Friday, January 13, 2012


A squirrel is any member of the rodent family, Sciuridae, with the exception of the marmots, genus Mermota, prairie dogs, Cynomys, and chipmunks, Eutmias and Tamias, and typically has a slender body and a long, bushy tail. The name is more commonly used to refer to those forms which live in trees, although it is equality suited to terrestrial types. It is also for arboreal African rodents of the family Anomaluridae, which are known as scaly tailed squirrel.

The family Sciuridae contains two subfamilies, the sciurinae (the tree and ground squirrels), with about 225 species, and the Petauristinae (the Flying squirrels), with about 35 species. Squirrels are distributed throughout the world except for the Australian region, Madagascar, southern. South America, and certain desert regions.

Squirrels vary in size from such tiny tropical forms as the pygmy squirrels, Myosciurus, of Africa, which are about 130 mm (5 in) in length including the tail, to the giant squirrels, Ratufa, of Asia, which may attain 91 cm (36 in). The tree and ground squirrels are typically dirunal, the flying squirrels, nocturnal, Squirrels eat primarily green vegetation, seeds, nuts, berries, fruits and insects.

The American eastern gray squirrel, Sciurus Carolinensis, typically of the tree squirrels, is native to the forests of the eastern half of the United States. Introduced into the United Kingdom. It has displaced the smaller native red squirrel, S. vulgris, in many regions. Grey squirrel normally nest in tree hollows, they may also construct leaf nets, which are used mainly as feeding shelters. They may breed in midwinter and again in late spring. Gestation is about 44 days, with usually two to four young per litter.

Ground squirrels are similar in appearance to tree squirrels. They typically inhabit open or brushy regions, with some species occurring in tundra or desert. Most are burrows, and those living in colder climates hibernate, whereas others, in hot, dry areas, may estivate.

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