Squirrels can be categorised into three types: ground squirrels, tree squirrels and flying squirrels. Flying squirrels are able to glide through the air due to the flaps of skin which connect their limbs, providing a wing-like surface.
Squirrels can recognise ripe nuts using their sense of smell. They are also able to tell if an acorn or hazelnut has been hollowed out by weevils by recognising that the nut is too light. In order to find previously buried nuts, they use a combination of memory and smell as well as checking for disturbed patches of soil.
Squirrel nests are called ‘dreys’. They are compact, spherical structures which are slightly lighter than footballs. Constructed out of twigs, leaves, bark and grass, they are typically assembled in the forks of tall trees.
Squirrels communicate using a wide range of calls, such as territorial barks and ‘quacking’ noises, but their main form of communication is their tails. They use these as signalling devices, twitching them if they become suspicious of a threat.
Squirrels can run up to 20 mph and have padded feet which cushion jumps from up to 20 feet high. They can also use their fluffy tails like parachutes in order to balance themselves during high leaps.
Squirrels are one of the most important animals for helping the spread of oak trees. They store acorns in the ground but only recover around 70 per cent of them, allowing the forgotten acorns to grow into healthy trees.
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