About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Why squirrels chew

I teach grade I and have a lesson on squirrels and there is a question How does squirrels eat? I would like to know the answer to this .with its sharp teeth.  or   nibble   or  gnaw . Please reply. Thanks

Baby squirrels do not have teeth or hair. They are blind for the first six to eight weeks of life. Until the babies are about two months old, they drink only mother’s milk. After that, they learn to forage with their mother. 

Squirrels need approximately two pounds of food per week. Most squirrels are considered omnivores. They are opportunistic and will eat almost anything. 

Their diet mainly includes a variety of seeds, fruit, nuts, berries, pinecones, mushrooms, tree sap, leaves, flowers, insects, mice and eggs. To eat their food, squirrels use a combination of gnawing and grinding. 

Squirrels’ teeth are typical of rodents in their ability for gnawing. They have two incisors on the top and two on the bottom jaw that will grow continuously, but stay short due to the constant wear they receive. The incisors are sharp-edged teeth located in the front of the mouth adapted for cutting or gnawing. Squirrels’ teeth have orange-colored enamel on the outside and exposed dentine on the inside, so they self-sharpen during gnawing. 

Squirrels do not have canines, or fang teeth. Behind the incisors they have a large gap called diastema. Squirrels can suck their lips into this space and gnaw and not worry about swallowing inedible debris. Squirrels also have premolars and molars similar to humans. These cheek teeth have roots, and stop growing when they become adults. The premolars and molars in the upper and lower jaw grind up food before its swallowed.

The Red Squirrel, Eastern Gray Squirrel, and Eastern Fox Squirrel are all active year-round, but may stay in their nest several days during extreme hot or cold weather. They like to bury large amounts of nuts to feed on in the winter. And some studies show that 85% of these nuts are eventually recovered.

Related Articles:
Why are Squirrels Called Squirrels?: http://bit.ly/n5x4Wf
Squirrels Like to Work for Their Food: http://bit.ly/nhAAkK
How Many Species of Squirrels are in Michigan?: http://bit.ly/ptcjzi
Teachers' Resources for Course on Birds: http://bit.ly/rlPWUO

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