Depending on where you live, you may just know squirrels as those nondescript gray or brown creatures scurrying up trees or eating acorns with their hands. But did you know that there are hundreds of squirrel species? Many have bright colors and patterns and look incredibly different from the squirrels we see every day.
List of Colorful Squirrels
Here’s our list of the most colorful squirrels in the world:
1. American Red Squirrel
- Latin name: Tamiasciurus hudsonicus
- Habitat: Most areas of North America where there are conifers, except the Pacific coast of the United States
- Size: About 11″-14″ long; about 7.1-8.8 ounces
- Diet: Largely various types of plant seeds, although they will also eat other types of plant matter.
- Colorful feature: Though you might picture an all-red squirrel based on the name, the American red squirrel is typically mostly red with some patches of gray. It has a white belly, and its tail appears smoky thanks to the grayish-black shading at the edges of the hairs.
If you aren’t sure you’ve heard of the American red squirrel, you may have heard it referred to by several names. Its other common names include the chickaree, North American red squirrel, pine squirrel, and Hudson’s Bay squirrel. Its population isn’t threatened at all, and it seems to be getting more adaptable. Though it once only lived among conifers, it is now beginning to live in hardwood forests as well.
2. White-Tailed Antelope Squirrel
- Latin name: Ammospermophilus leucurus
- Habitat: Arid parts of Baja California and the southwestern United States
- Size: About 7.6″-9.4″ long; about 3-5.5 ounces
- Diet: Mostly seeds, foliage, and different types of arthropods, though they may also eat vertebrates
- Colorful feature: These squirrels have a beautiful, eye-catching pattern of different-colored bands. Their bellies are white with a chestnut brown base color above. Their backs are blackish gray with a creamy stripe.
If you’ve never seen a white-tailed antelope squirrel before, you might be surprised. After all, it doesn’t climb trees. It also looks a whole lot like a chipmunk. But this species is a ground squirrel that doesn’t climb trees. And oddly enough, chipmunks are categorized as a variety of squirrel, so we’ll see some (actual) chipmunks later on.
3. Prevost’s Squirrel
- Latin name: Callosciurus prevostii
- Habitat: Forested areas in the Thai-Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, and Borneo
- Size: About 8″-11″ long; about 9-18 ounces
- Diet: Largely nuts, fruit, eggs, seeds, flowers, insects, eggs, and bugs
- Colorful feature: If we were ranking squirrels by brightness of color, this one would be close to the top! The Prevost’s squirrel has a deep red-brown belly, arms, and legs. Each side has a creamy white stripe, and the top of the squirrel’s body is gray or grizzled black.
Southeast Asia is famous for its exquisitely colorful plant and animal life. And as you can see with this species, even its squirrels are beautiful. That being said, if you ever see an animal that looks like the Prevost’s squirrel but a little different, it may still be one: up to 44 subspecies have been designated, and some have slightly different coloration.
4. Red Squirrel
- Latin name: Sciurus vulgaris
- Habitat: Forested areas across much of Europe and Asia
- Size: About 7.5″-9″ long; about 9-12 ounces
- Diet: Largely seeds, nuts, fungi, berries, and even bird eggs or young birds
- Colorful feature: The cute, fluffy red squirrel is another species where there’s a good bit of variation in coloring. Some, like the one in the picture, are uniformly a rich red-brown. But others have a grayish coloring all along the back and tail.
This is a different species from the American red squirrel. It’s a very common animal in most parts of both Europe and Asia. One of the largest differences between it and many squirrels in the Americas is the fact that it has tufted ears that make it look like something out of a fairy tale!
5. Abert’s Squirrel
- Latin name: Sciurus aberti
- Habitat: Primarily ponderosa pine forests in western North America
- Size: About 18″-23″ long; about 22 ounces
- Diet: Prefers cones and seeds of ponderosa pines and Mexican pinyon trees, but it will eat buds, carrion, and even tree bark if needed
- Colorful feature: The Abert’s squirrel may be gray, but it looks much different from the varieties of gray squirrel elsewhere on the list. Its belly is usually white, while the gray fur has a grizzled pattern very similar to that of a chinchilla. If you see one from above, you’ll also notice a very conspicuous rust-red stripe down the back.
Like the red squirrel, the Abert’s squirrel has tufted ears that look especially stunning. The tufts extend much higher above the head than those of many other squirrel species. There are a variety of different subspecies of Abert’s squirrel, largely because the ponderosa pine forests it prefers to call home are disjointed.
6. Siberian Chipmunk
- Latin name: Eutamias sibiricus
- Habitat: Various habitat types in northern Asia
- Size: About 7.1″-9.8″ long; about 1.8-5.3 ounces
- Diet: Largely seeds, but they also eat a variety of plant matter and even small animals
- Colorful feature: The Siberian chipmunk has some of the highest-contrast stripes of all the chipmunks. It has a glossy, reddish-tan base color. There is a whitish stripe down each side that is flanked in black, and the striping even extends to the face.
Not a lot of people realize this, but chipmunks are classified as a type of squirrel. That’s because they are members of the family Sciuridae. As you can see from the variety of animals on the list, squirrels are much more diverse than most of us realize.
7. Fox Squirrel
- Latin name: Sciurus niger
- Habitat: Usually large stands of trees in eastern North America
- Size: About 20″-30″ long; about 1-2.5 pounds
- Diet: Eats a huge variety of food depending on location, but it prefers acorns and similar nuts
- Colorful feature: At first glance, this squirrel’s coloring looks a lot like that of the gray fox! Its back is a grizzled gray “blanket” sitting atop a red-brown underside. The coloration varies based on location, and in some areas, these squirrels are completely black.
If this squirrel looks bigger than most on the list, that’s because it is. The fox squirrel is North America’s largest native species of tree squirrel. Since most individuals have some mixture of gray and red coloring, it’s easy to mistake for the eastern gray squirrel or the American red squirrel if you don’t have a strong knowledge of squirrel types.
8. Columbian Ground Squirrel
- Latin name: Urocitellus columbianus
- Habitat: Certain portions of the Rocky Mountains in western North America
- Size: About 12.8″-16.1″ long; about 12-29 grams
- Diet: Mostly vegetation, though they will also eat nuts and seeds
- Colorful feature: These unusual-looking ground squirrels are colorful in a subtle way. Their faces are primarily colored in bronze fur, while the rest of the body is buff or cinnamon. The darker undercoat makes their coats look more and more complex the longer you look at them.
These large rodents come in a couple of subspecies, both of which are fairly similar in color. However, there are a relatively small number of albino Columbian ground squirrels. The first one was captured close to Pullman, Washington, in 1932. A handful of other albino ground squirrels have been found in the area over the years, too.
9. California Ground Squirrel
- Latin name: Otospermophilus beecheyi
- Habitat: Many habitat types in the western United States and Baja California
- Size: About 12″ long; about 10-26 ounces
- Diet: Mostly grains, seeds, and other types of plant matter
- Colorful feature: These squirrels are a mixture of dusky brown, gray, and whitish hairs. But their most colorful feature is probably the collection of small, crescent-shaped pale patches on their sides. They form a pattern that looks a lot like fish scales.
This squirrel is also known as the Beechey ground squirrel. And like some other ground squirrels, it looks a lot like a prairie dog at first glance. Though they are cute, they are often considered to be pests. That’s because they feed on a wide variety of plants including ornamental and garden plants.
10. Javanese Flying Squirrel
- Latin name: Iomys horsfieldii
- Habitat: Forested areas in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia
- Size: Up to about 7″ long; up to about 6 ounces
- Diet: Mostly fruit, though its diet varies depending on the season
- Colorful feature: This striking flying squirrel usually has a reddish upper body and a pale, creamy white belly. Some individual squirrels may have a darker upper body and a belly that’s closer to being reddish.
The Javanese flying squirrel is one of the cutest on the list. It has wide, dark eyes and skin on the belly that it can stretch out to “fly” or glide between tree branches. If you happen to see the squirrel in flight from below, it will look like a pale rectangle. Interestingly enough, unlike most squirrel species, it communicates using a cry that sounds like the bark of a small dog.
11. Three-Striped Ground Squirrel
- Latin name: Lariscus insignis
- Habitat: Mostly lowland rainforest in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia
- Size: About 9″ long; about 6 ounces
- Diet: Various types of plant matter
- Colorful feature: This pretty, unusual squirrel looks a bit like a chipmunk. Its body is a beautifully dark seal brown with red accents. Its name comes from the three broad, black stripes going down its back.
This small, cute squirrel is truly a ground squirrel; even when it finds a tree to climb over, it rarely travels more than a few feet off the ground. This is a difficult squirrel to spot in the wild; it camouflages extremely well and is also extremely shy. If it spots danger or thinks it has, it lets out a sharp alarm call, flicks its tail, and disappears.
12. Uinta Ground Squirrel
- Latin name: Urocitellus armatus
- Habitat: Open areas in the western United States
- Size: About 11″-12″ long; about 7.4 ounces
- Diet: Largely grasses, seeds, discarded human food, and earthworms
- Colorful feature: These unusual creatures look somewhat like a mix of a squirrel and a groundhog. Their fur is a beautiful agouti pattern that ranges from grayish brown to cinnamon buff. Unlike many similar species, this one has a gray underside on the tail (as opposed to a whitish or yellowish underside).
This fluffy ground squirrel got its name from the fact that the species was first described in the Uinta Mountains. To the untrained observer, it’s easy to confuse with Wyoming ground squirrels or Belding’s ground squirrels. But that’s where its distinctive tail coloring comes in. This species has a gray underside to the tail, while the other species do not.
13. Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel
- Latin name: Callospermophilus lateralis
- Habitat: Chaparral, sagebrush, margins of meadows, and similar areas in parts of western North America
- Size: About 9″-11″ long; about 4-14 ounces
- Diet: Largely pine nuts, acorns, various types of plant matter, eggs, and even some smaller animals
- Colorful feature: This lovely little squirrel has a reddish-gold head and a grayish-brown body. On each side of the spine, there is a yellowish-buff line with a black line on either side. The exact coloration will vary between individuals, and some squirrels are much paler than others.
You might be somewhat surprised to hear that these squirrels are fairly solitary. Unlike many species of small animals, they tend to compete with each other for resources. They can sometimes live in roofs and other human-built structures. That might seem harmless, but it’s a bit of a risk. They can carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever and other diseases that can harm people.
14. Gray-Bellied Squirrel
- Latin name: Callosciurus caniceps
- Habitat: Plantations, forests, and gardens in Thailand, the Malay Peninsula, and parts of China and Myanmar
- Size: About 12″-17″ long; about 5.6-9 ounces
- Diet: Mostly fruits and leaves, but it also will eat insects and bird eggs
- Colorful feature: This very distinctive-looking squirrel’s upper body looks especially textured. Some of that is due to the fact that its fur usually appears to be a blend of many colors. Usually, it’s a mix of gray, yellow, olive, reddish, or multiple colors. As the name suggests, the belly is usually plain gray.
This interesting-looking squirrel has memorable coloring, but it’s one of the least colorful of its genus. The genus itself is often referred to as “beautiful squirrels.” Unsurprisingly, many of these “beautiful squirrels” can be found in Southeast Asia among other colorful flora and fauna.
15. Borneo Black-Banded Squirrel
- Latin name: Callosciurus orestes
- Habitat: Mid-elevations in northern Borneo
- Size: About 5″-11″ long; about 14-15 ounces
- Diet: Largely fruit and insects
- Colorful feature: As another of the “beautiful squirrels,” this one has pretty agouti fur and an unusual, thin tail with black banding. However, the combination of colors on the tail give it a grizzled appearance that contrasts with the rest of the body. It also has a buff-white sidestripe that adds more pleasing contrast.
Though the island of Borneo is home to a wide variety of threatened and endangered species, this squirrel is neither. Its natural range on the northern part of the island is small, and its forest habitat has been reduced somewhat due to deforestation. That being said, it doesn’t appear that there has been enough of an impact for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to classify it as being near threatened or otherwise a species of concern.
16. Mexican Red-Bellied Squirrels
- Latin name: Sciurus aureogaster
- Habitat: Most habitat types with trees in Guatemala and parts of Mexico
- Size: About 16″-23″ long; about 12 ounces
- Diet: Largely acorns and pine nuts, though it also will eat various types of plant matter and even some smaller animals
- Colorful feature: These distinctive squirrels appear largely gray, but they have reddish patches. Their tails are especially beautiful; they appear red closer to the center, and the hairs look more grayer as they extend outward. The result is beautiful and distinctive coloration.
You can see that there’s a black squirrel by the red and gray one in the photo. The black squirrel is also a Mexican red-bellied squirrel. But just like squirrels of many other species, this one sometimes appears as a melanistic, all-black variation. Though it’s native only to Guatemala and parts of Mexico, this squirrel species has been introduced successfully to the Florida Keys, where it lives in a range of habitats (including in hurricane debris).
17. Berdmore’s Ground Squirrel
- Latin name: Menetes berdmorei
- Habitat: Primarily rainforests in Southeast Asia
- Size: About 14″ long; about 7-8 ounces
- Diet: Largely grains and other plant matter
- Colorful feature: This little squirrel has an eye-catching stripe that looks like a racing stripe. Each side of its body has a beige-colored stripe with a black stripe right beneath it. Its belly is white, and the top part of its body is a deep gray-brown.
Berdmore’s ground squirrel is somewhat unique in that it has a pointed, tapered head that makes it look like a mouse or a shrew. However, its long and bushy tail gives it away as a member of the squirrel family. It is very common in its native range just like the various types of gray squirrels in North America are in their ranges. But oddly enough, even though you can see it just about everywhere, this squirrel is something of a mystery. Even experts don’t know much about its life.
18. White-Tailed Prairie Dog
- Latin name: Cynomys leucurus
- Habitat: Fairly elevated areas in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Montana
- Size: About 12″-16″ long; about 24-60 ounces
- Diet: Various types of available vegetation
- Colorful feature: The somewhat rare white-tailed prairie dog is colorful in a subtle sort of way. Its back is dark and agouti-colored and the underside is a lot paler. Like many squirrel species, this one has some variation between individuals. Some individual prairie dogs are significantly darker or lighter.
Not everyone knows this, but prairie dogs are classified as a type of ground squirrel! Notably, they are very aggressive toward the Wyoming ground squirrel. Both species compete for resources on the Great Plains, so if a Wyoming ground squirrel enters the territory of a prairie dog, the prairie dog will chase it and sometimes attack it. Occasionally, the prairie dog will even kill Wyoming ground squirrels.
19. Hoary Marmot
- Latin name: Marmota caligata
- Habitat: Grassy, mountainous areas of northwestern North America
- Size: About 24″-32″ long; about 8-22 pounds
- Diet: Primarily different types of available vegetation.
- Colorful feature: Hoary marmots have especially beautiful patterning. “Hoary” means covered with whitish hairs. And since hoary marmots have a mixture of a darker undercoat with white hairs interspersed, their coloring looks much like that of roan horses.
Marmots are fairly large members of the squirrel family. But despite its large size, the hoary marmot has a distinctively high-pitched, whistle-like call. That has led to members of the species being called “whistlers” or “whistle pigs.”
20. Cascade Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel
- Latin name: Callospermophilus saturatus
- Habitat: Throughout the Cascade Mountains in British Columbia and Washington State
- Size: About 11″-14″ long; about 5-17 ounces
- Diet: Kargely fungi, leaves, and seeds
- Colorful feature: Not to be confused with the golden-mantled ground squirrel, this species does look similar. However, in many cases, individuals have a more intensely-colored reddish-gold head in addition to the striking beige and black side stripes.
This pretty squirrel has a fairly localized range in the Cascade Mountains. Like many other squirrel species in the area, it can sound an alarm call in response to predators. But interestingly enough, that alarm call can be very easily distinguished from that of other species, and many experts believe that this species has its own “dialect.”
21. Spotted Ground Squirrel
- Latin name: Xerospermophilus spilosoma
- Habitat: Largely areas with very sandy soil in Mexico and the central United States
- Size: About 6″ long; about 3.5-4 ounces
- Diet: Mostly various types of plant matter, though they also eat insects
- Colorful feature: The spotted ground squirrel is covered in small whitish spots along the back. But aside from that, its color varies a good bit. Usually, you can find it in various shades of gray, brown, or a mixture of the two.
The spotted ground squirrel is one of the smallest squirrel types, especially compared to relatives in the squirrel family. Its small size may make it hard to spot, as does the fact that it spends a lot of its time hibernating underground. And unlike some other squirrel types, it does not warn other individuals via a call. Rather, it will use one of its many “alert postures.”
22. Cliff Chipmunk
- Latin name: Neotamias dorsalis
- Habitat: Mostly cliffs and other rocky areas in the western United States and parts of Mexico
- Size: About 8″-10″ long; about 1-5 ounces
- Diet: Largely seeds and nuts, though it will sometimes eat other types of plant matter
- Colorful feature: The individual coloring of these chipmunks varies quite a bit. Many have reddish undersides and similar beige-black striping to other chipmunk species. But as you can see in the photo, others have a distinctive, roan-like look with a little extra red.
The cliff chipmunk is an interesting species. Of course, its striped body looks like that of most chipmunks. But its proportionally long, bushy tail looks more like that of tree squirrels. This species also stands out due to its longevity: in the wild, it can live up to 12.5 years!
23. Black Giant Squirrel
- Latin name: Ratufa bicolor
- Habitat: Forested areas of parts of Southeast Asia
- Size: About 30″-33″ long; about 2-3 pounds
- Diet: Seeds, pine nuts, fruits, and leaves
- Colorful feature: The name of this large squirrel is pretty misleading: it sounds like it’s an all-black squirrel, but it’s actually one of the most colorful on the list. The upper parts of the body are black, while the underparts are pale. The brightest of these squirrels have bright yellow underparts. Their highly unusual coloration offers a striking contrast!
The black giant squirrel belongs to the genus Ratufa. This genus includes some of the most spectacularly colored squirrels on our list. You may sometimes hear it called the Malayan giant squirrel as well.
24. Grizzled Giant Squirrel
- Latin name: Ratufa macroura
- Habitat: Forests in Sri Lanka and parts of southern India
- Size: About 20″-35″ long; about 3-6 pounds
- Diet: Nuts, insects, eggs, other plant material, and tree bark
- Colorful feature: The grizzled giant squirrel has interesting and unusual coloring. It looks a little like the black giant squirrel, the difference being the interspersed white hairs that give its dark-colored top coloration a “grizzled” look. Like the black giant squirrel, its underside is sometimes vibrant orange or yellow.
This lovely squirrel belongs to the same genus as the black giant squirrel. It’s generally a little larger. Unfortunately, its larger size sometimes leads to it being hunted. Both hunting and habitat destruction have contributed to the decline in its population. Now, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) considers this species to be near threatened.
25. Western Gray Squirrel
- Latin name: Sciurus griseus
- Habitat: Forested areas on the coastal edge of western North America
- Size: About 17″-24″ long; about 0.8-2 pounds
- Diet: Largely acorns and pine nuts, though they also sometimes eat buds and fruit
- Colorful feature: The western gray squirrel has complex coloration if you look closely. Its fur is gray, but you can see a few white and black specks throughout. Its fluffy tail often has a bit more black shading than the rest of the body.
This squirrel is the western counterpart to the ubiquitous eastern gray squirrel. Its large fluffy tail serves an important purpose: it is fluffy enough that it can form an “umbrella” over the squirrel to help it hide from predators overhead.
26. Cream-Colored Giant Squirrel
- Latin name: Ratufa affinis
- Habitat: Forested areas in parts of Southeast Asia
- Size: About 2′-2.5′ long; about 2-3 pounds
- Diet: Mostly seeds, though it will eat fruit, other types of plant matter, and eggs
- Colorful feature: The cream-colored giant squirrel combines three different colors and blends them smoothly. The upper parts are black, the sides are a rich cream color, and the underside is usually some shade of orange or a similar color.
The cream-colored giant squirrel is one of the largest squirrel species in the world. It’s also one of the loudest. When it’s angry or startled, it lets out a sharp cry that carries very far. Habitat destruction poses a threat to this colorful species, and the IUCN currently classifies it as being near threatened.
27. Barbary Ground Squirrel
- Latin name: Atlantoxerus getulus
- Habitat: Shrubland and grassland in Morocco and Algeria
- Size: About 6″-9″ long; up to about 12 ounces
- Diet: Plant material, especially the fruits and seeds of the argan tree
- Colorful feature: This cute little ground squirrel looks a bit like a chipmunk whose lines have clearer definition than most. Its back is usually deep mahogany brown, and it has a smooth-edged, whitish stripe on each side of the body. Its bushy tail is a bit darker and has intricate agouti patterning.
This cute, chipmunk-like ground squirrel is a bit more adaptable than most. If its current habitat seems to run out of food, it will migrate in family groups. It also has been introduced to the Canary Islands, an area outside of its natural range. However, it has taken naturally to its new habitat.
28. Eastern Chipmunk
- Latin name: Tamias striatus
- Habitat: Ares with deciduous forest in eastern North America
- Size: Up to about 12″ long; about 2-5 ounces
- Diet: Largely bulbs, seeds, nuts, fruit, insects, eggs, and worms
- Colorful feature: The eastern chipmunk has a pretty chestnut brown base color. Each side has a distinctive pale stripe running toward the tail, and each stripe is outlined with a black stripe. Its white belly creates a lovely contrast!
This tiny creature is what most of us picture when we imagine a chipmunk. You might wonder where its strange name comes from. It comes from the Ojibwe word ajidamoo, which translates to “one who descends trees headlong.”
29. Douglas Squirrel
- Latin name: Tamiasciurus douglasii
- Habitat: Coniferous forests in the northern part of North America’s western coast
- Size: About 13″ long; about 5-10 ounces
- Diet: Mostly seeds and cones of conifers, though they will also eat fruit, other types of plant matter, and eggs
- Colorful feature: This squirrel’s summer coloration is a bit brighter than winter coloration. Its upper parts are gray, while the underbelly ranges from being fairly pale orange to fairly vibrant orange.
This squirrel, like the American red squirrel, is sometimes called a “chickaree.” That can get confusing, but the species are pretty similar: they belong to the same genus. The Douglas squirrel has three different subspecies, each of which has a slightly different range.
30. Black-Tailed Prairie Dog
- Latin name: Cynomys ludovicianus
- Habitat: Prairies, steppe, and grasslands in parts of central North America
- Size: About 17″-21″ long; about 1.5-3 pounds
- Diet: Mostly grasses and various types of plants
- Colorful feature: The black-tailed prairie dog has a lot of variation in coloring. Many are a somewhat buff or tan color. But as you can see in the photo, some are a beautiful color reminiscent of cinnamon. Their black-tipped tails help you distinguish them from other types of prairie dogs.
Though you may not think they’re all that intelligent, prairie dogs actually have an alert system where certain sounds indicate what type of predator is nearby and how quickly. These large ground squirrels also have specialized hearing that allows them to even hear predators in their burrows.
31. Yellow-Bellied Marmot
- Latin name: Marmota flaviventris
- Habitat: Mountainous areas in the western United States and southwestern Canada
- Size: About 18″-27″ long; about 3-11 pounds
- Diet: Largely various types of grains and plants, though they may also occasionally eat insects or other animal matter
- Colorful feature: True to the name, this species has a belly that is often yellow or yellowish orange. The yellow-bellied marmot appears to be covered in a “blanket” of dark, grizzled fur, much like a gray fox.
This large ground squirrel is sturdy enough to be confused for a groundhog or beaver! And unlike many other squirrel species, it has an approximately 8-month hibernation period. It will gain extra weight in preparation and then hibernate in September through the winter.
32. Palmer’s Chipmunk
- Latin name: Neotamias palmeri
- Habitat: Temperate forests in Nevada
- Size: About 11″-13″ long; about 1.7-2.4 ounces
- Diet: Largely conifer seeds, but it will eat other types of plant matter and insects
- Colorful feature: This small ground squirrel features the black-rimmed brownish stripes seen on other chipmunks. Its base color is more of a grayish brown, making its coat a palette made largely of cool colors.
You may have noticed that very few species on the list are threatened. But unfortunately, the Palmer’s Chipmunk is currently an endangered species. It has a tiny range covering the Spring Mountains in Clark County, Nevada.
33. California Chipmunk
- Latin name: Neotamias obscurus
- Habitat: Various habitat types in southern California, Baja California, and Mexico
- Size: About 8″-9″ long; about 2-3 ounces
- Diet: Largely fruits, seeds, and other types of plant matter
- Colorful feature: This chipmunk has a black-lined tan stripe on each side, but its base color is a bit different. The California chipmunk’s base coat is a pale chestnut brown. In summer, its high-contrast coat looks especially glossy!
This unusual little ground squirrel looks a good bit different from other chipmunks. Its ears are somewhat tall and its tail is somewhat bushy, so it looks more like tree squirrels than most chipmunks do.
34. Striped Ground Squirrel
- Latin name: Euxerus erythropus
- Habitat: Mostly savannas and disturbed forests in parts of Africa
- Size: About 15″-20″ long; about 1-2 pounds
- Diet: Largely seeds, roots, and nuts
- Colorful feature: These ground squirrels have striking red coloring with a stripe of pure white running across the body.
This African ground squirrel looks very similar to the prairie dogs found in North America. It has a very wide range, but it typically won’t live in the desert or in a rainforest.
35. Pallas’s Squirrel
- Latin name: Callosciurus erythraeus
- Habitat: Forested parts of China, India, and Southeast Asia
- Size: About 10″-20″ long; about 11-16 ounces
- Diet: Mostly leaves, seeds, and flowers, but they also may eat insects and eggs
- Colorful feature: This squirrel isn’t quite as interesting as some other members of its genus, but its distinctive pattern makes it worth mentioning. As you can see, its dark coat is marked with a range of different shades. Its tail is especially striking, as the hairs start dark closer to the body and then turn yellow as they reach outward.
You might sometimes hear this species called the red-bellied tree squirrel. This is a separate species from the red-bellied squirrel. It is remarkably adaptable in terms of habitat, as it can be found in rainforests, deciduous forests, and subalpine coniferous forests.
36. Rock Squirrel
- Latin name: Otospermophilus variegatus
- Habitat: Rocky areas in the southwestern United States and Mexico
- Size: Up to 21″ long; about 1.3-1.7 pounds
- Diet: Mostly acorns, pine nuts, fruit, and grasses
- Colorful feature: This squirrel has a striking, almost scale-like dappling of whitish spots on its darker body. On some individuals, this pattern looks more like thin barring.
The rock squirrel prefers rocky habitats as long as it can burrow under the rocks! It lives in complex burrows. Unlike many other animals, it expands upon its burrow through the years instead of digging new ones.
37. Malabar Giant Squirrel
- Latin name: Ratufa indica
- Habitat: Forested areas in many parts of India
- Size: 10″-1 foot 8 inches long; about 3-6 pounds
- Diet: Primarily various types of plant matter
- Colorful feature: If we had to designate one squirrel as the most colorful on the list, it would probably be the Malabar giant squirrel. This large squirrel usually has a three-color pattern that can include maroon, black, seal brown, buff, rust, white, or cream-colored.
This stunning squirrel is sometimes called the Indian giant squirrel, and it has received some level of cultural recognition. In the Indian state of Maharashtra, it has been designated the state animal. It looks exotic enough that you might believe it’s endangered or threatened, but the IUCN has ranked it as a species of least concern.
38. Thirteen-Lined Ground Squirrel
- Latin name: Ictidomys tridecemlineatus
- Habitat: Many grasslands and prairies across North America
- Size: About 6″-11″ long; about 4-10 ounces
- Diet: Mostly seeds, though it will also eat other types of plant matter and sometimes insects
- Colorful feature: This aptly-named squirrel has some of the most beautifully intricate patterning on the list. It has thirteen stripes (alternating brown and white) across the back. Some stripes have been broken into dots. As a result, the thirteen-lined ground squirrel looks a bit like a fawn.
These unique ground squirrels are one of the species able to hibernate during the winter. They have evolved specific adaptations that allow them to go six months with no food or water.
39. Yellow-Pine Chipmunk
- Latin name: Neotamias amoenus
- Habitat: Brushy areas in western North America
- Size: About 7″-10″ long; about 1-2.5 ounces
- Diet: Primarily different types of seeds
- Colorful feature: This small ground squirrel has a reddish base color. But as you can see in the picture, it often has a tinge of yellow. It also has the neat, eye-catching lines that most chipmunks do.
These chipmunks do hibernate, but instead of gaining body fat before hibernating, they build a stash of food called a “larder.” The bigger a given chipmunk’s larder, the more likely it is to survive through the winter.
40. Mexican Fox Squirrel
- Latin name: Sciurus nayaritensis
- Habitat: Forested areas in parts of Arizona and Mexico
- Size: About 19″-24″ long; about 25 ounces
- Diet: Mostly seeds, flowers, and fungi
- Colorful feature: This colorful squirrel usually has an underside that ranges from yellowish to reddish-orange. It also has eye-catching grizzled brown fur across the back.
The Mexican fox squirrel can be divided into a few subspecies. You might hear these subspecies called the Chiricahua fox squirrel, Nayarit fox squirrel, or Apache fox squirrel. It’s a large, robust squirrel whose population does not currently seem to be threatened.
41. Sonoma Chipmunk
- Latin name: Neotamias sonomae
- Habitat: Forests and chaparral in northern California
- Size: About 8″-10″ long; about 2-4 ounces
- Diet: Mostly seeds, buds, fruit, herbs, insects, and eggs
- Colorful feature: This colorful ground squirrel’s base color varies quite a bit. Some are smoky gray, some are reddish, and some are closer to cinnamon in color. Like many chipmunks, it has alternating dark and light stripes down the back.
The Sonoma chipmunk has one of the smallest ranges of any squirrel on the list. It mostly can only be found in two counties in northern California. It’s a very versatile animal; it usually burrows for shelter, but it will sometimes nest in trees.
42. Variable Squirrel
- Latin name: Callosciurus finlaysonii
- Habitat: Forests in parts of Southeast Asia
- Size: About 16″-18″ long; about 8-9 ounces
- Diet: Mostly fruit
- Colorful feature: As you may have guessed from the name, the color of this squirrel varies based on the subspecies. Most have darker upper parts with paler underparts. Many subspecies can be gray, chocolate brown, reddish, olive brown, or black.
This cute creature is often called the Finlayson’s squirrel. It looks a lot different from many squirrels on the list, largely because of its high-contrast patterning and often unusual colors. Its beauty and unique coloration have made it a popular pet in some areas of the world.
43. Black-Striped Squirrel
- Latin name: Callosciurus nigrovittatus
- Habitat: Forested parts of Thailand, Sumatra, Java, the Malay Peninsula, and surrounding areas
- Size: Up to about 15″ long; about 10-11 ounces
- Diet: Mostly fruit, seeds, and insects
- Colorful feature: The black-striped squirrel’s color varies depending on subspecies, but you can almost always see its long tail that appears to be wrapped in thin black bands.
This pretty squirrel is another member of the “beautiful squirrels” genus, though it isn’t quite as bright as some on the list. However, Its head is often a brighter color that appears to darken as you move toward the body. That’s because most individuals have a coat flecked with black along with the black banding on the tail.
44. Eastern Gray Squirrel
- Latin name: Sciurus carolinensis
- Habitat: Mostly forested areas in eastern North America
- Size: About 17″-23″ long; about 14-21 ounces
- Diet: Mostly nuts, seeds, fruit, other plant matter, and fungi
- Colorful feature: When you look closely at the gray squirrel, you’ll see that its coloration is a blend of brown, gray, black, and white. Gray is the dominant color, but many individuals have prominent accents of other colors.
The highly adaptable eastern gray squirrel has become an invasive species of note in Europe. In fact, it has been included on Europe’s list of “Invasive Alien Species of Union Concern” since 2016. That means that nobody can bring gray squirrels into the Union.
45. Indian Palm Squirrel
- Latin name: Funambulus palmarum
- Habitat: Areas with trees in much of India and Sri Lanka
- Size: About 12″-14″ long; about 3.5 ounces
- Diet: Mostly nuts and fruit
- Colorful feature: This squirrel has especially beautiful marking; its dark upper body has clearly defined cream-colored stripes. The rest of the body is grizzled, with the gray tail having fine black banding.
The Indian palm squirrel is one of the more unusual-looking species on the list. In India, many Hindus regard these squirrels as sacred. Families will even feed them sometimes! In Hindu scripture, the Indian palm squirrel is closely associated with Lord Rama, a Hindu deity.
46. Himalayan Striped Squirrel
- Latin name: Tamiops mcclellandii
- Habitat: Forested areas in parts of India, China, and Southeast Asia
- Size: About 4″ long; about 2 ounces
- Diet: Fruits, vegetables, and insects
- Colorful feature: As you can see in the picture, these small squirrels have strikingly wide, cream-colored stripes on their side. The stripes continue up the head and under the eyes, forming what looks almost like a mask.
The Himalayan striped squirrel is one of the more social species on the list. If you see one in the wild, chances are good that there are others nearby, as it seems to prefer to forage in groups. And as you can see in the picture, its striping pattern stands out largely because it looks much different from that of most other chipmunks.
47. Least Pygmy Squirrel
- Latin name: Exilisciurus exilis
- Habitat: Forested areas on the islands of Borneo, Sumatra, and Banggi
- Size: About 4″-5″ long; about 0.4-0.9 ounces
- Diet: Mostly various seeds and other plant matter
- Colorful feature: This odd-looking squirrel isn’t the absolute brightest on the list, but its coloring has some subtle beauty. The body is olive brown with a little bit of warmth, while the tail is darker and grizzled with black.
As you could probably guess from the name, the least pygmy squirrel is one of the smallest squirrels on earth. If you do happen to venture into its habitat, it might be hard to spot. The least pygmy squirrel is very small, but its coat is a very effective means of camouflage.
48. Bangs’s Mountain Squirrel
- Latin name: Syntheosciurus brochus
- Habitat: Mountain rainforests in Panama and Costa Rica
- Size: About 11″ long; about 7-8 ounces
- Diet: Largely nuts and seeds
- Colorful feature: This squirrel has some of the most striking coloring on the list. Much of its body is an intense yellow with darker hairs mixed in. The result is a beautiful, grizzled pattern of yellow and black (or dark brown).
This squirrel is somewhat of a mystery, as it’s been relatively unstudied. One of its habitats is at the top of a Costa Rican volcano and is virtually inaccessible to humans! There has been enough study of this species to see that it is social and lives in groups.
49. Squirrel Glider
- Latin name: Petaurus norfolcensis
- Habitat: Forested areas in southeastern Australia
- Size: About 15″-22″ long; about 0.5 pounds
- Diet: Mostly fruit, insects, and tree sap
- Colorful feature: The striking squirrel glider usually has a grayish base color with light and dark markings on the face. Its white underbelly forms a beautiful contrast with the rest of its coat.
In the wild, the squirrel glider can glide up to 50m between trees! However, it is sometimes kept as a pet and will not usually glide when it’s in captivity. Interestingly enough, it looks a bit like a sugar glider, but the two species are not very closely related.
50. Richardson’s Ground Squirrel
- Latin name: Urocitellus richardsonii
- Habitat: Prairies in the north-central part of the United States and the south-central part of Canada
- Size: About 12″ long; about 0.5-1.5 pounds
- Diet: Mostly nuts, seeds, grasses, and insects
- Colorful feature: This ground squirrel varies somewhat in color. It is usually tawny, but some, like the one in the photo, are a lovely, soft whitish color.
This prairie dog-like ground squirrel is sometimes called a “dakrat.” The name comes from the phrase “Dakota rat,” and it’s often used around Minot Air Force Base. Oddly enough, this squirrel has become somewhat popular as an exotic pet in recent years.
51. Northern Flying Squirrel
- Latin name: Glaucomys sabrinus
- Habitat: Forested areas in parts of Canada and the northern United States
- Size: About 10″-15″ long; about 4-8 ounces
- Diet: Largely fungi, nuts, different types of plant matter, insects, eggs, and even smaller animals
- Colorful feature: These squirrels have very pretty, high-contrast coloring; their bellies are pale and almost pure white, while their upper bodies are a rich gray-brown.
The striking northern flying squirrel glides more so than flying. However, it is able to change direction when gliding and can even turn to avoid objects that are in the way. Since it has such a huge range, it is divided into many different subspecies.
Nature’s Most Colorful Squirrels
So there you have them: more than 50 of the most striking squirrels nature has to offer. The next time you travel somewhere, look closely at the squirrels. Chances are good that they look at least a little different from the furry creatures you’re used to!