American Red Squirrels lead solitary lives, and eachdefends a territory of between 2 and 5 acres from others of the same species and from gray squirrels.
Except for flying squirrels, they are the smallest of the tree squirrels.
Despite its smaller size, they are much more aggressive than the Eastern Gray Squirrel, and will chase the larger Gray out of its territory.
They do not hibernate but remain active all year, although they may remain sheltered in one spot for a few days during harsh weather.
The Red Qquirrel is about half the size of the gray, measuring about 12 inches in length (nose to tail-tip) and weighing about 5 1/2 ounces.
In summer its fur is a rusty, reddish-brown turning slightly grayer in winter, and the underside is white.
In summer, a black stripe is pronounced along its sides separating the white underside from the reddish, upper body.
Both males and females are about equal in size.
These squirrels have breeding seasons that can run from, January to September with peak periods in February-March and June-July. Depending on location.
Breeding time is influenced by weather. A late winter thaw and breeding will be later in Spring.
Most have a single litter each year although some studies show two litters in some territories.
Litters of 3 to 6 hairless young are born after a 33-35 day gestation period.
In 37-39 days the young will leave the nest and continued to be fed by the adults. By day 45 they will begin finding food themselves.
The young develop slowly and may remain with the female throughout the summer.
Like most mammales, the American Red Squirrel mates for a single time as they are in estrus for a short period and will mate with the most prominent male in the territory.
The male American Red Squirrel will not participate in rearing or feeding of his offspring but will mate with other females in season.
The nesting habits are similar to the Gray Squirrel, although the Red Squirrels prefer nesting in conifers.
The nest is constructed of shredded bark from a grapevine and located in a hollow or fallen tree, a hole in the ground, a hummock, or a tree crotch.
Sometimes red squirrels nest in holes at the base of trees. American Red Squirrels will sleep in their nest (called Dreys) at night.
If you enjoy having the squirrels feeding in your yard you can attract them using Squirrel Feeders.
Their diet can include assorted nuts and cones. They will eat corn offered from feeders or cracked and served on a platform feeder.
On the other hand, if you're trying to discourage them from using your bird feeders you may want to think about using a Squirrel Proof Feeder.
Because conifer trees can have varying amounts of cones from year to year, Red Squirrels cache enough for slim years.
They will store most of their food in a central spot in their territory, This cache of nuts and cones may be in an underground chamber, brush pile, or hollow log.
These caches are protected by both male and female.
Red-Squirrels are also known to tap sugar maple trees to harvest the sugar in the sap.
They actually bite into the tree trunk to puncture the sap-carrying "vessel" (xylem), leave the tree to allow time for the water in the sap to evaporate, and come back to harvest the syrup remaining on the trunk and branches.
See Also: Gray Squirrel Habits