American red squirrel American red squirrel

One of three species of "tree squirrels" in Wyoming, the American red squirrel (hereafter red squirrel) is the only native member of the genus Tamiasciurus ("pine “squirrels) to be located here. 

Fun Critter Facts

WGFD Photo, Lucy Wold: a mother red squirrel and her three young chase each other around a tree trunk at Whiskey Mountain Conservation Camp.

The fox squirrel and the eastern gray squirrel are also found in scattered populations in Wyoming, resulting from man's intervention, but belong to the genus Sciurus.  Neither was historically found in this state but have either followed agriculture to Wyoming or are the result of released former inmates.

- All tree squirrels (including the diminutive red squirrel) in Wyoming are small game animals, requiring a small game license to hunt them.  Unlike in much of the US, tree squirrels are rarely hunted in this state blessed with an abundance and variety of big game.  For those of us that are unreconstructed Appalachian Americans, we occasionally revert back to our former ways and add a few squirrels to the larder.  Squirrel and dumplings are hard to beat, but red squirrels (which we call chickarees or fairy diddles) don't typically make a good addition to the dish, owing to their small size and undying habit of eating conifer parts (especially cones and seeds), and the fact their flesh can taste of what they eat; primarily turpentine.  (Yuck.) :) 

- Red squirrels are a very common and abundant species in this state, especially common in mountainous habitats covered in conifer forests.  They are a keystone prey species relied upon by a number of other species ranging from goshawks, long-tailed weasels, great gray owls, martens, and lynx.

- Red squirrels are very vocal, and are one of the most frequently heard sounds in conifer habitats in the Rocky Mountain West, Canada, and Appalachia.  Many a hunter has been frustrated by the presence of this species and its warning vocalizations when it observes an approaching hunter.  Most vocalizations from this species are more related to its defense of its small home range from conspecifics (other red squirrels).

- As mentioned above, red squirrels feed heavily upon a variety of conifer parts, including cones, seeds, and sometimes cambium.  They store food in caches for winter months.  They also feed on a number of other seeds and fruits of other species, mushrooms, and occasionally young rabbits, mice, avian nestlings, or insects.

- Red squirrel populations are large and robust throughout most of their native range.  Females tend to be promiscuous and mate with a number of males.  Litters range from two to six young and there are usually one to two litters per year, although bad food years can result in reproductive failure.  

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