrel population in California may have become immune to snake venom. Female squirrels will chew on pieces of shed rattlesnake skin and lick themselves as well as their young in order to disguise their scent.
7. Red Squirrels
Native habitat: Eurasia
Red squirrels have an exceptionally long tail which is believed to help keeping this species warm and balanced when running from tree to tree. The color of the red squirrels ranges from a red to black color, and it often depends on the location as well as the time of year which shade of red is prominent.
These squirrels will often create nests that are dome shaped in tree forks. They will then line the nest with moss, grass, leaves and bark. During the months ranging from February and March to June and July, it is mating season for the red squirrels.
Squirrels of any type are truly fascinating rodents that dwell in our forests and woodlands. Each species has their own unique ability to defend themselves, gather food, take care of their young, and travel from place to place.
BONUS: White Squirrels
White squirrels are not a species, but a genetic mutation usually on the eastern squirrels. The most common mutation is the albinism and it can be easy identify because of the reddish eye color.
Here’s a video of a white squirrel.
BONUS: Black Squirrel
The black squirrel develops its black fur do to a dark colored pigmentation called melanism. This squirrels are derived form the eastern squirrel and the fox squirrel.
Here’s a video of a black squirrel.
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