Squirrels - Big Family of Alert, Short-Faced Rodents
A squirrel, is any one of about 246 different species of highly alert, short-faced rodents that live everywhere in the world except southern South America, Australia, New Zealand, Madagascar, and the Middle East's desert region. The smallest, the African pygmy squirrel, is only 2.8-3.9 inches (7-10 cm) tall and weighs just 0.35 ounces (10 g); while the largest, the Alpine marmot stands between 21 and 29 inches (53-73 cm), and weighs as much as 18 pounds (8 kg). Within the family, exists all sorts of distinct species with their own interesting characteristics and traits. The grey squirrel for instance, is the type that is most commonly seen in America, and has become so used to co-existing with humans, that it's basically oblivious to us, and shows almost no fear of our much larger species.
Then, we have the flying squirrel group, which is a group known for their using of their patagium (a furry membrane that stretches from their wrist to their ankle) as a mode of flight. They catch air with the parachute-like membrane, and use their tails to direct their gliding from tree to tree.
The squirrel family also has many members that people don't know are actually squirrels. There are some that are not as fond of the trees as some of their brethren and even live in and on the ground. The groundhog (or woodchuck, as it's also known), famous for it's alleged ability to predict the weather and it's ability to dig for shelter, is actually a large squirrel. Chipmunks, who are most famous for the many cartoons created about them and their “cute” appearance, are also a member of the family. Prairie dogs, who, like groundhogs, are known for their digging abilities and for their tunnel and burrow systems that they inhabit, are another large squirrel.
Most squirrels live off of tree nuts and small fruits and berries. However, some species have been known to eat smaller rodents, insects, baby snakes, and bird's eggs.
With such a large and diverse family, it makes one of the largest families of rodent, or of any mammal for that matter, on the planet. They are also one of the oldest, as they've inhabited the earth, in some form or another, for over 40 million years.