Squirrel Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Kristina Washington-Morris

Kristina has taught a variety of elementary classes and has a master's degree in elementary education.

If you've ever been to a park with large trees, chances are you have seen a squirrel. Squirrels are adored by many, but the true facts about this animal may surprise you. In this lesson, we will explore facts about many types of squirrels.

What Are Squirrels?

Have you ever watched squirrels gathering food in the fall? Squirrels are small mammals that range in size from a couple inches to over two feet long. All squirrels are rodents. Rodents are mammals with 1 to 4 teeth that never stop growing. Squirrels are constantly gnawing on trees and food to keep their teeth from growing through their necks!

There are over 200 different species of squirrels found in many parts of the world. Squirrels are divided into different groups. Tree squirrels, ground squirrels, and chipmunks are three of the main groups. Let's explore the similarities and differences of squirrels in these groups.

Tree Squirrels

Tree Squirrel
tree squirrel

As you might have guessed, tree squirrels live in trees. Tree squirrels can be brown, grey, reddish brown, or almost black. Most tree squirrels can grow up to 2 feet long. They have bushy tails and long hind feet which help them balance in tall branches.

Tree squirrels make nests in branches or inside of hollow trees. These nests are called dreys. A drey is similar to a bird's nest. Tree squirrels gather food and store it in their dreys for cold winters when food is hard to find. They will eat tree nuts, fruit, and bark. If needed, these squirrels may also eat small insects, eggs, and other animal matter.

Flying squirrels are one type of tree squirrel. Despite their name, flying squirrels cannot fly! They have a membrane, or skin, connecting their fore and hind legs. If a flying squirrel runs and jumps fast enough from a tall tree, it can stretch out it limbs and use the membrane to glide through the air.

Ground Squirrels

Ground Squirrel
ground squirrel

Ground squirrels are slightly smaller than tree squirrels. A larger species can grow to be about a foot long but most of them are smaller than this. They are generally different shades of brown, grey, and white. Some even have stripes down their backs.

Ground squirrels burrow and create homes in a variety of underground locations. Their tunnel systems can be found in mountainous regions, deserts, and grasslands. A whole group, or colony, of ground squirrels will live near each other. Their colonies are kind of like underground apartment buildings, with each ground squirrel having their own burrow home with its own door.

Chipmunks

Chipmunk
chipmunk

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