American Red Squirrels lead solitary lives, and each defends a territory of between 2 and 5 acres from others of the same species and 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.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the feeding and mating habits of the red squirrel.
One interesting fact about red squirrels is that they do not hibernate, which means they need to store food to survive the winter.
They do this by gathering nuts and seeds in the fall and hiding them in various places throughout their territory.
They have an excellent memory and can remember where they have hidden their food, even months later.
The Red Squirrel is about half the size of the gray, measuring about 12 inches (nose to tail-tip) and weighing about 5 1/2 ounces.
In summer its fur is rusty, reddish-brown turning 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.
Red squirrels have breeding seasons ranging from January to September, with peak periods in February-March and June-July. Depending on location.
Breeding time is influenced by the 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 continue 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 mammals, 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 take part in the 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 has an outer layer of twigs and bark and a hollow center made from softer materials like grass, moss, and lichens.
The drey, as it is called, can be 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 drey at night.
Red squirrels are primarily herbivores, which means they eat mostly plant-based foods. Their diet consists of a variety of nuts, seeds, and berries.
They have strong jaws that are capable of cracking open hard shells, allowing them to access the nuts inside.
They are particularly fond of pinecones, which they will strip of their scales to get to the seeds inside.
If you enjoy having the squirrels feeding in your yard, you can attract them using Squirrel Feeders.
They will also eat dried corn on the cob at feeders or cracked loose corn served on a platform feeder.
On the other hand, if you're trying to discourage the squirrels from using your bird feeders, you may want to think about using a Squirrel Proof Feeder.
Learn the Habits of the Eastern Gray Squirrel
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.
Red squirrels are also known to be territorial animals when it comes to food.
They will defend their food caches fiercely and will even chase away other squirrels that come too close.
This territorial behavior is particularly strong during the fall, as they prepare for winter.
Red-Squirrels are also known to tap sugar maple trees to harvest the sugar in the sap.
They 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. Later they'll come back to harvest the syrup remaining on the trunk and branches.
Keeping Squirrels Off Bird Feeders