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Squirrels Information, Facts and Diet

Squirrels are familiar to almost everyone. More than 200 squirrel species live all over the world, with the notable exception of Australia. Squirrels are generally small animals, ranging in size from the African pygmy squirrel and least pygmy squirrel at 10–14 cm (3.9–5.5 in) in total length and just 12–26 g (0.42–0.92 oz) in weight, to the Bhutan giant flying squirrel at up to 1.27 m (4 ft 2 in) in total length, and several marmot species, which can weigh 8 kg (18 lb) or more. Squirrels typically have slender bodies with very long very bushy tails and large eyes. In general, their fur is soft and silky, though much thicker in some species than others. The coat color of squirrels is highly variable.

The tiniest squirrel

The tiniest squirrel is the aptly named African pygmy squirrel—only five inches long from nose to tail. Others reach sizes shocking to those who are only familiar with common tree squirrels. The Indian giant squirrel is three feet long.

Squirrels diet, What they eat.

Because squirrels cannot digest cellulose, they must rely on foods rich in protein, carbohydrates, and fats. In temperate regions, early spring is the hardest time of year for squirrels because the nuts they buried are beginning to sprout (and thus are no longer available to eat), while many of the usual food sources are not yet available. During these times, squirrels rely heavily on tree buds. Squirrels, being primarily herbivores, eat a wide variety of plants, as well as nuts, seeds, conifer cones, fruits, fungi, and green vegetation. Some squirrels, however, also consume meat, especially when faced with hunger. Squirrels have been known to eat small birds, young snakes, and smaller rodents, as well as bird eggs and insects. Some tropical squirrel species have shifted almost entirely to a diet of insects.

A squirrel’s diet is primarily vegetarian but it will eat meat opportunistically if they find an unguarded nest of baby birds or fresh carrion. Some squirrels have been seen to actively hunt lizards, mice etc. Squirrels will often eat snake meat after they have defensively killed an attacking snake.

Some Facts about Squirrels

  1. Squirrels can find food buried beneath a foot of snow.
  2. A squirrel’s front teeth never stop growing.
  3. Squirrels may lose 25 percent of their buried food to thieves.
  4. Squirrels may pretend to bury a nut to throw off potential thieves.
  5. Squirrels are acrobatic, intelligent, and adaptable.
  6. They get bulky to stay warm during the winter.
  7. Squirrels don’t dig up all of their buried nuts, which results in more trees!

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