Squirrel facts

  The squirrel is a sciurine rodent of Sciurus or a related genus, found in all parts of the world except Australia. The genus Sciurus includes nearly three fourths of all known squirrels and all but five of the American species. Squirrels live mainly in trees, and their food is largely vegetable, as nuts, though also animal, as eggs and small birds. Their favorite attitude in eating is to sit on their haunches with the food in the fore paws.

   In the United States, the commonest and most widely distributed of the species is the red squirrel or chickaree, Sciurus hudsonius, which ranges from the northern and the mountainous parts to the limit of trees in British America.

  East of the great plains and south of the chickaree's range occur the fox squirrels, largest of which is the black squirrel, S. niger, of the South Atlantic and Gulf States. The fox squirrel of the Middle States, S. cinereus, is usually reddish, but black specimens are common. The fox squirrel of the Mississippi valley, S. ludomcianus, is more strongly and constantly reddish and is rarely, if ever, black. These large squirrels all agree in their habits, which are not essentially different from those of the chickaree.

  Gray squirrels are a third group of common American species, somewhat smaller than fox squirrels and more widely distributed, ranging as far west as California. The California gray squirrel, S. fossor, is remarkable for its large size and black tail. The remaining genera, mainly Old World species, are remarkable for their powers of sailing from one tree to another.