Animal Facts

Pine Squirrel

Introduction

Pine squirrels are small squirrels that are reddish-brown in color. They have tufts of fur on their ears and are very territorial. They are able to live in a wide range of forested habitats as long as there are abundant coniferous trees (e.g. pine trees).

Pine squirrels shed their fur twice a year. They also can breed up to two times a year. They build nests in trees that are usually very close to where they store their food. Despite their small size they are rather long lived.

Pine squirrels are considered diurnal and they are active most often during the day. They are omnivorous and will feed on most types of food. They can be considered a pest species in some areas and can destroy trees.

Characteristics

Pine squirrels are very small squirrels. They are active mainly during the day, but in some cases they can be active at night. They are busiest during the fall when they are storing food to survive the long winters. Because the areas where they live have very cold winters, they are quietest during this time of year and only forage for food during the middle of the day when the temperature is the warmest.

Pine squirrels will collect food throughout the summer and fall to store to help them make it through the winter. Unlike other squirrel species, pine squirrels are very territorial and aggressively defend their territories. These territories are very small.

Pine squirrels have a very good sense of smell, eyesight, and hearing. They communicate with calls, rattles, chirps, and buzzes. This allows them to alert other squirrels to danger and to tell other squirrels to stay out of their territories.

Pine squirrels can mate twice a year depending on where they live. During the mating season, males will invade females’ territories in order to find mates. They give birth in nests that are built close to their food storage. These nests are usually natural cavities, like holes in trees, but can be underground or made of leaves.

Appearance

Pine squirrels are very small squirrels. They are around a third of the size of larger gray squirrels. They shed their fur twice a year and the fur on their tails only once in a year. They are reddish brown in color. They have a white ring that is visible around their eyes throughout the year and they have tufts of fur on top of their ears. They have a white stomach that is separated from their backs with a line of dark fur that is more visible during the summer than the winter.

Life Stages

Pine squirrels have two life stages. The first life stage is the juvenile stage. This stage begins with an adult female gives birth to one to eight juvenile squirrels. The pregnancy period is approximately 36 days. The female takes responsibility for raising the juvenile squirrels and the male does not help out. It takes around 70 days for the juvenile squirrels to move out on their own. They will spend the rest of their lives alone except when mating or raising their own juveniles. Both male and female squirrels reach the adult stage in one year after birth. The adult life stage is the final life stage.

Life Span

Despite being small animals pine squirrels live a long time. The oldest recorded wild pine squirrel was 10 years old. However, most pine squirrels do not reach this age. Enemies or a lack of resources can make it very hard for squirrels to live this long. Female pine squirrels usually slow down or completely stop breeding after four years of age. This allows them to increase the chance they survive. Captive pine squirrels have been known to live for up to nine years.

Size

Pine squirrels are very small squirrels. They are about one third the size of gray squirrels. On average they weigh one half a pound. They are 10 to 15 inches long. A lot of their length is in their tail which is 3-6 inches long. Their ears are around one-inch long.

Habitat

Pine squirrels utilize a wide range of habitats. However, their primary habitat requirement is dense coniferous (pine trees) forest with a lot of coverage in the canopies. They also need adequate seed production from the coniferous trees. They are mostly found in more northern regions from northern Pennsylvania throughout Canada and into Alaska. They live at elevations up to 2,500 feet.

Diet

Pine squirrels are omnivorous and will eat most types of food. They prefer to eat mushrooms. They also like to stash food away for the winter. They do this in tree cavities, hollow logs, and stumps. They will eat hickory nuts, acorns, beech nuts, tree bark, and pine cones. Their food storage is made up of usually one large storage areas with several other smaller storage areas. This allows them to survive harsh winters.

Friends and Enemies

Pine squirrels do not have many friends. They are only slightly social with other pine squirrels and will alert them to enemies and during the mating season. They will often fight with other pine squirrels to keep them out of their territories.

Pine squirrels have a lot of enemies. Hawks and other birds of prey are big enemies of pine squirrels and will attack both adult and juvenile life stages. Fishers, weasels, coyotes, raccoons, snakes, and bobcats are also enemies of pine squirrels. They will also attack adult and juvenile life stages.

When pine squirrels see an enemy they will give off high pitched alarm calls. This will alert other pine squirrels and animals in the area to the potential danger. This gives them plenty of time to hide

Suitability as Pets

Pine squirrels are not suitable to keep as pets. They are wild animals and although they are small, they can be very aggressive to people. They also require lots of room to run around and exercise and they need to be able to store food. Even if food is provided for them they will still have the instincts to create food stashes.

Post Comment