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The Squirrel - One Who is Always Picking On Birds

Updated on June 13, 2015

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A general overview:

We have all seen these furry animals in our backyards going about their business, looking around for food, climbing trees, chasing each other in mating season, and other things. Unless you have bird feeders then you may not know that they also gobble up seeds in the feeders, except you are able to stop them in various ways. (I have another Hub which covers these.)

Squirrels are members of the family named Sciuridae, which are rodents of small or medium-size. This covers tree squirrels, ground squirrels, marmots (which consist of woodchucks), prairie dogs, flying squirrels and chipmunks. Even though squirrels have been introduced to Australia, they are already native to Eurasia, Africa and the Americas. It was the time period, the Eocene, which squirrels are dated back to; and their closest relationships, the mountain beaver and the dormouse, are two among the currently existing rodent families.




A quick study of names:

 
 
 
Anglo-Norman
esquire
 
Old French
escurel
It is responsive to a Latin word
Latin
sciurus
Borrowed from the Ancient Greek word
Ancient Greek
σκίουρος, skiouros
 
Here is a table showing a list of when the name of the squirrel which began in 1327.
Old English
ācweorna
Is of Common Germanic origin
Middle English
aquerne
before being replaced
German
Eichhhōrnchen
diminutive of Eichhorn, which is not used
Norwegian
ikorn/ekorn
 
Dutch
eekhoorn
 
Swedish
ekorre
 
Danish
egem
 
This is another table with a list of basically foreign words (names) for squirrel:
Click thumbnail to view full-size
An eastern gray squirrel in British Columbia, Canada. It is reaching out for a bird feeder, while clinging upside down to a rough surface.
An eastern gray squirrel in British Columbia, Canada. It is reaching out for a bird feeder, while clinging upside down to a rough surface.
An eastern gray squirrel in British Columbia, Canada. It is reaching out for a bird feeder, while clinging upside down to a rough surface. | Source

Typical Features:

Being basically small they can measure from the African pygmy squirrel: is 2.8”-3.9” (7-10 cm) long, and weighing 0.35 oz. (10 g) to the size of the Alpine marmot: is 21”-29” (53-73 cm) long, and weighing 11-18 lbs. (5-8 kg). They are usually thin, and their tails are bushy with fluffy fur that is silky but on some species it is heavier. Colors vary in different – and even the same – species.

The front legs, on average, are shorter than the rear legs although each paw has four to five toes. Contained on their paws are thumbs which are frequently crudely matured and under the paws are spongy pads. There are




only a few animals which can go down a tree head-first; one of them is the eastern gray squirrel. It can do so because it rotates its rear paws so that its claws point to the rear, gripping the tree from that direction.

Nearly all habitats have squirrels – from the tropical rainforest to the semiarid desert. Polar ground, which is elevated, is one they stay away from and it is also a waterless desert. In addition, they only plants, existing on nuts and seeds, although a lot of them do eat insects and also small creatures.

We have seen by their massive eyes that basically their vision is exquisite. This is particularly valuable for a variety which lives, and does some traveling, in trees. The squirrel has claws which are very flexible and durable for holding food and ascending/descending trees. A lot can are able to tell some things by physical contact, and they also may have sensitive hairs on their heads, and limbs, and can sense when things are too close.

The teeth of the rodent family follow the average Sciuridae arrangement, with over-size sharp incisors which grow all through life; and abrasive chopper teeth following a wide space. Which is called diastema. The usual dental formula for squirrels is1.0.1.3/1.0.1.3

A lot of them will not live past their first year. For adult squirrels, the usual lifespan is 5 – 10 years in their native world. A few may continue to live until 10 – 20 years when they are in something like cages of pets or zoos.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A Sciuridae  Squirrel eats a fruit in Manyara National Park, Tanzania Squirrel eats a fruit in Manyara National Park, Tanzania Squirrel eating a peanut
A Sciuridae  Squirrel eats a fruit in Manyara National Park, Tanzania
A Sciuridae Squirrel eats a fruit in Manyara National Park, Tanzania | Source
Squirrel eats a fruit in Manyara National Park, Tanzania
Squirrel eats a fruit in Manyara National Park, Tanzania | Source
Squirrel eating a peanut
Squirrel eating a peanut | Source

Do squirrels eat your bird food and have you found a way to stop them?

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Pertaining to Their Habits and What They Eat:

They get a visit from the stork which brings them a different amount of immature each time. When there are new ones inbred then they are naked, without teeth, unable to see yet. This happens between three to six weeks after the adults have reared them. It is really determined by which family it belongs to. Instead of both adults, the female exclusively watches the young to change their diet to a normal one after six to eight weeks. When they become two years of age, then they are usually fully developed, sexually. When they live mostly on the ground then they are social and they live in groups which they organize very well. The group that live in the trees seem more likely to live by themselves.

Squirrels on the ground or in trees are either diurnal or crepuscular; flying squirrels are basically nocturnal for most of the year, apart from the end of spring into the summer when they are feeding their young. At that time they are going through a time of diurnality.

Squirrels cannot absorb glucose into their digestive systems, therefore they must depend on other foods which are high in protein, combinations of sugar/starch/cellulose and fatty ones. In the areas where the weather is mild and pleasant the early spring has been proven as the toughest time of the year for them. This is due to the simple fact that the nuts which they have so laboriously buried during the winter will now start to grow into plants and it is no longer possible for them to be eaten.

A new supply of fresh food is not available yet so they search for other supplies: seeds, nuts, fruit; even conifer cones, fungi and vegetation. Some squirrels also eat meat, eggs, insects, young snakes, small birds and small rodents.



Click thumbnail to view full-size
Malabar Giant Squirrel, spotted in Gavi, Kerala, India American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area, Quebec, Canada  Northern Flying Squirrel picture took in Northern Ontario, just above Lake Superior.
Malabar Giant Squirrel, spotted in Gavi, Kerala, India
Malabar Giant Squirrel, spotted in Gavi, Kerala, India | Source
American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area, Quebec, Canada
American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area, Quebec, Canada | Source
 Northern Flying Squirrel picture took in Northern Ontario, just above Lake Superior.
Northern Flying Squirrel picture took in Northern Ontario, just above Lake Superior. | Source

Taxonomy:

There are five subfamilies of the living squirrels. They have basically 58 genera and around 285 species. Of all squirrel fossils, Hesperopetes, dates all of the way back to an age which was named Chadronian. It was approximately 40-35 million years ago, which is also known as the Eocene age. It can also be related to modern flying squirrels.

An assortment of fossil squirrels, from the most recent Eocene to the Miocene, could not be appointed with confidence to any living descent. There were several which were most likely alternatives of the erliest basal proto-squirrels (in the feeling that they were deficient in their territories of existing squirrels' autapomorphies. The circulation and assortment of such primeval and genealogical objects plan the squirrels as a cluster may have begun in North America.

Disconnected from these occasional primal shapes, the relationships of the active squirrels is rather sincere. The three prime ancestries of the squirrel are the Ratufinae, or Oriental giant squirrel, Sciurillinae and all additional breeds. The Ratufinae consist of a nothing more than a cluster of an active breed in scorching Asia. the neotropical pygmy squirrel of balmy South America is the only existent ally of the Sciurillinae. The third family, which is the largest, has a near-at-hand well-travelled transport. This additioally reinforces the analysis that the the familiar predecesor in the family of all squirrels, active and specimen, lived in North America, as these three most antique pedigrees appear to have spread out from there; if the squirrels had commenced in Eurasia, for instance, you would imagine quite antique ancestries in Africa but African squirrels appear to be of more current emergence.

The primary pack of squirrels can also be divided three subgroups, which provide the leftover subfamilies. The Sciurinae includes the flying squirrels (Pteromyini)and the Sciurini which in connection with others includes the American tree squirrels; the preceding have frequently been examined as an independent subfamily but are now seen as a tribe Sciurinae. The pine squirrels (Tamiasciurus) is alternatively part of the principal tree squirrel clan but occur to be almost as specific as the flying squirrels; for that reason they are occasionally thought-out as a specific tribe, Tamiasciurini.

Two of the three subfamilies are nearly the same size, taking in almost 70 to 80 species each; the third is almost twice as spacious. The Sciurinae accommodates chiefly arboreal (tree living) squirrels, basically of the Americas and to an inferior range Eurasia. The Callosiurinae is most different in humid Asia and includes squirrels which are also arboreal but have a decidedly distinct frame and seem more "aristocratic", a developomental complement by their frequently very bright and flashy fur. The Xerinae - the biggest subfamily - are compiled of generally the terrestrial (ground-living) anatomies and consists of the large marmotsand the popular prairie dogs, among others, as well as the tree squirrels of Africa; they are apt to be more sociable than other squirrels, which generally do not live together in groups which are packed like srdines.

- - Two of the three subfamilies are of about equal size, containing between nearly 70 and 80 species each; the third is about twice as large. The Sciurinae cotains arboreal (tree-living) squirrels, mainly of the Americas and to a lesser extent Eurasia. The Callosiurinae is most diverse in tropical Asia and contains squirrels that are also arboreal, but have a mrkedly diibtly different habitus and appear more "elegant", an effect enhanced by their often very colorful fur. The Xerinae--the largest subfamily--are made up from the mainly terrestrial (ground-living) forms and include the large marmots and the popular prairie dogs, among others, as well as the tree squirrels of Africa; they tend to be more gregarious than other squirrels, which do not usually live together in close-knit groups. - -









Basal and insertae sedis Sciuridae (all fossil)
Location
 
Hesperopetes
 
 
Kherem
India
 
Lagrivea
Middle Mocene of France
 
Oligosciurus
 
 
Plesiosciurus
 
 
Peromophillus
 
 
Sciurion
 
 
Similisciurus
 
 
Sinotamias
 
 
Vulcanissciurus
 
 
Cedromurinae, Subfamily
 
 
 
 
 
Subfamililies and Tribes of the subfamilies
Type of Squirrel
No. of genus/genera & species
Subfamily Ratufinae
Oriental giant squirrel
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
 
Tribe Callosciurini
 
13 genera, nearly 60 species
Tribe Funambulini
Palm squirrels
1 genus, 5 species
Subfamily Xerinae
Terrestrial squirrels
 
Tribe Xerini
Spiny squirrels
3 genera, 6 species
Tribe Protoxerini
 
6 genera, about 50 species
Tribe Mamotini
Ground squirrels, marmots, chipmunks, prairie dogs, etc.
6 genera, about 90 species
This table is the subfamilies and any tribes which the subfamilies are split into. Some subfamilies are small and have no tribes.

© 2015 The Examiner-1

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    • The Examiner-1 profile image
      Author

      The Examiner-1 2 years ago

      Thank you for reading this Rebecca. I watch for squirrels too since they are living animals, I do not grow any vegetables/fruit though. I used to have a feeder at this house but the string wore out and I did not replace it.

      You have a nice day. :-)

      Kevin

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 2 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Very cute read! I think squirrels are cute the way they scamper. And I always "brake for squirrels even though they always eat my tomatoes!

    • The Examiner-1 profile image
      Author

      The Examiner-1 2 years ago

      I received a comment from someone who had named their squirrels with the chipmunk names. lol If you do not make friends with the squirrels, they eat the birdseed. I am glad that you liked it so much.

      Thank you for stopping by.

      Have a nice day. :-)

      Kevin

    • lisavanvorst profile image

      Lisa VanVorst 2 years ago from New Jersey

      This was so cute. I was laughing as I watched the video. My husband and I feed the squirrels, chipmunks, birds etc. They come right up to our backdoor and get peanuts. However, don't run out of food or they might start eating your door and screen. They did this to us. Yes we still feed them and buy a big bag of peanuts every week.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image
      Author

      The Examiner-1 2 years ago

      Good for you! lol I wish that they were like chipmunks though. The squirrels take their food back to their nest - or where ever - to hide it from others. Even they forget where it is after too long.

      You are welcome, I am glad that you stopped by.

      Have a nice day. :-)

      Kevin

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago from Texas

      Hi Kev, I love this, I have squirrels that were eating my bird seed and we had lots of fun with them and even named them, and I have a hub about them "Squirrels - Adventures of Chip, Dale and, Bob" how we tried to stop them from eating all the bird seed.

      Thanks for telling us about them.

      Blessings dear friend

    • The Examiner-1 profile image
      Author

      The Examiner-1 2 years ago

      These are only some of them Deb, I did not fit all of them in my Hub. I am glad that it was helpful to you. Thank you for stopping by to read it.

      Have a nice day. :-)

      Kevin

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I had no idea that there were so many species of squirrels. You taught me a great deal here.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image
      Author

      The Examiner-1 2 years ago

      Hi Genna and thank you,

      It sounds like you need to hire a guard. lol Go to your supermarket to find the lowest priced fruit or vegetable to plant a 'small' garden for the rabbits, fence and all. Just do not be too expensive. While in the Produce you can buy a bag of nuts in shells for the squirrels. Place garden and nuts (in a bowel) away from bird feeders. They should keep them both busy for a while.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      What an interesting hub...and very true! I feed birds and wild rabbits in my backyard, and the squirrels are always vying for birdseed, mixed with small bits of dried fruit. (Actually, a couple of the bunnies munch on this as well.) Whenever I see one take over these tidbits, I try to shoo them away because they have voracious appetites. They will sit up on their hunches and look at me, indignantly, as if I had invaded their turf before scurrying away to sanctuary. Voted up and shared. :-)

    • The Examiner-1 profile image
      Author

      The Examiner-1 2 years ago

      Oh. So do I. That is one of the ways which I learn. I watch the animals in our backyard and observe what they are doing and why.

      Thank you Ann, it has been no rain today! I am certainly happy about that.

      Kevin

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      No research, just learnt over the years, probably because I love to learn about wildlife. There are few squirrels round our way as we have no woods, just a marina and a canal which attract a different group of wildlife, all lovely.

      Hope your day's great too, Kevin!

      Ann

    • The Examiner-1 profile image
      Author

      The Examiner-1 2 years ago

      I thank you a lot Ann. I appreciate the compliments and see that you have done some of your own research. You said that they pinch the bird food, have you gotten a baffle, or bought a bag of shelled peanuts (in Produce at Supermarket) for them to place away from feeders?

      I paid attention to them mainly in the USA.

      You have a nice day! :-)

      Kevin

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Wow! That's some research you've put in here!

      We have grey squirrels here (which often pinch the bird food) but they aren't indigenous - they came from the US. Sadly, they've meant that our red squirrel has declined as is now only found in Scotland and a few other confined areas (like Brownsey Island in Hampshire). The grey ate all the food!

      There are no greys in France, where we often see the red squirrel - a dark, russet colour, smaller than the grey but with a huge bushy tail. They are very pretty. We had one at our house in France, nicknamed 'Cyril'!

      Great hub. Cute creatures, much loved by many.

      Ann

    • The Examiner-1 profile image
      Author

      The Examiner-1 2 years ago

      What do you feed them? If you buy a bag of peanuts in their shells (in the produce section) from your supermarket, it is lower priced than a bird store. You save seed for the birds and the squirrels spend time taking the nuts to hide them somewhere or even cracking the shells to eat them now and then. If you want then you can also mix in some black oil sunflower seeds.

      Kevin

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I have a couple of squirrels that make me so mad. I will feed them on the opposite side of the house to keep them away from the food but they just want it all!

    • The Examiner-1 profile image
      Author

      The Examiner-1 2 years ago

      Yes, the birds do not eat their seeds while the squirrel is there. That is how he is 'pickiing on the birds', he eats their seeds. Even if he goes away, when the birds return to the feeders they leave again as soon as he comes back. She was only hiding some seeds or feeding young.

      Thank you for stopping by and reading my Hub Peachy.

      Have a nice afternoon. :-)

      Kevin

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      i see the squirrel is trying to get the seeds for himself

    • The Examiner-1 profile image
      Author

      The Examiner-1 2 years ago

      Hello Kim. Congratulations on yor choice of the bird feeder! :-) You do get peanuts in there shells to feed the sqirrels a distance away from the feeders. It helps. The supermarkets sell them in bags in produce for less than the bird stores.

      Thank you for your vote and share, I appreciate them. :-)

      Have a nice day.

      Kevin

    • ocfireflies profile image

      ocfireflies 2 years ago from North Carolina

      Kevin,

      Great hub with lots of interesting info. I have a squirrel feeder so I know when they are around b/c I hear the door shut every time the squirrel reaching in for a snack. I love hearing that sound. Voted up and shared for sure.

      Blessings,

      Kim

    • The Examiner-1 profile image
      Author

      The Examiner-1 2 years ago

      Neat. I wish that I had seen one.

      Perhaps they are small there but I am sure they are not the same size all over.

      Kevin

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      I have seen a flying squirrel in the wild once. It was a real pleasure. They are both tiny and rare, so it is a real treat to see one.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      I have seen a flying squirrel in the wild once. It was a real pleasure. They are both tiny and rare, so it is a real treat to see one.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image
      Author

      The Examiner-1 2 years ago

      Good for you Frank so do I, even though they eat the bird seed. I try to find a friendly way to keep them away from the feeders. This does not smell like a strawberry year. lol I am sorry that they mess up your garden. Perhaps they are trying to hide their nuts, or searching for previous nuts -they forget where they hid them. Maybe you can make a 'fake' garden for them to do this in.

      Thank you for the great comments. I am glad that you liked it, stopped by and read it.

      Kevin

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

      I love the little critters.. they do eat the bird seeds and dig up bulbs.. I think.. but this year they haven't touched the strawberries.. I wonder why.. a great little hub.. interesting in fact

    • The Examiner-1 profile image
      Author

      The Examiner-1 2 years ago

      I like them too Rachel. Due to the fact that I have watched and studied them to learn what draws them to the bird feeders. I fill a large bowl with a bag of peanuts in their shells (low-priced in the food markets) and it takes them a while to either crack them - at the bowl or back at their nest - or they take them to hide them for future use. I put some seeds on the ground by the bowl too.

      The feeders are on the special "squirrel spinners". lol

      Thank you for the vote up and the comment.

      Kevin

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 2 years ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      I really do like squirrels, I think they are a cute animal except when they are eating my bird food. lol Then I chase them. I do give them food way in the back of our big yard hoping they will fill up on that and leave the bird food alone. Voted up and interesting.

      Blessings to you.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image
      Author

      The Examiner-1 2 years ago

      I take it that you have seen one of these squirrels, I have not. I have only read about them and seen them on films & videos.

      It was nice of you to stop by and read both of these, thank you. I thank you for the comment.

      Kevin

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      If you ever get a chance to see one in action, flying squirrels are very cool.

      Informative hub.