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Squirrel Adaptations: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jennifer Lowery

Jennifer has taught elementary levels K-3 and has master's degrees in elementary education and curriculum/instruction and educational leadership.

Squirrels are rodents with special body parts and skills that help them live in trees. In this lesson, learn about the physical characteristics that help squirrels find food, blend in, and survive being hunted by predators.

Squirrels Jumping All Around

Have you ever seen a small furry creature with a fluffy tail filling its cheeks with nuts and then racing straight up a tree, and perhaps leaping from branch to branch? These speedy mammals are squirrels, and there are over 200 different varieties of squirrels throughout the world. There are some physical characteristics that almost all squirrels have in common that enable them to survive in the wild, including their fur color and gymnastic abilities in tree climbing!

Variety of Colors

Squirrels come in many different colors, but most of them have fur that helps them blend in with their surroundings. This is called camouflage, and it is helpful when a predator might want to hunt a squirrel for food. Tree squirrels can be a range of colors, like gray, brown, tan, reddish, white, and black. So they can be hard to spot when they are against the bark of a tree that has the same colors.

Many squirrels have gray and brown fur and blend in with their surroundings.
camouflage

Furry Acrobats

If you have never watched a squirrel in action, it is a pretty amazing thing to see! They have many physical abilities: they can leap, climb, hang, and go down a tree head first with tremendous ease. This ability to move quickly is especially good for avoiding predators.

One of the adaptations that makes them so acrobatic is found in their hind legs. Their back feet rotate 180 degrees, which means they can turn from completely forward to completely backward. This makes it very easy for them to move in different ways. In fact, many people who put bird feeders out in their yards get frustrated because squirrels are able to shimmy into the feeders and chow down!

Squirrels can move in amazing ways to get away from predators or to find a tasty lunch.
bird feeder

Teeth and Claws

Squirrels are rodents, which means that they have front teeth that are constantly growing. Can you imagine if your teeth just kept getting bigger and bigger? Because of this, squirrels are constantly gnawing on objects to wear their teeth down and keep them sharp. Those teeth are helpful when it comes to eating, because squirrels eat many hard foods, like nuts and seeds.

Squirrels have teeth and claws that help them with grabbing and eating hard foods like nuts and acorns.
rodent

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