Squirrels belong to an order of mammals called “Rodentia,” also known as rodents. With over 2000 species, rodents make up 40 percent of the world’s mammal population. Squirrels belong to a large family of rodents called Sciuridae, and range in size from the five inches to three feet long. Where do squirrels live? Squirrels are found worldwide, living on every continent except Antarctica. Over 200 species of squirrel make their homes in habitats ranging from tropical rain forests to deserts.
Ground squirrel habitats include the Arctic tundra, mountain meadows, prairie grasslands, open forests and deserts. These squirrels make their homes in burrows or tunnel systems. In colder climates, ground squirrels hibernate in their burrows during the winter.
Tree squirrels are well-adapted to human-occupied environments, and live wherever trees are found. Their habitats include forests, city parks and suburban backyards. Tree squirrels live in holes in trees or in nests made of sticks, leaves and other materials. Occasionally, squirrels nest in the attic, chimney or other accessible area of a house.
Like tree squirrels, flying squirrels make their homes in tree cavities or nests. These squirrels glide between trees with the help of flaps of skin, similar to wings, that connect their legs to their body. Because flying squirrels spend most of their lives in the uppermost levels of forests, only a large, mature forest with a dense canopy is a suitable habitat.