- Size: About 20 to 30 cm long (excluding the tail)
- Color: Generally gray, brown, or reddish
- Appearance: Bushy tail, pointed ears
- Attraction: Food like nuts, seeds, buds, nests in trees near homes, sometimes attics for shelter
- Detection Element: Noises in attics early in the morning, gnawed holes in sidings or fascia boards, damage to electrical wires.
Appearance of Squirrels
Squirrels are distinguished by their dense fur that varies from gray, brown, to red, and sometimes black, depending on the species. They possess long, bushy tails that help them maintain balance while climbing and jumping between trees. Their size generally varies between 20 and 30 cm, not counting the tail which can add up to 20 cm more. Their ears are often small and pointed, and some squirrels even sport small tufts of hair on top of their ears. Their bright and expressive eyes are adapted for sharp vision, essential for detecting predators and finding food.
Habitat of Squirrels
Squirrels’ habitats vary widely depending on the species. They are primarily found in forests but some have adapted to urban and suburban environments. In forests, they prefer areas with an abundance of trees, particularly those that produce nuts, seeds, or fruits, which are a significant part of their diet. Squirrels build their nests, called “dreys,” from leaves and twigs, usually in trees, but they can also occupy burrows or natural cavities.
Behavior of Squirrels
Squirrels are known for their agility and ability to climb and jump between trees with ease. They are primarily active during the day, especially in the morning and late afternoon. These animals are omnivorous, feeding on a variety of foods, including nuts, seeds, buds, insects, and sometimes small vertebrates. They have a characteristic habit of storing food for the winter, making them essential for seed dispersion. The social behavior of squirrels varies by species, ranging from solitary to living in small groups. During the breeding season, male squirrels may engage in vigorous chases to win a female’s favor.
Distinguishing Squirrels from Other Species
Chipmunks are often confused with squirrels due to their size and similar behavior. However, chipmunks are generally smaller and have distinctive stripes on their back and face, unlike squirrels. In terms of behavior, although both species store food, chipmunks have cheek pouches for carrying food, a feature that squirrels do not have. Chipmunks are also more terrestrial and spend less time in trees compared to squirrels.
Rats, larger than mice and shrews, can sometimes be mistaken for young squirrels. However, rats have a long, bare, and scaly tail, very different from the bushy tail of squirrels. Their fur is generally coarser and less colorful than that of squirrels. Rats are also more adapted to urban living and are known for their ability to survive in diverse environments, while squirrels prefer habitats with trees.