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A Field Guide to the Tree Squirrel

This field guide to the tree squirrel has information and illustrations of a variety of everyone’s favorite squirrels.

| September/October 1985

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    EASTERN GRAY SQUIRREL (Sciurus carolinensis) Adult length and weight: 17 to 20 inches, one to 1-3/4 pounds.
    ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    DOUGLAS SQUIRREL (Tamiasciurus douglasii) Adult length and weight: Same as the red squirrel.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    FOX SQUIRREL (Sciurus niger) Adult length and weight: To nearly 30 inches and 3 pounds.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    Map of the natural habitats of tree squirrels in the U.S.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    RED SQUIRREL (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) Adult length and weight: Under 16 inches, about 1/2 pound (average).
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    ABERT SQUIRREL (Sciurus aberti) Adult length and weight: 18 to 23 inches, 1-1/2 to 2 pounds.
    MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

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As autumn descends on us, the slow baring of the trees opens a window to the activities of some of the most common and fascinating wild mammals of North America. (See the tree squirrel illustrations in the image gallery.)

Among both hunters and amateur naturalists, the squirrels (family Sciuridae) make up one of the most popular groups of wild creatures on this continent. These little animals are highly adaptable, and most species have proven able to survive, and even thrive, in areas where human destruction of habitat has long since eliminated less opportunistic mammals. They can be seen dancing limb to limb in city parks and on wilderness hillsides from coast to coast, and-being a very diverse bunch include not only the tree squirrels, but also such seemingly dissimilar animals as chipmunks, woodchucks, flying squirrels, prairie dogs, marmots, and ground squirrels.

Still, to most of us, squirrel means one of the bushy-tailed tree dwellers. (In fact, the family name translates as "shade tail," a reference to the arboreal species' habit of curling their tails over their backs.) These are the squirrels most commonly admired by students of nature and most often transformed into tasty meals by hunters.

Whether your chosen activity is observation or pursuit, your success and satisfaction will be increased if you take the time to learn about your quarry through this field guide to the tree squirrel. So, to add to the fun you'll find in squirrel watching or hunting, we've prepared the following guide to the more common tree squirrels of North America.



Karen Lunardi
7/17/2009 3:44:25 PM

Can anyone helkp me? This a.m. a squirrel came to the feeder that I have never seen before. He has a rather thin tail with a pom-pom on the end! I can't find anything about this type of squirrel. Does anyone know anything about it?




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