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Squirrelly Relatives

Squirrels are some of the most loved and "disliked" backyard animals!

Why? Because they are so smart...and found in so many backyards. They are cuddly looking...but have sharp claws and teeth. So they're not cuddly like some of their distant cousins.

Squirrels are rodents who love to dig and scratch and eat tasty plants in flower gardens and even vegetable gardens.

But what else can we learn about squirrels?

What do squirrels do in nature that is useful?

Who are squirrels' family members? And relatives?

What other mammals are squirrels related to?

Close relatives include ground squirrels, chipmonks, flying squirrels, prairie dogs, rock squirrels….and mice and rats. The scientific family tree includes:
kingdom AnimaliaMembers of the animal kingdom share these basic characteristics:
  • multi-cellular (bodies made up of more than one cell)
  • each cell contains a nucleus and cell membranes without cell walls
  • they do not make their own food but consume other organisms
phylumChordata They have a hollow dorsal nervous chord. The best known animal phyla are the Mollusca, Porifera, Cnidaria, Platyhelminthes, Nematoda, Annelida, Arthropoda, Echinodermata, and Chordata, the phylum humans belong to.
subphylum VertebrataAnimals with vertebrates (backbones). Humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) also belong to the subphylum vertebrata, or vertebrates.
class MammaliaMammals are vertebrate animals characterized by the presence of mammary glands, which in females produce milk for the nourishment of young; the presence of hair or fur; and endothermic or "warm-blooded" bodies.
order RodentiaRodentia (rodents) is the most numerous of all the branches on the mammal family tree. Currently there are, depending on the authority consulted, between 2000 and 3000 species of rodent—roughly half of all mammal species. Rodents have two incisors in the upper as well as in the lower jaw which grow continuously and must be kept worn down by gnawing.
family Sciuridae Squirrels are a large family of rodents. It includes tree squirrels (15 species), ground squirrels, chipmunks, the marmots (which include woodchucks)


Sciurus (typical tree squirrels), 31 species
Tamiasciurus (pine squirrels), 2 species (the American Red Squirrel and Douglas Squirrel), northern and western USA


Ammospermophilus (Antelope squirrels), five species, southwestern USA and northern Mexico.
Cynomys (Prairie dogs), five species, North Dakota to central Mexico. Marmota (marmots), 14 species.
Spermophilus, 36 species, from western Europe to Siberia and Alaska to northern Mexico; the largest genus of ground squirrels.
Tamias (chipmunks), 23 species, northern Mexico, most of the USA, Canada, and Siberia.
LEARN MORE at Wikipedia: Wikipedia

Explore the long list of North American species below... and see if you can identify the species found in your neighborhood...and your community.

Which squirrels (all their fellow species members) are found in the EASTERN United States?

Northern Flying Squirrel
Southern Flying Squirrel
Eastern Gray Squirrel
Eastern Chipmunk
Red Squirrel
Black-tailed Prairie Dog
Yellow-bellied Marmot
Eastern Fox Squirrel
Richardson’s Ground Squirrel
Spotted Ground Squirrel
Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel
Rock Squirrel
Least Chipmunk

Which squirrels are found in the WESTERN United States?

Eastern chipmunk
Alpine Chipmunk
Least chipmunk
Yellow-pine Chipmunk
Long-eared Chipmunk
Lodgepole Chipmunk
Panamint Chipmunk
Uinta Chipmunk
Palmer’s Chipmunk
Townsend’s Chipmunk
Yellow-cheeked Chipmunk
Allen’s Chipmunk
Siskiyou Chipmunk
Alaska Marmot
Yellow-bellied Marmot
Sonoma Chipmunk
Merriam’s Chipmunk
California Chipmunk
Cliff Chipmunk
Hoary Mrmot
Olympic Marmot
Vancourver Marmot
Colorado Chipmunk
Hopi Chipmunk
Red-tailed Chipmunk
Gray-footed Chipmunk
Cray-collared Chipmunk
Harris’s Antelope Squirrel
White-tailed Antelope Squirrel
Texas Antelope Squirrel
Nelson’s Antelope Squirrel
Arctic Ground Squirrel
Columbian Ground Squirrel
Townsend’s Ground Squirrel
Washington Ground Squirrel
Idaho Ground Squirrel
Richardson’s Ground Squirrel
Wyoming Ground Squirrel
Uinta Ground Squirrel
Belding’s Ground Squirrel
Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel
Mexican Ground Squirrel
Spotted Ground Squirrel
Rock Squirrel
California Ground Squirrel
Mohave Ground Squirrel
Round-tailed Ground Squirrel
Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel Cascade Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel
Black-tailed Prairie-Dog
White-tailed Prairie-Dog
Utah Prairie-Dog
Gunnison’s Prairie-Dog
Eastern Gray Squirrel
Eastern Fox Squirrel
Mexican Fox Squirrel
Arizona Gray Squirrel
Western Gray Squirrel
Abert’s Squirrel
Red Squirrel
Douglas’s Squirrel
Southern Flying Squirrel
Northern Flying Squirrel
SOURCE: "Squirrels of the West", Tamara Hartson, Lone Pine Field Guide.

Learn more about Squirrels

The Squirrel Family
Squirrel Relatives
Info about Squirrels
Hamsters are Rodents, and Pets!

For more articles about NATURE & KIDS

Young Birders Get Serious About Birding Fun
The Squirrel Family 0 Backyard Nature Safari
Hamsters are rodents and cuddly pets
Kids Learning Links
Buddy's Diner (for the birds)
Bird Profiles for Young Naturalists