Squirrel | Exploring the World of Wildlife: facts about the Squirrel

Squirrel – a rodent represents the squirrel family and has another name – veksha, although few people use it nowadays. There are up to thirty species of this family in the world, distributed throughout the globe. In this video we will talk about some facts about these animals.

Fact number one.

The squirrel is a rather nimble animal with a slender, proportional body, at the end of which you can see a rather long and fluffy tail, from thirteen to nineteen centimeters long, which reaches two/thirds of the entire body length. Squirrel of all kinds, including the common squirrel, have common features. The tail seems flattened due to long hairs sticking out in different directions. This rodent grows up to a maximum of thirty centimeters in length, while gaining a weight of no more than four hundred grams. The squirrel has a round head with dark beady eyes, and also long ears at the end of which there are tassels sticking up, which become more noticeable in winter. Vibrissae are highly sensitive and adorn the muzzle and the front paws with the abdomen. The belly of a squirrel is always lighter, or has a pure white tint, compared to the upper part of the animal. The hind limbs of the squirrel are much longer than the front ones, while all the paws are armed with rather sharp and tenacious claws.

Fact number two.

The color of the common squirrel can vary a rather wide range, depending on the season, subspecies and even depending on the boundaries of the population of individual species. In summer period, the color of the fur cover is different by darker tones, sustained in brown, ginger or dark brown shades. In winter period, their color is reminded more gray shades, and sometimes almost black. Among squirrels, there are individuals whose fur is diluted with light spots (piebald), and also individuals with almost black fur (melanists) or specimens devoid of color (albinos).

Fact number three.

Squirrels, like many other animals with fur, molt twice a year, while the tail changes its fur only once a year. As the rule, the molting process occurs in spring, In April/May, in autumn, in September/ November. The process of molting in animals is controlled by the length of daylight hours, which affects the functions of the pituitary hypophysis. The hypophysis begins to produce thyrotropin, which affect the function of the thyroid, and it starts the process of molting. Adult males always begin to molt earlier compared to adult females, and also young animals that were born in the current year. The molt in spring starts from the head, and the autumn molt – from the tail.

Fact number four.

The common squirrel doesn’t mark its territory, like some animals, so several individuals can live in one territory. The squirrel prefers to spend most of its time on trees, while this rodent is most active in the morning and evening hours. At this time of the day, she is busy looking for food for herself, spending almost all her free time on it. In case of danger, the animal hides in the crown of trees. The squirrel easily jumps from tree to tree, overcoming in a straight line up to four meters. Her tail serves as a rudder. In winter period, it moves more along the trees, and during the mating season, and also when there is no snow – it can also move on the ground, jumping up to one meter in length. When frosts or heavy snowfalls with blizzards are fierce on the street, the common squirrel is in her shelter, while she can live it only in case of severe hunger.

Fact number five.

Squirrels live on the trees. At the same time, they are looking for trees with hollow (hole?), where they equip a dwelling for themselves. For that, they fill the hollow with lichen, dry grass and leaves. The hollow can be located at a height of up to fifteen meters, among dense branches. The diameter of the hollow reaches more than thirty centimeters and has the shape of a ball. Specialists noticed that each squirrel has several hollows, moving from one hollow to another every few days. The female drags her offspring in her teeth. In wintertime, several individuals can live in one hollow, although they prefer to lead a solitary lifestyle. Often, squirrels occupy the hollows of various birds, for that, not to waste time building your hollow. Moreover, males don’t engage in this responsible business, and settle in hollows left by females, and also in hollows left by various birds.

Fact number six.

Squirrels often carry out long migrations. As the rule, this process begins at the end of summer, beginning of autumn and is associated with different natural disasters, such as fires, droughts, and also lean years associated with the availability of basic squirrel food. In the process of migration, squirrels are able to overcome: steppes, tundra, various islands, mountains, settlements. Squirrel migrations have rather negative consequences for them, because squirrels die from hunger, from cold, and also from that various predators prey on them.

Fact number seven.

The range of the common squirrel, which is one of the forty subspecies, is quite extensive. The squirrel is found both in Siberia, the Far east, and in Asia and America. This species of rodents feels good in the Tien Shan, the Caucasus and the Crimea, where the squirrel is found both in vineyards and in orchards. In addition, the squirrel settles with great pleasure in cedar forests, in thickets of elfin cedar, in thickets of deciduous trees, in fir forests and in pine forests.

Fact number eight.

The ration of a squirrel includes up to one hundred and thirty items of food objects. This animal prefers the seeds of coniferous trees such as pine, spruce, Siberian cedar, larch and fir. The squirrel with pleasure gnaws nuts and acorns. When the year is lean, the squirrel has to eat mostly non-basic feed, so it destroys the buds and shoots of young trees, roots and tubers, lichens, berries, herbs and mushrooms, preferring the deer truffle. In cases of lack of feed, squirrels can easily become a pest, destroying the flower buds of spruces. When the period of mating games comes, the squirrel turns into a predator, eating various larvae, eggs, chicks and small invertebrates. The squirrel, like other types of rodents, prudently stock up food for the winter, in the form of nuts, acorns, cones, and so on, stuffing hollows with them or hiding them among the roots. She also dries mushrooms by hanging them on the tree branches. Unfortunately, she doesn’t remember the places where she hides her supplies for the winter, which is used by other forest dwellers, such as bears, birds and other animals.

Fact number nine.

Squirrels differ in that, they can reproduce up to two times a year, and in warmer regions up to three times. The mating season for squirrels begins depending on habitat conditions and is connected to a specific area. The beginning of the breeding season is characterized by the onset of January- March and ends in July-August. As the rule, females have a sufficient number of boyfriends and she has to choose from half a dozen males, who at this time make characteristic sounds, attracting a female, and also chase each other and actively knock on three branches with their paws. Having chosen a male for herself, the female is fertilized, after which she starts building a spacious and neat hollow, and sometimes several hollows. Somewhere in forty days a maximum of offspring is born. The first births consist of three to ten squirrel cubs, which are completely helpless, naked and blind. Their weigh is no more than eight grams each. There are always fewer cubs in the second litter. After a couple of weeks, the young animals begin to become covered with fur, and after a month their eyes open. During this period, they can already crawl out of the nest. For almost two months, the female feeds them with milk, after which the cubs can already leave their mother. A year or a little earlier, squirrels become sexually mature. After the squirrel feeds out its first offspring, she fills its body with nutrients and mates again. The interval between broods is about thirteen weeks.

Fact number ten.

For squirrels, a lack of food is much more dangerous, and also various diseases than attacks by predators. In nature, squirrels have many enemies, such as: pine marten, hawk, fox, sable, wild cats. According to scientists, the natural enemies of the squirrel are not able to harm its population. As the rule, diseases appear at the end of autumn, but they are most frequent in the spring. Various pests, such as ticks, fleas and worms, also live on squirrels. In this connection, the squirrel dies a lot from various diseases.

November 17 is International Squirrel Day, or Squirrel Protection Day.

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