Tamiasciurus hudsonicus (American Red Squirrel)
Small red-gray squirrel with white undersides and a bushy red tail.
Length: Body: 6-8 in. Tail: 5-7 in.
Weight: 0.4-0.8 lbs
Range: from Alaska east to Nova Scotia, south into the U.S. in the Upper Midwest, New England, the Appalachians, and the Rockies.
Diet: nuts, fruits, berries, fungi, insects, pinecones, bark
Mating: breed from March-May and also from July-September. 3-6 young born after a 40 day gestation.
Life Expectancy: ~3 years
This feisty little squirrel’s chatter can often be heard all around in the denser areas of the floodplain and in planted conifers, both on Carleton’s campus and in the Arb. This highly territorial squirrel is notorious for its vigorous defense of food caches, often scolding visitors to the Arb from a tree branch. Tiny Red Squirrels can often be seen chasing much larger Gray Squirrels far more often than the other way around Like Gray Squirrels, Red Squirrels may be more common in southern Minnesota now than in the past. Planted conifers provide excellent sources of its preferred food, pinecones and seeds and denser forests provide more food sources and perching sites.
Close to the Lower Arboretum parking lot near the West Gym stands a grove of planted conifers where Red Squirrels are often seen. Found squirrel caches contain pine, spruce, and fir cones more than any other item, although Red Squirrels are also fond of insects, fungi, fruits, bark, and the seeds and nuts of deciduous trees. Red Squirrels are important ecologically as dispersers of mushroom spores. Given the importance of fungi to many plant species, Red Squirrels may be helping to maintain the livelihood of forests.