Life Of A Squirrel

Megan Clark

All About Me

Hello! Here's some quick knowledge about me... I'm a member of the Sciuridae family, consisting of small or medium-size rodents. I live among the Americas, Eurasia and Africa. I got my name from my big, bushy tail. My hobbies include climbing trees and jumping tree to tree as well as eating nuts, seeds and some berries! People often scare me, so I won't ever come too close but some of my cousins do, they're more outgoing then me!


I am the host of many parasites including flees, mites, deer ticks and roundworms. That's a commensalism relationships, because one is benefiting (them) and I am not benefitting nor hurting so I stay mutual. My predators like to eat me they include hawks, some owls, raccoons, bobcats, coyotes, foxes and domestic cats and dogs. I try to stay far away from them by keeping in my tree! I need the sun to help the fungi and flowers I eat grow. Without the sunlight many food sources of mine would not be available and my cousins and I would end up dying off. I rely on photosynthesis for my tree homes and food to grow. My greatest competitor is the chipmunk. The chipmunk and I share a niche... they also try to get my food and tree homes. That's called interspecific competition. This impacts my life because when I am prey I have to be very very careful and watch my surroundings making sure I am in a safe location. The chipmunks and my family don't get along very well because of our differences in one niche. It's hard for us both to find the resources we need in just one niche. We often fight.

Physical Factors That Affect Me

The sun affects me because it provides my food with the energy to give me energy. The seasons affect me because in the winter I go into hibernation. During the spring I'm very active as well as for summer and fall. With the continually changing population and other factors that help regulate reproductive rates, our populations are very cyclic. When a population eruption results in mass emigrations, nearly all of us leave the area. Sometimes, we swim in lakes and rivers and emigrations as such may be experienced over several states, involving millions of animals, many of which die during the movement. A population eruption is a rather unique kind of limiting factor because the end result helps improve our overall gene pool over a vast area. Weather factors are the most critical limiting conditions imposed on our populations aside from man- caused habitat destruction. Rainfall, or the lack of it at important times heavily affect us. Heavy rain when there's lots of litters causes drowning of baby squirrels. And cold weather during early spring affect the crops we need.

Metabolism & Energetics

Photosynthesis and respiration play a big role in my life. Both help the growth of my homes, and my food supply. All plant cells need water to function, water is needed to carry nutrients and glucose around the plant, turgor pressure keeps green stems and leaves upright and the water is necessary for the photosynthesis reaction to take place. Therefore, photosynthesis gives me glucose and nutrients for survival. Respiration is necessary for my survival because it is the process of trees (my home) taking up carbon dioxide and giving me oxygen. Oxygen gives not only me but everyone in my ecosystem energy and life! Nutrients enter my bloodstream via osmosis and diffusion. Respiration takes up complex organic substances and breaks it down into oxygen. We hibernate from early winter to early spring each year. Some species of us migrate, but not all of us do. It depends on the location of that species. Females go through senescence more so than males. One of the biggest factors of an aging female is she becomes very infertile.

Nutritional Needs

Our order of preference for food is hickory nuts, beechnuts, white oak acorns and black oak acorns. This preference order varies from place to place because of differing habitat availability. When heavy-seeded mast crops fail, competition for food becomes intense. Well-established adults force younger members of the population out of the home range. Life span of adults increases and production may cease. Mast failure during a population peak is the prime cause of the emigrations as I described in Physical Factors. Our diet is highly fat based because during the winter we must hibernate and the extra fat we store from our fat based diet will help us live during the winter months. Protein is necessary to build our little yet strong muscles to help us climb trees! We also use the protein to help store the fat during the cold months.


Physiologically squirrels are more robust than other rodents. My immune system isn't very strong because I am so small and there's usually always parasites on me. Whenever a parasite is on me my immune system is trying to stay strong against that so if I get sick with an illness my body doesn't handle it very well. Scabies or mange, caused by scabies mite, can be very fatal to us. Sometimes we scratch ourselves until our bodies are bloody and hairless we then become weak and susceptible to predation. The warble or bot fly is our most serious pest. This fly lays its eggs on tree bark and when the eggs hatch, the larvae transfer to the first passing squirrel. The larva burrows under the skin around the shoulders and legs to become a large grub which keeps a large hole in our skin to help it breathe. We have 4 main categories of vocal communication: nesting, mating, aggressive, mating and warning calls. Baby squirrels use small cries for their mother while male squirrels during mating season use a series of calls that sound like sneezing to get her attention. While a squirrel under threat will let out a small shrill scream. While a squirrel under threat will let out various noises depending on different levels of danger. Squirrels use their tail for multiple different things including temp regulation to visual distraction when facing predators. A group of squirrels will wave they're tail back and forth in an effort to intimidate or confuse a threatening animal by creating a bigger body mass through rapid tail movements. Our tails can also be used to display our emotions. We also use scents to communicate such as mark territory lines, stress levels, social hierarchies or reproductive availability. The scent is usually an imbalance of hormones and that's why other squirrels can smell it... because it's a smell we are not used to.

Reproductive Strategy

We breed once or twice a year and give birth to a varying number of young after three to six weeks. They're are born naked, toothless, and blind. In most species of squirrel, only the female looks after the young, which become independent at around six to ten weeks of age and become sexually mature at the end of their first year. In general, ground-dwelling species are social animals, often living in well-developed colonies, but the tree-dwelling species are more solitary. Us, ground and tree squirrels are typically diurnal.

Evolutionary Adaptions we have made for this region

  • run faster, fast cars taught us this
  • how to fight for our food/ look at different times of the day than the chipmunk
  • improved vision
  • hibernate in the winter whereas my cousins in hotter climates do not need to
  • storing nuts and berries for the winter hibernation


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