Ten Questions: Florida Monkey Squirrels
This article is called Ten Questions, so let's move straight to the questions.
Is there really a type of squirrel known as a monkey squirrel?
Yes, there is a type of squirrel known as a monkey squirrel. This is the name people have given to this native type of fox squirrel of the state of Florida. It is not technically its real name. Also, not many other people outside of Florida know of this strange squirrel.
Why haven't I ever heard of monkey squirrels before?
Not many people have heard of monkey squirrels because of their reclusive nature and their choice of habitat. Unlike the squirrels familiar to any urban back yard, the secretive monkey squirrels are very picky about where they'll live.
What is the real name of the monkey squirrel?
There are two types of squirrels that may have each been called monkey squirrel. The main one is the Sherman's fox squirrel (Sciurus niger shermani), and the other is the Big Cypress fox squirrel (Sciurus niger avicennia). These are two very similar offshoots of fox squirrels that exist in different parts of Florida.The Sherman's fox squirrel is the one that people usually mean when they say monkey squirrel, but the Big Cypress fox squirrel has been called that as well.
Why are they called monkey squirrels?
People have called them monkey squirrels because of their odd, sometimes monkey-like appearance. These squirrels are bigger than most other squirrels, including most other fox squirrels. They are also known to have very long tails, much longer than usual. And their most pronounced feature is their faces. These squirrels have black faces with white around the nose on reddish brown bodies. The monkey-like appearance of their face is what mostly gives them their name.
Do monkey squirrels really look that much like monkeys?
Monkey squirrels can look like monkeys at first glance because of their odd appearance that was explained above. Monkeys and squirrels can also behave in similar ways sometimes, which contributes to that. But after a good look at them the resemblance fades more than just a bit. You might be fooled from a distance or at a glance, but not after a good look. But the name stuck.
Have these squirrels ever really been mistaken for monkeys?
Yes, they have. We have an article that links to a story where one of these squirrels was indeed mistaken multiple times for a monkey. It was reported on May 26, 2008 in a story by Jeremy Maready of The Ledger, a Lakeland, Florida paper, that the Polk County Sheriff's Office received a call about a monkey sighting on Tom Costine Road.
What is the habitat of these monkey squirrels? What kinds of places do they live?
Monkey squirrels live in peninsular Florida to the north end of Lake Okeechobee, and is currently listed by the State of Florida as a threatened species. They like to live in areas that have open spaces, oak hammocks and longleaf pines. Oak hammocks and open spaces are easily found.
What do monkey squirrels eat?
Monkey squirrels have a simple diet of mostly pine seeds in the summer and acorns during the remainder of the year.
How many babies do monkey squirrels usually have?
Monkey squirrels have 2 to 4 young per litter and under proper conditions can raise 2 litters a year.
Just how big are monkey squirrels?
Adults may weigh more than 2 pounds and reach a total length of 26 inches. A monkey squirrel is more than twice the size of the common gray squirrel.
How did you like this interesting bit of trivia? Obviously we can't answer all questions in just one article, but if we get enough feedback and a lot of comments we might just revisit this subject with another ten questions.