Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Variety of Squirrels in Illinois

It seems that I have photographed all of the varieties of squirrels found in Illinois this year. So... I gathered them all for a final post about the different species:

The thirteen-lined ground squirrel is a slender rat-sized rodent weighing about 8 ounces with a length of about 10 inches including a tail of 3 inches. As its name implies, 13 stripes run the length of this ground squirrel’s body. Five of the light-colored lines break up into a series of spots as they progress down the back and over the rump. Five light and four dark stripes extend along the top of the head and end between the animal’s eyes.

Chipmunks are small members of the squirrel family (Sciuridae). There are about 20 species of western chipmunks and one species of eastern chipmunk in USA and Canada. Chipmunks can be found in woodlands, forest edges, bushes, gardens, parks, around houses or cemeteries. They have reddish-brown fur, with white and black stripes on their back. They also have long flat bushy tails.

Pine squirrels are small tree squirrels with bushy tails, and apart from the members of the genus Sciurus, they are probably the members of the large family Sciuridae that conform most closely to the commonly held idea of what a squirrel looks like and how it behaves.

Black squirrels are a melanistic phase of the Eastern Grey Squirrel. They are common in Midwestern North America and, in some places, outnumber the grey squirrels by a ratio of about ten to one.

The Fox Squirrel is the largest of the tree squirrels found in Illinois. It gets its name from its color that sometimes resembles a red fox. Fox Squirrels have large bushy tail with yellow-tipped hairs.

Now, about this particular squirrel, I have yet to be able to identify it (it's not an albino), so if anyone can help, it would be greatly appreciated. There are 3 in the park of the same color-blondish-and has a heavier coat and seems to be slightly larger than fox squirrels.


Richard said...

Judging from my own squirrels, I would guess that maybe your 3 blondish ones are just young squirrel. I had 2 pine squirrels that were blond over the winter but when they shed their winter hair, they turned darker like the rest of them.

Sandpiper said...

Beautiful pictures. I don't know about the blonde squirrel. Could be leucistic, I suppose.

Ecobirder said...

Lot's of good info. We saw a lot of ground squirrels in Yellowstone last week. Most of them were unita ground squirrels but we also saw chipmunks, marmots, and a badger too.

McGone said...

Thank you for the edit on picture six, as I was showing this post to a group of boy scouts, nuns and virgins* at the time. It is so hard to find a smut-free squirrel presentation we can all enjoy.

*It's true... "The Virgins" actually travel in groups to various museums and photo galleries these days.