Monday, October 15, 2012

Squirrel Facts: The Variegated Squirrel

The variegated squirrel is a tree squirrel that makes its home in southern Mexico and Central America, from the Chiapas region in the north to Panama in the south. It can be found in both wet and dry tropical forests, but prefers drier deciduous or mixed forests, scrubland, and even agricultural land.

This is one of the most beautiful, colorful squirrels of the Americas. There are fourteen different subspecies of the variegated squirrels, which display a wide variety of color patterns. The back ranges from black to reddish brown or gray, and the underside from white to cinnamon buff. A fairly large tree squirrel, the head and body length is up to around 13 inches, with the long bushy tail measuring more than 12 inches. The variegated squirrel can weigh up to around two pounds.

Like most tree squirrels, variegated squirrels are diurnal and arboreal, and live alone except for the female when she is raising young. Mating usually takes place in April or May, and the average litter size is 6-8 young, which become independent of the mother at around 15 weeks old.

The primary foods of the variegated squirrel include a variety of nuts and fruits. They especially like soft, juicy fruits. This species also feeds on vegetation including vines, flowers, and mushrooms. In some areas they may eat buds and twigs of bamboo plants.

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