Squirrels are small tree animals, with a very cute bushy tail and sharp teeth. They are fast, really intelligent, and always alert! It is fun to watch them and their amusing gestures.
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Australia and Antarctica are the only continents in the world that don’t have any squirrels!
There is hardly anyone who hasn’t seen a squirrel. They are cute, ever-so-energetic, and furry animals, that are found almost all over the world, excluding the polar regions. Squirrels belong to the Sciuridae family, which includes tree and ground squirrels, flying squirrels, chipmunks, prairie dogs and marmots. They got their name from the ancient Greek word skiouros, meaning shadow-tailed. These rodent-like animals are often seen in city parks, drawing attention with their playful nature.
✹ There are 285 different types of squirrels all over the world. The gray squirrel is the most common type that is found in America. This species can definitely be called old, as they have been around for more than 35 million years.
✹ Squirrels come in different sizes. The smallest being as tiny as 7 centimeters, with the biggest going up to 73 centimeters.
✹ The size of the brain of a squirrel is about the size of a walnut.
✹ There are squirrels that are black, white, gray, brown and red.
✹ White squirrels are rare, and are mostly found in South East Asia and Thailand.
✹ Squirrels can run really quickly, as fast as 20 mph.
✹ A squirrel can survive even if it jumps from a height of 100 feet, as it has padded feet.
✹ A squirrel has a very large appetite. In a week’s time, it eats a quantity of food that is almost equal to its body weight.
✹ Squirrels have an excellent eyesight. Since their big eyes are placed on the sides, they can see particularly well on the sides. However, they have trouble seeing things that are directly in front of them. That is probably why people complain about getting bit on their fingers while feeding squirrels.
✹ Squirrels have very sharp teeth, which continue to grow throughout their life. These incisors are used for cracking nuts or chewing through things to find food. Squirrels keep them sharp by gnawing on wires or rocks.
✹ A squirrel can jump a distance of 20 feet, as it has strong hind legs and short front legs. The front legs have 4 toes, whereas the hind legs have 5 toes.
✹ Flying squirrels don’t actually fly, they merely glide. These squirrels have a wing-like membrane of skin attached from the wrists to the ankles, which helps them glide diagonally among the forest canopy.
✹ The claws and tail of a squirrel helps it to find its food as well. They store their food underground or inside hollows in trees, and their claws come handy in digging the food out later when needed. Their bushy tail enables them to balance among the branches of trees while looking for food.
✹ Squirrels are mostly omnivores. They eat nuts, fruits, seeds, buds, flowers, and even barks of trees. Another delicacy for them is tree sap.
✹ Apart from their all-time favorite nuts, they also feed on insects, small birds and their eggs. There are even times when they have been seen feeding on small snakes.
✹ Wondering how the squirrel finds its way back to the buried food? Well, they lick or rub it on their face, before burying it. This leaves a scent which allows the squirrel to find it again after the winters are over. Now that’s smart, isn’t it?
✹ Squirrels do not hibernate. They just tend to stay inside their nest during the winters, and save their energy.
✹ They are usually solitary creatures, except during mating. But during the winter season, they might share a nest with other squirrels.
✹ Squirrels are mammals, and give birth to 2 to 8 babies. These are called kittens, and are born blind, hence are highly dependent on their mother.
✹ The male squirrels are rather bad parents, as they play no role in raising the young ones. The mothers take complete care of them for a couple of months.
✹ Squirrels mate after they are one year old. They reproduce usually twice a year, although there are some species that are assumed to reproduce only once a year.
✹ The African pygmy squirrel is the smallest squirrel in the world, being a mere 70 millimeters in length. This species of squirrel can also travel upside down along the tree branches.
✹ In some cites of America and Canada, the Albino or White squirrel is a protected animal, and killing one is punishable by law.
✹ Ever wondered why squirrels eat fruits before they are even ripe? Well, squirrels cannot differentiate between the colors green and red!
✹ The males are the cleanest in the rodent family. They take up a lot of time grooming themselves, unlike their female counterparts.
✹ The lifespan of a squirrel is usually 10 to 12 years, but most die young as they have a lot of predators that hunt for them. These predators include hawks, foxes, opossums, wildcats, and owls.
✹ Apart from their natural predators, squirrels also face danger from mankind. There are a large number of deaths due to heavy traffic. A large number of people also kill them, considering them to be pests.