Squirrels - What are they?

Squirrels have 4 toes on forefeet; 5 on hind feet. Tree squirrels have bushy tails and small feet; ground species have less bushy tails and more robust forefeet. Ground squirrels and chipmunks carry food in internal cheek pouches. The flying squirrel has a skin fold along its flanks and attached to its feet that enables it to glide. There is great variation in size: the largest Canadian squirrel, the hoary marmot, is 80 cm long and weighs 6 kg; the smallest, the least chipmunk, 22 cm and 50 g.

All Canadian species, except flying squirrels, are diurnal. While most ground squirrels hibernate, tree squirrels are active year round. Some are gregarious; others, solitary. Tree squirrels generally build nests; ground-dwelling species dig burrows.

Certain species of squirrels are found throughout Canada; others only inhabit specific areas. Preferred habitats are varied, including forests, prairies, mountains and arctic regions. Primarily herbivorous, squirrels sometimes eat insects, eggs and even small birds and mammals.

The problems and damages associated with squirrel infestations depends on which type of the pest is present. Ground squirrels are major agricultural pests and devastate crop yields. Tree and flying squirrels regularly enter homes where they chew on electrical wiring, rip insulation from walls, and keep residents up by being noisy. Furthermore, all species of squirrels can carry parasites that spread diseases to both humans and our pets.

When squirrel infestations are present, homeowners will hear scratching and squeaking noises during the day. The presence of droppings, chew marks, and materials gathered for nests also point to squirrel problems. In the case of ground squirrel infestations, individuals will find girdled trees, garden damage, and holes around lawns that serve as entrances to burrows.

Trapping squirrels can be dangerous as they can quickly become aggressive when they feel threatened. Also, because squirrels are known to carry disease-causing parasites, trying to trap or remove a squirrel without professional help is dangerous! Please contact us today if you have a squirrel problem.

Source: The Canadian Encyclopedia