Saturday, January 16, 2016

Tracking Red Squirrels

Red Squirrel - Ecureuil roux

The photo below shows the toe pads and feet of a red squirrel who was standing on a snow-covered log.
The photo below shows typical tracks of a red squirrel. The smaller front feet (lower tracks in the photo) have four toes. The outer toes point away from the foot and the middle toes point straight ahead. The hind feet (upper tracks) have five toes. The middle three point straight ahead and the inner outside toe points away at a larger angle.
The evergreen bow and cones below are a nip twig sign that a red squirrel has been feeding in the tree above. The squirrel bites ("nips") the terminal end of the branch, which falls to the ground with the attached cones. On the ground, the cones are easier to retrieve. The ground under this tree was littered with nip twigs. The squirrel nipped off many more cones than the animal ate or took away.
Below is a photo of a winter den for a Red Squirrel. The den is under a fallen log. The entrances are evident. The cones and the cone debris left over after feeding forms a midden, which is confirmation that a Red Squirrel lives and feeds at this location.
Proximal to the winter den in the photo above, there was a cache of cones lying on the ground, stored for future feeding. Red Squirrels create some of the largest cone larders of any squirrel in North America.
Naughton, Donna. The Natural History of Canadian Mammals. U of T Press. 2012.

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