Squirrel belongs to the order of rodents, in the family Sciuridae. The word Sciuridae literally means ‘shade-tailed’ and highlights the big bushy tail possessed by many of its members, which is used to shadow their whole body. This large-eyed mammal called squirrel is a part of the largest group of living mammals, which comprises 40% of the present-day living species. The reason behind this is that it has successfully adapted to the alterations made by humans in the environment. The known rodent is found in places that are flourished with food, especially nuts that seems to be its favorite. However, early spring in the temperate regions is a tough time for this cute mammal, as the nuts that it has hidden in the ground begin to sprout, making them unsuitable for eating. In short, there no food sources to eat. Hence, during that time, squirrels either feed on plant buds. They even start eating meat in extreme hunger conditions. Read on to know more interesting facts and amazing information on squirrels.
Facts About Squirrel
Genera: Sciurus and Tamiasciurus
Species: 365 species in 7 families
Height: 7–10 cm (2.8–3.9 in) (small)/ 53–73 cm (21–29 in) (big)
Weight: 10 g (0.35 oz) (small)/ 8 kg (11 to 18 lb) (big)
Life Span: 3-7 years
Diet: plant foods- fruits, green vegetation, nuts, seeds, fungi and conifer cones, bud of trees. Some squirrels also eat meat- small birds, young snakes, eggs, insects and smaller rodents.
Range: Asia, Europe, America and Africa
Habitat: prefers living at places where there is abundance of food especially the nut and seed producing plants, tree trunk holes (even in city)
Age of Sexual Maturity: varies in different squirrels
Gestation Period: average 33 days (small)/ average 60 days (big)
Number of Offspring: 2- 4
Interesting & Amazing Information On Squirrels
- The teeth of squirrel grow continuously and stay sharp. They help it open up the nuts and chew things to reach food.
- A squirrel can jump a distance of up to 20 feet, which can be credited to its short front legs and long and the muscular hind legs that give it power.
- Since the hind legs of a tree squirrel have double joints, it is able to run up and down the trees quickly. In addition, squirrel has sharp claws that help it to have firm grip while running on trees and tear food barriers.
- The tail of a squirrel astonishingly serves as a parachute and a balance. Even if it falls from a height of 100 feet, it would land on earth unhurt!
- A squirrel is quite active during the mating season (late winters) and chases the females over trees. The female squirrel will choose the strongest male during the mating season, but there are chances that it won’t mate with the same male again.
- The young squirrel, born after 6 weeks of mating, is known as kitten. Squirrels start mating when they are about 1 year old.
- The baby squirrel is just one inch long at the time of birth and would weigh one ounce, with no teeth or hair. In addition, the infant squirrel is blind for the first 6- 8 weeks.
- The eyes of a squirrel are positioned in such a way that it can easily see things behind it. It can be one of the reasons why squirrels run away when you approach them.
- Many squirrels chatter and they often use their tail to communicate a complex language.
- Ground squirrel is smart and fast in making long tunnels.
- Squirrel is usually most active in the day (2 hours after sunrise and 2 hours before sunset) during the summer season and would retire to the nest before dark. In winters, the most active part of the day is between dawn and midday and it would remain in or around the nest until the next day.
- A squirrel can eat food equal to its body weight, in a week.
- A squirrel builds its own home in holes in the tree trunk or would take shelter in the attics provided by humans. It can also build homes on the treetops (dreys) and would usually have two rooms and a nursery!
- It is one of the cleanest animals, with the male taking twice the time taken by a female to groom itself.