CONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
The red squirrel is a rather small-sizedtree squirrel, only about half the size of the morecommon gray squirrel. It's bushy tail is somewhatslender and almost as long as the length of its head andbody combined. The coat of the red squirrel is a rusty,reddish-brown in summer, turning slightly grayer inwinter, and the underside is white. In summer, a blackstripe is pronounced along its sides, separating the whiteunderside from the reddish, upper body. Both malesand females are about equal in size.
Red squirrels occur throughout the northernUnited States and parts of Canada, south into theAppalachian Mountains. They are also found in theRocky Mountains south to Arizona and New Mexico.
Red squirrels nest in ground burrows,tree cavities, and leaf nests. Mating takes place in latewinter and spring. After a 36- to 40-day gestationperiod, about three to six young are born blind andhelpless. Second litters have been reported in southernparts of the red squirrel's range, but are uncommon inConnecticut. The young red squirrels develop slowlyand may remain with the female throughout the summer.
History in Connecticut:
The red squirrel's reliance onhardwood/coniferous forests limits its distribution inConnecticut. However, it is considered a commonConnecticut resident and has been through the years.It's population has declined somewhat with the cutting ofwhite pine in the past and the elimination of otherconifers (mainly as a result of disease) in some areas ofthe state.
These tree-dwelling rodents areagile climbers and jumpers. They have keen senses ofsight, smell, and hearing and are alert, nervous andwary, especially on the ground. When danger is near,they quickly retreat to the safety of the trees.Red squirrels are active year-round but will take shelterduring harsh weather. In the fall, red squirrels will storetheir food for the winter in large underground caches.Sometimes they will bury their food at random just as thegray squirrel does.
Mixed hardwood/coniferous forests. Ever-green trees, such as spruce, hemlock, pine, or fir, arealmost always present within a red squirrel's range.
About 7 ounces.
A variety of nuts, fruits, and seeds; the greenseeds of cone-bearing trees are preferred.