The wildlife has always been interesting, and we have always wondered about its mysteries. We have always wanted to know about the diet of every wild animal and dreamed of having a wild animal as a pet. Squirrels are, almost, the cutest wild animals that could be treated as pets. Their tiny bodies and cute heads make you fall in love with them.
While squirrels do not like to join you at home, they might be ruining your garden because these animals are garden vegetables lovers and they will do anything to get to your backyard and steal some delicious fruits.
Useful physical facts about squirrels
Squirrels can be found all over the world, and they are highly widespread species. There are more than 200 species of squirrels in the world, 45 species of them live in North America. Squirrels are familiar to everyone; these pets can be caught in the backyard stealing garden fruits or play-fighting.
Squirrels are classified as rodents and have some identifiable characteristics:
- Squirrels have a small body which ranges in length from 2.8 – 5 inches (7 – 13 centimeters) at the African pygmy squirrel to 36 inches (1 meter) at the Indian giant squirrel, and in weight from 0.35 ounces (10 grams) to 4 pounds (1.8 kg).
- Generally, most of squirrels in North America are medium size such as grey squirrels which can reach 15 to 20 inches (38 to 51 centimeters) with a long tail addition up to 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 centimeters) in length and roughly 1 to 1.5 pounds (450 to 680 grams) in weight.
- Squirrels have 4 front teeth which never stop growing which allow them to keep gnawing and to guarantee their survival.
- They also have pointed claws so they can climb trees. For the information, a squirrel can descend a tree head first which proves its spectacular ability of climbing.
- Squirrels have well located eyes in the top of their heads which allow them to, clearly, see their surroundings.
- A wild squirrel has the ability to live up to 10 years, while a squirrel in conservation can reach 20 years.
Behavior and diet of squirrels:
Squirrels are a special species with a specific behavior, such as most of the mammals in the world. They have their own law which organizes their life and helps the persistence of the species. A variety of squirrels may be found in North America such as:
This particular kind of squirrels likes to live in wooded areas, especially trees, where it holes its own nest in the tree trunk. It is, almost, seen everywhere in North America. It is a spectacular climber in a manner that it descends a tree head first in search of food source.
Ground squirrels are similar to woodchucks in behavior but different in look. They live in the ground where they dig burrows to live inside them. They build complicated tunnels under the ground and they only come outside their burrows to eat or to find a partner for mating.
They like to eat bird seeds, roots, leaves and insects. Some of the ground squirrels go through a tough hibernation to overcome the winter coldness.
This type of squirrels is the most special. It is called “flying squirrel” as it has the ability to fly, but not exactly like birds. It, just, glides over trees in a matter that it looks like flying. Well, you should never underestimate this squirrel’s abilities; it is able to glide 150 feet (46 meters) away.
Flying squirrels like to live on trees either in nests exactly like bird nests or in tree holes like tree squirrels. These flexible creations eat nuts, wild fruits, bird eggs and small birds.
A female squirrel gives birth to 2 to 8 babies (mostly 4) in a gestation period of 29 to 65 days (according to the size of the species).
What do squirrels eat?
Since childhood, we’ve known that nuts are the favorite food of squirrels. We’ve been watching squirrels gnawing their nuts pleasurably or hiding them for the tough times.
Nuts contain natural protein which is essential to squirrels. Besides, nuts give a chewing practice to squirrels which allows them to develop their front teeth and get them more pointed.
Some types of nuts may be dangerous for squirrels such as peanuts and corn nuts. These two types of nuts develop a toxic substance on their shells and it is lethal for squirrels. As squirrels are predominantly herbivores, they need a balanced daily diet composed of many vegetables and fruits; they cannot only feed on nuts.
Gardeners or farmers do not like squirrels as they always come to steal the harvest and ruin the trees, these climbers get to your backyard and forage for the most delicious fruit tree and settle on it, not for so long, but until they are done of it.
Generally, squirrels love fruits such as melons (watermelons or cantaloupes), berries, bananas, kiwi, apples. This kind of diet gives them enough energy to climb, jump and forage for other food sources. Vegetables like Spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, carrots etc. are good for squirrels.
Squirrels love to eat some domestic foods too. They love cereals, well, unless you give it to them. They become crazy about it and they will always visit your backyard. Many companies provide squirrel food and it is similar to cereals.
Foods like cheese, fungi, eggs, dog and cat food, insects… are also a part of the squirrel’s diet, but they don’t provide enough taste or energy to squirrels.