There are approximately 200 squirrel species in the world. In the UK red squirrels have nearly vanished since gray squirrels were brought in. The reason is that gray squirrels eat all the same foods that red squirrels like – and they continued eating what red squirrels wouldn't eat.
Squirrels have red-brown fur on their back (sometimes black, especially the mountain squirrel) and light fur on the belly. Squirrels grow up to 24 centimeters with a tail almost as long as the body (14-24 cm).
Squirrels live in forests, parks and gardens; they are active during the day (and sometimes during the night). They are avid climber and jumpers. They build several nests high in trees, where they hide their food and babies. Squirrels sleep often during the winter but wake up a lot to eat and drink. However, they will not leave their tunnel or nest during winter.
Squirrels' diet includes berries, fruit, mushrooms, eggs, bugs, seeds and even baby birds.
Their mating period is from January to July. A squirrel female carries babies for 38 days, with a delivery period from March to August, 2-5 times in a year. A squirrel female will deliver 3-7 babies that will be blind for 31 days and will breastfeed for 35-42 days. The babies will be capable for independent life when they are 49-56 days old and will become sexually mature after 12 months.
Squirrels usually live up to 8-10 years. Squirrels have an elongated head with large eyes, small and short ears and thick legs. They live across the world, in Europe and Asia, as well as America.
Red squirrels are a European native species, and until a few centuries ago they were the only squirrel species in Europe – until Englishmen brought grey squirrels from North America. Unlike gray squirrels, a red squirrel doesn't like to eat acorns because it can't digest it well. On the other hand, both species love to eat nuts.
Squirrels begin collecting food for winter at the end of summer; they hide it around the woods, but often they forget where they left it. They mark every nut with scent glands on their lips before burying it deep in the soft ground – and they can smell it afterwards even under a thick layer of snow.
Before eating each found nut, a squirrel will check it its edibility. Squirrels use their furry tails as a parachute when they jump off trees. Red squirrels are special and unique because they will adopt a squirrel baby from a mother that was killed.
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