Interesting Facts about Squirrels
Squirrels are very interesting animals. You can find them everywhere in the world. I grew up in Switzerland and we had squirrels there too. They are not as common as they are here in eastern Canada. In Switzerland, you mainly find the common dark brown squirrels.
As kids, our parents used to take us to the mountains where we spent 2 weeks of our summer holidays. In those days we frequently saw marmots. They have a very interesting security system. One marmot is responsible for watching for danger while the others eat or play around. As soon as there is danger, the marmot keeping watch whistles and they all disappear in their burrows.
We live in the countryside, and we see many different squirrels. I always wanted to know more about them, especially the grey, black and red squirrels and the chipmunks.
I thoroughly enjoyed researching and writing this blog post. Here is what I came up with.
- The squirrels are rodents.
- Rabbits, squirrels & other rodents have teeth that never stop growing. They have to chew on tough foods, like nuts, leaves, and bark, to wear them down.
- They are members of the Sciuridae family.
- A group of squirrels is called scurry or dray.
Good to know
- The eastern grey squirrel could live about 4 years. however it typically only lives up to 18 months due to diseases, human interactions, and predators.
- The American red squirrel can live up to eight years. They have a high mortality rate under the age of 3 years old.
- The mountain marmot lives between 15 and 18 years
- And the Siberian chipmunk even gets up to 28 – 35 years old.
- The African pygmy squirrel only weights 16 g
- Siberian chipmunk comes in a bit heavier at 50-150 grams
- The Eastern grey squirrel averages 400-600 grams
- The heaviest of them all is the Alpine marmot at 2.8-3.3 kg
- Squirrel 44 days
- Alpine marmot 33-34 days
- Siberian chipmunk 28-35 days
- Young ones are usually born between March and April, with a second litter arriving around July to August.
- Females give birth to 1-9 babies, though somewhere in the range of 3-5 is typical.
- Each baby is completely dependent on its mother for the first five to eight weeks of its development and stays close to the nest during this time.
- During the birthing season, squirrels move closer to human homes and sometimes take residence behind walls, in attics, sheds, and chimneys.
- After weaning, the young ones venture out with their mother to find more natural shelters.
- It is important not to block holes during that time, even if the humans find the babies inside.
The squirrel has many predators. Because they are small rodents, some of them are:
- Red and grey fox
- Owls, hawks, eagles, and various other birds
- Pine martins, raccoons, coyotes, and bobcats
- Wild and domestic cats
Squirrels Living In The Eastern US And Canada
Eastern Grey Squirrel
- The eastern grey squirrels live in trees.
- They are native to the eastern and midwestern United States and the southern portion of the central provinces of Canada.
- They are found in New Brunswick, southwestern Quebec, southern Ontario, southern Manitoba, and south to Texas and Florida.
- Breeding eastern grey squirrels are found in Nova Scotia.
- They are the most prodigious and ecologically essential natural forest re-generators
- The grey squirrel mainly has a grey coat, which sometimes also has a brownish colour. Its underside is usually white.
- This species, like so many others, is a hoarder. It buries food everywhere for later. The smell is used to uncover these locations. Their scent can be unreliable when the ground is dry or snow-covered.
- The Eastern grey squirrel is one of the few, which can come down a tree headfirst. It does this by turning his hind feet, so the claws are facing upwards.
- This squirrel is more active early morning and late afternoon. They tend to avoid hot summer days.
- They build a nest called drey in the forks of trees with dry leaves and twigs, using moss for insulation.
- Here is what Wikipedia has to say
- The black squirrel is a pigment gene mutant of the eastern grey or the fox squirrel.
- They have the same natural range.
- However, they are more common in the northern part and around the Great Lakes Basin.
- They are found with the highest frequency in Ontario and Michigan.
- The black squirrels are better equipped to live in the Northern Provinces because their fur is a better thermal cover.
- This small rodent does not hibernate in winter.
- The frequency of black squirrels varies from region to region.
- Marysville, Kansas, has adopted the black morph squirrel as an official mascot in 1972. It has the freedom to trespass all city properties and has the first pick of black walnuts.
- Several universities also use the black squirrel as an unofficial mascot.
- Kent State University named a trade imprint “black squirrel book.”
- Read more about the black squirrel on Wikipedia.
American Red Squirrel
- The American red squirrel is also known as the pine squirrel (commonly referred to as a red squirrel.
- The American red squirrel is widely distributed across North America wherever conifers are common, except for the pacific coast.
- The white spruce cones mature in late July, and the American red squirrel harvest in August and September. They store them in a central location. The central cache provides the squirrel with energy nutrients for survival over the winter.
- They have expanded their range into hardwood forests.
- They are granivores but eat other foods if seeds are not available.
- In Yukon, they eat 50% white spruce seeds and feed on spruce buds, needles, mushrooms, willow leaves, poplar buds, berries, flowers, bird eggs, even snowshoe hare young's.
- Sometimes also be found in Canada, excluding the northern areas without tree coverage. They are not found in Newfoundland.
- This small mammal defends a year-round exclusive territory and primarily eats the seeds of conifer cones.
- Red squirrels are part of the rodent family that includes flying squirrels and other tree squirrels.
- Red squirrels are smaller than other tree squirrels and only somewhat larger than a chipmunk.
- On the contrary, to the chipmunk, the red squirrels don't hibernate in winter.
Fox Squirrel (Brown squirrel)
- The fox squirrel is also known as a brown squirrel or eastern fox squirrel.
- This squirrel lives in the eastern US,
- up to the Southern prairies of Canada,
- and West to the Dakotas, Colorado, and Texas.
- It cannot be found in Ontario, Quebec, or the Atlantic provinces of Canada.
- Ground squirrels generally live on or in the ground, generally known as chipmunks (small to medium size) or marmots (larger version).
- We have a lot of chipmunks in our gardens.
- They build extensive underground systems with areas to sleep,
- To store food
- And to bring up their young ones
- More ground squirrels on Wikipedia
The Southern Flying Squirrel
- The southern flying squirrel can be found throughout Eastern parts of North America and the Southeast part of Canada
- It is found mostly in the Carolinian deciduous forests of southern Ontario
- and it can also be seen north to the Muskoka and Ottawa Valley
- as well as in parts of Quebec and Nova Scotia.
- I have never seen one myself and I am sort of wondering if they even exist in the Ottawa area.
Squirrels Living Outside Of Canada And The United States
Indian Giant Squirrels or Malabar Giant Squirrel
- The Indian giant squirrels are endemic in India.
- The Malabar giant squirrel lives in sections of its distribution Western & Eastern Ghats.
- Satpura Range as far north as Madhya Pradesh.
- They are multi-coloured tree squirrels who live in forests and woodlands.
- The Indian giant squirrel is one of the largest worldwide.
- It has a body length of 10 – 20″ (25 – 50 cm),
- And it weighs 3.3 – 4.4 lbs (1.5 – 2 kg).
- Their weight can increase up to 3 kg. This is rare though.
Eurasian Red Squirrel (commonly referred to as red squirrel)
- The Eurasian red squirrel is commonly referred to as a red squirrel
- This red squirrel is a tree squirrel commonly found in Eurasia.
- In Italy, Great Britain, and Ireland, numbers have drastically decreased due to the introduction of the grey squirrel.
- In Scotland, the numbers stabilize because of conservation efforts, awareness, and the introduction of European pine martens, keeping the grey squirrel population under control.
- The red squirrel is smaller than the grey squirrel.
- The long tail helps to steer and balance while jumping and running on tree branches. It keeps the animal warm during sleep.
- The red squirrel has the ability to swim.
- The red squirrel is arboreal and mainly herbivorous.
- It has sharp curved claws to enable it to climb trees.
- It changes its fur colours depending on the season. Sometimes also be black. Its belly is always white cream.
- It changes its coat twice a year, switching from a thinner summer coat to a thicker and darker coat in winter.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How many types of squirrels are there?
- There are over 200 species worldwide
- The Eastern grey squirrel has a population of over 2 billion living in the United States.
- Where do squirrels sleep?
- The tree squirrels sleep in trees
- either in woodpecker cavities,
- in nests they built
- or in drays within tree branches.
- What time do squirrels go to sleep at night?
- Squirrels are active during daylight and go to sleep once it is dark.
- Therefore they sleep longer in the winter than during summer.
- Do squirrels hibernate?
- The ground squirrels like chipmunks and marmots hibernate in cold winters.
- The tree squirrels are active all year long.
- Are squirrels territorial?
- The smaller red squirrels are territorial.
- The larger rodents are not.
- Do squirrels get rabies?
- Squirrels very rarely get infected with rabies.
- Do squirrels bite humans?
- These rodents are shy animals and usually run away when you approach them.
- It is not good though to get them used to being around humans, because they might lose their timidness and attack humans.
- It is very advisable to watch these cute little animals from inside the house so they don't feel threatened.
As you can see, there are lots of interesting facts about squirrels. I was mainly concentrating on squirrels living in North America and Canada. Specifically in the Eastern parts of the US and Canada. I briefly touched on three types of rodents living in Europe, Eurasia, and India.
There is so much to know about squirrels. I see them every day where we live. Squirrels are very smart and it is a pleasure for me to watch them. We have 1 grey squirrel with white ears. It looks so cute. There are a few red ones and a whole lot of black ones.
I thoroughly enjoyed writing this post, and I found many interesting facts about squirrels I wanted to share with you.
I trust you enjoyed this article on the Interesting Facts About Squirrels. Please stay tuned for more blog posts to come shortly.
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I would love to hear from you. Please leave me your questions, experience and remarks about the Interesting Facts About Squirrels in the comments section below. You can also reach me at Jeannette@Close-To-Nature.org.
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