Types of Squirrels
One animal that can be found all over the world is the squirrel, which is a bushy-tailed, nimble rodent belonging to the Sciuridae family which includes chipmunks, marmots, and prairie dogs. There are more than 200 species of squirrels in the world and are categorized into three types: tree, ground, and flying.
The three types are broken down further into other squirrel types such as Albino, Mountain Tree, Antelope, Spotted, Grey, American Red, Douglas, Fox, Pygmy, Northern Flying, Idaho, Arctic Ground, Albert's, Rock, White and Black squirrel. The various types include a wide variety of sizes. The smallest is the pygmy squirrel which grows from 2.8 to 5 inches in length and weighs about one-third of an ounce. The largest is the Indian giant squirrel growing to 36 inches long and can weigh up to four pounds.
Squirrels commonly found in North America are gray squirrels, which are medium-sized and grow between 15 to 20 inches with their tails adding an extra 6 to 9.5 inches, and they usually weigh about 1 to 1.5 pounds. The gray squirrel comes in a variety of colors, such as white, gray, brown and black. They are great at planting trees because when they bury their acorns, but forget where they put them, and the acorns become oak trees. Squirrels have four teeth in the front of their mouth that constantly grow throughout their lives. This ensures that their teeth don't wear down to nubs from gnawing on nuts and other objects.
Groups of squirrels are called scurries or drays, and they are very territorial fighting to the death to defend their area. The mother squirrels are the most vicious when they must defend their babies. Some squirrels are also crepuscular, which means they are only active at dawn and dusk.
As stated earlier, squirrels live throughout the world except in Antarctica and Australia. Tree squirrels live in wooded areas, ground squirrels in the ground, digging burrows which are a system of underground tunnels where they live. Some squirrels also hibernate in the burrows during the winter to keep warm.
Flying squirrels make their homes in tree holes or nests that are built into the crooks of branches. To get from tree to tree or from a tree to the ground, flying squirrels do not actually fly with wings, but they spread the muscle membrane between their legs and body and glide on the air. They can glide up to 160 feet, making it look like they can fly.
Squirrels eat about one pound of food per week, and they eat much more than nuts. Squirrels are omnivores, which means they like to eat plants and meat. They mainly eat fungi, nuts, seeds, and fruit, but part of their diet may include eggs, insects, caterpillars, young snakes, and other small animals.
The gestation period for a female squirrel is between 29 and 65 days depending on the size of the species, as smaller squirrels have shorter gestation periods. A mother will give birth to two to eight offspring at one time, and the babies are called kits or kittens and are born blind depending on their mothers for about 2 to 3 months. After seven to eight weeks, the young are weaned, and the kits leave the nest but travel no further than about 2 miles from home. Some species of squirrel have new litters every few months or as little as twice per year.
Finally, squirrels have padded feet that cushions their jumps from up to 20 feet long. Their eyes are high on their head and placed on each side of the head, so they can see a large area of their surroundings without having to turn their head. They can also run 20 mph.
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