SQUIRREL! Endlessly entertaining and adored by many, these natural acrobats live in both trees and the ground. From their complex underground burrows to their flights through the air with the greatest of ease, these mammals are certainly worth appreciating.
Squirrels are part of the taxonomic family Sciuridae, a name derived from the Greek “skiouros” which means “shadow tail”, the most prominent feature of these small, delightful rodents. The squirrel family also includes chipmunks, marmots, and prairie dogs.
Found all over the world, squirrels are indigenous to all parts, except Australia where they were introduced in the late nineteenth century. Their diet consists mostly of plants, but they have been known to partake of fungi, insects, and other small animals, as well as the leftovers discarded by humans. They bury their food in various pantries around their environments, and come winter, some species can smell their food up to one foot below the snow! Of course, with their stashes located all over, they can lose their supplies to other foragers, but fear not because these little bandits certainly steal from others too.
Enjoy this gallery of squirrels in scientific illustrations found in Biodiversity Heritage Library! I have collected more squirrel SciArt in my Flickr gallery from combing through BHL’s photostream, but BHL has even more squirrels that are generally tagged.
- Variegated squirrel (Sciurus variegatoides). SciArt by Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins for the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, Vol. 1 (1848-1860).
- 17th century squirrel (pre-Linnean). SciArt from Historiae Naturalis de Quadrupedibus Libri, Pt. 1;3;2 (1657) by Joannes Jonstonus.
- Eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris). SciArt by Archibald Thorburn for his British Mammals, Vol. 1 (1920-21).
- Flying squirrels (Genus Glaucomys). SciArt by Édouard Traviès for Dictionnaire d’Histoire Naturelle (1849) by Charles Dessalines d’Orbigny.
- Tufted ground squirrel (Rheithrosciurus macrotis). SciArt by Joseph Wolf for the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, Vol. 1 (1848-1860).
- Collie’s squirrels (Sciurus colliaei). SciArt by John Woodhouse Audubon for The Quadrupeds of North America, Vol. 3 (1854) by John James Audubon and John Bachman.
- California ground squirrels (Otospermophilus beecheyi). SciArt by Louis Agassiz Fuertes for the Natural History of the Ground Squirrels of California (1918) by Joseph Grinnell and Joseph Dixon.
- American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus). SciArt by Louis Agassiz Fuertes for the Wild Animals of North America (c1918) by Edward W. Nelson.
- Eastern grey squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis). SciArt from Squirrels and Other Fur-bearers (c1909) by John Burroughs.
- TOP: Kaibab squirrel (Sciurus aberti kaibabensis); BOTTOM: Abert’s squirrel (Sciurus aberti). SciArt by Louis Agassiz Fuertes for the Wild Animals of North America (c1918) by Edward W. Nelson.
- SQUIRRELS! SciArt from the Edinburgh Journal of Natural History, Vol. 2 (1839-40). This illustration, like all the others above, is part of the Public Domain and may be freely used. It has been featured in the opening graphic.