There’s no doubt that squirrels are one of the most interesting creatures in the animal kingdom. They’re playful, acrobatic, and always busy gathering food for the winter. If you’ve ever wondered about the life of a squirrel, this is the guide for you.
In this post, we’ll cover everything from their diet to their mating habits. We’ll also discuss some of the challenges that squirrels face in the wild and how humans are helping to protect them. So read on to learn more about these fascinating animals.
What are Squirrels?
Squirrels are members of the family Sciuridae, a large family that includes small or medium-size rodents. The squirrel family includes:
- Tree squirrels
- Ground squirrels
- Marmots (including woodchucks)
- Flying squirrels
- Prairie dogs
- Red Squirrels
Squirrels are indigenous to the Americas, Eurasia, and Africa. They are rodents that belong to the family Sciuridae. People find them in many parts of the world, and there are around 280 different species of squirrels. The most common type of squirrel is the red squirrel, found in Europe, North America, and Asia.
Squirrels have two types of fur: a soft undercoat for insulation and a longer, coarser outer coat. They range in color from black to light brown, but most species have a mixture of colors on their fur. The tips of their hair are usually white or silver-colored. Squirrels molt (shed) their coats twice a year, once in spring and once in fall.
Squirrels have bushy tails that they use as balance while climbing trees and as a blanket to keep warm when cold outside. They also use their tails to communicate with other squirrels. The position of the tail can tell another squirrel whether the sender is angry, happy, or afraid.
In many areas, squirrels are considered a pest because they dig up plants and eat the fruits from trees. In some places, people hunt them for their meat or fur. In other areas, such as urban settings, squirrels can be helpful to humans by eating pests like rats that would otherwise damage crops or spread disease.
Squirrels live in groups called colonies or herds. The largest colony of these small mammals is located in Russia, with over 100 million members! Squirrels typically eat nuts, seeds, fruits, and insects.
Still, they occasionally consume meat if the opportunity presents itself. This eating habit makes them omnivores rather than herbivores (animals who only plant matter).
In some cases, squirrels have been known to scavenge human waste such as garbage cans.
Squirrels can be friendly creatures, but they can also be very aggressive when they feel threatened. Some people keep squirrels as pets. Squirrels are known for being very playful animals. They love to play games and chase each other around.
Squirrels are also very curious animals and like to explore their surroundings. Despite their cute appearance, squirrels can be quite destructive when they invade homes or gardens looking for food.
Overall, squirrels are interesting creatures that make great pets for those who understand their personality quirks!
Types of Squirrels in the United States
The United States is home to roughly 280 species of squirrels that belong to various families. They are all considered rodents, but they have a wide range of physical characteristics as well as behaviors that make them unique from one another.
Some types of squirrels live in trees, and others prefer the ground or burrows, which makes it important for you to consider their natural habitat before attempting to remove one from your property.
In addition, learning about the types of food these animals prefer can help guide you when designing an effective strategy for trapping them and preventing future re-infestations.
These squirrels are found throughout North America, although some species are more common than in other areas. There are several different ground squirrels, including the thirteen-lined ground squirrel and the California ground squirrel.
These animals are often found in grassland or meadow areas where they can burrow into the soil to make their nests. They eat seeds, nuts, fruits, leaves, and insects.
Ground squirrels are mainly active during daylight hours and may lose their fur as a sign of aggression when threatened by humans or other predators.
Most people think of tree squirrels when they hear about this type of rodent because it is abundant throughout North America. Some examples include gray squirrels (which prefer hardwoods), fox red ones that live in evergreen trees such as pine cones/spruces) southern flying species were often seen leaping from branch to branch like acrobats) and Douglas-fir ones found mainly near these types of trees.
Eastern Gray Squirrel
The Eastern gray squirrel is the most common type of tree squirrel in North America, often seen running up trees with their bushy tails held high or chasing each other through yards and parks.
The eastern gray coloration varies from dark brownish-black on top to lighter shades underneath, while sides tend toward pale yellowish-grey tones).
These animals spend much time feeding themselves before winter arrives to survive long periods without food during colder months when there isn’t much vegetation available.
Their main diet consists primarily of nuts such as walnuts), fruits (including berries), seeds/grains (like corn), and insects.
The groundhog is a large type of squirrel found in the eastern U.S. and Canada that prefers to live near open fields, meadows, woodlands, and agricultural areas. They are also commonly known as woodchucks and can weigh up to 12 pounds (though the average weight is around six pounds).
These animals are herbivores, eating mainly grasses, clover leaves, vegetables, fruits, and other vegetation; they will also gnaw on tree bark during winter when other food sources are scarce.
Groundhogs hibernate from October until April/May inside their burrows which can be extensive systems with many entrances/exits). If you see one of these critters outside your home or office building during the winter months, it’s probably trying to get inside!
The red squirrel is a small rodent found throughout North America. They are most common in forested areas where there are plenty of trees for them to live and feed on nuts, seeds, and berries from the ground up.
Their diet also includes eggs from birds’ nests as well as insects like grubs which they dig out with their sharp claws).
Red squirrels often make their homes by digging burrows into soft soil near tree roots, using those holes as entry points when coming back after exploring new territory (or chasing away predators).
These animals will sometimes steal food stores left behind by other animals such as chipmunks or birds).
Other types of squirrels found in the United States aren’t mentioned here (such as the bushy-tailed woodrat and the Alaska Marmot), but these are some of the most common ones you’re likely to encounter.
All about Squirrels
1. What do Squirrels Look Like?
Squirrels usually have long legs and large tails, which they use to balance on top of trees while jumping from branch to branch. They flaunt in many different colors, including brown, gray, black, or red, with white bellies; their fur coats vary depending on where you live.
If there aren’t enough food sources available during the winter months, squirrels might not grow as thickly covered as those living near an abundance of vegetation).
Squirrels vary in size but typically weigh between two and four pounds. Although they are not considered dangerous to humans, squirrels can be quite pesky when they invade homes or yards in search of food.
Squirrels typically weigh between two and four pounds. Although they are not considered dangerous to humans, squirrels can be quite pesky when they invade homes or yards in search of food.
2. What do Squirrels Sound Like?
Squirrels sound like a series of chirps, barks, and chatters.
- The most common squirrel sound is chatter. This is heard when one squirrel sees another approaching their space or food source. It’s to warn other animals away from what they consider theirs
- They will use this birdlike chatter in communication with each other as well. Their high-pitched chatter can be heard in the woods in the early morning and late afternoon or evening
- Chittering sounds are usually only used by female squirrels during mating season for flirting purposes (and yes, I did just say that)
Squirrel noises are most often heard when they are running up and down tree trunks, leaping from branch to branch, gathering food, or trying to find their way indoors where it is warm.
Baby squirrels make soft coos and warbles to communicate with their mothers. Some people even like the sound of a group of squirrels scurrying through the leaves to rain on a tin roof.
Whatever the case, if you’re lucky enough to hear these bushy-tailed creatures at work, you’ll know that you’re in the presence of one of nature’s most playful ambassadors.
3. How Long do Squirrels Live?
Squirrels can live for a long time, up to 21 years. These little rodents are usually in the wild, so it’s hard to know their exact lifespan.
Flying squirrels are known to live up to 12 years in captivity, while chipmunks and ground squirrels may live eight to ten years.
Squirrels have various enemies, such as hawks and owls, which prey on them every day. Still, they often manage to escape from these predators by running away or climbing trees faster than any other animal can.
Squirrels also survive due to their ability to store food during the summer months when there are plenty of nuts available; they hide seeds inside tree stumps and hollow logs where no one else will find them.
4. Where do Squirrels Live?
Squirrels live in forests, parks, urban areas, and your backyards. Squirrels prefer habitats with plenty of trees and vegetation, but some species do not need much greenery.
Some squirrels like traveling around, so they might change homes often if enough food is available nearby. Otherwise, these little creatures would stay put where resources are plentiful without traveling far distances.
In general, squirrels prefer to live in areas with plenty of trees and other vegetation. However, some species can adapt to a wide range of habitats. For example, the gray squirrel is common in both rural and urban areas, while the red squirrel is limited to forested regions.
5. Where do Squirrels Sleep?
Squirrels don’t sleep for long periods, just a few hours per day and often in short intervals. They will only hibernate if there is not enough food to sustain them throughout the winter months.
Squirrels need food more than restful sleep, so they tend to go without it when necessary. This means that squirrels are active during most of their waking hours – especially at night.
Squirrels are rodents, and their sleeping habits depend on the species they belong to. In general, squirrels can sleep anywhere in trees or underground and often take naps during the daytime.
6. How to Attract Squirrels to your Garden?
There are many ways to attract squirrels to your garden, but the most popular methods are feeding them and providing shelter.
- If you want to start feeding squirrels, you can buy feeders that specifically accommodate them or put out a food tray on the ground
- There are many different types of houses available online or at your local pet store when it comes to providing shelter. So, choose a safe one that appeals to these tiny creatures
- Squirrels also love trees, so they’re likely to visit often if you have a few in your yard. Try planting some nut-bearing trees like oak, hickory, or chestnut; these will give the squirrels a reliable food source year-round
- And finally, don’t forget to provide plenty of water. A small pool, birdbath, or even a dripping hose will do the trick
7. What Plants do Squirrels Like?
Squirrels are herbivores, and they like to eat a variety of plants. Some of their favorite plants include acorns, hickory nuts, walnuts, and beechnuts.
In addition, squirrels also like:
- Flowers (especially those that produce seed pods)
- Fruits such as apples or grapes
- Vegetables such as corn cobs
- Nuts & Seeds (acorns)
- Insects like caterpillars in some places around the world where there is an absence of nuts
Squirrels typically bury food in the ground to come back to it later. This is why you may see them digging in your garden or yard. If you have any trees in your yard that produce nuts or seeds, you can expect squirrels to visit frequently.
8. What to Feed Squirrels?
Squirrels are usually not very fussy with what they eat. Squirrels like corn, of course. They also enjoy peanuts and peanut butter, hazelnuts, and almonds. Any type of nuts will do them nicely.
You can buy squirrel-safe feeders that hold the food in place until a squirrel can remove it at their leisure. This ensures they get enough food even if other animals try to steal it from them before they can reach it.
But sometimes, when we want something special for our pets or ourselves, then there’s nothing wrong with giving him/her some human foods as well:
- Acorns (a favorite treat)
- Applesauce on toast squares spread thickly over day-old bread slices
- Raisins and a little bit of honey mixed with their oatmeal make for a squirrel’s banquet!
9. Do Squirrels eat Birds or Scare them?
Some people believe that squirrels eat birds, but this is not true. Squirrels do not eat birds, and they do not pose a threat to them either. So, birds are safe around squirrels! Squirrels can even help protect birds by keeping predators away.
For example, when a cat or dog is near, the squirrel makes loud noises and runs back and forth to scare the predator away.
However, there can be some competition between the two animals for resources. For example, if there is a lot of food available, the squirrels may take over, and bird numbers will decline.
But, if there is not enough food, the birds will survive because they can fly away to find other food sources. Overall, squirrels and birds can live together peacefully as long as both species have what they need.
10. Some Tips for Living with Squirrels
- If you see a squirrel in your yard, don’t scare it away. This will only make the squirrel more afraid of humans and could lead to problems down the road. Instead, try to gently shoo it away
- If you have a birdfeeder, make sure to put out enough food for the birds AND the squirrels. If there is not enough food for both groups, the squirrels will steal from the birds
- Keep your trees trimmed so that there are no low-hanging branches where a squirrel can build a nest. Also, make sure to get rid of any potential nesting materials, like leaves or twigs
- If you have a garden, try to keep it fenced in to prevent the squirrels from eating your vegetables
- Make sure to seal up any holes or cracks in your home where a squirrel could enter
- If you find a baby squirrel on the ground, don’t touch it! It is best to leave the baby alone and let its mother take care of it
- Finally, remember that squirrels are wild animals and should be treated as such. Do not feed them or give them water, and never try to tame them. Enjoy watching them from a distance, and
- let them live their lives in peace
Now that we have learned all about squirrels, it is time to put this knowledge into practice. You can follow all the guides above to attract or care for the squirrels without harming them or letting them hurt your birds.
Squirrels are fascinating animals but definitely not the best choice for pets. Still, watching them can be exciting.