Squirrels are small rodents and frequent visitors to the forest. They are agile, quick and lively. Squirrels are known as “tree squirrels” and are a protected species in the wild. Wild squirrels seem to be everywhere: forests, cities, suburbs. They are native to all continents except Antarctica and Australia. The African pygmy squirrel of Cameroon is the smallest squirrel species, measuring only 6 centimeters in length.
The largest squirrel is the foreign or Malabar giant squirrel, which can grow up to 1 meter in length. There are even flying squirrels that glow pink under ultraviolet light. Chipmunks are actually small squirrels with stripes.
Growth and distribution of squirrels
Squirrels are widely distributed in temperate and cool-temperate forest ecosystems of the Palearctic, from Iberia and the British Isles in the west to the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Russian island of Sakhalin, and Hokkaido in Japan in the east, and from the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, northern Mongolia, and the northwestern and northeastern regions of China in the south.
Squirrels are mainly found in coniferous forests or mixed coniferous-broad forests with species of pine, larch and spruce. Because of its relatively rich and stable food source, the squirrel can maintain a high population density in mixed coniferous and broad forests and can utilize small patches of forested land on the outskirts of towns and even in cities, becoming a companion animal.
Morphology and Characteristics of Squirrels
The Eurasian red squirrel, which widely distributes in the temperate coniferous forest zone in the northern part of the Eurasian continent, represents a typical squirrel and is the prototype of the popularly known image of the squirrel. In winter, the Eurasian red squirrel exhibits black dorsal fur and white belly, while in summer, its fur transitions from gray to brownish-red. On the other hand, the Eurasian red squirrels in the western part of the continent have reddish-brown dorsal fur all year round. Gray-reddish-brown is also the main color of most squirrels in North America. Eurasian red squirrels in the distribution range from east to west of different geographic groups of hair color change is also the history of squirrels from the North American continent origin, radiation into the Eurasian continent this process of reflection.
Squirrels are active throughout the year, do not hibernate, and are diurnal, with the start time of each day related to the time of sunrise, and the end time of each day not significantly correlated with the time of sunset.Climatic conditions affect the daily activity rhythm of squirrels, and squirrels will reduce their activity time in response to high winds, heavy rains, severe cold, and heat.
Trade-offs between the need to forage for food and to remain in the nest to conserve energy influenced squirrel winter activity patterns. Daily winter activity precepts are unimodal, and they may also remain in the nest for several days of inactivity during severe cold weather conditions. In summer, there is one peak of activity in the morning and one in the afternoon. Daily activity patterns in spring and fall between east and summer.
Squirrels spend 70 to 80 percent of their time in foraging activities, tending to forage and store food in coniferous forests. In the fall, squirrels scatter nuts for storage on the ground and fungi for storage on tree branches. Storage in the fall facilitates overwintering and the following year’s reproduction.
How squirrels reproduce
The reproductive status of squirrels is closely related to the state of food acquisition. There can be two births per year, mating in February and March and July and August, with a gestation period of about 38-39 days. However, if food access is inadequate, spring mating is delayed or eliminated. The mating system is one male and many females or mixed. There is courtship behavior before mating, and usually the dominant male has more mating opportunities. Female squirrels are usually fertile from the second year of life, and their fertility is closely related to body weight, with only females above a certain body weight threshold being fertile, and the greater the body weight the greater the number of offspring they are able to produce. Pups are nursed exclusively by females for more than 10 weeks.
Little squirrels are hard-working creatures that spend a lot of time on collecting food. Not only do they collect the food they need, but they often bring food for the sake of other small animals, often one squirrel acts as a messenger for the entire forest. Squirrels not only value food, but also know how to value life. In life, squirrels always pay attention to their own safety, carefully avoiding areas they are not familiar with to avoid unnecessary risks. In nature, squirrels are one of the important beings. They not only protect themselves, but also other small animals. In our life, we should also know how to cherish like the little squirrels, cherish life, and cherish everything we have.