Fun Squirrel Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Jan 09, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Abdulqudus Mojeed
Squirrel facts for kids are super interesting

If your child is inquisitive about the bushy-tailed cute squirrels that pay a visit to your garden every day, then here are some facts about these adorable animals that they will absolutely love.

Squirrels refer to the many rodents across 50 genera and 268 species that occupy a spectrum of ecological niches around the world. The word 'squirrel' derives from the Greek 'skiouros' which means 'shade tail,' one of the most eye-catching and recognizable features of these small animals.

The squirrel family includes flying squirrels, tree squirrels, ground squirrels, prairie dogs, marmots, and chipmunks among other small and medium-sized rodents. But the most well-known are the tree squirrels, with 22 genera and 122 species split across several subfamilies.

Some examples of tree squirrels include the African pygmy squirrel, Asian pygmy squirrel, South American pygmy squirrel, eastern gray squirrel, American red squirrel, black squirrel, Indian giant squirrel, and the Japanese squirrel.

Virtually found almost anywhere where there is vegetation, these fluffy-tailed rodents are quite the intriguing creatures! Read on for more fun facts on squirrels.

If you like reading about squirrels, you may also like facts on the squirrel monkey and the flying squirrel.

Squirrel Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a squirrel?

Squirrels are rodents belonging to family Sciuridae that includes tree squirrels, ground squirrels, prairie dogs, chipmunks and other rodents belonging to several different genera and species.

What class of animal does a squirrel belong to?

Squirrels belong to the class Mammalia, that is, they are mammals.

How many squirrels are there in the world?

There is no data regarding the exact number of squirrels in the world. However, with the exception of some, most squirrel species fall under the 'Least Concern' category of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, indicating their abundance in the wild.

Where does a squirrel live?

Squirrels live on every continent except Antarctica. They are native to the Americas, Africa, and Eurasia. Squirrels were introduced by humans in Australia.

What is a squirrel's habitat?

A squirrel habitat can be found almost anywhere where there is vegetation. However, different species of squirrels have distinct habitats.

For instance, the tree squirrels prefer to dwell in trees and are typically found in wooded areas. Ground squirrels are found digging burrows, an underground network of tunnels that serves as a squirrel nest.

To keep itself warm, a ground squirrel will usually hibernate in its burrow in the winter. But most squirrels do not hibernate in winter. Flying squirrels build nests in holes and crevices of trees or in the forks of branches.

To move through trees or from trees to the ground, they glide on the air by spreading the muscle membrane between their body and legs. Many species of squirrels, such as the North American gray squirrel have even adapted to live in urban and suburban areas.

Who do squirrels live with?

Adult squirrels are generally known to live alone, unless it is a harsh winter when they may nest with other squirrels. But, baby squirrels live with their mother and siblings in the same nest until they are old enough to fend for themselves.

Squirrels are also known to be synanthropes, meaning that they thrive in human environments and derive benefits from them.

How long does a squirrel live?

The squirrel lifespan varies across species but the commonly found eastern gray squirrel has an average lifespan of 12.5 years in the wild

How do they reproduce?

Squirrels are viviparous, that is, give birth to live young. There are usually two mating seasons in a year for the female squirrels - the first one begins at the end of February in late winter and lasts till May and the second one begins at the end of spring and ends in around late summer.

Male squirrels can mate anytime.

Female squirrels emanate a strong odor that can be detected by the males. Once the male squirrel has identified the female, he chases her around through trees or across the ground. Often, more than one male chases a single female.

However, the female chooses only the strongest one to mate with. The average litter of squirrels consists of two to five offspring, but the numbers may go up to nine. The gestation period is usually six weeks but may be more or less depending on the species.

Now about baby squirrel facts, they are born blind and naked and are taken care of by their mother. Male squirrels do not participate in rearing of the babies. The babies are weaned at about 10 weeks of age and leave their mother's den at about the age of four months.

What is their conservation status?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, most species of squirrels fall under the 'Least Concern' category.

Squirrel Fun facts

What do squirrels look like?

Japanese Squirrel

Squirrels are typically small animals with slender bodies, large glistening eyes, and a bushy tail. Their fur is usually soft and silky but the thickness of the coat varies with the species.

The coat color, too, varies greatly with the species and can range from brown, gray, yellow, red, whitish, or even black.

Each of their four paws has four or five toes with the fore limbs usually being shorter than the hind limbs.

The paws have a poorly developed thumb with a padded underside but the claws are strong enough for climbing trees and grasping objects. The teeth of squirrels are typical of that of rodents with incisors large enough for gnawing and cheek teeth ideal for grinding food.

How cute are they?

Squirrels do have a cute and adorable look with their large, round, and gleaming eyes, furry body, and characteristic front teeth

How do they communicate?

Squirrel behavior comprises a variety of complex vocalizations, body language, and signals for communicating with members of their species.

Vocal signals are a major form of communication squirrels use that can range from chirps to a long series of screams, barks, and purrs. Tooth chattering is a warning signal squirrels use to alert encroaching squirrels.

Baby squirrels call for their mother through small cries, male squirrels use typical mating calls to chase females, and frightened squirrels usually let out small and shrill screams. Squirrels also use their tail to communicate in threatening or frightening situations.

For instance, if a ground squirrel spots a rattlesnake, it will wave its tail back and forth to confuse the snake by creating the impression of a huge body mass through rapid movements of the tail.

Body languages like tail-thrashing and foot-stomping indicates facing down an enemy whereas an erect posture is indicative of alertness. Squirrels also leave scents on barks of trees to indicate territorial boundaries.

How big is a squirrel?

The size of squirrels varies with the species. One of the largest squirrel species is one of the tree squirrels, the Indian giant squirrel (Ratufa Indica) that has an average head-to-body length of 10 in to 17.99 in (25.4 cm to 45.7 cm).

The smallest known squirrel species is also one of the tree squirrels, the African pygmy squirrel (Myosciurus pumilio) with an average head-to-body length of 2.36 in to 2.95 in (6 cm to 7.5 cm).

How fast can a squirrel run?

Squirrels are swift runners and can run at a speed of about 20mph (32 kph).

How much does a squirrel weigh?

The weight of squirrels differs with the species. The Indian giant squirrels can weigh as much as 3.3 lb to 4.4 lb (1.5 kg to 2 kg) and the African pygmy squirrels have a body mass of only 0.42 oz to 0.92 oz (12 g to 26 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Male squirrels are called 'boars' and female squirrels are called 'sows.'

What would you call a baby squirrel?

Baby squirrels are called 'kittens.'

What do they eat?

The squirrel diet includes nuts, fruits, seeds, pine cones, insects, fungi, leaves, flowers, buds, nectar, birds' eggs, and nestlings.

Are they dangerous?

Squirrels are not known to attack humans. Rather, they flee when approached.

Would they make a good pet?

Squirrels, despite all their cuteness, are wild and not suitable as pets. Besides, wildlife conservation and exotic pet laws grant them protection, making it illegal to keep a pet squirrel in many states. But you can take care of abandoned baby squirrels by feeding them warm liquid food with prescribed guidelines.

Did you know...

The northern flying squirrel and the southern flying squirrel are species of flying squirrels found in North America.

The Japanese dwarf flying squirrel is native to the Honshu and Kyushu islands of Japan.

An albino squirrel or white squirrel is very rare and has red eyes.

A squirrel can be quite the hoarder secretly stashing away nuts and seeds for surviving in winter.

What are squirrels a sign of?

The mighty squirrel has varied symbolism and cultural significance. For instance, squirrels are often considered a symbol of hard work and preparedness, practicality, energy, and playfulness.

Do squirrels remember humans?

Squirrels have an excellent memory and there have been instances of squirrels remembering humans who are harmless or are a trusted source of food.

How to draw a squirrel?

Here are some simple steps to make a cute squirrel drawing:

Collect a picture of a squirrel.

Start with the head.

Draw the eyes, nose and mouth, and ears.

Make the back and the arms.

Finish the bottom and the legs.

Draw the tail.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including the tiger and the Siberian tiger.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our squirrel coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Abdulqudus Mojeed

Bachelor of Law

Abdulqudus Mojeed picture

Abdulqudus MojeedBachelor of Law

A versatile professional with a passion for creative writing and technology. Abdulqudus is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Law from the University of Lagos and has experience as a tutor, intern assistant, and volunteer. He possesses strong organizational skills and is a detail-oriented person.

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