Squirrel is a phrase that is mostly used to specify a kind of familiar long-fluffy-tailed tree-climbing rodent. Nonetheless, tree squirrels are partly one of the true squirrel family.
Others also include prairie dogs, chipmunks, and groundhogs. Animalspedia provides general facts about the tree squirrels.
- Flying squirrels (northern, southern)
- Pine squirrels (Douglas, red)
- Large tree squirrels (western gray, eastern grey, fox, tassel-eared)
The average size of a tree squirrel is .33-1.5 lb. in weight and 8-20” long.
Squirrels in their natural habitat can live up to 6 years.
There are more than 100 species of tree squirrels, and except for Antarctica, they inhabit all the continents of the world.
Squirrels’ doggedness has made them some of the most resilient animals on the planet. This factor has allowed them to maintain some fame even though most of their natural habitat has become urbanization.
As their name indicates, tree squirrels are arboreal in nature. They can be found making homes inside tree cavities or in leaf nests.
All tree squirrels depend heavily on the abundance of mast (dry fruit from trees and woody plants) – most especially nuts and acorns- for their survival. It’s no surprise to find squirrels around but bearing trees.
The bulk of a squirrel’s diet consists of masts like walnuts, acorns, seeds, or hickory nuts. Mast is so essential to squirrels that from September through March, a squirrel would require about 1.5lbs of mast every week to survive.
Since the digestive systems of squirrels aren’t designed to absorb cellulose, they can only feed on twigs, green plants, and bark when there isn’t mast to eat.
Some favorite squirrel foods include:
- Sunflower seeds
- Bird seeds
Tree squirrels make homes out of twigs, barks leaves, and any available nesting materials. They can be seen nesting in tree cavities or leaf nests.
Squirrels are diurnal. They are very active during the day. Unlike other animals in the wild, squirrels do not hibernate but will typically spend long hours nesting during winter.
In warmer seasons when food is surplus, squirrels hoard (cache) food like acorns for the winter. They would usually dig and bury their food in small holes in the ground. They sometimes use abandoned flowerpots, burrows, or other available places to hide their foods for a later date.
Squirrels are exceptionally vocal – they chatter, bark, purr, and scream, to communicate with each other. They also interact through body language, by stumping their feet and moving their tails.
Identifying squirrel damage
Since squirrels are diurnal, there’s every possibility that you would find them prancing about close by. However, you may not always be at home to witness their presence, or how they may be redesigning your attic or rooftop.
Here are some signs to help identify squirrels problem;
- Damaged wood siding
- Stolen birdseed
- Chewed up electrical wires
Interesting facts about squirrels
- A squirrel’s teeth doesn’t stop growing. This is why they continue to gnaw and chew, so their teeth remain filed down.
- Squirrels make use of their tails to gain balance when moving through electrical lines and treetops. Their tails also serve as a parachute to help break their fall. It might interest you to know that Squirrels can fall from up to 100 feet without getting themselves injured.
- Even though squirrels keep food in several locations within the ranges they can cover, they don’t always remember where these foods are buried. Most of these seeds and nuts end up germinating, turning into trees. This is one reason why these rodents are known to play a critical role in growing and maintaining populations of forest trees.
- Squirrels usually pretend to bury their foods in an effort to mislead other animals and protect their food stash. They typically dig up empty holes and cover them with leaves, making other onlooking animals think they have their foods there.
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