Field Guide/Mammals/Red Squirrel

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Sciurus vulgaris (Red Squirrel)
Family: Squirrel
Size: Total length: 7.5-9 Inches (19-23 cm)

Tail length: 6-8 Inches (15-20 cm)

Weight: 8.8-12 oz (250-340 g) [1]
Description: Smallest squirrel in North America besides the flying squirrel. They are brownish-red in color with a white underbody and a black stripe to separate the two colors. Tail is also brownish-red in color, but has grey with white flecks underneath. Have prominent white eye ring.[2]
Similar Species: In addition to its very small size, the red squirrel has a reddish coat and a white eye ring that set it apart from other squirrels. They also have distinguished ear tufts [2]

Range: The red squirrel ranges across northern North America. They are found as far north as Alaska and across Canada. The squirrel is found all the way into northern Georgia, Arizona, and New Mexico.[3]
Habitat: This species prefers coniferous and mixed forests. It can also be found in hedgerows and deciduous forests. They prefer to nest in tree cavities, but also constructs leaf nests and uses ground burrows. The main factor of the squirrels habitat is the amount of food available.[4]
Diet: The red squirrel is omnivorous, but is primarily herbivorous. Their diet consists of seeds, conifer cones, nuts, fruits while occasionally feeding on invertebrates and small vertebrates.[3]
Activity: A diurnal animal that is active throughout the year. They are usually active the two hours after sunrise and before sunset for the purpose of feeding or social activity. Young squirrels tend be more active during the day for feeding. Red squirrels can be active at night, but it is usually caused by weather conditions. In addition, during the fall season there is a heavier focus on feeding which causes the squirrels to be more active.[4]

Reproduction: Red squirrels are sexually mature around one year old. Breeding season is from February to midsummer. Females are in estrus for less than a day, but may be solicited by several males. This can lead to breeding chases for several hours. Females usually have one litter a year, but occasionally have two litters. They will have 3-5 young per litter after a 35 day gestation period. The young are nursed for about 45 days and then leave the nest. They may remain with their mother after that for another several weeks or a month before going out on their own.[2]
Lifespan: Average life expectancy is about three years.[2] They have been known to live as long as 9 years in some cases. Predation can greatly impact the life expectancy of red squirrels in a range.[4]

Notes: insert notes
Red Squirrel

  1. "North American Mammals", Smithsonian-National Museum of Natural,, retrieved October 4, 2012 
  2. a b c d Koprowski, John, "The Natural History of the Mount Graham Red Squirrel Geographical", University of Arizona,, retrieved October 5, 2012 
  3. a b Layne, James (1954), "The Biology of the Red Squirrel in Central New York", Ecological Monographs,, retrieved October 3, 2012 
  4. a b c Linzey, A.V. (2008), "Tamiasciurus hudsonicus", IUCN Red List of Threatened Species,, retrieved October 4, 2012