Friday, October 10, 2014

American Red Squirrel

The American red squirrel is found through much of Alaska and Canada, around the Great Lakes and extending down into parts of the eastern U.S., and extending down through parts of Washington, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Colorado and Arizona. It is also known as a pine squirrel or chickaree. 
American red squirrel near Missouri Mountain. Much smaller than a gray squirrel. 
There are 25 subspecies and I can't find anything that delineates the distribution of the subspecies or what sets them apart from each other. 
White eye-ring, white belly and black stripe separating the underside from the side and back.
They are smaller than other North American tree squirrels and larger than chipmunks. One site indicates that they are only about 30% of the size of gray squirrels. The size and color varies geographically, but they generally have a reddish back and white underside, separated by dark lateral lines. They also have a white eye-ring and tufted ears during the winter. Variation in the color on the back can range from reddish to gray. The tail is smaller and flatter than other tree squirrels. 
This red squirrel was found east of Buena Vista, Colorado. 
The red squirrels in this blog were found in Colorado. One was in the Missouri drainage while I was hiking Missouri Mountain and the other was about 15 miles east of Buena Vista. My initial thought was that this was a gray squirrel, but gray squirrels aren't found in Colorado. The only choices are Abert squirrels, fox squirrels and American red squirrels. However I did find a site stating that in the southern Rockies, and in particular in Colorado, there is a subspecies of red squirrel known as a spruce squirrel (I'm wondering if they meant "pine squirrel") which is not nearly as red as the squirrels found further north in the range. That would explain why these squirrels look so gray. 

Updated: August 2016

On our trip to Alaska we rented a car in Skagway and drove to the Yukon Animal Preserve about 30 minutes north of Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada. There, inside a mule deer enclosure, I photographed this beautiful red squirrel. 
Resting on a pine tree and eating a nut.


  1. Without their tails they look like hyraxes.

  2. These guys have thinner tails than I associate with squirrels. I like that first picture.