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A grey squirrel (Sciurus caroliniensis)
Scientific Classification
  • Subfamily Cedromurinae (fossil)
  • Subfamily Ratufinae – Oriental giant squirrels (1 genus, 4 species)
  • Subfamily Sciurillinae – neotropical pygmy squirrel (monotypic)
  • Subfamily Sciurinae
    • Tribe Sciurini – tree squirrels (5 genera, about 38 species)
    • Tribe Pteromyini – true flying squirrels (15 genera, about 45 species)
  • Subfamily Callosciurinae – Asian ornate squirrels
  • Subfamily Xerinae – terrestrial squirrels
    • Tribe Xerini – spiny squirrels (3 genera, 6 species)
    • Tribe Protoxerini (6 genera, about 50 species)
    • Tribe Marmotini – ground squirrels, marmots, chipmunks, prairie dogs, etc. (6 genera, about 90 species)


A squirrel is a small, slender rodent found throughout most of the world. Most species dwell in trees, but some dwell on the ground. Most have dull colors such as grey, black or red


An adult squirrel usually weighs between 1 and 11/2 pounds, and grows to a length of about 18 inches. Their tails can constitute up to half their body length, and although the tail appears bushy, it is actually only a thin, hairy appendage. Squirrels use their tails for balance when leaping between tree branches or crawling across power lines.

The teeth of squirrels continually grow, which is why the squirrel has a constant need to chew or gnaw. Most squirrels are dichromatic, which means they can see in color, but in colors comparable to human color blindness. The largest squirrel is the Indian giant squirrel, found in south Asia. It can grow up to three feet in length. The smallest is the African Pygmy, which grows less than three inches in length.


Squirrels typically have two litters of young a year, with between one and four young per litter.


The squirrel can be found in most habitats and countries, except Australia and Madagascar, and hostile polar regions. The diet of a squirrel consists of nuts, berries and some other kinds of vegetation.

Evolution and Squirrels

Scientists suppose that squirrels evolved around 50 million years ago. However, this estimate was upset by a recent find in China of a gliding squirrel that dated at around 125 million years old.[1]

Related References