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  • Writer's pictureCari Mackey

Variegated Squirrels of Panama

Cute, entertaining, acrobats, gardeners, and quite clever too; squirrels are as loved as they are common around this beautiful planet. I imagine if you look out your window long enough right now, you might find one in your neck of the woods. Here in Panama, we have just a few different species of squirrels, most commonly the variegated squirrel who is perfectly named for all their coloration varieties.

This species - Sciurus variegatoides is a diurnal tree dweller, mostly cruising the canopy alone however, we know that they keep their buddies and lovers close by as we witness their amusing playfulness together and their high-altitude, high-speed chases. Just like us, they love to eat the fruits of the jungle like mango, papaya, coconut, banana, guava, flowers, seeds, fungi, and sometimes insects too. They build their nests high up in the canopy where, for the most part they live alone.

Those high speed chases usually involve a male in pursuit of a mate when he picks up on the scent of a female in estrus which lasts just one day. They breed between April and May, their gestation period is 33-46 days and they give birth to 2-8 kittens in each litter. Born blind and naked, they grow fur after 2 weeks, open their eyes at 4 weeks, start venturing out of the nest at 6 weeks, wean at about 10 weeks, and reach sexual maturity at 15 weeks. 

They live about 12 years in the jungle where they play an important role in the health of the forest, spore dispersal, and a food source for many animals like snakes, birds, and wild cats whereas for us, a great source of entertainment for our guests.

Sadly, baby squirrels can fall out of their nests (usually from wind, rain, or a predator) and be injured and abandoned by their mothers which is why we have these two little cuties whom we named Flora and Fauna. We received a call a week ago that these two babies needed a home. They are about 6 weeks old now and so much fun to take care of.

With the help of an amazing friend who is a wildlife veterinarian to guide us in helping raise these two, we hope to begin their reintroduction to the jungle in just a couple more weeks as they get stronger. Flora has a bit of a bum leg that she likely suffered from her fall but we all know how well animals can adapt and I bet you, she will do just fine out there on her own.

We have now had the amazing opportunities to raise 4 baby squirrels (remember the Oodies?). It's been fun for us and our guests too as they slowly wean themselves from our loving care. We typically feed them in the morning before being released to the jungle for the day. At around happy hour they return for their snack and we alert all our guests to keep watch for the squirrel that's on her way home in case she runs up their leg looking for their snack and then crawling into bed for the night.  

Hopefully,  this will be the story of Flora and Fauna. If you want to follow along, watch our social feeds to see how they are doing or better yet, come stay with us and join us at happy hour for squirrel watch!

Your Friends in Morrillo,

Cari and Ryan Mackey

Owners and Hosts

Morrillo Beach Eco Resort

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