TYPICAL SQUIRRELS

The typical squirrels are classified within rodent family. The body length is from 6 to 60 cm. There are 25-39 genera including squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks and groundhogs. The way of life depends on the species (tree, semi-tree and ground). The most of species are active in daytime and hibernate in the winter. The food is mostly plant one.

Some of the species lay in a massive stock for the winter (for example, chipmunks). There were reports of up to 5 kilos of choice pine nuts found in chipmunks’ burrows.

The breeding is normally once a year (squirrels – up to 2 times a year).

SQUIRREL

This is very common animal for Siberian region. It has prolonged body with long furry tail and long ears. The color is dark-brown with white belly (sometimes grey).

The squirrel feeds on conifer seeds, soft grass’s green, berries and mushrooms. It eats buds, sprouts, nestlings and birds’ eggs, insects in small amounts. The animal lays in a stock for the winter (particularly pine nuts) which it often is not able to find later. The squirrel is active in the morning and in the evening; in the winter it is active all day long. When there is severe cold or strong wind outside the animal does not goes out in order to feed.

It is of frequent occurrence in forest areas and forest tundra. The squirrel is only absent in tundra, forestless highlands and steppes. The animal populates all kinds of taiga preferring the cedar forests. The key condition for a habitat is the presence of old or ripe conifer forests capable of yielding the crop of seeds.

The squirrel build a spherical dray on trees which represents a refuge with a chamber lined with moss, litter and chips. The dray has one or two exits and is used for taking rest and nurturing young squirrels. The population is subject to wide fluctuations and depends on the yield of conifer seeds. When there are little seeds the squirrel migrates long distances, sometimes hundreds of kilometers and is even capable to cross the Yenisei River.

The short-distance migrations are made every year. The coupling period is in February-March and in June. The gestation lasts for 35-40 days. The squirrel makes two broods a year. Sometimes there is only one brood in northern taiga regions in poor years. There are 3 to 8 baby squirrels in a brood. The change of coat takes place in the spring (April-May) and in the autumn (September-October).