Nature Q&A with Al: Squirrels

Q: What is the difference between a red squirrel and a Douglas squirrel?
A: I love squirrels, they are so much fun to watch – always busy, going about their business of gathering food, or chattering loudly to warn of predators such as large owls, hawks, long-tailed weasels and American marten. In BC we have two related squirrel species –American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) and Douglas Squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii). How to tell the difference? The red squirrel’s eye rings and tummy are white; the Douglas squirrel has orangey eye rings and tummy. Both feed on a variety of foods such as conifer seeds, berries, bird’s eggs and mushrooms. Squirrels can eat mushrooms that are poisonous to other creatures without ill effect! They will often pick and dry the mushrooms and cache them with cones in their ‘larder’ for winter use. In the forest, piles of cone scales (called “middens”) show where squirrels feed.
For more information visit E-FAUNA:
Who is Al? Al Grass answers our youth members’ “wild’ questions in each issue of NatureWILD. Al has worked as a career park naturalist and ranger throughout BC. Now he is a well-known nature tour leader and photographer. Al especially likes birds, insects and spiders.
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Image credit: Daniel Taieb

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