Kinds of Squirrels: Nature's Nutty Acrobats
Kinds of Squirrels: Nature's Nutty Acrobats
Squirrels, with their bushy tails and playful antics, have a special place in the hearts of nature enthusiasts and backyard observers alike. These charming creatures are not only adorable but also integral to the ecosystems they inhabit.
In this article, we'll take a closer look at the world of squirrels, exploring their diverse species, behaviors, and the vital role they play in our natural world.
Meet the Squirrel Family (Sciuridae)
Before we delve into the different types of squirrels, let's get to know the family they belong to - Sciuridae. This family includes various species of squirrels, groundhogs, chipmunks, and prairie dogs. While we'll focus mainly on squirrels in this article, it's essential to acknowledge their broader family tree to correctly identify them.
Tree Squirrels species: The Acrobats of the Treetops
Tree squirrels are perhaps the most iconic members of the Sciuridae family, known for their incredible agility and tree-dwelling habits. Let's explore some of the most prominent breeds of squirrels
Eastern Gray Squirrel: The Urban Acrobat
Description: Eastern gray squirrels (scientific name: Sciurus carolinensis) are the cool city slickers of the squirrel world. Picture this: medium-sized, grayish coats, and to top it off, an outrageously fluffy tail. It's like they're ready to hit the runway, or in their case, the treetops!
Habitat: These guys are like the ultimate urban explorers. They've figured out how to read our city map and thrive in cities and suburbs, so you'll spot them in parks, your backyard, and pretty much any green space. But don't be fooled; they're equally at home in the wild, showing off their acrobatic skills.
Diet: When it comes to food, they're total foodies. Nuts, seeds, fruits, and the occasional bird egg – they're like culinary adventurers, trying a bit of everything. They're like the restaurant hoppers of the animal kingdom!
Western Gray Squirrel: A Western Wonder
Description: Meet the glamorous Western gray squirrels (Sciurus griseus). These guys are the Hollywood stars of the squirrel world, with their silver-gray fur and those fabulous ear tufts. They're basically the squirrel equivalent of red carpet walkers.
Habitat: You'll find them strutting their stuff mostly in the forests of the West Coast of the United States. Their silver-gray fur blends in so perfectly with the Pacific Northwest's greenery; it's like they're nature's fashionistas.
Diet: These squirrels have a taste for the finer things in life – nuts, seeds, berries, and even insects. They're the gourmets of the squirrel world, dining on a diverse menu.
Fox Squirrel: The Daredevil of the Treetops
Description: Fox squirrels (Sciurus niger) are the action heroes of the squirrel world. Think of them as the daredevils with their rust-colored coats. They're like the stuntmen of the treetops!
Habitat: You'll spot them all over North America – woodlands, parks, cities – they're up for adventure anywhere. They're like the globetrotters of the squirrel clan.
Diet: These squirrels are food adventurers, with a taste for everything from nuts and fruits to seeds and even the occasional bird or bird egg. They're like the culinary explorers of the squirrel kingdom.
Red Squirrel: The Tiny Energizer
Description: Red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) are the pocket-sized dynamos of the squirrel world. Imagine a little red dynamo, about 7-8 inches long, with a tail that's almost as big as they are. They're like the pint-sized superheroes of the forest!
Habitat: They're all about the evergreen forests, making nests in tree hollows and constructing leaf nests called dreys. It's like they've got their own little treehouse community. But in some cases, we have received information about a related cousin (the American red squirrel) tribe making their nest in the mountains! Interestingly isn't it?
Diet: Red squirrels have a thing for pinecones and seeds from coniferous trees. They're the pinecone experts, extracting seeds like pros. And they don't stop there – fungi, berries, and even the occasional insect make it to their menu. They're like the forest's own foodies!
The average lifespan of squirrels varies between species and can be affected by factors like predation, food availability, and habitat quality. Here are the average lifespans for the mentioned squirrel species:
Eastern Gray Squirrel: In the wild, they typically live 6 years, though they can survive for 12 years or more in captivity.
Western Gray Squirrel: These squirrels live on average about 8 years in the wild, but can live longer in environments free from significant threats.
Fox Squirrel: The typical lifespan in the wild is around 8 to 13 years, with some individuals in captivity living as long as 18 years.
Red Squirrel: They usually live up to 5 years in the wild, but can survive up to 10 years in captivity.
When we have provided squirrel removal services, we have found that the species that we talk about up, are the most common visitors in the residential area of Dallas-Fort Worth area. So we are very used to working with these furry friends.
There you have it – a glimpse into the fun and fabulous lives of these tree squirrel subspecies. One interesting fact is that red squirrels and western squirrels are both native to our American country. Whether they're strutting their stuff in the city, hitting the red carpet in the forest, or pulling off daring stunts in the treetops, these squirrels bring their unique style and personality to the natural world.
Ground Squirrels: Masters of the Land
Ground squirrels are a diverse group that includes chipmunks and prairie dogs. Unlike their tree-dwelling relatives, ground squirrels primarily live underground. Let's explore a few notable ground squirrel species:
Eastern Chipmunk: The Cheeky Burrower
Description: Eastern chipmunks are like the fashionistas of the underground world. They're pint-sized, but they make a big statement with their signature stripes and those cheek pouches that are basically designer handbags for their food.
Habitat: These little adventurers are all about burrowing. They've mastered the art of digging and creating cozy underground homes. What's more, they're savvy foodies – they stash away their favorite snacks in those cheek pouches, saving them for later munching. It's like they've got their own secret pantry!
Diet: Eastern chipmunks have a diverse diet, including nuts, seeds, fruits, and even the occasional insect. Their cheek pouches come in handy for storing all their tasty finds.
Thirteen-Lined Ground Squirrel: Nature's Graffiti Artist
Description: Thirteen-lined ground squirrels are like Mother Nature's graffiti artists. They've got thirteen distinct stripes that adorn their bodies, making them look like they're always ready for a colorful parade. Their typical weight is between 0.24 to 0.44 pounds.
Habitat: These squirrels are early birds – or rather, early squirrels. They're diurnal, which means they're up and about during the day, making them the morning crowd's entertainers. Maybe they're just too excited to show off their stripes to sleep in!
Diet: Thirteen-lined ground squirrels are avid foragers, feasting on a diet of seeds, fruits, plants, and even the occasional insect. They're the breakfast-loving artists of the squirrel world.
California Ground Squirrel: Surviving the Wild West
Description: California ground squirrels have a distinctive look with their tawny fur and contrasting stripes. With their mix of gray, light brown, and dusky colors, they're like the cowboys and cowgirls of the squirrel world, ready to take on the Wild West.
Habitat: These squirrels are true survivors of the Wild West. They've adapted to thrive in California's arid landscapes, where they dig intricate tunnel systems for protection from the scorching sun.
Diet: California ground squirrels are opportunistic eaters, munching on a diet that includes seeds, plants, leaves, and the occasional insect. They're like the culinary cowpokes of the squirrel clan.
With this, you can explore the quirky and clever lives of these ground squirrel species, from their unique appearances to their preferred habitats and their diverse diets. Whether they're strutting their stripes, digging underground hideaways, or enjoying a hearty meal, these ground squirrels are true characters in the animal kingdom.
As squirrel removal experts, our team from Critter Stop asks us to give you important advice: despite being lovely, squirrels can be aggressive in some cases. So our recommendation for these brown friends is to enjoy their beauty from a safe distance.
Flying Squirrels: Gliders in the Night
Flying squirrels are enchanting creatures known for their nocturnal habits and the ability to glide through the air. Let's explore two distinct species:
Northern Flying Squirrel: The Nighttime Ninja
Physical Features: Northern flying squirrels are the stealthy ninjas of the night sky. With large, expressive eyes and a membrane called the patagium, they're built for nocturnal adventures. The patagium is like their secret weapon, allowing them to glide effortlessly from tree to tree, making them true masters of the night.
Behavior: These squirrels are all about silent, nocturnal gliding. They're like the covert agents of the squirrel world, moving stealthily through the forest canopy under the cover of darkness. It's like they've attended ninja school for squirrels!
Southern Flying Squirrel: The Small Acrobat
Range: Southern flying squirrels are the small acrobats of the southeastern United States. You'll find them zipping through the forests of the South, from the Atlantic coast to the Mississippi River.
Diet: These squirrels are like the culinary daredevils among their squirrel cousins. They have a varied diet that includes of insects, fruits, and nuts, making them true omnivores. It's like they're always up for a gourmet meal, whether it's a juicy insect or a nutty snack.
So there you have it – a glimpse into the intriguing lives of flying squirrels, each with its unique set of skills and characteristics. Whether they're mastering the art of nocturnal gliding or enjoying a diverse menu of insects and fruits, these flying squirrels are truly nature's acrobats and a fundamental part of our wildlife.
Prairie Dogs: A Subfamily of Squirrels
While not true dogs, prairie dogs are fascinating creatures that belong to the squirrel family. Let's explore two prominent prairie dog species:
Black-Tailed Prairie Dog: Ecosystem Engineers
Role in Ecosystem: These social animals play a vital role in their ecosystem by creating intricate burrow systems.
Communication: Prairie dogs are known for their complex vocalizations, which serve as an early warning system.
Gunnison's Prairie Dog: The Vocal Communicators
Social Structure: They live in tight-knit communities, and their communication involves a wide range of chirps and barks.
Conservation*: Many prairie dog species face conservation challenges due to habitat loss.
Exotic and Lesser-Known Squirrel Species
Beyond the familiar squirrel species, there are some lesser-known and exotic squirrels with intriguing characteristics:
Giant Squirrels: Asian Giants with Impressive Tails
Impressive Tails: These giant squirrels boast striking tails that help with balance in the treetops.
Habitat: They are primarily found in Asian rainforests.
African Pygmy Squirrel: One of the Smallest Squirrels
Tiny Size: African pygmy squirrels are among the smallest squirrel species globally, measuring just a few inches in length.
Agility: They are known for their incredible agility in navigating dense vegetation.
Antelope Ground Squirrel: Desert Adaptations
Desert Dwellers: Antelope ground squirrels are well-adapted to arid environments, where they can be seen foraging for seeds and plants.
Conservation Status and Threats
While squirrels may seem abundant, many face conservation challenges. Some squirrel species, like the Delmarva Fox Squirrel, are endangered, highlighting the need for conservation efforts. Threats include habitat loss, disease, and overhunting.
Fun Facts about Squirrels
As we prepare to wrap up our delightful journey into the world of squirrels, let's sprinkle in a few more fun and fascinating tidbits about these furry acrobats:
Flying Squirrels: While most squirrels are excellent climbers, some, like the Northern Flying Squirrel, take tree-dwelling to new heights—literally. These squirrels possess a furry membrane called a patagium that stretches from their wrists to their ankles, allowing them to glide gracefully between trees, almost like tiny, furry superheroes.
Tail Tales: Squirrels don't just rely on their vocalizations to communicate. Their tails are like semaphore flags, sending messages to other squirrels. A flick of the tail might signal danger, while a bushy display can convey excitement or dominance.
Scatter Hoarding: Squirrels are famous for their diligent food storage practices. But here's the twist: they don't just bury their treasure in one spot. They engage in "scatter hoarding," spreading their nuts across multiple locations. This clever strategy reduces the chances of a single thief (or forgetful squirrel) raiding their entire stash.
Where Did I Put That Nut? Squirrels' memory skills are legendary. They can remember the locations of hundreds of buried nuts, even months later. This incredible memory not only helps them survive the winter but also inadvertently contributes to forest growth when they forget some of their hidden nuts, allowing new trees to sprout.
The Accidental Arborists: Squirrels play an essential role in shaping forests. When they bury nuts, they sometimes forget to retrieve them. These forgotten nuts can sprout into new trees, helping to reforest areas and maintain biodiversity.
So, the next time you spot a squirrel darting up a tree or chattering away in the park, remember these fun facts and appreciate the incredible world of these nimble, communicative, and slightly forgetful creatures.
Squirrels, in all their diversity, are essential contributors to our ecosystems. From their playful antics to their vital role in seed dispersal, they remind us of the interconnectedness of all life on Earth. These charismatic critters are not just entertaining to watch; at Critter Stop believe that they are a central part of the intricate web of life, contributing to the health and diversity of our natural world.
If one of these squirrels decides to go to your attic to start a new city life, it is time to call us at (214) 234-2616. As we said before, these animals can be very lovely from a distance, but when they decide to move into your house, you could be facing some annoying problems, like damage to your property, noise in the attic, drops and urine from the squirrels, and more stressful situations. From our experience providing squirrel removal services, we can tell you that nothing like an expert team like Critter Stop handles this situation for you.
I’d give a 10 star review if I could! We had a great experience with Critter Stop. Everyone I dealt was friendly, professional, and reassuring. Phillip was very helpful and knowledgeable about the work he was doing. He walked me around the entire house to make sure I saw and understood the services he provided. He was also really nice and answered all my questions — he is exactly the type of person that should be interacting with customers.I love the fact that they will come back for up to 1 year after installation if any problems occur — this shows me they stand behind their work.The owner was great too, he personally came to my house and walked me through their offering. I recommend critter stop to anyone and everyone!
Critter Stop is a fantastic business! Everyone involved is extremely professional and very easy to communicate with. Chisam, the owner, did a great job of explaining the process to get the squirrels out of my attic during the initial free estimate. The exclusion crew who did all of the initial work was fabulous. The crew consisted of Phillip, Nick and Corey who arrived promptly when they said they would. They are happy, positive employees. Everyone is very polite and patient in explaining their work and answering questions. They came back several times to check the traps and finish it off with the fogging. Lester was very good about following up to schedule each trap check with me, and the office staff who took care of the billing was very efficient. Critter Stop is a well run company with honest, trustworthy employees! Thank you to all of you who worked hard to make my attic critter free and for the peace of mind that you guarantee your work. Great to know I can call them if for some reason a squirrel figures out a way to get back in!
Critter Stop has made this project easy and extremely professional from start to finish! They are very detailed and competent from start to finish and know so much about their business. They made a problem easy for us and at a reasonable cost. We would be happy to recommend this company and their owners and staff to anyone.
The guys at Critter Stop responded quickly, were very friendly, and gave us an honest estimate of what we might need. They explained why some items on other quotes were or were not necessary. They communicated well to get us scheduled, and did the work well and quickly. Great service at a fair and competitive price.
Brandon and his other coworker Gavin came to install insulation in my attic. I am very grateful for the hard work and professionalism. My house feels a lot better with the insulation installed. 5 star review. Cory Leach was also very nice and helpful. He came to my house to do another job and was very attentive and professional. Thank you Corey and thank you Critter Stop for helping me.The owner very polite and helpful, I’m glad I found this company to help me.