American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family:    Sciuridae
Size:    Length: 6 to 9 inches (15 to 23 cm)
Weight: 7 to 8.8 ounces (200 to 250 grams)
Diet: Cone seeds, nuts, berries, apples, bird eggs, insects and mushrooms
Distribution: North America
Young:  2 to 8 young (usually 4 to 6), once or twice per year
Animal Predators:  Hawks, owls, martens, bobcats, lynxes and domestic cats
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Nest: Drey
Lifespan: Up to 7 years in the wild



·        Red squirrels are also known as “pine squirrels” or “chickarees.”

·        Red squirrels are good swimmers.

·        When food becomes scarce, squirrels will find a new territory.



Red squirrels are the smallest tree squirrels in North America. They are about half the size of grey squirrels, but they are also much more aggressive and will furiously chase away other squirrels from their territories. These tiny animals are brownish or greyish red, with big dark eyes and a white underbelly. They are sometimes mistaken for chipmunks because of their similar colour and size, although red squirrels do not have stripes on their back and they are larger than chipmunks.



Red squirrels live in wooded areas, but have adapted to suburbs as well. They have different types of nests. The summer nest is made of leaves and twigs, lined with moss, and is found high up in a tree. The winter nest can either be in the hollow of a tree, or, especially in the northern ranges, a burrow dug beneath the ground.


Feeding Habits

They mainly eat the seeds from cones, but also eat nuts, berries, apples, bird eggs, insects and mushrooms. 



Mating season is late winter, with a litter of two to eight young born in early spring. In the southern regions, a second mating season in June or July sometimes leads to females giving birth to a second litter in late summer. The young squirrels are born furless and blind. They are weaned at seven or eight weeks. They leave the nest at 18 weeks to establish a territory of their own. These territories are often near that of their mother.  



These squirrels do not hibernate and because they need to eat every day, during fall they begin to hide huge stores of food, such as cones and mushrooms for the time when food becomes scarce in winter. Red squirrels are not sociable and will chase away any other animals trying to find food within their range, including other red squirrels and grey squirrels. Red squirrels have five different calls to express their moods. They also communicate by using body language and even by the position of their tail.



The Mount Graham red squirrel subspecies, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus ssp. grahamensis, found in Arizona, is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN.  



American Red Squirrel Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US