How Big Is A Squirrel Brain?how-big-is-a-squirrel-brain

The question of how large a squirrel brain is often posed by enthusiasts. These furry creatures are fascinating little creatures. We can learn about them by reading our articles on Ground squirrels, Neighboring species, and hibernation. In addition to answering this question, we can learn about their behavior, such as why they are sometimes a nuisance and why they sometimes hide in trees. Let’s find out!


If you have ever wondered how big a squirrel’s brain is, you’re in luck. A squirrel’s brain is almost the size of a walnut! Compared to the size of a human brain, it grows about 30% each fall. Then again, eating a squirrel’s brain could cause you to develop mad cow disease, but that’s not the point of this article. In this article, we’ll look at how squirrels store and recall information.

One structure of the human brain is the hippocampus. This region is crucial for memory, and the size of the hippocampus varies according to season. In the fall, the hippocampus expands while it contracts during the winter months. While this may not be a huge difference, it’s a good idea to know what squirrels do differently from other mammals. Until then, we can learn a lot from squirrels.

Ground squirrels

When it comes to the size of a squirrel’s brain, we might be pleasantly surprised by the fact that arboreal rodents have larger brains than their burrowing cousins. In addition, these animals have better vision and motor skills. A squirrel’s brain can also be seen as an evolution of mammals, accounting for 40 percent of the total. But the size of a squirrel’s brain may not reflect its complexity.

The relative brain volume of ground squirrels may be constrained by seasonal energy shortages, as the species lives in climates with a changeable climate. Ground squirrels, for instance, hibernate or aestivate to deal with water and food scarcity. Whether these conditions constrain the size of a ground squirrel’s brain is not yet known, but seasonality may be a major determinant.

Neighboring species

In addition, sociality has been shown to correlate with relative brain size, although not in the same way. Social grade 1 and social grade 5 are characterized by egalitarian polygynous harems and single-family female kin clusters, respectively. This finding raises the possibility that high encephalization does not necessarily correlate with large brain sizes. If this is true, then ground squirrels may require relatively smaller brains to participate in complex social groups.

Squirrels have larger brains than their burrowing relatives, the mountain beaver. Their higher brain capacity has contributed to the squirrel’s improved vision, head movement, and other key woodland abilities. This study is significant because it provides insight into the evolution of rodent brains, which make up 40 percent of all mammals. Researchers studied the brains of extinct rodent species to determine the exact size of squirrels’ brains. They found major changes in the size of key parts of the brain.


Scientists have now determined the size of the brain during hibernation. They analyzed coronal brain sections of four squirrels that were sacrificed at the same hibernation bout. While the brains of these animals were similar during hibernation, the dendrites and cell bodies of these mammals were significantly bigger. This suggests that squirrels had rebuilt their entire brains during hibernation. The process is called synaptic plasticity and is also common in human brains.

During hibernation, most activities of the body are stopped, including eating, drinking and peeing. The cells in their brains start to retract their connecting parts and their metabolic rate drops by more than 90%. Because their metabolisms drop so drastically, the animals need fewer calories to survive. Because of this, they’re able to hibernate year after year. However, scientists say that hibernation is not without risks.

Body size

Ground squirrels have a remarkably complex social organization. Their social systems include stable bonds among males and females. They also show a distinct difference in the size of their brains. These differences are thought to reflect the difficulty in maintaining stable social groups, and may be due to the high metabolic cost of the brain. The solitary lifestyle of ground squirrels may have been ancestral to their species, but it is important to note that sociality evolved in ground squirrels and marmots twice during their evolution. Using this fact, we can test for the relationship between sociality and brain size.

In addition to body size, brain size is a key factor in intelligence studies. A squirrel’s brain is approximately the same size as a walnut. Its size can be compared to the brains of other mammals and birds. Despite their similarity, squirrels differ in brain size in different species. The brain size of an extant squirrel is smaller than that of its ancestors, 34 million years ago.

Brain size

Many scientists believe that a squirrel’s brain is nearly as large as that of a walnut. But that may not be the case. UC Berkeley researchers have studied 30 wild gray squirrels in Pennsylvania and have found no evidence of seasonal growth in their brains. The brains of these animals are much smaller than those of humans. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a brain! Here’s a look inside the brain of a squirrel.

Unlike humans, squirrels do have brains that can accommodate their vast memory capacities. Researchers studied the brains of Grey squirrels and found that their hippocampus did not change in size seasonally because of food caching and retrieval. The researchers did acknowledge that there might be greater neuron turnover during the caching and retrieval processes. But they could still use this information to answer the question, “How big is a squirrel brain?”


How much does a typical squirrel brain weigh?


A typical squirrel brain weighs between 0.

58 and 1.

13 ounces.


How big is a squirrel brain in comparison to its body size?


A squirrel brain usually makes up about 0.

5% of its total body weight.


How big is a squirrel brain in comparison to a human brain?


The average squirrel brain is about 1/5 the size of the average human brain.


How many neurons are in a squirrel brain?


A squirrel brain typically has around 10 million neurons.


What percentage of a squirrel’s brain is white matter?


Between 35 and 45% of a squirrel brain is made up of white matter.


What percentage of a squirrel’s brain is grey matter?


Between 55 and 65% of a squirrel brain is made up of grey matter.


What is the average lifespan of a squirrel?


The average lifespan of a squirrel is between 6 and 10 years.


What is the oldest recorded age of a squirrel?


The oldest recorded age of a squirrel is 21 years.


What do squirrels eat?


Squirrels are mostly herbivorous and their diet consists of fruits nuts seeds buds and greens.


What is the primary predator of squirrels?


The primary predators of squirrels are snakes hawks owls and cats.


Do all squirrels hibernate?


No not all squirrels hibernate.


How long do squirrels typically hibernate for?


If they do hibernate squirrels typically hibernate for 3 to 4 months.


What is the primary purpose of a squirrel’s tail?


The primary purpose of a squirrel’s tail is balance but it also serves as a form of insulation and communication.


Do all squirrels climb trees?


No not all squirrels climb trees.

Ground squirrels for example live in burrows in the ground.


How fast can a squirrel run?


A squirrel can run up to 20 miles per hour.

How Big Is A Squirrel Brain

Jessica Watson is a PHD holder from the University of Washington. She studied behavior and interaction between squirrels and has presented her research in several wildlife conferences including TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg.

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