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11 Different Types Of Squirrels

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Squirrels are truly the charmers of the outdoor world – cute, cuddly, and filled with mischievous antics. They’re omnivores, munching on a diet that includes seeds, nuts, various plants, and even small animals like insects and birds. These furry-tailed rodents, known for their bushy tails and strong hind legs, are part of a large family with over 350 species spread across the globe.

In the eastern United States and neighboring Canada, the eastern gray squirrel is a common sight, often spotted scampering around in parks. They’re active during the day, bringing life and energy to our daily surroundings with their playful antics and acrobatics.

If you’re keen to discover the various species that inhabit your area, you’re in for a treat. Keep reading to embark on an exciting journey of learning about these lively and diverse animals that might be frolicking right in your backyard or local park.

How Many Types of Squirrels Are There?

Here, we have an exciting lineup: 11 different types of squirrels from across the continent, each with its own unique traits and habits. Let’s get rolling!

1. Eastern Gray Squirrel

Species Name Sciurus carolinensis
Length 16.6 – 21.6 inches
Weight 14 – 21 oz
Lifespan 6-12 years

The eastern gray squirrel is a familiar sight in North America, easily recognized by its gray coat, white-ish belly, and bushy tail. These squirrels are most active around sunrise and sunset, showing off their agility in the trees.

Their diet includes a variety of foods, but they especially love nuts like acorns, walnuts, and hazelnuts. Eastern Gray squirrels are also known for being scatter-hoarders, cleverly hiding food in different places to eat during the winter.

One cool fact about them is their ability to climb down trees head-first by rotating their hind ankles 180 degrees. They thrive in areas with large forests and dense vegetation, making these environments their preferred homes.

2. Southern Flying Squirrel

different types of squirrels
Species Name Glaucomys volans
Length 8.3 – 10.2 inches
Weight 2- 3 oz
Lifespan 10-12 years

Southern flying squirrels, unique among their kind, are nocturnal adventurers. With their large eyes, perfectly suited for night-time escapades, and a special flap of skin called ‘patagium‘ stretching from wrist to ankle, they gracefully glide from tree to tree.

You can find these fascinating creatures throughout the eastern United States, ranging from Maine to Florida and westward from Minnesota to Texas. They make their homes in deciduous and mixed forests, often nesting in tree cavities for comfort and safety.

Unlike many other squirrel species, Southern Flying Squirrels are quite sociable and tend to live in colonies, enjoying the company of their kind. Their diet is quite varied, including nuts, seeds, fruits, insects, bird eggs, and even small birds.

3. Northern Flying Squirrel

how many species of squirrels are there
Species Name Glaucomys sabrinus
Length 9.8 – 14.6 inches
Weight 2.6-4.4 oz
Lifespan 10-12 years

The Northern flying squirrels you’ll find in the northeastern United States and Canada are the largest of their kind. They stand out with their long tails and beautiful cinnamon or light brown fur, contrasting with their whitish belly. Their huge black eyes are hard to miss – they’re perfect for seeing in the dark!

To stay cozy during cold weather, these squirrels often snuggle up together in their nests. Although they’re common, you might not spot them as frequently as other tree squirrels because they’re nocturnal, only active at night.

They prefer living in mature, dense forests, which provide a rich variety of foods like nuts, seeds, fruits, and fungi.

4. Arizona Gray Squirrel

species of squirrels
Species Name Sciurus arizonensis
Length Around 20 inches
Weight Around 23 oz
Lifespan 6-8 years

The Arizona Gray Squirrel, with its gray or brown coat and distinctive white belly, is a unique species found mainly in parts of Arizona and New Mexico. These squirrels make their home in the higher mountain elevations.

A bit shy around humans, they’re recognizable by their cream-colored belly and large, fluffy tail. You’ll often spot them up in trees, feasting on a diet that includes acorns, pine seeds, fruits, and berries.

In preparation for winter, they store food, which not only helps them survive but also plays a crucial role in seed dispersal. The Arizona gray squirrel population is at risk in some areas due to habitat changes and losses caused by wildfires, underscoring the need for conservation efforts.

5. Fox Squirrel

all types of squirrel
Species Name Sciurus niger
Length 17.7 – 27.6 inches
Weight 1.1 – 2.2 pounds
Lifespan 10-12 years

The Fox Squirrel, known as the largest squirrel type, lives in the eastern U.S., parts of Canada, and Mexico. They come in shades of red, brown, or grey, with a white belly.

These daytime creatures are excellent climbers thanks to their sharp claws and strong hind legs, adept at moving swiftly up trees and leaping between branches. You can spot Fox Squirrels in both wooded and urban areas.

Uniquely, they don’t store food for winter. Instead, they bury food in warmer months and use their impressive memory to find it in the cold season. Their diet is diverse, ranging from bird eggs and insects to acorns and nuts.

6. American Red Squirrel

squirrel identification guide
Species Name Amiasciurus hudsonicus
Length 11- 14 inches
Weight 7.1–8.8 oz
Lifespan 3-8 years

The American Red Squirrel, known for its reddish fur ranging from rusty red to chestnut brown, can be found in the eastern U.S., parts of the Midwest, and Southern Canada.

These squirrels are most active during early mornings and late afternoons, either searching for food or protecting their territory.

They call forests home, but you might spot them in residential areas too, especially in regions with coniferous trees. Their diet includes coniferous tree seeds, mushrooms, fruits, berries, and occasionally bird eggs or young birds.

7. Douglas Squirrel

types of squirrels with pictures
Species Name Tamiasciurus douglasii
Length About 13 inches
Weight 5.25 to 10.5 oz
Lifespan 4-5 years

The Douglas Squirrel, known for its changing appearance, goes from grayish-greenish in summer to brown and gray in winter, with tufted ears. It’s exclusive to the Pacific Northwest, spanning from the Sierra Mountains in California to southern British Columbia.

These squirrels are naturally noisy! The noises made by Douglas Squirrels serve multiple purposes, including warning of danger, asserting territorial boundaries, and enhancing courtship rituals.

What sets them apart is their year-round activity, even in winter, as they diligently store food in hidden caches for the cold months. Their diet includes conifer seeds, fungi, berries, seeds, flowers, and leaf buds.

8. Western Gray Squirrel

different squirrels
Species Name Sciurus griseus
Length 17 – 24 inches
Weight 12.3 – 35 oz
Lifespan 6-10 years

The Western Gray Squirrel is known for its striking silvery-gray coat and white belly. It resides in mature forests along the western coastal regions of the United States, including California, Oregon, and Washington.

Western gray squirrels are known for their shyness and will often run up a tree when disturbed. These squirrels favor pine and oak trees and are relatively less likely to bother bird feeders due to their shyness.

However, they are considered endangered as their population faces various threats. Their diet includes seeds, nuts, acorns, pine cones, fruits, berries, insects, and bird eggs, and they play a vital role in seed dispersal and forest health.

9. Abert’s Squirrel

squirrel types
Species Name Sciurus aberti
Length 18 – 23 inches
Weight 19 – 34 oz
Lifespan 7– 8 years

The Abert’s Squirrel, native to the Rocky Mountain region of North America, is recognized by its distinctive black and white striped tail and tufted ears. It thrives in cool, mountainous areas with mixed coniferous forests, especially Ponderosa Pine, which is its primary food source.

Unlike other squirrels, Abert’s Squirrels don’t store food for winter and instead rely on consuming tree bark and twigs to survive the colder months.

During the winter months, Abert’s Squirrels have a voracious appetite for the succulent inner bark of twigs. They rely on this food source all year round but consume it most heavily in winter.

10. Ground Squirrel

names for squirrels
Species Name Spermophilus
Length 14-20 inch
Weight 21-30 oz
Lifespan 6-10 years

Ground squirrels are small to medium-sized rodents found across North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. They have sturdy bodies, short legs, bushy tails, and earthy-toned fur. These squirrels are easily identified as they forage above ground near their burrows.

To protect themselves from harsh weather and predators, ground squirrels create extensive tunnel systems that include food storage rooms and nurseries for their young. They are primarily herbivorous, with their diet changing seasonally.

Ground squirrels are most active during the morning and late afternoon, primarily consuming a vegetarian diet but occasionally indulging in insects and small vertebrates.

11. Indian Giant Squirrel

Indian giant squirrel
Species Name Ratufa indica
Length 18-28 inches
Weight Around 38 oz
Lifespan 16-20 years

The Indian Giant Squirrel, found in India’s rainforests, is one of the world’s heftiest squirrels. With a coat of chestnut, maroon, black, and white, and large, round eyes, it’s well-suited for its forest habitat.

These squirrels are solitary creatures, residing high in trees and building globe-like nests from twigs and leaves. Their diet includes fruits, flowers, nuts, tree bark, insects, and bird eggs, playing a crucial role in seed dispersal and plant growth.

Known for their size and colorful appearance, Indian Giant Squirrels are also impressive acrobats, often hanging upside down from branches to reach their food.

Conclusion

Squirrels are fascinating creatures, each with its unique traits and adaptations. From the agile gray squirrel to the acrobatic oriental giant squirrels, these animals have found their niches in diverse ecosystems around the world.

Whether you encounter them in your local park or deep in a rainforest, observing these small yet remarkable mammals can offer a deeper appreciation for the wonders of the natural world.

So, next time you spot a squirrel scampering through the trees or digging up buried treasure, take a moment to admire the beauty and resilience of these charming creatures.

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