Little Known Squirrel Facts

Learn fun facts about squirrels!

Friend or foe, squirrels are very interesting creatures!  Here are some fun facts you may not know about our little backyard buddies!

Did you know there are over 365 species of squirrels in the world?

There are tree squirrels, ground squirrels and flying squirrels!

Squirrels are in the rodent family, which makes up 40% of all mammals.

Gray squirrels can have different shades of fur. Some are even black or pure white.

Red squirrels can sometimes have a completely black coat.

Squirrels eat nuts, seeds and fruit. And they also eat corn and sometimes bugs. They need about a pound of food per week.

Instead of hibernating, tree squirrels stay in their nest for days–sometimes sharing it with other squirrels for warmth–during storms and really cold weather.

Squirrels communicate with a series of chirps, expressing alarm or locating family members. They twitch their tails for emphasis!

The smallest squirrel is the African pygmy. They are 5 inches long from their heads to the tip of their tails. They are found in Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon.

The largest squirrel is the Ratufa. It can be as long as 3 feet in length. This beauty is found in Asia and Nepal.

Squirrels have been known to live as long as 20 years in captivity. Our common gray squirrel lives an average of 5 years in the wild, if they are lucky enough to survive their first year.

The squirrel has a brain about the size of a walnut.

Squirrels can run as fast as 20 miles per hour.

The oldest known squirrel skeleton is over 50 million years old.

Lafayette Park in Washington, DC has the largest concentration of squirrels in the United States.

President Ronald Reagan loved the squirrels at the White House so much he commissioned an artist to paint a squirrel running across the White House lawn for the Presidential Christmas Card.

If a squirrel’s nest is high in a tree, it is called a drey. A squirrel’s nest in a hollow tree is called a den.

Squirrel teeth grow at the rate of six inches per year! However, their teeth stay short from constant wear as they nibble and gnaw on everything!

Squirrels keep their teeth clean and sharp by chewing on twigs.

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  • M J Holder January 7, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Squirrels are a PAIN!

  • Sherry January 7, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    In my two months of bird feeding I have learned that NOTHING is “Squirrel Proof.” When you think you have outsmarted the squirrels, they prove otherwise. At times I am amused by them, however, no day passes that I don’t find myself saying, “I HATE SQUIRRELS!”

  • Robby January 9, 2010 at 11:16 am

    After many years of fighting with them for my birdfeeders, I finally reached a compromise. I feed the squirrels. But I have a feeder that they have tried daily for seven years to conquer but haven’t managed to get to the food yet. The feeder is on a 8 feet tall 4×4 post. It has the feeder at the top and a baffle about 4 feet above the ground around the post. The post is in the middle of the yard, well away from overhanging tree branches so they can’t jump to the feeder or swing to it from branches. Even when I haven’t put food out for the squirrels they haven’t managed to get to my birdfood so I figure I have won. But still-it is great fun to watch the silly squirrel that seems to have fits at times and the fat little mama that stuffs all she can into her cheeks then takes great leaps up the dogwood tree. I think they are entertaining me enough to spare them some food. Now if only they would stop digging holes in my flower beds…

  • Betty Walsh January 9, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    I have…truly…squirrel-proofed my feeders, after many years! I still love their antics, and put food on the ground for them. But, try as they do, they cannot access my feeders. The first thing I did was invest in the Absolute double-sided feeder, mounted on a pole with a baffle half way up. I also invested in caged feeders from Kinsman Co., both for suet and seed. I hang these on shepherd’s hooks, with a baffle on the pole. Double baffling is a key! My husband and I are now on a fixed income, and watching squirrels deplete my feeders was annoying and costly. Good luck, everyone!

  • R. Brune January 11, 2010 at 9:17 am

    Good squirrel-proofing advice! Thanks for commenting, Betty and Robby.

  • P.A. Christy January 11, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    I love my squirrels! They share a platform feeder that hangs in a tree with all kinds of other birds. They keep me amused, and I can sit right next to the tree, talk to them, and they look at me while they are eating. When they come in, usually there are two or three in the top of the tree, and they chitter and chirp talking to one another before they come down. They are very social and share the feeder with one another, and when they leave, the birds take their turns. They have never bothered any of my other feeders, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world!

  • Linda February 23, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    I have no problem feeding the squirrels–only problems with the destroying tube feeders or plastic feeders. Otherwise I find them amusing. I recently moved and discovered the squirrels in my new neighborhood are less determined than the ones in my old place. I’m not sure if it is the concentration of people and feeders or more polite squirrels. I did have one get determined and get into a hanging feeder but I moved it farther away from the tree trunk and added a larger baffle that wouldn’t allow him the ease of getting under it and he hasn’t seemed to bother it since. I enjoyed the squirrel facts!

  • Cindy January 8, 2011 at 6:37 am

    Squirrels are a pain in the neck but look at those cute little feet and eyes–I had one as a pet while growing up–they are really funny–sometimes more entertaining than a kitten.. Someone needs to create a model that has a smaller stomach tho,lol

  • Terry January 8, 2011 at 6:43 am

    I love these little guys. I feed them just as I feed the birds. Some times I will buy peanuts in the shell & they will take them from my hand. They are very carefull & I am very still,but I haven’t been bitten yet.

  • Debbie January 8, 2011 at 8:24 am

    I enjoyed reading your squirrel facts! I have to say I love my squirrels and feed them well, especially in the winter. They get the peanuts in the shell everyday and I also throw out corn. I found a sweet corn block at Lowes that you hang on a chain with a bungee cord that it provides. It’s a fun thing to watch when they are hanging upside down eating that thing 🙂
    Love watching my birds too and they are fed well…but I think my squirrels and chipmunks are the most entertaining!!!!

  • David January 8, 2011 at 9:54 am

    I have had mixed success with managing a rather healthy squirrel population. Right now I’d say we’re at a suitable compromise. I THINK I’ve protected the feeder with a double-baffle, and I put out food on the deck or ground below for the furry friends. They enjoy dried pumpkin seeds. Squirrels also like to take a drink from the heated bird bath and they do it no harm. They are as fun to watch as the birds, and hey, they’ve gotta eat too! I try to make sure everyone gets a meal at least a couple times a week. I did have a squirrel get inside a caged tube feeder. He ate himself full and couldn’t get out. I had been away for a few days. When I came home he was wedged in one of the cage blocks and had perished either from panic or hypothermia. Had to cut the caging with wire-cutters to get him out. After that I stopped using that feeder. Now sitting in the garage, $50 wasted. It obviously was not squirrel-proof as advertised.

  • EEofDC January 8, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Great post on the little furry creatures. My apartment is about a five-minute walk from the Lincoln Memorial and about three years ago, I befriended a group of the little beasts I refer to now as my squirrel-PAC.

    Washington is home to jillions of oak trees, so the only thing I give them are acorns during the fall season. My favorite squirrel (all black) has gotten so familiar that, if he sees me and I’m slow getting the nuts out, he’ll climb up my pant leg and try to get in my pocket!

  • Barbara January 8, 2011 at 10:03 am

    We have lots of tree squirrels and need to find a way to keep them from eating the corn we plant in our small garden every summer. Any solutions? Do not want to harm them or trap and remove.

  • patricia krupica January 8, 2011 at 10:04 am

    David…run another wire midway on the feeder…then they won’t be able to get in…Of course anything can happen…one got in a birdhouse at my daughter’s house and was pregnant and grew too bit to get out…sad.

  • Holly January 8, 2011 at 10:28 am

    You may THINK Washington D.C. has the greatest concentration of squirrels but then you haven’t been to my folk’s house in Minnesota, have you? My father banded birds for 60 years and he kept all the birds well-fed. My mother feeds the squirrels and chipmunks with peanutbutter sandwiches, pumpkin and squash seeds she dries, acorns we collect in the fall, and a lot of sunflower seeds. Her squirrels have the most beautiful lush coats imaginable, and of course they produce many litters… people in town talk about how unusual it is for the black mutation of the grey squirrel to have spread throughout the entire area. I smile sheepishly– I know where that started, some 15 years ago, in my parent’s yard!
    What richness has been added to my life, down through the years, by watching birds and squirrels and humans interact. I love it all.

  • Jonelle DeFelice January 8, 2011 at 11:19 am

    I love watching the family of fuzzies in our back yard. Thing is, it is a love/hate relationship. They usually don’t cause any damage, but sometimes a smart one figures out how to jump onto the bird feeders. They also eat some of the seed I intend for Cardinals. But they are God’s Creatures, and so entertaining. Until one tries to kill me, I will let them live… 😉

  • Lisa January 8, 2011 at 11:59 am

    I love my squirrels and feed them once or twice a day. I also have bird feeders up and my squirrels do not bother them. I guess they would rather have the nuts I put out. In the fall I gather as many acorns & hickory nuts as weather allows….I also buy peanuts in the shell and now that christmas is over I go around to my local grocery stores & wal-mart and offer to buy their remaining mixed nuts for .99 cents or less a lbs.
    to get them out of their way… far I have had success. I just bought 85 lbs. yesterday! I also put a squirrel nesting box up in the tree….it is great fun watching them run in and out all day….one will usually sit at the hole and peek out all the time.

  • Irina January 8, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    As for squirrels, I have found them to be useful in the Fall for digging up acorns. If they weren’t around, I’d have lots of sprouting trees to pull up in the Spring!

  • Carmen January 8, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    They can be a pest but they are so cute and I love to watch them scamper.

  • Lauei W January 8, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Along with a feeder, I bought the squirrel munch box. I have watched and enjoyed these squirrels . They are happy with their peanuts and I have never seen them or signs of them at the bird feeder. In truth I view them with the sane enjoyment as I do my cardinal family. Love my squirrels!

  • miriam January 8, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Im a squirrel lover I feed then just as much as I feed the birds.
    I also love wildlife I have a raccoon that come and eats the peanuts I live for him at night.
    I figured humans have taken over their trees so I do my best for them to find shelter , water and food.

  • Amy January 8, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    The thing that works best for us is suet with hot pepper in it. Home Depot sells it for something like $1.49 a package. I SWEAR by the stuff. The squirrels will not go near it (while they have attacked regular suet) and the woodpeckers and other birds love it. I also have a thistle feeder that the squirrels rarely touch but the birds seem to prefer my hot pepper suet. All other birdseed is a lost cause in my yard.

  • DebDecatur January 8, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    If you feed the squirrels peanuts or corn in a different location than your bird feeders they will leave them alone. Also I don’t have squirrels in the attic because I feed them. I love my squirrels!

  • Roger Poirier January 9, 2011 at 4:31 am

    all living creatures have to eat to survive. During the last snowstorm, it was like a united nations of birds and squrrels. I have three feeders and I have a old bird bath that I use for the squirrels and ground feeders. The birds have become so used to my presence that they do not fly away. the squirrels in the beginning I tried to scare off but now I leave them alone.

  • John January 9, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Like other people who have posted before me, I have found that a squirrel baffle works great except for that Olympic champion high jumper. Incredible what he is able to do but I just raised the baffle another 6 inches and that solved the problem. I can’t keep them from foraging on the ground under the feeders but they can no longer get at them. I have also put 2 squirrel feeders at the other end of the yard. So far so good.

  • Charlene January 9, 2011 at 10:56 am

    I feed the squirrels peanuts every day. Everyone comments on how fat the squirrels are at my house. Some are so friendly they will eat out of my hand. I do buy the pepper birdfood from Duncraft. There is one squirrel that evidently doesn’t mind the taste. He is at the feeder all the time munching away until I throw out a handful of peanuts.

  • Sharon January 10, 2011 at 10:17 am

    I love the squirrels. I have learned to love them more since they help keep the grackles and starlings off of the tray feeder. I would much rather have a squirrel eating than those messy black birds, I do like the red winged blackbirds. I have metal feeders so they don’t destroy anything and I even have a jar with striped sunflowers in it just for them….I wish my trees were large enough for them to climb and stay all the time.

    We have an attic type shelf under the roof of my tray feeder where they go and take a nap or just to get out of the weather. They leave my hanging feeders alone but do love to sit and sun themselves on top of my feeding pergola where I hang my feeders from. The smaller birds and the squirrels all seem to get along fine .

  • Lauei W January 16, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    I use peanuts in a squirrel box some distance from my bird feeder. I chose the metal style with the idea it would be easy to keep clean. I had not thought of our frigid winters and now think wood may have been a better choice for me. I have the metal Absolute bird feeder and the birds dislike the cold metal perch as well. So consider your climate if you decide to try a squirrel box .

  • Bob November 1, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    I live in Monterey, CA. on a street lined with Oaks and Pines. The squirrel population is healthy and this time of year (fall) have filled out and seem very healthy. I started feeding them by hand two or three years ago and relished the interaction. This year I whistle for them and they jump through the branches and scamper along the ground to the dog feeder I have filled up with peanuts. Costco has the brand “Hoodies” that are dry roasted and unsalted. In the summer, the juveniles tentatively inch their way towards the aroma that has their attention and cautiously peek into the feeder. It is fun watch their first reaction when they find the nut and run away to eat. I am really enamored with these little ones. I have named them and count them as friends that never fail to amuse me. Bless the little creatures!

  • Aemi November 9, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    I gave up trying to keep my squirrel off the bird feeders. He jumps and lands with absolute precision in the dead center of the hanging platform feeder I have set up for the sparrows. The sheer skill he shows off is remarkable! The only way I can keep his attention away from the sparrow seed is to offer him something better, so under the platform feeder I put a large tray that I fill with a fruit and peanut blend. He can fight the bluejays for it. They stay down there, the little birds feel safe up high.

    Now if only I can stop him from eating in the birdbath. He likes the height of it and the easy access to clean water, but he sits dead center in the water and leaves his sunflower seed shells in the water! Its so nasty… Little fluffy pig…. If he wasnt so damned cute….