American red squirrel

(Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)


American red squirrel IUCN LEAST CONCERN (LC)


Facts about this animal

The American red squirrel is one of the smaller tree squirrels, head and body measuring 16-23 cm, and the tail 9-16 cm. Body-weight ranges from about 140-310 grams.


Like in its Eurasian cousin, the colour of the fur is highly variable depending of region and season. The upper parts are usually brownish or reddish. During the summer, a black stripe runs along their side, separating the upper parts from the white or creamy belly. The tail, which is is not as thick or bushy as in other North American tree squirrels, is often edged with white. There are white bands encircling their large, black eyes.


American red squirrels are well adapted for climbing and running through the trees with their compact, muscled bodies, strong claws, and powerful hind limbs, but they also spend much time on the ground. An individual usually has several nests, which may either be loosely constructed tree nests, holes in a tree trunk or weather-tight winter nests constructed in the densest foliage of a tree.


Breeding seasons vary depending of the climatic zone. After a gestation periond of 33-35 days, the female gives birth, in a lined den or tree hollow, to a litter of 1 to 8, typically 2 to 5 young. The young develop very quickly and are weaned 7 to 8 weeks after birth.


American red squirrels feed on acorns, hazelnuts, other seeds of deciduous trees, berries, fruit, shoots, birds' eggs, mushorooms, and strips conifer cones to get at the seeds within, or occasionally may remove the bark of trees to get access to the tree sap. They also take fledglings, mice and even young rabbits.

Did you know?
That American red squirrels can swim fairly well and voluntarily enter water to reach an opposite shore?


Name (Scientific) Tamiasciurus hudsonicus
Name (English) American red squirrel
Name (French) Ecureuil roux américain
Name (German) Amerikanisches Rothörnchen
Name (Spanish) Ardilla roja americana
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
John Plaistow



Range North America
Habitat In coniferous, mixed coniferous, and deciduous forests
Wild population With the exception of the subspecies T. h. grahamensis (200-300 individuals occurring in one, isolated location) the American red squirrel is common and widespread.
Zoo population 4 reported to ISIS

In the Zoo

American red squirrel


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 79 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
D. Gordon E. Robertson

Why do zoos keep this animal

Tree squirrels are among the species which readily choose the zoo as their habitat and become habituated to humans. In their North American range, there is, therefore, hardly a need for keeping American red squirrels in cages, and as a matter of fact almost none are reported to ISIS. All photos on this page show free-living American red squirrels at Canadian National Parks.