Did you know there are 285 different species of squirrels in the world? While this website is not dedicated to cataloguing every species, here are some facts about the most common ones.
Eastern Gray Squirrel
One of the most common types of squirrel in the world, this species has been introduced to many places in the Western United States and the UK. They are often associated with urban and suburban areas, parks, and college campuses. Eastern grays are notable for their duck-like calls when warning other squirrels of predators nearby.
Eastern Fox Squirrel
This is the largest species of squirrel native to North America, and is slightly larger than the Eastern Gray. Fox squirrels have an orangeish-colored belly as opposed to the Eastern’s mainly white fur. Where the two species coexist, they do not interbreed and are sometimes mistaken for each other.
These squirrels are a variant of the grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis). One town in the USA, Olney, Illinois, bills itself as the “White Squirrel Capital of the World”. There are steep fines for anyone who intentionally disturbs, harasses, or kills their beloved albino squirrels. Sorry squirrelivores, you’ll have to find your food elsewhere!
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, there are over 60 species of ground squirrel alone! As the name suggests, ground squirrel dig burrows in the ground as opposed to their nest-dwelling treeborne counterparts. Ground squirrels are also extremely territorial, and will emit a chirping sound to warn off competitors.
Of all the species of squirrel in the world, the flying squirrels are the only nocturnal species. Their name is a misnomer though as they do not possess wings; rather they glide on air currents using their aerodynamic body structure. Some species of flying squirrels are also kept as household pets and are referred to as sugar gliders.
Chipmunks belong in the same family of animals as squirrels, Sciuridae. Smaller and with distinctive stripes along their back, these creatures are found only in North America and Asia. They are known for their cheek pouches which can expand to carry large amounts of food from place to place.
Indian giant squirrel
The largest and perhaps most beautiful species of squirrel is found on the Indian subcontinent. Their multicolored body alone can grow to almost 2 feet long, with a tail matching in length. Notably, this species of squirrel hangs from branches when eating, and freezes in place when a predator is seen.
American Red Squirrel
Smaller than their gray counterparts, the American Red Squirrel prefers to dwell wherever conifers are common. They are territorial and will fight other squirrels over resources. Mothers will set up multiple nests in their territory, and move babies around between nests.
Learn more about squirrel behaviors.