Physical characteristics

The arboreal squirrels range in their size from the incredible pygmy squirrels of tropical forests weighing fractions of an ounce (a few tens of grams) to the giant squirrels of India several pounds (kilograms) in weight. Males and females are similar and there is no sexual dimorphism in either color or size. Their bones are relatively light and their skeleton shows adaptations for climbing. Their hind legs are disproportionately long. They have long toes with curved claws. Their tails, almost as long as their bodies, are used for balance, signaling, and thermoregulation. Their tails gave the genus Sciurus its name, stemming from the ancient Greek with skia meaning shade or shadow and oura meaning tail. They have different sets of sensory hairs, vibrissae, on the head, feet, forelegs, on the underside of their body, and at the base of the tail. These help them orient themselves and move through their three dimensional environment.

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