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Small Mammals of North Dakota

Family Sciuridae

Squirrels


The family Sciuridae belongs to the largest and most diverse order of mammals, Rodentia, containing about 1,620 species. There are about 250 species of Sciurids currently recognized around the world. Eleven of these species can be found in North Dakota.

There are three basic groups of squirrels. These are the flying squirrels which are active mostly at night, the tree squirrels which are active during daylight hours, and the ground squirrels. The first two groups spend most of their time in trees and build their nest above ground; the third group are ground dwelling, as the name implies, and nest in underground burrows. Because flying and tree squirrels are dependent upon mature trees, their distribution is limited to rivers, streams, woody draws, and urban areas where trees are plentiful. Ground squirrels are more widespread and often abundant in grassland habitats. Members of this family that can be found in North Dakota include the northern flying squirrel, gray squirrel, red squirrel, fox squirrel, eastern chipmunk, least chipmunk, woodchuck, Richardson's ground squirrel, thirteen-lined ground squirrel, Franklin's ground squirrel, and black-tailed prairie dog.


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