Variegated Squirrel

Variegated Squirrel

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Sciurus variegatoides
Population size
Unknown
Life Span
8-23 yrs
WEIGHT
500 g
LENGTH
260 mm

Variegated squirrels are medium-sized tree squirrels. The are several subspecies recognised which differ in appearance. There is even often a considerable variation between the appearances of individuals in the same population. The dorsal colouration varies between dark brown to yellowish grey. The neck tends to be darker than other parts and there is often a paler patch behind the ears. The underparts are usually some shade of cinnamon. The tail is long and densely bushy; in Mexico it is black, sometimes with white tips to the hairs giving it a frosted appearance. In Nicaragua and Costa Rica, some individuals have pale underparts and tails.

Video

Distribution

Variegated squirrels are native to Central America. Their range extends from Mexico southwards through Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Habitats in which these squirrels occur include both dry deciduous forest and evergreen forest, secondary growth, and plantations.

Variegated Squirrel  habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Variegated squirrels are solitary and diurnal animals. They seldom descend to the ground and spend the night in a nest. Sometimes they build nests in a hole in a tree but more often construct them of leaves and build in the fork of a branch close to the trunk. These squirrels don't hibernate and spend most of their time in the trees. They are very agile and leap from one branch to another with ease. When threatened Variegated squirrels make chucking sounds and sometimes produce harsh chatter.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Variegated squirrels are herbivores (granivores, frugivores). They primarily are seed-eaters, but also consume fruits, some insects and nestlings. They try to avoid hard shelled seeds but do consume acorns.

Mating Habits

REPRODUCTION SEASON
April-May
PREGNANCY DURATION
33-46 days
BABY CARRYING
2-8 kittens
INDEPENDENT AGE
15 weeks
FEMALE NAME
doe
MALE NAME
buck
BABY NAME
pup, kit, kitten

Little information is known about the mating habits in Variegated squirrels. The breeding season occurs in April-May. Females build nests high up in the trees where they give birth to 2-8 kittens. The gestation period lasts around 33-46 days. Young are born blind and naked. Fur starts growing after 2 weeks and in 30-32 days kittens open their eyes. Young stay in the nest within 6 weeks and become weaned at 10 weeks after birth. They are independent after 15 weeks and reach reproductive maturity between 12 and 15 weeks of age.

Population

Population threats

There are no major threats to Variegated squirrels at present.

Population number

According to IUCN, the Variegated squirrel is locally common and widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.

References

1. Variegated Squirrel on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variegated_squirrel
2. Variegated Squirrel on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/20024/22246448

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