Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel.

Name

Common name: Red Squirrel

Scientific name: Tamiascurus hudsonicus

Order: Rodentia

Family: Sciuridae

Also known as

Chickaree, North American Red Squirrel, Pine Squirrel

Viewing opportunities

  • Look for them and their rust-coloured middens in spruce and pine woods near your home, at a campsite, or deep in the backcountry.
  • Listen for the Red Squirrel's scolding chatter, then search the treetops for its jerky movements and twitching tail.
  • In winter you might spot “squirrel highways”: the same path a squirrel has used over and over to access a favourite tree or midden.

Description

  • Small rodent with a long bushy tail.
  • Coat is reddish, olive-brown and white underside.

Fast Facts

  • Length: 30 cm
  • Weight: 280 g
  • Lifespan: 6 years
  • Predators: Birds of prey, lynx, Coyotes, wolves, Ermine, marten, Fisher
  • Habitat: Boreal Forest

Conservation status

What is conservation status?

  • Yukon: S5 (Secure)
  • Global: G5 (Secure)

Yukon population estimate

Not determined.

Behaviour

Red Squirrels are solitary, territorial rodents. They are active by day and can be observed racing up and down tree trunks, clinging to the undersides of branches and leaping to the ground. When on the ground, Red Squirrels stay close to familiar trees that offer escape routes from predators. They build oval nests of dried grasses and secure them firmly into the forks of tree branches. Red Squirrels mate in early spring and females generally have one litter per year. In autumn, Red Squirrels collect thousands of spruce and pine cones and hoard them underground in a central storage depot called a midden. The seeds from the cones are a Red Squirrel’s main food source and allow them to remain active all winter long. The midden is partially composed of old cone bracts discarded by the squirrel over many years. Red Squirrels readily defend their caches from other squirrels.

Diet

Conifer seeds, buds, flowers, mushrooms, lichens, berries, bird eggs, insects and mice.

Distribution

Red Squirrel distribution map.

Sights and sounds

Red Squirrel track.
Red Squirrel track: 3 x 1.9 cm.
Photograph of midden at the base of a tree.
Midden.

Red Squirrels and people

  • Today more Red Squirrels are trapped in Yukon than any other furbearing animal. Their fur is often used to line coats.
  • Red Squirrels can sometimes become pests if they find nesting spots in human homes.
  • Red Squirrels are easy to spot and observe. They are highly active and provide a great wildlife viewing opportunity.