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Baby Tree Squirrel (Wild)

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Published on Aug 6, 2011

Squirrels belong to a large family of small or medium-sized rodents called the Sciuridae. The family includes tree squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, marmots (including woodchucks), flying squirrels, and prairie dogs. Squirrels are indigenous to the Americas, Eurasia, and Africa and have been introduced to Australia. Squirrels are first attested in the Eocene, about forty million years ago, and are most closely related to the mountain beaver and to the dormice among living species.

Tree squirrels include over a hundred species that are found on all continents except Antarctica, and are the members of the squirrel family (Sciuridae) most commonly referred to as "squirrels". They do not form a single natural, or monophyletic, group, but instead are related to the various other animals in the squirrel family, including ground squirrels, flying squirrels, marmots, and chipmunks. The defining characteristic that is used to determine which of the various species of Sciuridae are tree squirrels is therefore not so dependent on their physiology, but their habitat. Tree squirrels live mostly among trees, as opposed to other squirrels that live in burrows in the ground or among rocks. However, there is one exception to this rule, as physiological distinction does make a difference in regard to flying squirrels, who also make their home in trees, but have unique physical characteristics that separate them from their tree squirrel cousins (specifically, special flaps of skin that act as glider wings, allowing them to "fly"

The most well-known genus of tree squirrels is Sciurus, which includes the eastern gray squirrel of North America (and which was introduced to Great Britain), the red squirrel of Eurasia, and the North American fox squirrel, among many others. Since many tree squirrel species have readily adapted to human-altered environments (including intensely-cultivated farms and urban cities), and because they are mostly diurnal (active during the daytime), when most people are outdoors to see them, they are perhaps the most familiar members of the rodent family to most humans. Indeed, in some larger cities, they are often the only wild animals (not counting birds) that most people ever see. It is no surprise, then, that tree squirrels and humans have had a very complex and long-lasting relationship.

Squirrels are generally intelligent and persistent animals. In residential neighborhoods, they are notorious for discovering clever methods to circumvent obstacles in order to eat out of bird feeders. Tree squirrels also create minor annoyances by digging in planting pots and flower beds to pull out bulbs which they chew on, to either bury or recover seeds and nuts, and for building nests within human domiciles, including attics and basements. Squirrels use their keen sense of smell to locate buried nuts and can dig extensive holes in the process. Birds, especially crows, will sometimes watch a squirrel bury a nut, then dig it up as soon as the squirrel leaves. Although they are expert climbers, and primarily arboreal, squirrels also thrive in urban environments, where they have adapted to humans.

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