Kinds of Squirrels 

image of a squirrel

Squirrels are one of the most common animals in North America, and they mostly look the same, only varying slightly in size and color. Many people do not know that there are different types of squirrels. In fact, there are more than 200 kinds of squirrels in the world! 

Squirrels (scientific name sciurids) are often categorized by their habitat, and the most common types in North America include ground squirrels, tree squirrels, and flying squirrels. Each of these categories includes several different squirrel species. Let’s take a look at the most common subspecies in each category.

Tree squirrels

Tree squirrels are the most common type of squirrel. They include the red squirrel, the grey squirrel, and the fox squirrel. Tree squirrels are agile climbers and spend most of their time in trees. Here are common tree squirrels in North America:

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Eastern Grey Squirrels (sciurus carolinensis) are the most common type of squirrel. They are found in the eastern United States and parts of Canada. These squirrels are predominantly gray in color, but can also be brown or black. They are 12-16 inches in length and weigh 10-12 ounces. 

Eastern Gray Squirrels are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day. These squirrels live in trees and build nests out of twigs and leaves. Their diet includes a variety of foods such as nuts, bird eggs, seeds, fruits, and fungi. Eastern Gray Squirrels have a lifespan of 6-10 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity. 

Fox Squirrel

The Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger) is the largest type of squirrel. They are found in the eastern United States, parts of Canada, and Mexico. Fox squirrels are usually red, brown, or grey with a white belly. They are 20-26 inches in length and weigh 1-2 pounds. 

Fox squirrels are diurnal and live in trees. They build nests out of twigs, leaves, and bark. These squirrels eat a variety of foods, including nuts, seeds, fruits, and fungi. Fox Squirrels have a lifespan of 10-12 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity. 

American Red Squirrel

The American Red Squirrel (sciurus vulgaris) is found in the eastern United States, parts of the Midwest, and Southern Canada. Red squirrels are small, only 9-10 inches in length and weighing 4-5 ounces. They are red or brown in color with a white belly. 

Red squirrels are diurnal and live in forests. They build nests out of twigs, leaves, and bark. These squirrels eat a variety of foods, including nuts, seeds, fruits, and fungi. Red squirrels have a lifespan of 6-10 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity. 

Western Gray Squirrel

Western Gray Squirrels (sciurus griseus) are the largest of the tree squirrels. They are also the most common type of squirrel. These squirrels are shy and live in the western United States. Western Gray Squirrels are 20-24 inches in length and weigh 2 pounds. 

Western Gray Squirrels are nocturnal and live in trees. They build nests out of twigs, leaves, and bark. These squirrels eat a variety of foods, including nuts, seeds, fruits, and fungi. Western Gray Squirrels have a lifespan of 6-10 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity. 

Douglas Squirrel

The Douglas Squirrel (tamiasciurus douglasii) is found in the western United States and parts of Canada. Douglas Squirrels are about 33 cm in length and weigh between 250 and 350 grams. They are red-brown or grey in color with a white belly.

 Douglas Squirrels are diurnal and live in trees. They build nests out of twigs, leaves, and bark. These squirrels eat a variety of foods, including nuts, seeds, fruits, and fungi. Douglas Squirrels have a lifespan of 4-5 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity. 

Arizona Gray Squirrel

The Arizona Gray Squirrel’s range is in the southwestern United States and parts of Mexico. Gray squirrel are gray or brown in color with a white belly. They are 15-20 inches in length and weigh 10-16 ounces. 

Arizona Gray Squirrels are diurnal and live in trees. They build nests out of twigs, leaves, and bark. These squirrels eat a variety of foods, including nuts, seeds, fruits, and fungi. Arizona Gray Squirrels have a lifespan of 6-8 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity. 

Abert’s Squirrel

Abert’s Squirrel (sciurus aberti) is found in the southwestern United States and parts of Mexico. These squirrels are 46-58 cm long and weigh 350-500 grams. They are brown or grey in color with a white belly. 

Abert’s Squirrels are diurnal and live in trees. They build nests out of twigs, leaves, and bark. These squirrels eat a variety of foods, including nuts, seeds, fruits, and fungi. Abert’s Squirrels have a lifespan of 10-12 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity. 

Flying Squirrels

Flying Squirrels are the only kind of squirrel that can fly. Although they don’t actually fly, they are able to glide from tree to tree using the skin flap between their front and back legs. Flying squirrels are mostly small, only 10-20 cm in length and weighing 30-60 grams, but there are giant flying squirrels outside of North America that can be as big as a house cat!

Here are the three most common flying squirrels in North America:

Northern Flying Squirrel

Northern Flying Squirrels (glaucomys sabrinus) are the largest out of all the flying squirrels. They have a longer tail and are found in the northeastern United States and Canada. They are light brown or grey in color with a white belly. 

Northern Flying Squirrels are nocturnal and live in trees. They build nests out of twigs, leaves, and bark. These squirrels eat a variety of foods, including nuts, seeds, fruits, and fungi. Northern Flying Squirrels have a lifespan of 10-12 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity. 

Southern Flying Squirrel

Southern Flying Squirrels (glaucomys volans) are found in the southeastern United States. They are smaller than Northern flying squirrels and have shorter tails. They are gray-brown in color with a white belly. 

Southern Flying Squirrels are nocturnal and live in trees. They build nests out of twigs, leaves, and bark. These squirrels eat a variety of foods, including nuts, seeds, fruits, and fungi. Southern Flying Squirrels are social animals and live in colonies. They have a lifespan of 10-12 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity. 

Humboldt’s Flying Squirrel

Humboldt’s Flying Squirrel is found in the northwestern United States and southwestern Canada. They are medium-sized flying squirrels that have long tails. These squirrels are mostly gray in color, but can also be brown or reddish-brown. They have a white belly.

Humboldt’s Flying Squirrels are nocturnal and live in trees. They build nests out of twigs, leaves, and bark. These squirrels eat a variety of plant foods, including nuts, seeds, fruits, and fungi. Humboldt’s Flying Squirrels are social animals and live in colonies. They have a lifespan of 10-12 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity.

Ground squirrels

Ground squirrels are types of squirrels that live on the ground. There are many different types of ground squirrels, but the most common are marmots (marmotini), chipmunks, prairie dogs, and gophers. These squirrels are generally small to medium in size and have fur-lined cheeks that they use to store food.

Ground squirrels are proficient climbers and expert diggers, and they often make their homes in trees or burrows. Ground squirrels are also active during the day and are mostly herbivores, although some species will eat insects and small animals. Here are some common ground squirrels in the United States.

California Ground Squirrel

California Ground Squirrels are the largest of the ground squirrels. They have a light brown back with white sides and belly. The face and feet are also white. There are 13 dark stripes running down the side of each California Ground Squirrel from its head to its tail. 

This marmot is about 12 inches long (including the tail) and weighs between 10 and 16 ounces. They are found in the western United States and northern Mexico. California Ground Squirrels eat a variety of plant foods, including grasses, seeds, nuts, and fruits. They also eat insects, spiders, and snails. California Ground Squirrels have a lifespan of 4-5 years in the wild and up to 8 years in captivity. 

Thirteen-Lined Ground Squirrel

Thirteen-Lined Ground Squirrels are small rodents weighing around 3.5 ounces. They get their name from the 13 stripes running down their backs. These stripes alternate between light brown and white. The center stripe is black and the edge stripes are either yellow or orange in color.

Thirteen-Lined Ground Squirrels are diurnal animals and are active during the day. They live in North America and can be found in grasslands, fields, and gardens. Thirteen-Lined Ground Squirrels eat a variety of plant foods, including grasses, seeds, nuts, and fruits. They also eat insects, spiders, and snails. Thirteen-Lined Ground Squirrels have a lifespan of 4-5 years in the wild and up to 8 years in captivity.

Harris’s Antelope Ground Squirrel

Harris’s Antelope Ground Squirrel (Ammospermophilus harrisii) are medium-sized squirrels. They are one of the most common types of squirrels in North America. They have a light brown coat with a white belly. They live in open areas like prairies and deserts.

Harris’s Antelope Ground Squirrel is 3-4 inches long (not including the tail) and weighs between 4 and 8 ounces. They are found in the western United States, southwestern Canada, and northern Mexico. Harris’s Antelope Ground Squirrels eat a variety of plant foods, including grasses, seeds, nuts, and fruits. They also eat insects, spiders, and snails. Harris’s Antelope Ground Squirrels have a lifespan of 4-5 years in the wild and up to 8 years in captivity.

White-Tailed Antelope Squirrel

White-tailed Antelope squirrels are small rodents that get their name from their large whitetails. These squirrels have reddish-brown fur on their backs and white fur on their bellies. They are found in the southwestern United States and parts of Mexico.

White-tailed Antelope Squirrels are diurnal animals and are active during the day. They live in open areas like prairies and deserts. White-tailed Antelope Squirrels eat a variety of plant foods, including grasses, seeds, nuts, and fruits. They also eat insects, spiders, and snails. White-tailed Antelope Squirrels have a lifespan of 4-5 years in the wild and up to 8 years in captivity.

Nelson’s Antelope Ground Squirrel

Nelson’s Antelope Ground Squirrels (ammospermophilus nelsoni) are medium-sized rodents. They have a light brown coat with a white belly. They live in open areas like prairies and deserts. Nelson’s Antelope Ground Squirrel is 3-4 inches long (not including the tail) and weighs between 4 and 8 ounces. 

They are found in the southwestern United States and parts of Mexico. Nelson’s Antelope Ground Squirrels eat a variety of plant foods, including grasses, seeds, nuts, and fruits. They also eat insects, spiders, and snails. Nelson’s Antelope Ground Squirrels have a lifespan of 4-5 years in the wild and up to 8 years in captivity.

Alaska Marmot

The Alaska Marmot (marmota broweri) is a large rodent that can weigh up to 16 pounds. They have a thick, brown fur coat with a yellowish tinge. They live in the mountainous regions of Alaska and Canada.

Alaska Marmots are diurnal animals and are active during the day. They live in burrows that they dig themselves. Alaska Marmots eat a variety of plant foods, including grasses, seeds, nuts, and fruits. They also eat insects, spiders, and snails. Alaska Marmots have a lifespan of 4-5 years in the wild and up to 8 years in captivity.

Hoary Marmot

The Hoary Marmot (Marmota caligata), just like the Alaska Marmot, is a large squirrel that can weigh up to 16 pounds. They’re also called whistle pigs because of the high-pitched alarm calls they make to warn their fellow animals of predators. Hoary Marmots have a thick, brown fur coat. They live in the Northwest United States and Canada.

Hoary Marmots are diurnal animals and are active during the day. They live in burrows that they dig themselves. Hoary Marmots eat a variety of foods, including seeds, nuts, fruits, insects, and spiders. Hoary Marmots have a lifespan of 4-5 years in the wild and up to 8 years in captivity.

Final Word

So there you go! These bushy-tailed critters may look all the same to you, but in actuality, there are many different types of squirrels. Some live in trees, some live in burrows, and some even live in the desert! All of them are interesting in their own way and are fun to watch. 

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