RED SQUIRRELS (Tamiasciurus Hudsonicus)
Red Squirrels are considered tree squirrels and are referred to as pine squirrels or red devils (difficult to control)
Color: Reddish fur with a white underbelly
Size: 11 to 14 inches in length, About 12 ounces
Habitat: Found throughout NJ
The seeds of conifer cones form the mainstay of the diet of this rodent. To get these cones, the red squirrel clambers about the branches of balsam fir, larch, white cedar, pines, and spruces, cutting green cones. A dozen or more may fall to the ground before the squirrel descends to retrieve and bury the cones in one or several chambers in its territory. By cutting only green cones, the red squirrel ensures that the seeds are still present. Middens mark the presence of the red squirrel. The term midden in the case of this species refers to both food cache, and to the debris that accumulates over months and even years from stripping cones on a nearby log, branch, or stump.
Other important foods include the buds, inner bark, sap, nuts, and seeds of deciduous trees and shrubs. Fungi, even some species of the toxic genus Amonita, and fleshy fruits may form a large part of the summer diet with the surplus carried aloft to dry among twigs or wedged between branches. Red squirrels also consume invertebrates such as insects, and some vertebrates, for example, small mammals birds, and birds’ eggs
Although primarily an inhabitant of coniferous and mixed forests, it may also reside in deciduous forests, especially the northern hardwoods. In the Adirondacks, the red squirrel is associated with the coniferous and mixed forests at all elevations.
Within these habitats, red squirrels build nests 3-18 m (10-60 ft) above the ground inside a natural tree cavity, abandoned woodpecker nest, or on a branch. Exposed nests are usually near the trunk on a large branch, occasionally in a witches-broom.
The nest is 20-50 cm (10-20 in) in diameter and made of a coarse outer layer of bark or litter from the forest floor, and an inner layer of finely shredded bark, often from yellow birch or white cedar. A single entrance, opposite the side nearest the trunk of exposed nests, leads to the inner chamber. Red squirrels may also build nests in an underground chamber which they excavate. These chambers are approximately 23 cm (9 in) long, 10-13 cm (4-5 in) in diameter, and 30 cm (12 in) beneath the surface of the ground. Buildings, logs, stumps, log piles, birdhouses, and rock walls are other locations.
Red squirrels cause damage to planting pine trees because they eat the buds/seeds, and strip the bark. Red squirrels will also nest in homes and will gnaw/damage property. Even though they are tree squirrels, they will enter your home at almost anywhere from your roof to the crawl space. Once they enter your home they can do significant damage to insulation and wiring.
Keep tree branches 10-15’ away from your home and make sure the leaf debris is kept to a minimum.
Red Squirrels are protected and are considered a fur-bearing animal and special permits are needed to trap them outside of trapping season.