Squabbit. Believed by some to be the result of a squirrel and rabbit who cohabit and make lots of little squabbits. Fact, or myth?
Searching the internet I have found photos of what people believe are squabbit sightings: from rabbit ears with squirrel tails to squirrel ears with rabbit tails. There are squirrels with atypical coloring and even a photo of a squirrel loving all over a rabbit. Or maybe it’s just that the rabbit is lying on his cache of nuts.
Even in my backyard trees resides an Eastern Gray squirrel with what appears to be a rabbit’s tail– just a tuft of hair for a tail. Whether he was born that way or lost his tail in an accident or through some act of aggression I will never know. He’s the cutest little fellow. I named him Bilbo. A bit heavier than the other squirrels and he does have balance issues when he runs along the top of my wood fence. When he leaps from one 30 ft (9m) tree to the next I hold my breath.
The biggest issue for him is that he doesn’t have the regular squirrel tail for display during times of conflict, danger, and breeding. The thing that bothers me the most is that all of the other squirrels, laugh and call him names, they never let poor Bilbo, play in any squirrel games. Do I think he’s the product of a squirrel and a rabbit? No.
When we talk about squirrels, we generally mean the animals with long, bushy tails, that live in trees and eat nuts and seeds, mostly. But, squirrels include more than those we see in our back yards. Marmots which includes Woodchucks; chipmunks and prairie dogs are squirrels.
Squirrels are members of the Order Rodentia or rodents. They are in the Family Sciuride which is a diverse group of about 278 species of squirrels, which includes tree squirrels, ground squirrels and flying squirrels. Squirrels are found everywhere with the exception of Australia, Madagascar, southern South America, Antarctica, Greenland, many oceanic islands and certain desert regions such as the Sahara. It would have been easier to list where they are found.
Rabbits are in the Order Lagomorpha and Family Leporidae. They are found in several parts of the world. There are many species of rabbit and these along with pikas and hares are all lagomorphs. They are not related to squirrels, the Sciurids. I bring this up because interspecies breeding is very rare in the wild and if, a big if, conception occurs and if, the fetus makes it to term and survives birth, there are still many issues. The odds are stacked against the natural creation of a squabbit. Sometimes, when a species does interbreed, as in the case of the mule having a horse and donkey as parents, that offspring is not usually fertile. At least the horse and donkey are in the same family and genus, Equus. The squirrel and rabbit are mammals and that’s it for relatedness.
Please look at the photos and see for yourself the diversity of the squirrel and decide for yourself if a squabbit is realistically possible. Some of the ears on these squirrels– well, I can understand how someone might think they’re hybrids.
- Why U.S. Parks Are Full Of Squirrels (neatorama.com)
- Squirrels Use Their Tail As an Umbrella to Protec From Snow (image) (passtheknowledge.wordpress.com)
- Squirrels Were Introduced to U.S. Parks to “Maintain People’s Health and Sanity” (inhabitat.com)