About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Am I Already Seeing Baby Squirrels?

I think I’m seeing a baby squirrel already at my feeder or maybe it’s just super small. It looks like a regular squirrel except for the small size and it’s always crying. What do you think?
Lansing, MI

Is it cute as a button but angry at the whole world and guarding all the food even from squirrels twice it size?

That’s probably an American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus). Known to many Michigan hunters as the "Tattle-tail of the Forest," these small tree squirrels have recently been expanding their range to include many mid-Michigan suburbs. They are easily identified by their small size of 12-15 inches from nose to tail and constant, loud vocalizations. Slightly larger than a chipmunk, their color is a solid reddish brown with a whitish underbelly.

Breeding season for the squirrels in Michigan begins at the spring thaw, from mid-January to mid-February. The female reds will mate with 4–16 males and then gestation takes a little over a month. She’ll usually have a litter of 3 or 4 pink, hairless offspring about 10 g or the weight of approximately two nickels. The babies first emerge from their natal nest constructed of branches or a tree hollow after 42 days but continue to nurse for 70 days.

Then it's important for juvenile American Red Squirrels to acquire a territory, shelter, and a pile of winter food prior to their first winter or they will not survive. On average only 22% survive one year. If they do make their first year, life expectancy increases to an average of 2.3 years and with a maximum lifespan of eight years.

Source: University of Michigan Museum of Zoology.
Dewey, T. and E. Ellis. 2007. "Tamiasciurus hudsonicus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web.
Accessed January 27, 2010

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