What Family is a Squirrel?
If you’ve ever been curious about the family tree of a squirrel, you’ve probably heard of Sciuridae. They are small, medium-sized rodents native to the Americas and Eurasia. You may have even wondered about the species that lives on Harris’ antelope. Listed below are the main members of the Sciuridae family, including the Red and Grey squirrels.
The Sciuridae is a tree squirrel family. There are several species within the family. The species name ‘Red squirrel’ was first described by Carl Linneaeus in 1758. In Systema Naturae, Linneaeus gave it the name ‘Sciurus vulgaris.’ There are several subspecies of the Red squirrel. According to Gordon Corbet, there are as many as 61 species of Sciurus.
Squirrels are members of the rodent family, Sciurini. This family includes flying squirrels, Chinese rock squirrels, and ground squirrels, but does not include the pygmy squirrel, Sciurillus. Flying squirrels are in the Petauristinae subfamily, but are not basal to all other squirrel species. In addition to flying squirrels, the Sciurinae family includes the chipmunks, prairie dogs, and marmots.
The Red Squirrel is a member of the squirrel family, and they are small mammals. Their bodies are small with long, bushy tails. Their incisors are small but grow up to six inches long, which they wear down by eating. Red squirrels are rust-red, but they are white on the underside of their bodies. They have black fur around the tail and on their faces.
The Red Squirrel’s life cycle is characterized by high rates of birth and youth mortality. These little creatures face predation, lack of food, and harsh environmental conditions. Only about one-fourth of red squirrels survive past their first year. Once mature, they will live for around five years. The longest known red squirrel lived for ten years in the wild. However, there is no official estimate on how many red squirrels are in California.
A member of the squirrel family, the Grey Squirrel is an omnivore. They eat both animal and plant-derived food. While carnivores rely solely on animal flesh, facultative carnivores supplement their diet with plant-based foods. Throughout their lives, the squirrels can be found grazing, foraging, and living in trees, shrubs, and other plant-based habitats.
The grays breed year-round but tend to mate during July-September. Mating occurs when both males and females are in estrus. Mating occurs after a courtship ritual, during which one or more dominant males chase the female and mate with her. The gestation period for a gray squirrel is 40-44 days. Females bear one to nine litters a year. Each litter has between six and eight pups.
Harris’ antelope squirrel
The Harris’ antelope squirrel is a species of rodent found in Sonora, Arizona, and New Mexico. It is adapted to hot climates and has evolved heat-dumping behavior to stay cool. This technique has helped the species survive droughts in the past. In addition to this, it has adapted to harsh winters. Its diet is comprised primarily of fat and it lives on dry land.
This species has cheek pouches, and it stores food in its burrow. While it mainly feeds on cacti, it is also known to eat insects and small rodents. This species of squirrel is also vulnerable to bobcats and dogs. Hawks and coyotes are known to prey on Harris’ antelope squirrels. However, this type of squirrel is not considered a threat in the state of Arizona.
The white squirrel is a member of the species of squirrel that has the characteristic “white tail.” This coloration is caused by genetic mutations that make the animal appear to be lighter on the top of its body, and lighter on the bottom of its body. The white tail is the result of a mutation that affects the pigmentation of the animal’s hair follicles. The coloration is most prominent in the tail, which is much smaller than the rest of the body.
This color variation is known as albinism. Albinos are completely white, with no dark pigmentation on their body. The leucistic squirrels, on the other hand, have white coats and red or pink eyes. Albinism is a genetic disease, and requires that both parents carry the recessive gene. Fortunately, the condition is relatively rare – around 20-30% of white squirrels are albino.
What is the scientific name for a squirrel?
What is the average lifespan of a squirrel?
Between 10 and 20 years
What do squirrels eat?
Nuts fruits seeds insects and fungi
Where do squirrels live?
In trees in burrows or in nests
How many species of squirrel are there?
What is the smallest species of squirrel?
The African pygmy squirrel
What is the largest species of squirrel?
The Indian giant squirrel
What is the primary predator of squirrels?
Owls snakes and hawks
How do squirrels defend themselves?
By running away by making loud noises or by fighting with their claws and teeth
Are squirrels social animals?
Some species are social while others are not
Do squirrels mate for life?
No they do not
How many offspring do squirrels typically have?
Two to eight
At what age do squirrels reach sexual maturity?
Between 8 and 12 months
What is the gestation period for a squirrel?
Between 38 and 45 days
Do squirrels hibernate?
Some species do while others do not
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.