Significance to humans

Squirrels have been hunted for sport, their fur, and their meat. Some species are considered a pest or nuisance due to damage to crops or trees or pose a threat to native species due to introductions outside their natural range. However, many people take pleasure in their presence in parks and gardens and enjoy watching their ingenious ability to overcome obstacles in search of food. Squirrels are also notably present in the folklore of all countries where they are found, included in children's tales, sayings, and weatherlore: "Squirrels gathering nuts in a flurry, will cause snow to gather in a hurry."

A Eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) leaps to a lower branch. (Photo by Stephen Dalton/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

1. Peters's squirrel (Sciurus oculatus); 2. Pallas's squirrel (Callosciurus erythraeus); 3. Variegated squirrel (Sciurus variegatoides); 4. Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris); 5. Arizona gray squirrel (Sciurus arizonensis); 6. Gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis); 7. Abert squirrel (Sciurus aberti); 8. North American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus); 9. Eastern fox squirrel (Sciurus niger). (Illustration by Bruce Worden)

1. Peters's squirrel (Sciurus oculatus); 2. Pallas's squirrel (Callosciurus erythraeus); 3. Variegated squirrel (Sciurus variegatoides); 4. Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris); 5. Arizona gray squirrel (Sciurus arizonensis); 6. Gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis); 7. Abert squirrel (Sciurus aberti); 8. North American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus); 9. Eastern fox squirrel (Sciurus niger). (Illustration by Bruce Worden)

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