Squirrels are adorable and often cause trouble, so it’s no surprise that you’ll see them on most nature hikes. Squirrels are commonly seen in groups, especially in parks and other green areas, where they can be seen happily munching on nuts.
But have you ever wondered whether these critters are really squirrels or just squirrel-like animals?
In such a case, you can be confident that your needs will be met. Here, we will discuss eleven more common examples of animals misidentified as squirrels.
Let’s dig right in!
Squirrels are now considered part of the same taxonomic family, the Sciuridae. Squirrels and all other family members are rodents because they belong to the order Rodentia.
It has been determined that approximately 285 different species of squirrels are living in the world today. In fact, except for Antarctica, squirrels may be found on every continent.
However, because there are so many squirrels, it is challenging to classify them all. Scientists that specialize in taxonomy have thankfully already done all the legwork.
The family Sciuridae, however, is highly diverse and contains not only tree squirrels but also flying squirrels, ground squirrels, etc. In sum, there is more to squirrels than meets the eye.
Animals that Look Like Squirrels
One of the most recognizable characteristics of squirrels is their bushy tails, and another is their propensity for hoarding food in tree holes for the winter. Squirrels come in a variety of colors and patterns and can be found in any region of the world.
Nonetheless, squirrels aren’t the only animals with these qualities. There are a lot of creatures that resemble squirrels and even share some of their behaviors.
It’s incredible how many different creatures look like squirrels or share other traits with them. Okay then, let’s learn about 11 other animals that are similar to squirrels.
Chipmunks are the most mistaken animals as squirrels; chipmunks vs. squirrels are pretty hard to identify. The appearance of the chipmunk is quite similar to that of the squirrel, and the two animals are sometimes confused for one another.
Chipmunks are easily distinguishable from squirrels due to their unique striped patterns and smaller size. Squirrels, on the other hand, are covered with fur and have bushy tails.
They are similar in that they both make their homes in trees, where both of them conceal and collect the nuts that have been gathered throughout the warm season, and they both eat the nuts.
If you compare the diet of a chipmunk to that of a squirrel, you’ll see that the chipmunk consumes a broader variety of foods, including berries and tiny insects, whereas the squirrel subsists only on seeds and nuts.
Another example of a squirrel-like animal is the fuzzy groundhog. Both are considered to be herbivorous rodents and share the same classification.
The groundhog and the squirrel are native to America and share many of the same habitats. Hence the two are often confused with one another.
Even though they are from the same family, groundhogs live underground like most other creatures comparable to them. They achieve this by digging a tunnel in the earth and concealing it so they have somewhere to put all the food they will need to stockpile for the winter.
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Mole is a common name for a group of tiny, hairy mammals that spend most of their lives underground. They feed on worms, snails, insects, and other small creatures that may be found in the soil, and they dwell in tunnels that they have excavated themselves.
The sand grains that moles collect from the ground in their tunnels are used as a tool to shift the soil around when they are searching for food or building new tunnels. Moles also take pleasure in gathering pebbles and sand from the earth in their tunnels. This is a quality shared by both ground squirrels and moles.
They do this so they may eat it at a later time by storing it in their burrows. Both squirrels and moles gather nuts, but moles also reserve earthworms that they dig up from deeper into the ground. However, both of them are compulsive hoarders.
4. Short-Tailed Shrews
The short-tailed shrew is a species of tiny mammal that may be found living in the marshes and woods of North America. It has weak vision, but because of its large nose, it is able to sense odors. The short-tailed shrew will gather dead leaves and other items to use in the construction of its nest, which it will use either for sleeping or for giving birth.
Short-tailed shrews and squirrels both have short tails. Both creatures are known as hoarders due to the fact that they collect food and keep it in their nests rather than eating it immediately. A short-tailed shrew usually carries its food in its mouth to its nest or burrows, whereas a squirrel stores its food for later use in tree cavities or holes near the ground where it lives.
Muskrats, a kind of rodent, look like squirrels but are aquatic and have long tails for propulsion. The paws of these creatures are webbed, and they are covered with dense hair.
Muskrats are widespread and may be found in a wide variety of aquatic habitats. Both muskrats and squirrels are burrowing rodents. Although they are not related and have diverged into various burrow kinds, they share the same way of life.
As a defense mechanism, both muskrats and squirrels spend their entire lives underground.
These small, furry critters are as thin and compact as squirrels. Typically, they construct burrows near water sources for convenience. They are often as friendly as squirrels, with the exception of the breeding season.
Also, unlike squirrels, which spend the day foraging in the trees, minks spend the day hunting and prowling. The diets these two mammalian species choose to follow are the primary differences between them. Minks are carnivores, while squirrels are herbivores; they consume anything from snakes and ducks to fish and, if necessary, even smaller rodents like chipmunks and squirrels.
The raccoon is one of the animals that live in the trees alongside the squirrels. These two species of rodents coexist at the tops of trees. Whereas squirrels are active during the day, raccoons are active at night and scavenge throughout the day. Both of these animals have long tails that facilitate their ability to hop from tree to tree. In addition, raccoons will search for and steal nuts that have been stored by squirrels.
Both of these creatures may be a source of irritation for homeowners, especially if they choose to make their homes in the attic or on the highest level of a building. The average length of a raccoon is nearly twice as long as that of a squirrel, yet despite their larger size, their lifespan is only about half as long at two years.
Hamsters are relatively tiny in size and have short ears and long, hairless tails. These nocturnal animals spend most of their time resting during the day, but at night, they occasionally go out to investigate their surroundings. Although they sleep during the day, they are active at night.
These creatures have the potential to become highly hostile when they feel threatened, but in general, they are not aggressive toward people. Hamsters are herbivores like squirrels that acquire the majority of their nutrition from various grains and seeds, along with a few fruits and vegetables.
Hamsters are not as big as squirrels. They are also equipped with cheek pouches, which enable them to carry food back to their burrows or nests without having to set it down anytime they need one of their hands-free.
9. River Otters
The river otter and the squirrel have many similarities despite being two very different creatures. Like squirrels, river otters come in different varieties depending on where you are. To keep in touch with one another, otters utilize a distinct call, much like squirrels.
Aside from the water, their diets are also very different from one another. River otters consume a wide variety of meats, from tiny fish and turtles to frogs and other amphibians.
The rabbit is another squirrel-like type that forages for food. Both of the animals are herbivores. Clovers, wildflowers, and other natural plants in bloom are a favorite food of rabbits. Vegetable plants, when they are available, are another favorite. They do not engage in the practice of food storage, and their offspring can be produced far more rapidly than squirrels.
In contrast to squirrels, the vast majority of young rabbits that are born into the wild do not live to see their first birthday; hence, rabbits have a higher reproductive rate. Both of these species are active from the beginning of the day until far into the early hours of the night. However, because of the fact that they are both of lesser size, they fall prey to the same kinds of predators.
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11. Hoary Marmot
The hoary marmot is commonly referred to as the “Rocky Mountain squirrel” due to its resemblance to that animal, although being more significant than other rodents of its type. Similar to humans, hoary marmots enjoy the company of others. Similarities in appearance between hoary marmots and squirrels can be attributed to their shared ancestry in the rodent family.
Both hoary marmots and gray squirrels have massive, furry bodies, but the hoary marmot’s gray fur is noticeably darker. They’re both equipped with bushy tails that help them maintain their equilibrium when sprinting over tree branches and ascending trunks.
You can’t deny the cuteness of squirrels. As a pleasurable pastime, seeing them is something we enjoy doing. At any moment, you hear rustling above in the trees, look up, and you might be greeted by the sight of a squirrel searching for fruits and nuts, hot on the trail of another squirrel-like animal, or just simply enjoying a brisk sprint from branch to limb.
There are several species of animals that resemble squirrels, but not all of them are actually squirrels. So be careful the next time you spot a squirrel; it might just not be one!
As an animal lover since childhood, Paul has an excessive amount of kindness for animals and really feels about them. Feeding stray dogs and passing time with them is one of the things Paul loves to do in his free time.
Paul studied Veterinary Medicine at Murdoch University. He is a Speaker who talks about animal welfare at various events. You will find him sharing here his valuable knowledge as well as experience.
Currently, Paul is working on his first book to publish where you will see the reflection of his 10 years of experience with animals and pet psychology.