Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel
Red Squirrel
Jeff Foott/DCI

The red squirrel is a noisy creature: When courting, it makes a "buzz" sound similar to that of a cicada; it chatters to warn off other red squirrels and competitors; and when displaying aggression against intruders, it makes a characteristic bark.

The red squirrel generally nests in tree cavities and in holes in the ground, although it also shelters in exposed spherical nests of grass, leaves, and twigs.

It prefers conifer seeds; middens of scales left from stripping the cones are a common sign of its presence.

It does not hibernate, but instead lives on stored supplies through the winter.

Females are receptive to males for only one day each breeding season; males are rebuffed at other times.

Many predators, such as red foxes, fishers, and martens, depend on red squirrels for food.

Animal Facts

Name: Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)

Family: Sciuridae (Squirrels)

Range: Canada, northern and mountain ranges in southwest United States

Habitat: Coniferous forest, mixed coniferous and deciduous woodland

Diet: Seeds, fruit, nuts, bark, buds, shed antlers, reptiles, insects, tree sap, pine cones, fungi, eggs, young birds, mice, and young rabbits

Head and Body Length: 6.5 to 9 inches (16.5 to 23 cm)

Tail Length: 3.5 to 6 inches (9 to 16 cm)

Weight: about 9 ounces (250 g)

Life Cycle: Mating February to September, two seasonal peaks; gestation 33 to 38 days, two to six young born

Description: Brownish or olive-red coat; white eye-ring; large, black eyes; black side stripe during summer; white or cream belly; white-edged, bushy tail

Conservation Status: Common