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image of a squirrel on the tree
11/28/2022 5 minute read

What Does a Squirrel Look Like?

Squirrels come from the family of rodents known as Sciuridae. They are small to medium-sized animals with furry tails, large eyes, and round noses. Along with them, marmots, chipmunks, prairie dogs, and flying squirrels also fall under this category. While we've heard of squirrels all our life, they may still…

Squirrels come from the family of rodents known as Sciuridae. They are small to medium-sized animals with furry tails, large eyes, and round noses. Along with them, marmots, chipmunks, prairie dogs, and flying squirrels also fall under this category.

While we’ve heard of squirrels all our life, they may still be confused as other rodents, especially those within their family. So, what does a squirrel look like?

a squirrel on a tree branch

What are the features of squirrels?

There are more than 200 species of squirrels, making them one of the most widespread rodents in the world. While they come in various shapes, sizes, and colors, they all share certain physical characteristics.

a brown squirrel standing on a tree branch

Size and shape

Squirrels are small animals ranging from 9 to 11 inches long (not counting their tails) and weighing between 6 and 8 ounces. Their bodies are rather slender, and they have a long tail often used as a balancing mechanism when climbing trees or jumping from branch to branch. They have relatively long legs, which helps them to be excellent climbers.

a squirrel on a fence

Color

Squirrels come in various colors, including black, gray, red, and white. The most common type of squirrel in North America is the gray squirrel, which is grayish-brown in color.

Red squirrels are, as their name suggests, red. They are most commonly found in the eastern United States and Canada. Other than that, there are also white squirrels. They are very rare and primarily found in the albino form.

a red squirrel facing backwards

Tail

One of the most distinctive features of a squirrel is its tail. Squirrels use their tails for balance when they are climbing or jumping. They also use their tails to wrap around themselves to keep warm in cold weather.

Squirrels have furry tails that are typically about as long as their bodies. But, this depends on the type of species. The tail is usually black or dark brown with a white or light-colored stripe down the center.

Behavior

Squirrels are known for their cheek pouches that conceal food. They will stuff their cheek pouches full of nuts, seeds, and berries when foraging for food. Then, they will take the food back to their nests or dens to eat later.

Another interesting behavior of squirrels is that they are known to “cache” or hide their food. They will bury nuts and other food in the ground to eat later. This behavior helps them to survive during times when food is scarce.

Squirrels are diurnal, usually spotted in the early morning and late afternoon. They are excellent climbers and often build their nests in trees. Squirrels are also known for their playful behavior. They often chase each other around and play perky games like tag. This playfulness is thought to help them stay agile and quick.

a baby squirrel on the ground

Baby Squirrels

Baby squirrels, or “kits,” are born blind and deaf. They are also very small, typically weighing less than an ounce at birth. During the first few weeks of their lives, baby squirrels will stay in their nest, where they will be cared for by their mother.

They have a thin tail at birth, but it will begin to grow and fill out within a few weeks, along with the whole body. Baby squirrels are born with closed eyes and will not open until they are about six weeks old.

As they grow older, baby squirrels will begin to explore their surroundings and play with other young squirrels. They will be fully developed at around three months old and leave the nest to live independently.

The Common Squirrels And What They Look Like

You might see squirrels leaping from tree to tree. While most squirrels generally exhibit these characteristics, they are not the same species. You might stumble on grey squirrels often. But, there are five commonly existing species of squirrels in North America.

Let’s get into them in detail.

a ground squirrel wandering in the yard

Ground Squirrel

As their name suggests, ground squirrels live on the ground. They do not climb trees like other squirrels. Instead, they will dig extensive underground tunnel systems where they live and raise their young.

Ground squirrels are some of the largest tree squirrels, with bodies up to 18 inches long. They have short tails and small ears, usually brown or gray, with a light-colored stripe running down their backs. Some ground squirrels also have white patches on their bellies.

Ground squirrels are primarily found in the western United States and parts of Canada and Mexico.

a flying squirrel on a tree

Flying Squirrel

Unlike others from the Sciuridae family, flying squirrels are nocturnal. They have furry membrane wings stretching from their front to back legs. These animals glide through the air from one tree to another.

When they are at rest, flying squirrels look like other squirrels. But, when they spread their wings, you get to distinguish them clearly! The Northern flying squirrel is the most common type of flying squirrel, with a white line running down its back. The Southern flying squirrel, on the other hand, does not have this stripe.

Flying squirrels are found in North American, European, and Asian forests. Flying squirrels are small, with bodies that are only about 9 inches long. They are brown or gray with a light-colored belly. They have bushy tails and large eyes that help them to see at night.

a squirrel chewing nuts while resting on a tree

Tree Squirrels

As their name suggests, tree squirrels live in trees. They are excellent climbers and often build their nests in the branches. Tree squirrels are some of the most common squirrels in North America. There are three main types of tree squirrels: red, fox, and gray.

a gray squirrel on a tree branch

Gray Squirrel

Gray squirrels are medium-sized species that climb trees. They are usually grey with white bellies, but some can also look brownish. Both male and female squirrels have long bodies and look similar, with adult gray squirrels averaging 15 to 20 inches. 

Each strand of a gray squirrel’s hair can be red, black, or white. The mix of these colors makes them appear gray. Examples of gray squirrel species include the Arizona gray squirrel, eastern gray squirrel, and western gray squirrel. 

fox squirrel sitting on a tree branch

Fox Squirrel

The fox squirrel is the largest tree squirrel, with bodies up to 30 inches long. Their color can be as pale as green, dark, and black, with white feet. Fox squirrels obtained the name because their furry tails resemble those of foxes. They are found in the eastern United States, where they live in forests and woodland.

red squirrel looking for food

Red Squirrels

Also called pine squirrels, red squirrels are small, with bodies about 11-14 inches long. They have red fur on their backs and sides and white bellies. The tails of red squirrels are also red and very fluffy. They are found in North America, Europe, and Asia forest habitats.

Red squirrels are arboreal, meaning they inhabit trees. These squirrels are very territorial and will fiercely defend the area where they live. They are also known to be hoarders, and they will store large quantities of food in their nests. 

There are 23 known subspecies of red squirrels. This includes the American red squirrel and the Eurasian red squirrel.

a house on a fire

Problem and Danger Cause By Squirrel

A squirrel infestation can wreak havoc on your property and threaten your health and safety. Squirrels are known to chew through electrical wires, which can cause fires. They also gnaw on wood, insulation, and pipes, which can lead to costly repairs.

Squirrels are no different from rats and mice. They often carry diseases transmitted to humans, such as rabies and typhus. They can also bring fleas, ticks, and mites into your home, which can cause itching and irritation.

rabies animated microscopic image

Are squirrels dangerous to humans?

Aside from property damage and possible house fires, squirrels have a fair share of diseases they can transmit, similar to other family members. The most common condition linked to squirrels is the bubonic plague. Other diseases include rabies, typhus, and tularemia. These diseases can be deadly to humans if not treated on time.

The diseases are spread through bites, scratches, or contact with infected squirrels. It is important to see a doctor if you have been in contact with a squirrel, even if you do not feel sick. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to preventing serious health complications.

What does squirrel infestation look like?

The first sign of a squirrel infestation is usually the damage they cause. But, this is not sufficient evidence to point out these damages to them. Squirrels will chew through electrical wires, insulation, wood, and pipes.

Other signs of a squirrel infestation include:

  • Droppings in your attic, crawl space, or on your property
  • Damaged food packages
  • Chew marks on furniture or wood
  • Noises in your attic or crawl space
  • Nests made of shredded paper, insulation, or twigs

If you notice any of these signs, it is important to call a professional squirrel removal service. They can safely remove the squirrels and prevent them from returning.

Need Help With Squirrel Infestation? Call Us Today!

If you suspect that you have a squirrel problem, it’s important to take action right away. The longer you wait, the more damage they will do and the greater the risk to your health and safety.

Our team of experienced professionals at AAAC Wildlife Removal will quickly and safely get rid of your squirrel problem. We will also repair any damage they have done and take steps to prevent them from returning. So, don’t wait. Call us today!

Final Word

Squirrels are distinguishable with their furry tails and large eyes. Their furs come in grey, black, red, or white. There are five commonly existing squirrels in North America: red squirrel, grey squirrel, flying squirrel, fox squirrel, and ground squirrel.

While these rodents are cute and can only be as big as 20 inches, they are a nuisance to homeowners as they often cause damage, such as chewing through electrical wires and insulation. They can also transmit diseases such as rabies and typhus to humans.

A wildlife removal specialist is the best option if you encounter squirrel problems.

FAQs

What Do Squirrel Nests Look Like?

Squirrels build nests like birds. Squirrel nests are usually made of shredded paper, insulation, or twigs. They are typically located in attics, crawl spaces, or trees.

What do Squirrel droppings look like

Rat and squirrel droppings may look identical, like small, dark pellets. The only difference is that rat feces are spindle-shaped, while squirrel feces can appear clumped, depending on the moisture level.

What do squirrels eat?

Squirrels are primarily herbivorous animals, meaning their diet consists mainly of plants. The most common food squirrels eat is acorns, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. However, they occasionally eat small insects and bird eggs or nestlings.