Types of Squirrels

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Types of Squirrels
There are many kinds of squirrels living in different climates accross the globe. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

The name "squirrel" refers to a number of omnivorous mammals in the same genus, Sciurus. The term also encompasses marmots, chipmunks, chinchillas and groundhogs. Squirrels eat seeds, flower bulbs, frogs' eggs, insects, pine cones and nuts. They store their food in multiple hiding places called caches. Squirrels are very territorial and particularly protective of their nests. Although there are 250 types of squirrels worldwide, the most common kinds are the Fox Squirrel, Douglas Squirrel, European Red Squirrel, American Red Squirrel, Flying Squirrel and the family of Gray Squirrels.

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Fox Squirrel

The Fox Squirrel, also called the Field Squirrel, is the largest tree squirrel in America. These squirrels are an orange-tan colour with a rusty stomach and a black-tinged tail. As with most squirrels, colouration differs depending on what part of the country a squirrel lives. Fox Squirrels live in the eastern and central United States and can be found in open forests. This type of squirrel is identifiable by its chattering bark.

Douglas Squirrel

The Douglas Squirrel, also known as the Pine Squirrel, lives in British Columbia and northern California. Because Douglas Squirrels subsist predominantly on pine cones, they are able to live only in forests with plenty of conifer trees. These squirrels are red-tinged brown with an orange and white stomach. Their winter coats often look grey. Douglas Squirrels can be recognised by their ears, which have tall tufts of fur on them.

European Red Squirrel

The European Red Squirrel lives in the European Deciduous Forest that spans from northern Portugal to southern Norway. These squirrels have ginger, orange, red-brown and tan fur, with a patch of white on their chests. Common in Central Europe, the European Red Squirrel has become extinct or endangered in England, Wales, Finland and Russia. This endangerment is mainly due to the introduction of the more aggressive Gray Squirrel from North America.

American Red Squirrel

The American Red Squirrel is one of the smallest tree squirrels and has a less bushy tail than other squirrels. This squirrel has a brown-red back and legs and a white or cream-coloured belly. The American Red Squirrel typically has several nests in use at one time; these are situated in tree limbs or holes inside tree trunks. These squirrels are recognisable by their diminutive stature and white circles around their large, beady eyes.

Flying Squirrel

Flying squirrels live more like birds than squirrels; they make their nests in tree holes or high branches. In suburban areas, flying squirrels live in the eaves of houses or barns. Although they don't actually fly, these squirrels do glide through the air using flaps of skin connected to their limbs. Each leap can exceed 150 feet. Northern flying squirrels live in Alaska, Canada, northern California, Colorado and central Michigan. Southern flying squirrels live in eastern North America, southeastern Canada and Mexico.

Gray Squirrels

Gray squirrels belong to one of four species: Eastern, Western, Arizona and Mexican. Many of the squirrels in America are types of grey squirrels. The Eastern Gray Squirrel lives predominantly in Washington, Oregon, Canada and the United Kingdom. It has a bushy tail with white fur on its ends. Its body is tan in the summer and grey in the winter, and its underbelly is white. The Western Gray Squirrel, which lives only in the western United States, is silver-grey in colour and has ears without tufts. The Arizona Gray Squirrel lives in the mountainous regions of Arizona and New Mexico and is dark grey and black. The Mexican Gray Squirrel can be found in Guatemala and Mexico and is black with a red belly.

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