Did you know that a groundhog is really a type of squirrel? That squirrels control their body temperature with their tails? That most squirrels have yellow-tinted eye lenses that work like sunglasses to reduce glare? That tree squirrels can turn their hind feet completely around when climbing down a tree head-first? In Squirrels: The Animal Answer Guide, Richard W. Thorington Jr. and Katie Ferrell unveil the fascinating world of one of the "most watched" mammals on the planet.
The diversity of squirrels is astounding. There are 278 species that inhabit all continents except Antarctica and Australia-varying in size from the lumbering 18-pound gray marmot to the graceful pygmy flying squirrel that is smaller than most mice. In many parts of the world they readily share human habitats, joining us for lunch in a city park, raiding our bird feeders, and sneaking into college dorm rooms through open windows. Reviled as pests or loved as an endearing amusement, squirrels have played important roles in trade, literature, and mythology.
Thorington and Ferrell cover every aspect of this diverse animal family, from the first squirrels of 36 million years ago to the present day. With over one hundred photographs and an intuitive question-and-answer format, this authoritative and engaging guide sheds light on a common mammal that is anything but commonplace.
"A delightful read, well written, well organized, and well illustrated. This is the only such account of the entire family of Sciuridae. As one who has spent most of his career studying squirrels, I was quite surprised at how much I don't know and how much I learned from this book! Thorington and Ferrell have pulled off an extremely thorough account that will be of tremendous interest to the general public and many scientists alike."
– Michael Steele, Ph.D., Wilkes University, author of North American Tree Squirrels
"A completely authoritative scholarly guide to the biology of a group of organisms and [...] a completely readable, fully illustrated, and fascinating introduction for the general public."
- National Museum of Natural History Weekly Update & Forecast 2006
"Got squirrels? This book has answers. This is not a children's book [...] read it with an adult. Fun for all ages."
- Washington Post 2006
"Only a master at both scholarship and communication could pull this off as eloquently and clearly as Thorington and Ferrell have done."
- Natural History News 2006
"A deft account, for backyard naturalists and scientists both."
- Harvard Magazine 2006
"You may enjoy watching these acrobatic characters [...] [Thorington and Ferrell] will make them more interesting to observe."
- Tuscaloosa News 2006
"Unravels the mysteries of the 278 species of squirrels that inhabit the planet [...] this is a must read."
- Princeton Alumni Weekly 2006
"Well written and organized and contains numerous color and black-and-white photos."
- Wildlife Activist 2006
"It's rare to see all the science of a college text embedded into a lively presentation also geared for the general audience-but here, it works very well."
- California Bookwatch 2006
– Susan Lumenello, Colloquy 2007
"This engaging guide sheds light on a common mammal that is anything but commonplace."
- Wildlife Conservation 2007
:In this wide-ranging, accurate, and revealing approach to the subject, squirrels are placed in a world-wide context."
– Kim Long Bloomsbury Review 2007
"Fascinating book sure to entertain readers of all ages and backgrounds."
- Internet Bookwatch 2006
"Thorington and Ferrell have succeeded in producing a short, accessible guide that is of tremendous value to both the scientist and the amateur naturalist alike."
– Michael A. Steele Journal of Mammalian Evolution 2007
"What a treat. Buy it, read it, but don't squirrel it away-pass it on!"
– William L. Gannon Journal of Mammalogy 2007
"An accessible account of the large and diverse squirrel family [...] this book will appeal to the general public and scientists alike."
– Southeastern Naturalist 2007
"This book is an answer to all questions relative to the American squirrels."
– Francis Petter, Mammalia 2008
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Richard W. Thorington Jr. is a curator of mammals at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. For many years Katie Ferrell was Dr. Thorington's research assistant at the Smithsonian.