dcsimg

Brief Summary

    Red squirrel: Brief Summary
    provided by wikipedia
    This article is about the Eurasian species of squirrel. For the North American species of squirrel commonly known as the red squirrel, see American red squirrel. For other uses, see Red squirrel (disambiguation).

    The red squirrel or Eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) is a species of tree squirrel in the genus Sciurus common throughout Eurasia. The red squirrel is an arboreal, omnivorous rodent.

    In Great Britain, Ireland, and in Italy numbers have decreased drastically in recent years. This decline is associated with the introduction by humans of the eastern grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) from North America and habitat loss. Due to this, without conservation the species could be extirpated from Great Britain by 2030.

    Brief Summary
    provided by Ecomare
    Squirrels live in trees and are terrific acrobats, easily jumping from branch to branch. They prefer to live on the edge of older forests and in forested banks, gardens and parks with a woody surrounding. They eat mostly seeds and buds of coniferous trees, but also eggs and young chicks in the spring. In the summer and autumn, they eat various nuts, sweet chestnuts and mushrooms. Squirrels are found throughout the Netherlands, with the exception of the Wadden Islands.

Comprehensive Description

    Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
    provided by AnAge articles
    Maximum longevity: 14.8 years (captivity) Observations: In the wild, these animals may live up to 12 years (Bernhard Grzimek 1990). One specimen lived over 14.8 years in captivity (Richard Weigl 2005).
    Red squirrel
    provided by wikipedia
    This article is about the Eurasian species of squirrel. For the North American species of squirrel commonly known as the red squirrel, see American red squirrel. For other uses, see Red squirrel (disambiguation).

    The red squirrel or Eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) is a species of tree squirrel in the genus Sciurus common throughout Eurasia. The red squirrel is an arboreal, omnivorous rodent.

    In Great Britain, Ireland, and in Italy numbers have decreased drastically in recent years. This decline is associated with the introduction by humans of the eastern grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) from North America[3][4] and habitat loss.[5] Due to this, without conservation the species could be extirpated from Great Britain by 2030.[6]

    Description

     src=
    Underparts are generally white-cream-coloured
     src=
    Red squirrel in Kuusijarvi lake in Finland.
     src=
    Profile of the Eurasian red squirrel in grey winter coat

    The red squirrel has a typical head-and-body length of 19 to 23 cm (7.5 to 9 in), a tail length of 15 to 20 cm (6 to 8 in), and a mass of 250 to 340 g (8.8 to 12.0 oz). Males and females are the same size. The red squirrel is somewhat smaller than the eastern grey squirrel which has a head-and-body length of 25 to 30 cm (10 to 12 in) and weighs between 400 and 800 g (14 oz and 1 lb 12 oz).

    The long tail helps the squirrel to balance and steer when jumping from tree to tree and running along branches, and may keep the animal warm during sleep.[7]

    The red squirrel, like most tree squirrels, has sharp, curved claws to enable it to climb and descend broad tree trunks, thin branches and even house walls. Its strong hind legs enable it to leap gaps between trees. The red squirrel also has the ability to swim.[8]

    The coat of the red squirrel varies in colour with time of year and location. There are several different coat colour morphs ranging from black to red. Red coats are most common in Great Britain; in other parts of Europe and Asia different coat colours co-exist within populations, much like hair colour in some human populations. The underside of the squirrel is always white-cream in colour. The red squirrel sheds its coat twice a year, switching from a thinner summer coat to a thicker, darker winter coat with noticeably larger ear-tufts (a prominent distinguishing feature of this species) between August and November. A lighter, redder overall coat colour, along with the ear-tufts (in adults) and smaller size, distinguish the Eurasian red squirrel from the American eastern grey squirrel.[9][10][11]

    Distribution

     src=
    Red squirrel in the Urals region, grey winter coat

    Red squirrels occupy boreal, coniferous woods in northern Europe and Siberia, preferring Scots pine, Norway spruce and Siberian pine. In western and southern Europe they are found in broad-leaved woods where the mixture of tree and shrub species provides a better year round source of food. In most of the British Isles and in Italy, broad-leaved woodlands are now less suitable due to the better competitive feeding strategy of introduced grey squirrels.[12]

    Reproduction

     src=
    This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (March 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
     src=
    Skeleton of a squirrel

    Mating can occur in late winter during February and March and in summer between June and July. Up to two litters a year per female are possible. Each litter averages three young, called kittens.[13] Gestation is about 38 to 39 days. The young are looked after by the mother alone and are born helpless, blind and deaf. They weigh between 10 and 15 g. Their body is covered by hair at 21 days, their eyes and ears open after three to four weeks, and they develop all their teeth by 42 days. Juvenile red squirrels can eat solids around 40 days following birth and from that point can leave the nest on their own to find food; however, they still suckle from their mother until weaning occurs at 8 to 10 weeks.

    During mating, males detect females that are in œstrus by an odor that they produce, and although there is no courtship, the male will chase the female for up to an hour prior to mating. Usually multiple males will chase a single female until the dominant male, usually the largest in the group, mates with the female. Males and females will mate multiple times with many partners. Females must reach a minimum body mass before they enter œstrus, and heavy females on average produce more young. If food is scarce breeding may be delayed. Typically a female will produce her first litter in her second year.

     src=
    Two-week-old red squirrel

    Life expectancy

     src=
    Close up of a young red squirrel.

    Red squirrels that survive their first winter have a life expectancy of 3 years. Individuals may reach 7 years of age, and 10 in captivity. Survival is positively related to availability of autumn–winter tree seeds; on average, 75–85% of juveniles die during their first winter, and mortality is approximately 50% for winters following the first.[14]

    Ecology and behaviour

    A red squirrel takes and loses a walnut

    The red squirrel is found in both coniferous forest and temperate broadleaf woodlands. The squirrel makes a drey (nest) out of twigs in a branch-fork, forming a domed structure about 25 to 30 cm in diameter. This is lined with moss, leaves, grass and bark. Tree hollows and woodpecker holes are also used. The red squirrel is a solitary animal and is shy and reluctant to share food with others. However, outside the breeding season and particularly in winter, several red squirrels may share a drey to keep warm. Social organization is based on dominance hierarchies within and between sexes; although males are not necessarily dominant to females, the dominant animals tend to be larger and older than subordinate animals, and dominant males tend to have larger home ranges than subordinate males or females.[15]

    A red squirrel eating

    The red squirrel eats:

    More rarely, red squirrels may also eat bird eggs or nestlings. A Swedish study shows that out of 600 stomach contents of red squirrels examined, only 4 contained remnants of birds or eggs.[17][18] Thus, red squirrels may occasionally exhibit opportunistic omnivory, similarly to other rodents.

    A red squirrel burying hazelnuts

    Excess food is put into caches, either buried or in nooks or holes in trees, and eaten when food is scarce. Although the red squirrel remembers where it created caches at a better-than-chance level, its spatial memory is substantially less accurate and durable than that of grey squirrel;[19] it therefore will often have to search for them when in need, and many caches are never found again.

    Between 60% and 80% of its active period may be spent foraging and feeding.[20] The active period for the red squirrel is in the morning and in the late afternoon and evening. It often rests in its nest in the middle of the day, avoiding the heat and the high visibility to birds of prey that are dangers during these hours. During the winter, this mid-day rest is often much more brief, or absent entirely, although harsh weather may cause the animal to stay in its nest for days at a time.

    No territories are claimed between the red squirrels, and the feeding areas of individuals overlap considerably.

    Enemies and threats

     src=
    In snow in Helsinki

    Arboreal predators include small mammals such as the pine marten, wildcats and the stoat, which preys on nestlings; birds, including owls and raptors such as the goshawk and buzzards, may also take the red squirrel. The red fox, cats and dogs can prey upon the red squirrel when it is on the ground. Humans influence the population size and mortality of the red squirrel by destroying or altering habitats, by causing road casualties, and by introducing non-native populations of the North American eastern grey squirrels.

    The eastern grey squirrel and the red squirrel are not directly antagonistic, and violent conflict between these species is not a factor in the decline in red squirrel populations.[21] However, the eastern grey squirrel appears to be able to decrease the red squirrel population due to several reasons:

    • The eastern grey squirrel carries a disease, the squirrel parapoxvirus, that does not appear to affect their own health but will often kill the red squirrel. It was revealed in 2008 that the numbers of red squirrels at Formby (England) had declined by 80% as a result of this disease,[22] though the population is now recovering.[23]
    • The eastern grey squirrel can better digest acorns, while the red squirrel cannot access the proteins and fats in acorns as easily.[24]
    • When the red squirrel is put under pressure, it will not breed as often.

    In the UK, due to the above circumstances, the population has today fallen to 160,000 red squirrels or fewer (120,000 of these are in Scotland).[25] Outside the UK and Ireland, the impact of competition from the eastern grey squirrel has been observed in Piedmont, Italy, where two pairs escaped from captivity in 1948. A significant drop in red squirrel populations in the area has been observed since 1970, and it is feared that the eastern grey squirrel may expand into the rest of Europe.

    Conservation and strategies

    Background

     src=
    Winter coat, in England
     src=
    In Germany

    The red squirrel is protected in most of Europe, as it is listed in Appendix III of the Bern Convention; it is listed as being of least concern on the IUCN Red List. However, in some areas it is abundant and is hunted for its fur.

    Although not thought to be under any threat worldwide, the red squirrel has nevertheless drastically reduced in number in the United Kingdom; especially after the grey squirrels were introduced from North America in the 1870s. Fewer than 140,000 individuals are thought to be left in 2013;[16] approximately 85% of which are in Scotland, with the Isle of Wight being the largest haven in England. A local charity, the Wight Squirrel Project,[26] supports red squirrel conservation on the island, and islanders are actively recommended to report any invasive greys. The population decrease in Britain is often ascribed to the introduction of the eastern grey squirrel from North America,[27] but the loss and fragmentation of its native woodland habitat has also played a role.

    In contrast, the red squirrel may present a threat if introduced to regions outside its native range. It is classed as a "prohibited new organism" under New Zealand's Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 preventing it from being imported into the country.[28]

    Conservation

    In January 1998, eradication of the non-native North American grey squirrel began on the North Wales island of Anglesey. This facilitated the natural recovery of the small remnant red squirrel population. It was followed by the successful reintroduction of the red squirrel into the pine stands of Newborough Forest.[29] Subsequent reintroductions into broadleaved woodland followed and today the island has the single largest red squirrel population in Wales. Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour is also populated exclusively by red rather than grey squirrels (approximately 200 individuals).

     src=
    In Finland
     src=
    With a brown coat

    Mainland initiatives in southern Scotland and the north of England also rely upon grey squirrel control as the cornerstone of red squirrel conservation strategy. A local programme known as the "North East Scotland Biodiversity Partnership", an element of the national Biodiversity Action Plan was established in 1996.[30] This programme is administered by the Grampian Squirrel Society, with an aim of protecting the red squirrel; the programme centres on the Banchory and Cults areas. In 2008, the Scottish Wildlife Trust announced a four-year project which commenced in the spring of 2009 called "Saving Scotland's Red Squirrels".[31]

    Other notable projects include red squirrel projects in the Greenfield Forest, including the buffer zones of Mallerstang, Garsdale and Widdale;[32] the Northumberland Kielder Forest Project; and within the National Trust reserve in Formby. These projects were originally part of the Save Our Squirrels campaign that aimed to protect red squirrels in the north of England, but now form part of a five-year Government-led partnership conservation project called "Red Squirrels Northern England"[33] to undertake grey squirrel control in areas important for red squirrels.

     src=
    Red squirrel in Poland

    Research undertaken in 2007 in the UK credits the pine marten with reducing the population of the invasive eastern grey squirrel. Where the range of the expanding pine marten population meets that of the eastern grey squirrel, the population of these squirrels retreats. It is theorised that, because the grey squirrel spends more time on the ground than the red, they are far more likely to come in contact with this predator.[34]

    During October 2012, four male and one female red squirrel, on permanent loan from the British Wildlife Centre, were transported to Tresco in the Isles of Scilly by helicopter, and released into Abbey Wood, near the Abbey Gardens. Only two survived and a further twenty were transported and released in October 2013.[35] Although the red squirrel is not indigenous to the Isles of Scilly, those who supported this work intend to use Tresco as a ″safe haven″ for the endangered mammal as the islands are free of predators such as foxes, and of the squirrel pox carrying grey squirrel.[36][37]

    Historical, cultural and financial significance

     src=
    "Squirrel" illustration from "British Mammals" by A. Thorburn, 1920

    Squirrel Nutkin is a character, always illustrated as a red squirrel, in English author Beatrix Potter's books for children.

    'Ekorren' (The Squirrel) is a well known and appreciated children's song in Sweden. Text and lyrics by Alice Tegnér in 1892.

    In Norse mythology, Ratatoskr is a red squirrel who runs up and down with messages in the world tree, Yggdrasil, and spreads gossip. In particular, he carried messages between the unnamed eagle at the top of Yggdrasill and the wyrm Níðhöggr beneath its roots.

    The red squirrel used to be widely hunted for its pelt. In Finland squirrel pelts were used as currency in ancient times, before the introduction of coinage.[38] The expression "squirrel pelt" is still widely understood there to be a reference to money.

    The Rareware character Conker the Squirrel is a red squirrel.

    Taxonomy

     src=
    Various red squirrel subspecies; A) S. v. vulgaris from Sweden, B) S. v. fuscoater from Germany, C) S. v. infuscatus from central Spain
     src=
    S. v. mantchuricus from South Korea

    There have been over 40 described subspecies of the red squirrel, but the taxonomic status of some of these is uncertain. A study published in 1971 recognises 16 subspecies and has served as a basis for subsequent taxonomic work.[39][40] Although the validity of some subspecies is labelled with uncertainty because of the large variation in red squirrels even within a single region,[40] others are relatively distinctive and one of these, S. v. meridionalis of South Italy, was elevated to species status as the Calabrian black squirrel in 2017.[41] At present, there are 23 recognized subspecies of the red squirrel.[2] Genetic studies indicate that another, S. v. hoffmanni of Sierra Espuña in southeast Spain (below included in S. v. alpinus), deserves recognition as distinct.[42]

    • S. v. alpinus. Desmarest, 1822. (Synonyms: S. v. baeticus, hoffmanni, infuscatus, italicus, numantius and segurae.)
    • S. v. altaicus. Serebrennikov, 1928.
    • S. v. anadyrensis. Ognev, 1929.
    • S. v. arcticus. Trouessart, 1906. (Synonym: S. v. jacutensis.)
    • S. v. balcanicus. Heinrich, 1936. (Synonyms: S. v. istrandjae and rhodopensis.)
    • S. v. chiliensis. Sowerby, 1921.
    • S. v. cinerea. Hermann, 1804.
    • S. v. dulkeiti. Ognev, 1929.
    • S. v. exalbidus. Pallas, 1778. (Synonyms: S. v. argenteus and kalbinensis.)
    • S. v. fedjushini. Ognev, 1935.
    • S. v. formosovi. Ognev, 1935.
    • S. v. fuscoater. Altum, 1876. (Synonyms: S. v. brunnea, gotthardi, graeca, nigrescens, russus and rutilans.)
    • S. v. fusconigricans. Dvigubsky, 1804
    • S. v. leucourus. Kerr, 1792.
    • S. v. lilaeus. Miller, 1907. (Synonyms: S. v. ameliae or croaticus.)
    • S. v. mantchuricus. Thomas, 1909. (Synonyms: S. v. coreae and coreanus.)
    • S. v. martensi. Matschie, 1901. (Synonym: S. v. jenissejensis.)
    • S. v. ognevi. Migulin, 1928. (Synonyms: S. v. bashkiricus, golzmajeri and uralensis.)
    • S. v. orientis. Thomas, 1906.
    • S. v. rupestris. Thomas, 1907
    • S. v. ukrainicus. Migulin, 1928. (Synonym: S. v. kessleri.)
    • S. v. varius. Gmelin, 1789.
    • S. v. vulgaris. Linnaeus, 1758.[43] (Synonyms: S. v. albonotatus, albus, carpathicus, europaeus, niger, rufus and typicus.)

    References

    1. ^ Shar, S.; Lkhagvasuren, D.; Bertolino, S.; Henttonen, H.; Kryštufek, B.; Meinig, H. (2008). "Sciurus vulgaris". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2008: e.T20025A9135609. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T20025A9135609.en. Retrieved 24 November 2016..mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output q{quotes:"""""'"'"}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-free a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/65/Lock-green.svg/9px-Lock-green.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d6/Lock-gray-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-gray-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/aa/Lock-red-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-red-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}
    2. ^ a b Thorington, R.W., Jr.; Hoffman, R.S. (2005). "Sciurus (Sciurus) vulgaris". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 764. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
    3. ^ Red squirrel. Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved on 30 September 2013.
    4. ^ Two different squirrels. Scottishsquirrels.org.uk. Retrieved on 30 September 2013.
    5. ^ "Fight to save Red Squirrel impeded by lack of funds": article by Graham Tibbetts on page 17 of issue 47,381, Daily Telegraph (5 October 2007)
    6. ^ Booth, Robert (25 September 2011). "Red squirrel 'could be extinct within next 20 years'". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
    7. ^ "Characteristics - British Red Squirrel". britishredsquirrel.org. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
    8. ^ Red squirrel facts. RSST. Retrieved on 30 September 2013.
    9. ^ Two different squirrels: the facts. scottishsquirrels.org.uk. Retrieved on 25 July 2013.
    10. ^ RSPB facts. Rspb.org.uk (24 January 2010). Retrieved on 25 July 2013.
    11. ^ Cornwall Red Squirrels website. Cornwallredsquirrels.co.uk. Retrieved on 25 July 2013.
    12. ^ Forest Research – UK Red Squirrel Group – Red squirrel facts. Forestry.gov.uk. Retrieved on 25 July 2013.
    13. ^ "Red Squirrel Survival Trust: How do they breed?". Retrieved 6 November 2018.
    14. ^ Gurnell, J. (1983). "Squirrel numbers and the abundance of tree seeds". Mammal Review. 13 (2–4): 133–148. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2907.1983.tb00274.x.
    15. ^ Wauters, L.; Swinnen, C. & Dhondt, A. A. (1992). "Activity budget and foraging behaviour or red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) in coniferous and deciduous habitats". Journal of Zoology. 227: 71–86. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.1992.tb04345.x.
    16. ^ a b Forestry Commission – Red Squirrels. Forestry.gov.uk. Retrieved on 25 July 2013.
    17. ^ The University of Lund, Lunduniversity.lu.se. Retrieved on 15 October 2015.
    18. ^ 'Ask a Biologist at The University of Lund' [1]. Retrieved on 15 October 2015.
    19. ^ Macdonald, I. M. V. (1997). "Field experiments on duration and precision of grey and red squirrel spatial memory". Animal Behaviour. 54 (4): 879–91. doi:10.1006/anbe.1996.0528. PMID 9344441.
    20. ^ Wauters, L.A. & Dhondt, A.A. (1992). "Spacing behaviour of red squirrels, Sciurus vulgaris: variation between habitats and the sexes". Animal Behaviour. 43 (2): 297–311. doi:10.1016/S0003-3472(05)80225-8.
    21. ^ "Red and grey squirrels". Rsst.
    22. ^ Country File, BBC, 28.89.2008
    23. ^ Formby's red squirrel population recovering, National trust, 25 November 2013
    24. ^ "Red and grey squirrels - RSST". rsst.org.uk. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
    25. ^ "Saving Scotland's Red Squirrels". Retrieved 6 November 2018.
    26. ^ The Wight Squirrel Project – Home. Wightsquirrels.co.uk. Retrieved on 25 July 2013.
    27. ^ "Black squirrels set to dominate". BBC News. 20 January 2009. Retrieved 26 April 2009.
    28. ^ "Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 2003 – Schedule 2 Prohibited new organisms". New Zealand Government. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
    29. ^ Red squirrel conservation, squirrel ecology and grey squirrel management. Redsquirrels.info. Retrieved on 25 July 2013.
    30. ^ "A new dawn for biodiversity partnership working". hutton.ac.uk.
    31. ^ "A new era for Scotland's red squirrels?" in Scottish Wildlife (November 2008) No. 66. Edinburgh.
    32. ^ "Greenfield Forest declared England’s newest Red Squirrel Reserve" daelnet.co.uk. Retrieved 24 January 2011
    33. ^ Red Squirrels Northern England. Rsne.org.uk. Retrieved on 25 July 2013.
    34. ^ Watson, Jeremy (30 December 2007) "Tufty's saviour to the rescue". Scotland on Sunday. Edinburgh.
    35. ^ Tresco’s Red Squirrel Colony To Be Restocked. Scilly Today (18 June 2013). Retrieved on 25 July 2013.
    36. ^ Mumford, Clive (1 November 2012). "Squirrels to be released in 2013". The Cornishman. p. 16. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
    37. ^ "RNAS Culdrose helicopter flies red squirrels to Tresco". BBC. Retrieved 5 November 2013.
    38. ^ Verot 1500–1600 luvulla:Oravannahat Archived 24 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine.. Holappa.info. Retrieved on 25 July 2013.
    39. ^ Sidorowicz, J. (1971). "Problems of subspecific taxonomy of squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris L.) in Palaearctic". Zoologischer Anzeiger. 187: 123–142.
    40. ^ a b Lurz, P.W.W.; Gurnell, John & Magris, Louise (2005). "Sciurus vulgaris" (PDF). Mammalian Species. 769: 1–10. doi:10.1644/1545-1410(2005)769[0001:SV]2.0.CO;2.
    41. ^ Wauters, Lucas A.; Giovanni Amori; Gaetano Aloise; Spartaco Gippoliti; Paolo Agnelli; Andrea Galimberti; Maurizio Casiraghi; Damiano Preatoni; Adriano Martinoli (2017). "New endemic mammal species for Europe: Sciurus meridionalis (Rodentia, Sciuridae)". Hystrix. 28 (1): 1–28. doi:10.4404/hystrix-28.1-12015.
    42. ^ Rocha, Rita Gomes; Lucas A. Wauters; Maria da Luz Mathias; Carlos Fonseca (2014). "Will an ancient refuge become a modern one? A critical review on the conservation and research priorities for the red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) in the Iberian peninsula". Hystrix. 25 (1): 9–13. doi:10.4404/hystrix-25.1-9496.
    43. ^ Linnaeus, Carolus (1758). Systema naturae per regna tria naturae :secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis (in Latin) (10th ed.). Holmiae (Laurentii Salvii). Retrieved 8 March 2010.

Distribution

    Distribution
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Sciurus vulgaris, also known as the Eurasian red squirrel, can be found throughout the forests of Europe and northern Asia. Over the past century S. vulgaris population densities have changed greatly. The species has remained very common in central Europe, but on Great Britain they are now extirpated from much of their range. (Nowak 1991, Parker 1990)

    Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (Native )

Morphology

    Morphology
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    This species has more variation in coat color than almost any other mammal in the Palearctic region. The color of these squirrels varies from light-red to black on their heads and backs. All individuals (except those that are completely melanistic), have white or creamy fur on their stomachs. Like many other tree squirrels, S. vulgaris has long tufts of hair on its ears and long furry tail. In most areas where they are common, such as central Europe, the pelage coloration of individuals varies from red to black, with individuals of many differently color morphs co-occurring. However, in some areas, whole populations may have almost identically colored coats. Examples of populations in which all of the squirrels share the same coat color can be found in Great Britain, where only red members of this species live; and in the Sila region of southern Italy, where only black individuals are found. The body hair of these squirrels changes twice annually, while the tail hair changes only once. The winter coat covers more of the soles of the feet, has longer ear tufts, and is thicker than the spring/summer coat.

    Shedding and growth of hair can be delayed or prevented by a lack of food, diseases, or parasitic infestation during the spring or late fall when individuals normally grow a new coat.

    The size of the skull also varies between regions. Average skull size in S. vulgaris populations increases from north to south throughout Eurasia.

    (Nowak 1991, Parker 1990)

    Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry ; polymorphic

    Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike

    Average mass: 600 g.

Habitat

    Habitat
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Sciurus vulgaris lives and nests in deciduous and coniferous forests. These squirrels prefer to live in large, mature trees that can provide them with an abundant supply of food in the form of seeds or acorns. Trees chosen as nesting sites usually have hollowed out cavities or large holes in their trunks which can be used as nests. A high quality nest may be used for several years, and individuals always maintain several nests to which they can escape when being pursued by a predator. (Nowak 1991, Parker 1990)

    Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

    Terrestrial Biomes: forest

Trophic Strategy

    Trophic Strategy
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Sciurus vulgaris regularly forage on coniferous seeds, beechnuts, acorns, and nuts. They have a specialized technique for opening nuts that utilizes the power of the lower incisors. With practice they are able to open a nut in just a few seconds. The dietary habits of these squirrels varies greatly according to the region in which they live and with the availability of different foods. When their regular dietary staples are not available, these squirrels may eat mushrooms and other fungi, birds' eggs, and garden flowers and vegetables. They have also been observed peeling the bark off conifers and licking the trees' sap. Like most squirrels, this species stores food supplies by burying them in the ground or hiding them in the bark of trees. Young squirrels learn what food sources to eat from their mothers. As they get older they become more reluctant to accept new and strange food sources. The daily food intake varies depending upon the time of year. They eat the most food in the spring (80g per day), and the least in the winter (35g per day). (Gromwall et al. 1993, Moiller 1983, Nowak 1991, Parker 1990)

    Animal Foods: eggs

    Plant Foods: leaves; seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit; sap or other plant fluids

    Other Foods: fungus

    Foraging Behavior: stores or caches food

    Primary Diet: herbivore (Granivore )

Associations

    Associations
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Eurasian red squirrels have an important impact on forest communities through seed predation and caching of tree seeds. Forgotten caches may end up sprouting and growing into new trees.

    Associations
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Eurasian red squirrels are agile in the trees and are constantly alert for the presence of predators. They are mainly preyed on by large birds of prey and arboreal mustelids like the European marten. As young in the nest they may be taken by large climbing snakes, and other small, arboreal predators.

Behavior

    Behavior
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Eurasian red squirrels have keen senses of vision, smell, touch, and hearing. They communicate with body signals, sounds, such as warning calls, and chemical cues. Within family groups touch is also used in communication.

    Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

    Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Life Expectancy

    Life Expectancy
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    The mortality rate of young Eurasian red squirrels is high, due to heavy predation by birds and mammals. Less than one in four survive to their first birthday. Although adults can live for 6 to 7 years in the wild, and longer in captivity, most individuals probably only live for 2-4 years.

    Range lifespan
    Status: wild:
    7 (high) years.

    Range lifespan
    Status: captivity:
    10 to 12 years.

    Average lifespan
    Status: wild:
    12.0 years.

Reproduction

    Reproduction
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    When a female comes into estrous, the usually non-gregarious males gather in her home range to compete for the opportunity to mate with her. After mating occurs, male squirrels return to their home ranges.

    Mating System: polygynous

    Female Eurasian red squirrels give birth to an average of two litters per year, of usually 5-7 young. The gestation period is 38-39 days. The young weigh 8-12 g at birth and are born hairless and blind. Their auditory canals are unopened, and their ears are undeveloped and lay flat against their head. The young squirrels' eyes open after 30 days, at which time they become active cleaning themselves and moving around the nest. After 45 days the young voluntarily leave the nest for the first time. At this point the young also begin to eat solid food. By eight to ten weeks of age the offspring are fully weaned and independent, even though they tend to remain near their mothers for some time. Young become reproductively mature within a year. (Macdonald 1984, Nowak 1991, Parker 1990)

    Breeding interval: These squirrels reproduce twice during the warm season, at approximately 13 week intervals

    Breeding season: Eurasian red squirrels generally have two litters per year, one in February to March, the other from May to August

    Range number of offspring: 1 to 10.

    Average number of offspring: 3 to 7.

    Range gestation period: 38 to 39 days.

    Range time to independence: 8 to 10 weeks.

    Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 1 years.

    Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 1 years.

    Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous

    Average birth mass: 9.25 g.

    Average number of offspring: 5.

    Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    Sex: male:
    320 days.

    Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female:
    296 days.

    Eurasian red squirrels are cared for and nursed by their mother in her nest during the first few months of their lives.

    Parental Investment: no parental involvement; altricial ; pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Protecting: Female)

Conservation Status

    Conservation Status
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    The number of Eurasian red squirrels has dropped dramatically in recent years in some areas. In Great Britain, the introduction of a North American species of tree squirrel, the eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), has led to the disappearance of native Eurasian red squirrels throughout much of the country, while in the former Soviet Union overhunting of some populations for their fur has reduced their numbers. (Nowak 1991, Parker 1990, Wilson et al. 1993)

    This species is listed as "Near Threatened" by the IUCN Red List.

    US Federal List: no special status

    CITES: no special status

    IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

Benefits

    Benefits
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Sciurus vulgaris are known to occasionally eat shoots of food crop plants. They can also be a nuisance when they nest in houses or buildings because they can be quite noisy. (Nowak 1991)

    Negative Impacts: crop pest; household pest

    Benefits
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    In the former Soviet Union some populations of Sciurus vulgaris are hunted for their thick and luxurious winter coats, which have commercial value on the fur market. (Nowak 1991). This species is also probably an important disperser of the seeds of some species of trees.

    Positive Impacts: body parts are source of valuable material