Sciurus variegatoides is a large, long-tailed species of tree squirrel. Its pelage is shiny and bristly. The fourteen different subspecies exhibit a wide range of color and color pattern. Dorsally, the color ranges from blackish to reddish brown to yellowish-gray to white. On the underside, the color ranges from white to cinnamon-buff. The feet and sides of the body are pale gray or yellowish; the ears have a pale patch of fur on the outside. Different subspecies may have a combination of dorsal and lateral stripes and forehead patches or may be completely grizzled in coloration. The guard hairs on the back and sides are agouti, and are made up of several different color bands. The underside is not usually banded. The tail is bushy and long and has black hairs tipped in white on its dorsal side. The underside of the tail is usually lighter in color.
There is little seasonal change in the coat of S. variegatoides. It has no melanistic phase. Molts begin in April or May, and the new pelage is in by September and October. There is considerable variation in time of molt, with individuals in molt occurring every month of the year. An individual may only molt once a year. The darkest subspecies are found in the areas with the greatest rainfall, along the Caribbean coast (S. v. belti, S. v. managuensis, S. v. artrirufus, and S. v. thomasi). Lighter subspecies are found along the Pacific side of Central America (S .v. bangsi, S. v. dorsalis, S. v. goldmani, and S. v. helveolus).
The dental formula for variegated squirrels is I 1/1, C 0/0, P 2/1, M 3/3, total 22. There is no size difference between males and females, although there is considerable variation among individuals of the same subspecies in the same location. Head and body length varies from 220 to 337 mm. Tail length varies from 226 to 325 mm. Length of the hind foot is from 45 to 70 mm. Length of the ear is 20 to 35 mm. Variegated squirrels weigh from 428 to 909 g. Measurements of bacula are as follows: length is 12.1 mm, length of tip is 2.6 mm, height of tip is 3.0 mm, height of base is 3.0 mm, and width of base is 2.4 mm. Measurements of baubella are as follows: length is 3.9 mm and width of disc is 2.0 mm. Females have eight mammae; one pair pectoral, two pair abdominal, and one pair inguinal.
Variegated squirrels are similar to many other tree squirrel species. There are some distinguishing characteristics however. The red-tailed squirrels have an orange tail, are smaller, and occur in denser, wetter forests; Deppe's squirrels have a slender tail, gray underside and feet, and are smaller; Yucatan squirrels are gray and smaller; Mexican gray squirrels lack the prominent pale ear patches.
Range mass: 428 to 909 g.
Range length: 220 to 337 mm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike
- Harris, W. 1937. Revision of Sciurus variegatoides, a species of Central American squirrel. Miscellaneous publications, University of Michigan, Musuem of Zoology, 38: 5-39.