If you think about squirrels at all, the description of the animals is probably fairly standard no matter where you live. They have a long, bushy, tail. The animals have large dark eyes, tiny ears, are generally brown, black or gray. Squirrels have large teeth and climb trees quickly thanks to their tiny hands tipped with sharp claws. They like to hide food, such as acorns, in trees or bury them in the ground for winter. As far as a place to live goes, they’ll either build nests in trees or burrow underground.
Squirrels are one of the most common mammals in the world and one of the most common pests Western Exterminator specialists get called about. Why? Because squirrels can damage property in their search for a place to nest and find food. One of the most common questions our specialists get asked is whether or not squirrels are rodents like rats, mice or gophers. In this article, we take a look at what squirrels are and the characteristics they have in common with rodents.
If you have found squirrel damage around your home or you have squirrels within the walls of your home, contact your local Western Exterminator office today.
What are squirrels?
A squirrel is a small mammal and is part of the Sciuridae family. They are also part of the scientific order Rodentia. These tree-scaling animals are medium-sized rodents in a family that also includes chipmunks, marmots, prairie dogs, flying squirrels, ground squirrels and tree squirrels. Squirrels are indigenous to North America, Europe, Asia and have been transported and introduced to other parts of the world, such as Australia.
Thus, squirrels are mammals because they breathe air and give birth to live babies rather than laying eggs. They are rodents and close cousins to other rodent species such as rats and mice. They share similar rodent characteristics such as sharp teeth which continually grow, head shape and size, ear shape and other characteristics.
What do squirrels look like?
Squirrels look a lot like other rodents, such as chipmunks, rats and mice, but they are also quite different. Most squirrels are small to medium-sized and can range anywhere from 10 centimeters up to three feet in length. The average squirrel weighs anywhere from 11 to 18 pounds.
Squirrels have larger hind legs and smaller fore-paws ending in tiny fingers much like human hands. Each paw usually has four or five toes and most of them have small, poorly developed thumbs. The fingers and hands have pads beneath them and are tipped with claws that aid the rodents in climbing trees, walls and other objects.
Squirrels have pointed faces and heads with small, rounded ears. They have large, sharp, teeth that they use to chew tough food such as acorns and nuts. The eyes are a bit larger than those of rats or mice but are usually dark.
The one thing that almost universally differentiates squirrels from rats is their large, bushy, hairy, tails. Squirrels usually have brown, gray or black fur, many with lighter fur underneath. The fur is soft to the touch.
Why are squirrels considered pests?
Squirrels are not considered nearly as dangerous as rodents such as rats or mice. Squirrels can get inside the walls and attics of homes and other property. Additionally, it is possible that squirrels will chew their way into food in kitchens, but most squirrels are looking for acorns and tree nuts, and chew their way into attics through the roof tiles and walls. When they chew their way inside, squirrels are usually looking for a place to nest and raise their young, not for human prey.
Once inside, squirrels can start to breed and multiply within the walls and attics. This can lead to more damage to homes and businesses as they chew more holes through walls and roofs. Since squirrels tend to be territorial, they are hard to get rid of once they set up their nests.
For homeowners, the biggest risk of squirrels comes from property damage. For those who own or operate farms or food processing and storage facilities, squirrels can get into the product and damage crops. For example, squirrels are fond of devouring corn and will do so at farms or storage areas.
Western Exterminator helps get rid of squirrels
Many times homeowners will hear squirrels running around in basements, attics or between the walls during the day or night. They can also find the holes left behind by other pests in walls and roofs. To stop this property damage and get rid of the infesting squirrels and their nests, contact your local Western Exterminator office and discuss squirrel treatment, removal and prevention programs.