Did you know that 40% of the entire mammalian class existing in the present day world comprises of squirrels? Indeed, with more than two hundred species in different places on the globe, these furry animals form the largest group of mammals. They are members of order Rodentia and family Sciuridae. Their largest populations exist in USA, Africa and Eurasia. Recently, some species have also been introduced in Australia. The polar region is the only place where members of Sciuridae are not found.
Unlike other common rodents such as mice, these adorable creatures win everyone's attention. Whether climbing up a tree, scrimping around on the ground or jumping from one tree to another, they are fun to observe. In particular, they gain special attention of children when spotted in a public park.
Read on in order to gain some knowledge about these versatile rodents.
Facts about Squirrels
Have a look at these fun-to-read facts about squirrels.
- Due to their bushy tails, their name was derived from "Skiouros" which is Greek in origin. It means "shadow tails".
- There are around two hundred and eighty-five species. The oldest specie has existed since thirty-five million years.
- There are five subfamilies and fifty-eight genera.
- The smallest of these adorable rodents is only seven centimeters in size while the largest one is around seventy-three centimeters.
- Other than size, they may vary in the color of their fur as well. They may be black, gray, brown, white or even red.
- Their brains are tiny, just as big as an average sized walnut.
- They possess padded feet to let them jump from high altitudes. They can survive even after jumping from a hundred feet high spot.
- They are quick runners with their maximum speed being twenty kilometers per hour.
- Their large eyes are placed on their head's sides which prevent them from seeing things which are straight ahead to the front. However, their vision of the surroundings is sharp.
- The diet of these omnivores mostly comprises of nuts, small insects, acorns, flowers, roots seeds, buds, fruits as well as tree bark.
- The quantity of food they eat in one week may be as large as their own weight in order to appease their large appetites.
- During winters, they remain in their nesting spots in order to save their energy. However, they do not hibernate in the truest sense of the word.
- They might share their homes with their counterparts in the chilly winters, but lead a solitary life otherwise.
- Their young ones are known as kittens which are born without eyesight. Therefore, they depend completely on their mothers till they develop properly in six to eight weeks.
- At a time, two to eight kittens may be born.
- At birth, babies are hardly as large as one inch.
- Their inability to discern green from red often causes them to choose unripe fruits for eating.
- It would be right to say that the males are very self-conscious! Unlike their female companions, they spend most of their time in grooming.
- They possess incisors which keep on growing throughout the span of their lives. This trait is common among all 285 species. These teeth come in handy for opening up hard shells of nuts.
- Their fur is pleasantly soft and feels silky when touched.
- Apart from chattering, these mammals also communicate in mysterious language through their tails.
- They search for food the entire day and then store it in different places. They may dig up a hole at the foot of a tree or simply store their food in tree holes.
- Their homes are found in tree trunks or higher on treetops. On closer look, you can see their nests divided into two rooms as well as an additional compartment for their babies, which is much like a nursery in human homes.
- Sometimes, they may live in nests built by crows which no longer live there.
- In summers, their activity begins two hours after the sun comes out and they retire to their homes two hours before the sun goes down. On the other hand, in winters they go home even earlier, that is after mid-day.
- Their natural life span may be as long as ten to twelve years. However, most of them die due to predators as well as due to accidents with cars in cities.
When you look at squirrel pictures, you will find many different types. There will be different sizes, different tail lengths, various colors and many other noticeable variations between the numerous species of these rodents.
The photos you should concentrate on involve the African Pygmy and the Alpine Marmot. The former is the smallest while the latter is the largest of these furry mammals. Therefore, it will indeed be interesting to notice these extremes and feel awed at the wonderful variation in nature.
Some general features which you can observe include their characteristic ever-growing incisors, their round eyes, interesting location of the eyes, bushy tails, and fluffy-looking fur. Almost all of the 285 types share these common characteristics.