Protecting and enhancing the natural values of Salt Spring Island and its surrounding waters


Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel Tamiasciurus hudsonicus

The Red Squirrel is a found in coniferous and deciduous mixed forests on Salt Spring Island. Their fur is reddish to reddish grey with a creamy underbelly and white around the eyes. The tail is not as bushy as other tree squirrels. The red squirrel eats a wide-variety of foods including insects, seeds, bark, nuts, fruits, mushrooms and pine seeds or cones, insects, young birds, mice and rabbits. A large part of its normal diet is made up of pine seeds where pine trees exist. In the fall, it will cut green pine cones from trees and store them in the ground. It also stores nuts and seeds in piles or middens under logs, at the base of trees and underground. It doesn’t always find or eat all of the seeds and nuts it has stored. Because of this, the red squirrel fills an important niche in spreading seeds in the forest. The red squirrel may migrate short distances when food supplies are low. The red squirrel also drinks tree sap from maple trees. It bites a tree until the sap flows out and returns to drink it after the water in the sap has evaporated.

Mating season is in the late winter. About a month after mating, the female will have a litter of between three to seven babies. The babies are weaned after seven or eight weeks and will leave their mother when they are about 18 weeks old. In warmer climates, the red squirrel may mate in the late winter and in mid-summer.

Photo by Gilles Gonthier