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talkative red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus loquax)

Distribution Map

Distribution Map

Characteristics

This is the smallest tree squirrel in the range having a total length of 11-14 inches and weighing 5-11 ounces. They are approximately 1/2 the size of gray squirrel, and 1/3 the size of fox squirrel. The body is flattened with a bushy tail, and the eyes are ringed with white. There are marked seasonal pelage differences: The winter fur is thicker, longer and softer, with a broad rusty band dorsally from between the ears to nearly the tip of the tail. The sides are olive gray sprinkled with black hairs, and prominent reddish or black ear tufts. The underparts are grayish-white. In the summer they are more olive, and lack the dorsal red band. A prominent black line separates the white belly from the olive back, and the ear tufts are absent. One to two litters are born per year with an average of 4-5 young per litter. . This species is diurnal and are most active at dawn and dusk.. This is a noisy species having a ratchet-like call, and very verbal communication. There are 3 kinds of nests: tree, ground, and outside leaf nest. This species spends a good deal of time on the ground. It swims and will tunnel in the snow.

Distribution

This subspecies of red squirrel is found in the central and northern parts of the state. They prefer coniferous forest, with dense top growth. They favor tree nests but use nests in the ground or on the surface. They are usually found in thick, dense coniferous or mixed forests, mostly in spruces, firs and hemlocks.

Foods

Many mushroom species are eaten including amanitas, and they are either tolerant or immune to their poison. They pull loose bark from trees to reach moth pupae, larvae of bark beetles and wood borers. They may kill and eat the young of cottontails and gray squirrels. This species stores food in a few large caches (vs. gray squirrels who use many small ones).

More Information

For more information, please visit the Virginia Fish & Wildlife Information Service (direct link to species booklet).