Do you know all about those little mammals that dwell on trees or holes in your property?
I guess you do not. That’s why this blog can be a masterpiece for you. Although we only refer to the squirrels’ secrets, all of it can be the knowledge to uncover your understanding.
Among all animals around us, squirrels are the most visible wildlife. They live among us, mostly harmless and often entertaining. They live on fallen fruits, seeds, and birdseed that are available in our property.
But the concerning matter is they can make a destructive movement within your walls. In your yard, you might have secret squirrels that may carry many diseases also. That’s why you can not help worrying about them. But, at first, try to know them properly.
How do I know what kind of squirrel I have in my garden?
Well, that’s undoubtedly a confusing matter. Because there are over 200 species of squirrels all over the world. But a few of them are frequently seen over the world.
Now we will talk about some frequently seen squirrels that roam around most of the country.
1. Fox Squirrel:
One of the most available species of squirrels. They are tree dwellers. Mostly build their habitat in summer and rest during winter. They search for food during day time. Fallen berries, seeds, grains, etc are their main foods.
- Total body measures 45 to 70 cm.
- Have a medium-sized body along with a bushy tail.
- They have three distinct color patterns in their body.
- Do not go for hibernation.
- They do not like to change their place unless they are forced to do so.
2. Ground Squirrel:
At first glance they might look like tree squirrels, but they are different. They make holes or burrows under big trees or electric poles. They store foods inside their hole. Several dozen of animals live in a burrow.
- Body measures 9-11 inches. Tail adds 5-9 inches in length.
- They are omnivorous. They might rise as flesh lovers when there is a food deficiency for them.
- Have a semi bushy tail.
- They Go for hibernation in the winter season.
- Normally they do not travel more than 50 meters from their burrow.
3. Red Squirrel:
They like to build their habitat in areas that are covered with trees, especially pine trees. They are very much concerned about their territory. This kind of behavior is rare among other species of squirrels.
- Mostly seen in North America, Alaska, and in Canada.
- Body measures 8 to 9 inches in length.
- Their body is reddish in color also have white color under their belly.
- Don’t go for hibernation. But remain inactive in winter.
4. Grey Squirrel:
It’s difficult to differentiate them from fox squirrels. They are also tree-dwellers. They build drey type nest on a tree with dry leaves and twigs.
- Head to body length is 9-12 inches. Tail adds another 7-9 inches.
- They have grey fur in a large margin.
- Mostly seen on the east side of the U.S.
- They remain active throughout the year. Do not go for hibernation.
What Do Squirrels Eat?
Food habits are almost the same for all kinds of squirrels. But still, there are some differences. Catch it in the next part.
Habitat And Diet
Different kinds of squirrels use different types of living places. Fox squirrels like to build their habitat on a tree, grey squirrels like places that are covered with pine trees. Ground squirrels like to live inside holes. Most of the squirrels are herbivorous. They eat seeds, fallen fruits, birdseed, grains, small plants, etc. Ground squirrels are a little bit different. They are omnivorous. When there is food shortage they attack small birds, their eggs, etc. Carrion is also their favorite food.
Like all other animals, Squirrels face a lot of danger too.
But who would like to harm such beautiful creatures?
Dangers of Squirrels
Let’s find out the troublemakers for squirrels:
- Coyotes: One of the main predators of squirrels are the coyotes. Being a small animal with an unstable defensive system, squirrels are the favorite choice of coyotes. Squirrels can rarely beat coyotes in running, that’s why most of the time coyotes become successful in catching squirrels. Ground squirrels are their main target.
- Weasels: They are one of the most cunning predators. They can climb up to a tree very easily. That’s why tree squirrels also remain terrified. They can hunt both in the daytime or at night. They try to trap their hunt in a small place and then take it down. Being tiny and vulnerable, squirrels are their main target.
- Hawks: Hawks are very successful in catching their hunt. They also have a very good vision and tremendous speed and skill. Which is obviously a disadvantage for little squirrels. Squirrels are not as fast as hawks, so hawks can get them easily. Hawks can fly anywhere so neither ground nor tree is safe.
- Foxes: Foxes always look for small animals for hunting. So they can be a great threat to squirrels. Mostly they hunt on the ground. So ground squirrels are their first choice. They are very fast and very much successful in hunting. Going out with a group can not help squirrels, because it is very hard for them to terrify a fox.
- Owls: They are as dangerous as hawks. Squirrels can rarely be faster than owls. That’s why squirrels lose to escape most of the time. Owl species are nocturnal, and there are some species of squirrels that are also nocturnal. These are the owls main target.
- Bobcats: Cunning, fast, and fierce wild cats can also be a great threat for squirrels. They wait patiently and attack when it’s the right time. And it’s quite impossible to escape away from their claws as the bite on the neck.
- Snakes: It may seem a little bit unusual, because ground squirrels can fight against snakes and they are resistant to snake venom. But still, baby squirrels are their favorite food.
- The Pine Martens: Another mammalian predator for squirrels are, the pine martens. Pine martens are mostly seen in Europe. Lives in treetops. They chase squirrels both on the ground and up of the trees as they are good at climbing. Martens keep squirrels in their diet menu, mostly in winter.
- Road Accident: Running vehicles are also a lethal enemy of squirrels. To avoid predators squirrels use a zig-zag motion and mostly they do not care for what’s ahead of them as a result they attain at a highway and run over by vehicles.
Do They Have Any Defense Systems?
Like all other species, squirrels also have defensive techniques for their survival. Great speed, warm bushy tail, sharp claws, long sharp-edged incisors, are some of the major weapons for their survival.
Being attacked by several predators, squirrels have adapted some defensive techniques also. “Alarming Call” is one of them. If any squirrel of the squad sees a hunter, it will make an alarming sound that will alert the rest of them. It also sends a message to the hunter that they have seen the hunter.
When they are attacked by rattlesnakes, they use another technique, rattlesnake uses infrared detection method. Somehow, squirrels are aware of it and flash their tail in different directions to confuse the snake.
In order to stay safe from predators, they often use innate camouflaging. They can mix up with their surrounding space so easily and remain undetected. Very few animals have this kind of skill
Sometimes they become aggressive towards their hunters. They make aggressive sounds and tend to scratch their threat. Usually they use zig-zag movement to escape from predators like foxes, coyotes, etc.
Are Squirrels Harmful or Useful for Us?
Squirrels are the most seen, little animals. Lives around human residence or in forest. They are nature’s protectors. They eat fruits, bury the seeds to eat later, but mostly they can’t find those anymore. Which is just like planting seeds. But they can be harmful to humans sometimes. They do a lot of damage to corn, bird seeds, fruits, some of them often attack baby birds, eggs also. Often transfer diseases like tularemia, plague, ringworm, etc. So, having them in your yard has both advantages and disadvantages.
Usually squirrels remain as select animals in our property. They do not roam around without any need. They come out of their home just to search for food. Most often they are scared of humans, let alone attacking humans. They are also an important part of the food chain.
But recently their number is decreasing very rapidly. Which is a concerning matter. Already they have to fight against a lot of natural predators to survive. Moreover, we are also killing them just for damaging little plants, and robbing fruits which squirrels can not live without. If we grasp deeply we can see that we are no less than another kind of predator to them. If this continues, they will vanish totally, which may imbalance the ecosystem. So, try to have mercy. If they irritate you, just catch them and oust them away.
Be kind! Every creature deserves to live…