Squirrels are animals best known for scurrying up trees and storing nuts for the winter. They are indigenous to Europe, North America, and Asia but have been introduced to other places like Australia as well. Due to their appearance, many people wonder if squirrels are classified as rodents.
So are squirrels rodents? The answer is yes. Squirrels belong to the Sciuridae family in the scientific order Rodentia. They are the medium-sized cousins of marmots, chipmunks, and prairie dogs. Like every other rodent, they have special teeth that are continuously growing. Squirrels are also considered pests in various areas because they can cause damages to properties.
Rodents are the largest order of mammals, animals that breathe air and give birth to live babies instead of eggs. There are over 1500 species of rodents worldwide, except for Antarctica. These animals can survive in almost any habitat such as tundras, forests, rain forests, grasslands, and deserts. As most rodents are omnivores, their diet allows them to adapt to new environments.
There are three major groups of rodents:
Some rodents have evolved with different features from others. Chipmunks and hamsters, for example, have pouches in their mouths good for storing excess food. Other rodents like beavers are capable of living in the water. Rodents come in all shapes and sizes too, from tiny field mice to pig-sized capybaras.
The one thing all rodents have in common is their special, extra-large and strong teeth. Rodents have sharp, chisel-like upper and lower incisors that never stop growing. These mammals use their teeth to gnaw on food and carve out shelter. Although they are considered to be prey for many animals, their sharp senses and agility allow them to use their teeth and claws for defense.
Squirrels are distinct among rodents for having long, fluffy tails. These creatures have dark eyes, small ears, and pointed faces. Squirrels often have brown, black, or gray fur -- although a few have red fur. They weigh around 11 - 18 pounds and can climb trees quickly, thanks to their sharp claws. An average squirrel will also have larger hind legs and smaller front paws that resemble human hands with padding.
Squirrels have a better reputation than other rodents like rats or mice. Squirrels want to be left alone so they’re harmless for most of the time. However, squirrels are forced to move to urban areas as their natural habitats are threatened or destroyed. Living alongside humans makes squirrels more likely to become destructive nuisances in the long-term.
One reason why squirrels are considered pests is because of the health hazard they pose. Squirrels are the primary carriers of rabies, tick fever, and powassan encephalitis. The insects living on squirrel bodies like fleas or ticks are also carriers of diseases.
If squirrels manage to infiltrate human spaces, they leave behind urine and droppings that are unsanitary for the people moving in these places. The smell of dead squirrel bodies can also cause humans headaches and nausea. Sick or cornered squirrels also have the tendency to fight back by biting or clawing. Those that are accustomed to humans are especially fearless and territorial.
Another reason why squirrels are so fearsome to homeowners is that they can cause a lot of damage to properties while on their quest to find food and shelter. While many squirrels climb in through chimneys, some opt to chew their way through walls and roof tiles as they look for a nesting hole. The holes, cracks, and burrows squirrels make invite other pests like bats and insects into the house as well.
Even more alarming, squirrels can cause fires inside a building. They can gnaw on the insulation from the electrical wiring in your walls and set off a fire. In fact, many insurance companies found that at least 20% of all mysterious, accidental fires are caused by squirrels and other rodents.
In outdoor spaces, squirrels will chew through trees and ornamental plants to take care of their growing teeth. As they hide acorns in trees or bury nuts in the ground, squirrels also damage the lawns as they dig. Farms, food storage and food processing facilities should also be wary of squirrel infestations because these creatures can easily eat through the produce.
The best way to prevent squirrel-related damages from happening is to stay aware. Knowing the signs of their presence will keep you alert and prepared for any possible infestation. Some ways to identify possible squirrel infestations are:
After figuring out whether or not you’re dealing with squirrels, you have to remove them from the premises and prevent them from entering in the future. Here are a few steps to take when you’re dealing with squirrels:
Instead of handling the risk of a squirrel infestation yourself, it’s best to go directly to a professional pest control service. Pest control specialists are well-versed in trapping, killing, or relocating squirrels.
At Positive Pest Management, we have years of experience in dealing with all types of pests. Contact us today for an initial inspection.
Learn more: 10 Sure Signs You Have Rodents In Your House