ETYM Old Eng. squirel, Old Fren. esquirel, escurel, French écureuil, Late Lat. squirelus, squirolus, scuriolus, dim. of Latin sciurus, Greek sioyros; skia shade + oura tail. Related to Shine.
Rodent of the family Sciuridae. Squirrels are found worldwide except for Australia, Madagascar, and polar regions. Some are tree dwellers; these generally have bushy tails, and some, with membranes between their legs, are called flying squirrels. Others are terrestrial, generally burrowing forms called ground squirrels; these include chipmunks, gophers, marmots, and prairie dogs.
The small red squirrel Tamia sciurus of Alaska, Canada, the Rocky Mountains, and NE US, grows to 35 cm/14 in including the tail, builds large tree nests and accumulates the cones of spruce and other conifers for winter use. The larger eastern gray squirrel Sciurus carolinensis of E North America grows to 50 cm/20 in including tail, stores nuts and acorns, and is a common sight in city parks and suburbs.
1. A kind of arboreal rodent having a long bushy tail.
2. The fur of a squirrel.