Squirrels come in a variety of colors, from the familiar gray and brown to more unusual shades of red, black, and white. Their fur color helps camouflage them in their natural habitats. But what about their skin underneath all that fur? What color is a squirrel’s skin?
Quick Answer: Squirrel Skin is Pinkish-White
The skin under a squirrel’s fur is most commonly pinkish-white in color. This is true of gray squirrels, red squirrels, fox squirrels, and other common tree squirrel species. The pinkish tone comes from the blood vessels under the surface of the skin. Without fur covering it, a squirrel’s skin would appear pale and pink.
More Detailed Answer
Let’s take a closer look at why squirrel skin is pale pink or white under their fur:
- Lack of melanin – Squirrel skin lacks melanin, the pigment that gives color to skin and fur. Without melanin, the skin has no natural coloration.
- Blood vessels – The blood vessels under the surface of the skin give it a pinkish hue. Arteries and capillaries are visible through the thin dermal layer.
- Fur coverage – Squirrels have fur covering nearly their entire body, so their skin lacks exposure to sun, which stimulates melanin production.
- Species variations – Some species like flying squirrels have slightly darker skin, while albino squirrels have very pink skin due to lack of melanin.
In most squirrels, the skin is thickest along the back and thinner on the underside. The pinkish white tone may be deeper along the back and lighter towards the stomach.
Purpose of Pinkish Skin
So why is squirrel skin this pale pink color instead of darker colored like some mammals? Here are some of the main theories:
- Camouflage – Having skin that matches their fur helps camouflage squirrels both in trees and on the ground. Dark skin would stand out through pale fur.
- Temperature regulation – Paler skin helps reflect heat and keep squirrels from overheating. Darker skin absorbs more heat.
- Skin protection – Pinkish skin with less melanin may be less susceptible to damage from the sun’s UV radiation.
- Blood circulation – The transparency of the skin helps sunlight penetrate to blood vessels and improve circulation.
In essence, the pale skin gives squirrels an evolutionary advantage in their environment that darker skin would not provide.
Differences Between Squirrel Species
While most squirrels have pinkish skin, some species do have slightly different skin colors:
- Red squirrels – Their skin can be more reddish in tone to match their fur.
- Flying squirrels – Tend to have darker gray skin that helps them blend in at night.
- Fox squirrels – Larger size means their skin is darker pink rather than white.
- Albino squirrels – Lack melanin entirely, so their skin is very pale.
These variations show adaptation and genetic differences between populations. But in most environments, the pale pinkish skin is the standard among tree squirrel species.
Squirrel Skin Thickness
An interesting characteristic of squirrels is that their skin thickness varies across their body:
- Thickest along back – Up to 2-3 mm thick along the spine to protect vital organs.
- Thinner on stomach – Less than 1 mm thick on underside and joints for flexibility.
- Thicker on paws – More collagen in paws to grip and hold objects.
- Thin around eyes – Allows for greater vision and eyelid movement.
These variations in thickness likely developed to balance flexibility, protection, and sensory perception in different body areas.
Interesting Facts About Squirrel Skin
Here are a few more fascinating facts about the skin that covers a squirrel’s body:
- Hairless skin appears very dark pink, unlike furless skin in some mammals.
- Squirrels shed skin cells along with shedding fur twice per year.
- Their skin has an average pH balance of 5, quite acidic compared to human skin.
- Skin secretes unique scents used for territorial marking and breeding signals.
- Contains a rich network of blood vessels to regulate temperature.
The skin supports many essential functions for a squirrel’s health and survival beyond just forming a protective outer layer.
While tree squirrel fur comes in various shades of gray, brown, red, and white, their skin beneath the fur lacks pigmentation and appears pinkish-white across most species. This pale skin color likely developed to assist camouflage, temperature control, UV protection, and circulatory functions. Some variations exist between species and body regions based on environmental adaptations and needs. But in general, the pale skin of these common mammals matches their fur coats in providing an evolutionary advantage.
|Typical Skin Color
|Eastern Gray Squirrel
|Very pale pink
This table provides examples of common squirrel species and their typical skin colorations beneath their fur. As discussed in the article, most have light pinkish skin, but some species deviations exist.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is squirrel skin pink?
Squirrel skin is pink because it lacks melanin pigment and the blood vessels underneath give it a pinkish hue. The light color helps camouflage and temperature regulation.
What color is a flying squirrel’s skin?
Flying squirrels tend to have darker gray or slate colored skin under their fur which helps camouflage them at night.
Do albino squirrels have white skin?
Albino squirrels lack all melanin, so their skin is very pale and translucent pink since blood vessels show through clearly.
Is a squirrel’s skin thin or thick?
Squirrel skin thickness varies – it is thickest along the back (up to 2-3 mm) and thinner on the underside and joints (less than 1 mm).
Do all species of squirrels have pink skin?
Most tree squirrel species have light pink skin, but some like red squirrels and flying squirrels have skin tinted slightly darker to match their fur. The pale skin is most common across different species.
A squirrel’s coat provides excellent camouflage and climate protection. But beneath all that fur, squirrel skin lacks dark pigment and appears pale pink or white with blood vessels visible underneath. This light skin matches their fur color environmentally and helps regulate temperature. Small variations between species exist based on adaptations and habitat. But pinkish-white or pale pink skin is the standard for these common furry mammals.