Squirrels are small or medium-sized animals similar to other animals including prairie dogs, chipmunks, and marmots. Different species of squirrels exist and they can be distinguished in body form and structure. A comparison of Pallas’ squirrel, Indian palm squirrel, and Abert’s squirrel will give someone an exciting look. Other species of squirrels include American red squirrel, red squirrel, and Western red squirrel. Native habitats of squirrels include forests, woodlands, and semi-arid deserts. Squirrels inhabit nearly all continents and they have variable gestation period.
Species and Adaptations of Squirrels
Squirrels are among the most diverse animals in the world. There are no less than 268 species and 50 genera of squirrels. In general, squirrels are well-adapted to their natural habitats with special body and behavioral features and high intelligence. Their swift, slender, agile bodies, large eyes, ever-growing incisor, land long, bushy tails are special adaptive features of squirrels. Some species of squirrels and their adaptive features are discussed as follows:
Ground squirrels. These squirrels have grayish color with brown and black ascents. They usually have color variants which are determined by the type of background their habitat. Ground squirrels are ground burrowers, which is a physical adaptation to escape predators. Ground squirrels, also normally have strong incisors that do not wear out even as they grow older; this is an adaptive feature to support frequent feeding. This species of squirrels are also well adapted for defense. They use their sharp claws to protect themselves and their territories when they are attacked by a predator. Ground squirrels have big pouches in their mouths as an adaptation for storing and transporting food.
Fox squirrels. This species of squirrels are native to central and eastern United States where they live in longleaf pine, hardwood forests, and woodlands. Fox squirrels are relatively larger than other species of squirrels. Among their adaptations include varying fur colors that allow them to blend into their environment; well-developed front muscles to grab and hold onto tree branches and twigs; sharp, curved claws that enable them to climb and descend trees branches and to grip their prey.
Eastern Gray Squirrels. These are native to North America such as San Mateo, San Francisco, Oregon, Santa Clara, California. They also occur in Ireland, Scotland, Australia, and mainland Britain. Their gray color resulted from a mix of black and brown. The small body size of Eastern Gray Squirrels has made them to adapt to a wide range of environments and habitats. In fact, some people claim that this species of squirrels has displaced original squirrel species in many places across the world. The primary adaptation is their ability to leap from tree to another to escape predators. They can also scamper up trees, and have sharp teeth to crack nuts open. For moremore
How Squirrels Feed
Squirrels essentially feed on vegetables and fungi including nuts, seeds, mushrooms, and tree buds. However, due to food scarcity, they have adapted to eating insects and baby birds by which they have been classified as omnivores.
How to Keep Squirrels Away
Try mulching. Mulch is any material that is spread over the soil to prevent weed growth and conserve soil moisture. Mulching helps to keep squirrels away because squirrels finds a mulched area unattractive as opposed to an area that readily entices them.
Use trapping method. This method also works effectively. It simply involves using live traps with foods that easily entice squirrels to catch the animals alive without harming them, and then relocate the animals to other areas. Mousetraps may also be used to scare squirrels away. When mousetraps are adopted, they should not be intended to harm or kill squirrels but as a scare crow. Only the snap sound of mouse traps is suffix to make them flee.
Grow potted plants that repel squirrels. Although squirrels are essentially vegetable eaters, there are plants and flowers that naturally discourage them from coming to roam the house. In general, squirrels dislike pungent smells. Thus, placing a few pots containing such plants including fritillaries, geraniums, galanthus, hyacinth, daffodils, and mint will make them to stay away.
Install a motion-sensor sprinkler. This is a sprinkler that sprinkles water when it detects vibrations resulting movements around it. The sprinkling action of this type of sprinkler is self-activated. Squirrels are easily scared away when the sprinkler suddenly begins to sprinkle water.
Avoid leaving food out carelessly. Squirrels naturally enticed by food. Therefore, when they smell pet meals, food from bird feeders, fruits, and waste food, they tend to come near to investigate. Thus, avoiding leaving these foods carelessly will keep squirrels awayreference. In other words, maintain serene surroundings around the house.
Block off entry points. Squirrels are opportunists. Just as they take advantage of what they can find around when they are hungry, they also take advantage of cracks, holes, and weaknesses in the house to get access to the inside. What someone can do to prevent them therefore is to walk around the home to discover cracks and other openings in walls and foundations. And then block them off with sealants.
Leave your pets outdoor. Perhaps this is the most efficient way to block squirrels out. Squirrels know their predators and they normally will keep off places where animals such as dogs and cats stay regularly and unpredictably. Even where these animals are not available, medium-size, real-life figures of these animals may be made and installed in an open space where can be readily visible to squirrels. What is important in using such images is to ensure that they move about regularly so that squirrels would be deceived into believing they are live animals. Movements of such images may be driven by solar energy or may be wind-driven.
Do not keep water outdoor. All animals, including squirrels need water, apart from food to survive. So it is important to avoid keeping water to keep squirrels away.
Even though squirrels are fascinating, intelligent animals, they can sometimes make a nuisance when they get so accustomed to human dwellings. Thus, it may be desirable to keep them away for obvious reasons but this must be done carefully.