- The Animal Encyclopedia for Kids

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel Facts

Size 5.9-7.8 inch (15-20 cm)
Speed Up to 15.5 mph (25 km/h)
Weight 7-14 oz (200-400 g)
Lifespan 2-8 years
Food Nuts, seeds, acorns, mushrooms, berries, eggs, young birds
Predators Snakes, weasels, eagles, hawks
Habitat Europe, Asia, Africa, America
Order Rodents
Family Squirrels
Scientific name Sciurus vulgaris
Characteristics Tufted ears during the winter, bushy tail

Main Characteristics

Squirrels are small rodents that inhabit coniferous, deciduous and mixed forests. In Europe we primarily know the squirrel that is briskly running up and down trees and collecting nuts. Yet, the squirrel family has more members than most people think.

Squirrel Species

Tree Squirrels, Ground Squirrels, Flying Squirrels ...

There are about 280 species of squirrels, ranging from giant squirrels to dwarf squirrels. By the way: Ground squirrels also include marmots, prairie dogs and antelope squirrels.

Red Squirrel Red Squirrel - Photo: Menno Schaefer/Shutterstock


What Do Red Squirrels Eat?

Sweet little eyes and a soft fur – we simply have to love squirrels! Do we? Anyway, you should know that they are little thieves and no tame pets. From time to time they like to loot birds’ nests, eat the eggs and the little nestlings.

How Do Red Squirrels Find Their Buried Nuts?

Squirrels are said to often forget the locations where they have buried their “treasures”. Some of them develop into tree sprouts in springtime. This is true, but the squirrels still find enough of their seeds again in order not to starve. Scientist Dr Peg Halloran tells us how squirrels find their food again:

  • 1. by its smell
  • 2. by marking the spot
  • 3. by using their excellent memory

It is said that squirrels have a good memory, but it is more likely that they use their sense of smell.

Where Do Red Squirrels Sleep?

At night Squirrels sleep in trees. They lie down on a thick branch - after all, they are free from giddiness, unlike us. During the day, squirrel like to take a nap on a branch, too.

Red Squirrel Red Squirrel - Photo: seawhisper/Shutterstock

Anatomy and Appearance

Why Do Red Squirrels Have a Bushy Tail?

The bushy tail of the squirrel can be up to 9.8 inch (25 cm) long and serves as a control vane. While the squirrel is hopping from branch to branch it can correct its “flight path” with its tail.

The Red Squirrel Brain

The brain of a squirrel is just as big as a walnut.

Are Red Squirrels Important to The Ecosystem?

Squirrels are like gardeners. They bury nuts, but do not recover all of them. Thus they disperse the tree seeds in many different places and help renewing and expanding trees. They distribute mushrooms and their spores this way, too.

Fun Facts

Fur Color

There are also black squirrels.

Are Gray Squirrels Bad Squirrels?

The Eastern gray squirrel tends to displace the red squirrel. One reason is that they are better at finding food. Eastern gray squirrels often carry a virus, too. While this virus is not affecting them, it is often fatal to red squirrels unfortunately.

Why Do Red Squirrels Dig Up Our Garden?

Squirrels do not hibernate. They need food every day to survive. This is the reason why they hide lots of nuts and seeds in the ground during autumn.

A Red Squirrel Clings to My Leg!

Young squirrels might cling to a human's leg when they get lost. Don't panic! The best thing to do is to bring them back - if you know where they came from. It is not advisable to handle adult squirrels, because they could bite and transmit diseases. If you find an injured squirrel, you should put on gloves before lifting it up and take it to the vet.

Red Squirrel Red Squirrel - Photo: Art Wittingen/Shutterstock


Squirrels usually mate at the end of January and the beginning of February. After 38 days, between one and six squirrel babies come into the world, naked, deaf and blind. After about four more weeks they open their eyes and leave their nest for the first time after six weeks.

The Red Squirrel Is Related To:

Animals in the Same Biome:

Video: 15 Facts About Red Squirrels

Squirrel Video

(Video opens on YouTube)

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