Would you like to know what makes a squirrel so special? What are some quirky or effective adaptations to the bodies of squirrels that help them survive, multiply and escape predators?
Welcome to the A-Z Squirrel Anatomy. Everything you need to know about squirrels and their bodies can be found below where we look closer into the furry rodents.
A-Z Squirrel Anatomy
Squirrels have many nipples, large testicles, ankles that rotate 180 degrees, teeth that never stop growing and so many more interesting details that you may find intriguing.
While it’s a fun read for us to find out more about these furry little creatures they need every adaptation in order to survive long winters, plenty of predators and harsh landscapes.
Do Squirrels Have Nipples?
Yes. Squirrels have nipples up and down their entire chest. Researchers conclude that squirrel nipples are not centered in the pectoral area the way they are with humans.
There are recent pictures of squirrels with busty pectoral regions causing them to become internet sensations. The fact is that these squirrels are storing fat, are pregnant or are consuming far more calorie-rich foods that they are used to.
Today’s food sources, especially commercially grown meats, fruits and vegetables are plumper, heavier and causing squirrels among many other animals to grow slightly larger in areas such as the chest.
How Many Nipples Do A Squirrel Have?
Squirrels have way more than 2 nipples. They can run up or down their entire chest to the abdomen region of their body. Sexing squirrels involve examining the nipples.
Females have more nipples than male squirrels. They have on average of 8 teats and some species contain 10 teats. Each one will obviously contain a nipple.
It will not be as obvious to tell when they are active and covered in fur. If you get a chance to witness a pregnant female or while she is feeding her babies, the nipples will be much more prominent and visible.
What Does it Mean if a Squirrel has Nipples?
Seeing squirrel’s nipples might be difficult. This is because they are hidden well and not in plain view under their fur. A pregnant female squirrel can be identified when her belly button area is sticking out.
She will also make her nipples far more visible and accessible when her babies are due. Female squirrels have 8-10 teats to be able to feed multiple young at the same time.
Do Squirrels Have Balls?
Some types of squirrels have balls or testicles that are so big that they take up 20% of their body length. The theory suggests that squirrels have adapted to develop larger penises and scrotums because they are in constant competition with very promiscuous females who are far more sexually active.
She can get an idea of whose sperm is more viable by seeing the size of the male squirrel’s genitals. Males have to produce plenty of sperm to keep up.
They must prove that they can pass the test to ensure that plenty of offspring will result. Bigger is better in the squirrel kingdom.
Do Squirrels Have Nut Sacks?
Squirrels have huge testicles for their body size, but this is not what we mean by nut sacks. Think simply and literally as squirrels need a place to store the nuts they forage.
The nut sacks in question are actually their large cheeks. They use their cheeks as containers or grocery bags to transport their loot back to their nest. Seeds and nuts can be packed into their wide cheek pouches for temporary storage.
Do Squirrels Have Taste Buds?
Yes. Squirrels have 1-4 taste buds. Squirrels continue to be researched in order for us to understand their anatomy fully and completely.
Conclusions result from tests where squirrels were given pepper. Their reactions indicated distaste with consumption.
Unique formulas of different seed mixes were also given as food sources for squirrels. Some were formulated to be more tasty than others.
The details of these tests are unclear, but there is enough evidence to support that squirrels and highly developed taste and smell senses along with taste buds to determine a better meal from a distasteful one.
Do Squirrels Have Thumbs?
Squirrels have thumbs that are not fully developed. A squirrel has larger hind legs compared to their front legs.
Their forepaws include tiny fingers used to grasp objects or climb. Each of their paws contains 4-5 toes. The thumbs they have are poorly developed and cannot be used in a similar fashion as humans or other primates.
Do Squirrels Have Opposable Thumb?
The safest answer to whether or not squirrels have opposable thumbs is no.
This is because the thumbs are not developed enough to be considered functional or distinguishable from the rest of their digits. They use the long toes on their forepaws for grasping objects and to help them climb faster.
How Many Fingers and Thumbs Do Squirrels Have?
Squirrels have 5 digits on their hind paws and 4 digits on their forepaws. Each digit contains claws that are sharp enough to assist with climbing.
- hind limbs: 5 digits
- fore limbs: 4 digits
They can grasp barks and branches much easier with these claws. They do not need thumbs to grasp objects because their digits are long relative to their overall size.
Do Squirrels Have Tongues?
Yes. Tongues are extremely important to squirrels who use vocalizations as a dominant way to communicate along with their tails. They stick out their tongues on occasion to let us know that they are warning their counterparts of your arrival as a potential threat.
The squirrel tongue contains:
- median sulcus on the apex
- lack of lingual prominence
- filiform papilae
- 1-4 taste buds
Do Squirrels Have A Good Sense of Smell?
Yes. squirrels have a well defined sense of sense using scent glands, chemosense and olfactory receptors. They help to locate their way back after taking long journey while foraging. They can also smell the threat of predators.
The best use of their sense of smell is locating food they have hidden months ago. They can smell it even if it’s covered under a foot of snow. Squirrels can smell what you’re cooking in the kitchen from the attic or crawl space they are hiding in.
They use their smelling senses to pick up clues about fellow squirrels. Scent glands are used by rubbing their cheeks and anus areas against various surfaces to pick up later when they return. It’s like a GPS system for squirrels!
What Smell do Squirrels Hate the Most?
If you are looking to repel or deter squirrels from messing up your garden or hiding in the hood of the car among many other locations, you can try applying odors that they consider to be foul and repugnant.
Here are few ideas to repel squirrels since they have extremely powerful senses of smell:
- spicy peppers
- predator urine
Mothballs can be placed under the hood of a car to prevent them from hiding there. Keep mothballs away from pets.
The other items on the list are not considered to be toxic, but be careful with spicy peppers as they can irritate digestive tracts in domestic animals.
Do Squirrels Have Pouches?
Squirrels do not have pouches around their abdomen to carry their young. They are not marsupials and do not need extra pouches.
Ground squirrels contain pouches in their cheeks that are super wide. They are used for carrying, storing and delivering food to their nests.
Flying squirrels and tree squirrels (identified with bushy tails) do not have cheek pouches. The pouch is located behind the front teeth, You can witness the following squirrels with cheek pouches:
- Antelope ground squirrels
- Rock squirrels
- California ground squirrels
They munch on food and store some at the same time in their cheeks. The cheeks continue to grow and this is why cartoon adaptation of squirrels can look so appealing or cute.
The pouches are used to store food, but squirrels are also able to rub their cheeks against surfaces to leave a scent trail. They can pick up the scent on their way back from foraging or to communicate with other squirrels.
Do Squirrels have a Food Pouch?
Yes. Only ground squirrels who don’t live in trees have food pouches found in their cheeks. They use them for temporary food storage purposes.
They can carry food in there while continuing to eat. Cheek pouches are specifically used for carrying food only. They do not carry their young in pouches.
Why Don’t Flying Squirrels Have Pouches?
Flying squirrels do not have food pouches located in their cheeks the way ground squirrels do. They do not fly, but need to remain light enough to glide far distances across trees.
Cheek pouches that protrude would interfere with their aerodynamics. They try to remain streamlined and these pouches would get in the way of maximum gliding.
Why Do Ground Squirrels Have Cheek Pouches?
Ground squirrels have cheek pouches to store food. They are constantly foraging on the ground and using the cheek pouches as grocery bags. They are sifting and sorting out what is best to be eaten right away and what can be stored for later.
Insects, toads, frogs and some eggs needs to be ingested right away to prevent from escaping or rotting and decaying. They will not store these food items in their cheek pouches.
While they are consuming meat, they can come across seeds or nuts and acorns. They can store these in their cheek pouches and continue eating as the same time. Once they return to their nest, they can empty out these cheek pouches and create caches of food to store away for the long winter season.
Do Squirrels Have Whiskers?
Yes. Squirrels have whiskers that can found:
- above eyes
- below eye sockets
- in front of throat
- on the nose
- above wrists
These whiskers are also referred to as vibrissae. Similar to insects with antennae, squirrels can use their whiskers to gather information about their surrounding environment.
How Do Whiskers Help Squirrels?
Whiskers are used as feelers at night when visibility is poor.
Although squirrels see well during the day, these whiskers can help them to prevent bumping into objects or falling when it is very dark under a canopy of trees.
They can also use their whiskers to locate branches when they jump across each limb.
Do Squirrels Have Good Hearing?
Yes. Squirrels have excellent hearing. Have you ever seen a squirrel start to dash or scamper then suddenly stop? They may erect themselves upright and stop to listen to their environment around them.
Any slight movement might alert them of an oncoming threat. Squirrels are always on alert and their impeccable hearing helps them to evade predators.
Do Squirrels Understand When You Talk to Them?
Squirrels can get to know what you saying by the tones you use in your voice to portray the meaning of your words. They do not parse out words, but they can get to know your voice from others.
They can become comfortable by the sound of your voice over others and begin trusting you to come closer and possibly take food right out of your hand.
7 Fun Questions And Answers About Squirrels
1. Do Squirrels Have Ankles?
Yes, they can actually rotate their rear ankles 180 degrees without causing any harm. This helps them in their zig zag patterns when they dash out of the way or to quickly climb down trees.
2. Do Squirrel Teeth Keep Growing?
Yes. The front teeth of squirrels never stop growing. This is why they are seen gnawing on multiple surfaces even when there is no food present.
3. Why Do Squirrels Zig Zag?
Squirrels zig zag in patterns that confuse predators. Larger animals cannot keep up with the zig zagging that squirrels are able to do so rapidly.
This also helps them evade birds that are trying to track them from above. A carefully timed zig zag before blending in with its surrounding can cause a bird to lose sight of their target.
4. How Big Are Baby Squirrels?
Newborn squirrels are only 1 inch in length. They stay in the their nest and depend of their mother or father to deliver food to them. They are blind and hairless, but will grow fur by the time they reach 6 weeks.
5. Why Are Squirrels Fat?
Some squirrels look very plump or swollen in the fall because they are “bulking up” for the long winter when food is scarce. Active squirrels in the spring and summer are not so bulky.
6. How Do Squirrels Survive Falls?
Squirrels can fall great distances and still survive because of the way they flatten out their bodies and tails to prepare for landing.
They spread out their body to create a wider surface area rather absorbing the fall in one localized spot. They can remain motionless for a moment, shake it off and continue on.
7. What Are White Squirrels Called?
Squirrels that are white are albinos. In one US city called Brevard, located North Carolina, it is believed that 1 in 3 squirrels are albino breeds are all white. They are considered rare and protection agencies wish for them to remain unharmed.