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Squirrels

Tree Squirrels, Red Squirrels, Marmots, Prairie Dogs, Ground Squirrels, Antelope Ground Squirrels

The squirrel family (Sciuridae) is a diverse group of about 50 genera of rodents, including the "true" or tree squirrels, as well as flying squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, marmots, woodchuck, and prairie dogs. Members of the squirrel family occur in North and South America, Africa, Eurasia, and Southeast Asia, but not in Madagascar, New Guinea, Australia, or New Zealand.

The squirrel family encompasses species that are exclusively arboreal, living in tropical, temperate, or boreal forests. It also includes species that are exclusively terrestrial, living in burrows in the ground in alpine or arctic tundra, semiarid desert, prairie, or forest edges. Most squirrels are diurnal, but a few, such as the flying squirrels, are nocturnal. Most squirrels are largely herbivorous, eating a wide variety of plant tissues. Some species, however, supplement their diet with insects, bird eggs, and nestlings.

The following sections describe most of the major groups in the squirrel family, with an emphasis on species occurring in North America.


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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Spectroscopy to Stoma (pl. stomata)