The American Red Squirrel
The American Red Squirrel’s (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) native range stretches across the conifer forests of
Canada, southern Alaska, coastal British Colombia, and the United States from the Rocky
Mountains east to the Atlantic coast. The only area of the United States devoid of red squirrels is the Pacific
Northwest, where their territory is eclipsed by the Douglas
Scientists studying Red Squirrels have determined that over 50% of their diet is comprised of white spruce seeds. Red Squirrels pile consumed seed cones in piles called middens. These piles can sometimes get quite large, encompassing more than a meter in diameter. Red Squirrel territories may contain one or several middens.
Red Squirrels when not aggressively eating, busily work collecting white spruce cones, buds, berries and even mushrooms. Red Squirrels store food in centralized caches where they can be easily accessed throughout the long winter months when food is less readily available.
Red Squirrel females produce one litter per year. In some years reproduction is skipped, while in other years females may breed twice, scientists predict that availability of food, the overall health of the population and other environmental factors may affect these patterns. Rarely nesting below ground, Red Squirrels more commonly nest in the branches or cavities of spruce trees.
Litters range in size from 1-5 young. Pink and hairless at birth, baby squirrels are completely dependent upon their mothers until they finishing nursing at 70 days. At 125 days Red Squirrels reach their adult size of approximately 9 ounces.
Red Squirrels experience severe mortality with only about 22% surviving to one year of age. Those fortunate enough to beat the odds and survive to one year of age, typically live to 2.5 years. Red Squirrels in captivity have been recorded as living as long as eight years.
Wildlife Quiz Questions:
1. What is the native range of the Red Squirrel?
2. How often does the Red Squirrel breed?
4. How big are Red Squirrel litters?
5. What percentage of Red Squirrels survive the first year?
6. What do Red Squirrels eat?
7. What are piles of Red Squirrel consumed seed cones called?
8. How old can Red Squirrels live in captivity?
Wildlife Quiz Answers:
1. The native range of the Red Squirrel stretches across the conifer forests of most of
Canada, the southern Alaska,
coastal British Colombia, and a wide majority of the United
States from the Rocky Mountains
east to the Atlantic coast.
2. Red Squirrels produce one litter per year, but in some years reproduction is skipped, while in other years females may breed twice.
4. Red Squirrel litters range in size from 1-5 young.
5. Only about 22% of Red Squirrels survive to one year of age.
6. Red squirrels eat tree buds, berries, seeds, acorns and even some types of fungi.
7. The piles of seed cones consumed by Red Squirrels are called middens.
8. In captivity, Red Squirrels have been known to live to eight years old.