|And one of the cutest, as well!|
The Eurasian red squirrel exhibits an unusal degree of variability in its appearance both geographically and by season. In general, the head and body is 7.5-9 inches in length, with the tail adding an additional 6-9 inches--a bit smaller than the eastern gray squirrel. The coat can range from very light red, like the squirrel above, to almost black. Throughout much of its range red squirrels of many different shades can be found coexisting within a fairly small area. The underside is generally white or cream in color. The coat changes twice a year, with, predictably, a thinner coat in summer and a thicker coat in winter. Perhaps the most distinguishing physical feature of this squirrel is the ear tufts, which are generally larger in winter.
Like most tree squirrels, the Eurasion red squirrel may nest either in a tree cavity--often an abandoned woodpecker hole--or in a drey made of sticks and leaves and placed in a fork high in a tree. Mostly solitary except when raising young, several red squirrels will nevertheless share a drey during cold winter weather to better keep warm. Mating takes place in late winter, and often again in summer. Litters usually contain 3 or 4 young, which are cared for by the mother until about 8-10 weeks old.
The Eurasian red squirrel is not considered threatened over most of its range. However, in a few areas their numbers have dwindled. These areas include England, Ireland, and Italy, where eastern gray squirrels have been introduced. While the gray squirrel has been villified in these areas, especially in the British Isles where culls of gray squirrels have been carried out in many areas, it is clear that habitat loss has also played a large role in the decline of the red squirrels. I have discussed my opinions about this issue elsewhere on this blog.
|In many areas red squirrels are|
obviously still quite common!