|The size of squirrels ranges from small to average. The length of the body is usually 20 -31 cm. The length of the tail 20-31 cm. The tail is always thickly covered with hair. The length of the tail can be more than the length of the body; it can be almost equal to it or much shorter. The rear limbs are much longer than the fore ones. On the fore and rear limbs, the longest finger is the fourth one. The ears are usually large, sometimes with a tuft of hair at the top. The hair covering in most of squirrels during winter is quite high, dense and soft, and in summer it is more rough and short. They shed the hair two times in a year; and the tail sheds once. The usual color at the back side of the body is a single-color gray, grayish-brown, blackish-brown with different shades of red color and on the abdomen it is white, dirty yellow or an orange color. Geographical variations in the color of the fur and the polymorphism of color are eminent within the limits of one population.
They are widely spread in: Europe, Caucasus, Trans-Caucasus; Asia Minor, partially in Syria, Iran; Siberia in the south up to Altai, Amur and Ussuri; Northern China; Korean islands; Sakhalin; Japan; and most parts of America.
Squirrels live in different types of forests: ranging from northern to tropical ones. They spend most of their life on trees, superbly climbing and jumping from one branch to another. They take shelter in the nests which they build in the hollows or on the branches of trees.
They do not go into hibernation, but during storms or very cold weather they can remain in the nest for a long time. Most of the types, as a rule, have two broods in a year.
The majority of the breeds don’t have any essential economic value for humans, except for ordinary squirrels which are used for their fur.
Squirrels, even very small ones, unlike rabbits can be easily reared, but at the same time it is necessary to keep some precautions in mind. Firstly, make sure that the squirrel really requires your care. It happens that small squirrels can drop out of the hollow, but if they remain alone, the squirrel-mother will surely come down after them, and by holding their fur at the neck with their teeth it takes the child back up the tree. Secondly, young squirrels need a lot of heat. It is better, if artificial heat is given to them from a home-made heater.
The temperature mode and feeding should be normal, but at the same time try to avoid holding the squirrel in your hands. The nursing of squirrels from an infantile age is divided into three stages: from birth up to 4 weeks, from 4 weeks to 2 months, from 2 months until it is freed. Treatment, keeping and feeding are not the same at each stage.
The eyes of the new born squirrels open usually at the 19th – 21st day; if one knows this it will be easy to determine the age of the animal accurately.
For feeding small squirrels use a medical pipette, while observing that the milk comes out constantly. We would like to remind you to never use a glass pipette. Young squirrels are exclusively voracious and they can even strangle each other in order to feed themselves. It is better to feed them on a table covered with bath towel. In this way it will be easy to control the behavior of the animals and the feeding of milk from the pipette. Do not leave baby squirrels on the table without supervision: they may not be able to keep hold on its surface and may eventually fall down.
Here is the initially recommended diet: 85g of condensed milk and a teaspoon of baby food. Wait until the mixture is completely dissolved and add four drops of syrup. Even baby food with milk may also be given.
The food must be fresh; therefore it must be prepared every day. Store the food when it is cooled, having completely corked the pot. Before each meal, warm the food up to 30-35°С.
After every feeding, thoroughly wash the pipette. As milk turns sour very quickly, and the consumption of spoiled milk can lead to diseases. If the animal takes the spoiled or too hot milk even once, then it is certain that it will refuse eating from it the next time.
Never bathe the animal. Never lay the chippings of coniferous trees under them, as its dust badly affects the animal, may enter the nostrils and cause discomfort. If one wishes to carry out hygienic procedures, children's creams may be used. Never use cotton clothes. Cotton retains the moisture, due to which the animal can catch pneumonia. During the period when the squirrel is still getting used to independent feeding, its limbs and face can get dirty by food. Before returning the animal in its “sleeping chamber”, accurately remove the remains of food using a towel and warm water.