What Does Squirrel Body Look Like?
A squirrel’s physique is impressively complex, with ten digits. These are arranged in two layers with more fatty tissue at the base than at the ‘fingers’. These two layers act as shock absorbers when the squirrel lands. Similarly, the body is very similar to a human’s. As a result, a squirrel’s body is remarkably similar to ours, which is the result of a complex communication system.
The physique of a squirrel is quite unique from our own. For example, it uses terms that are associated with the X Games to describe its movements, such as parkour. The agility that squirrels possess would make even the best human athletes jealous. Similarly, this could lead to more agile robots. Fortunately, scientists have been studying squirrels for more than 40 years. The information they have gained can be applied to humans with muscle atrophy.
For example, squirrels can leap on branches that bend or flex, which helps them to make long jumps. They are not bothered about landing on all four paws. They stick one part of their bodies to the branch and assume the rest will follow. In addition, they can change their course mid-jump, making split-second decisions on distance. This research adds to years of studies about squirrel psychology. Researchers were able to identify how squirrels learn to use their muscles and avoid injury.
Squirrels live in urban environments and thrive from interaction with humans. This interaction is referred to as synurbanization. Squirrels are able to blend into urban environments because they have lost their fear of humans. They were nearly eradicated in the Industrial Revolution, but were reintroduced to remind humans of their natural surroundings. But once their synanthropic behavior ceases, they can become aggressive.
Female squirrels are capable of living in trees or underground burrows. They give birth to two to eight offspring per litter, and the gestation period varies between species. The babies are born blind and dependent on their mothers for the first two to three months. At seven to eight weeks old, they wean themselves from their mothers. These young squirrels do not travel far from their homes. They have litters about twice a year, and new ones are born every couple of months.
While humans eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, squirrels need a special diet. Fruits and vegetables are best for them during the summer months, when they can eat them in abundance. Fruits are high in sugar and provide an energy boost for foraging. However, too much of these can be bad for squirrels. To get the best nutrition from fruits and vegetables, give them a few servings daily.
Squirrels also need water for their metabolism, and are fond of drinking. To help them remain hydrated, provide clean water to them 24 hours a day. Make sure they have fresh water at all times, especially during hot days. Moreover, provide a shallow dish of water for them, as they can easily spill water on their fur. Providing fresh water is a good idea, as they love to drink!
The scientific name for flying squirrels is Petaurista lena. They have a distinct call that is orange in color, whereas the blue-toned calls are for nocturnal squirrels. The frequency characteristics of these calls are fundmanetal (F0), dominant (FDom), maximum (FMax), minimum/maximal harmonic (FHarm), and log-transformed for normality.
The sound of these calls is generally harsh and comes in various forms. These calls are commonly categorized as hisses, growls, rasps, snarls, and tooth-chattering. Tooth-chattering is a common annoyance call produced by most species. The call may be an involuntary response to pain, or it may have evolved as a means to recruit conspecifics.
In addition to its vocal communication, a squirrel’s behavior is crucial throughout its life, from the earliest stages of development to reproductive success. Its vocalizations serve biological functions ranging from territorial defense and predator deterrence to mate solicitation and social cohesion. While certain call-types are innate, others are learned and associated with specific behavioral functions. For example, squirrels may give alarm calls to alert other species of squirrels when they see a long-tailed weasel. Some call-types are associated with different behavioral functions, while hybrids have calls that are intermediate between the parent species.
Other behaviors associated with natal den defense are similar to those involved in aggressive interactions. During burrow defense, squirrels may produce vocalizations similar to those produced in aggression/annoyance calls. While research into intraspecific behaviors associated with natal den defense is limited, the findings of the behavioral interactions from this study will help scientists understand why and when squirrels make these calls. They may also be able to predict the likelihood of predator attacks in the future.
The reproductive cycle of a female squirrel follows a seasonal pattern. The male squirrel has no anoestrus or regular reproductive organs. There is one period of inactivity during which it is almost inactive – the estrus phase. This period is the only time when the squirrel mates, which limits its reproduction each year to two or three times. The uterus has a distinctive shape and is markedly smaller than the ovaries. The uterus is composed of two muscular layers and involuted glands. The testis also displays the characteristic features of an adult squirrel, such as a prominently coloured uterus.
The reproductive cycle of a female squirrel starts in late September. The luteal phase of the female occurs between October and January. In late September, a female squirrel will become pregnant, and the lactating female will nurse her young until early November. In November, a female will have her first litter, and then begin the process of recrudescence. These stages last around six weeks. Once the ovarian cycle has completed, the female squirrel will begin breeding again.
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.