Red Squirrel

The North American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) is diurnal mammal like most other tree squirrels. They defends a year-round exclusive territory feed mainly on the seeds in pine cones. The red squirrel is widely distributed across North America wherever conifers are common, except on the Pacific coasts where they are replaced by Douglas squirrels and in the southeast, where grey squirrels predominate.

Red squirrels can be easily differintiated from other squirrels by their smaller size, territorial behavior and reddish fur.

Red squirrels range includes most of Canada, and extends into the United States in the Rocky Mountains, the North Central and North East. There are 25 recognized sub-species of red squirrels.

Red squirrels are abundant and not endangered in any way.

Red Squirrels feed mostly on pine seed but squirrels have also been observed eating the following: spruce buds and needles, mushrooms, willow leaves, poplar buds and catkins, bearberry, flowers and berries, and animal material. Red squirrel will cache seeds like other tree squirrels.

Females can breed for the first time at one year of age but some females delay breeding until two years of age or older. Most females produce only one litter, but in some years reproduction is skipped while in other years some females attempted to breed twice. Litter sizes typically range from 1 to 5, but most litters contain 3 or 4 offspring. Offspring are pink and hairless at birth and weigh approximately 10g. Offspring grow at approximately 1.8 g/day while nursing but do not reach adult body size until 125 days of age. Offspring first emerge from their natal nest at around 42 days of age but continue to nurse until approximately 70 days of age.

Juvenile red squirrels must acquire a territory prior to their first winter. Offspring can acquire a territory by competing for a vacant territory, creating a new territory or by receiving all or part of a territory from their mother but that is pretty rare.

Red squirrels are preyed upon by Canada Lynx, coyotes, great horned owl, northern goshawk, red-tailed hawk, American Marten, fox, wolves and weasels.

The red squirrel has been found in a black phase and recently, a white phase (not albino) in Alaska.

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