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American Red Squirrel

Family: SciuridaeAmerican Red Squirrel, Tamiasciurus hudsonicusTamiasciurus hudsonicusPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy John Read
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Hello, I too have fallen in love with a red squirrel. We named her Gabbie. Her eyes were not opened when we found her. We feed her Esbilac until she weened... (more)  Amy

   The American Red Squirrel is adorable, a lively little 'chittering" critter!

   The Red Squirrel is also known as the Chickaree or the Hudson's Bay Squirrel. The name Chickaree came from its noisy chattering. And like most squirrels, it is very fond of repeating its cries frequently.

   This is a graceful lively little animal. In its natural environment the American Red Squirrel has a tendency to be a bit fearless of humans and often tends to be heedless of human presence.

For more information about the care of American Red Squirrels see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Squirrel


Geographic Distribution
Tamiasciurus hudsonicus
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Data provided by GBIF.org
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Rodentia
  • Family: Sciuridae
  • Genus: Tamiasciurus
  • Species: hudsonicus
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Scientific name: Tamiasciurus hudsonicus

Background:    American Red squirrels are found mostly in Alaska and Canada, the Northeast of the US, and also reach down into the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains south of Georgia. They are the most numerous species of the genus Sciurus around New York and the Eastern states.
   Regular little talkers, they have a routine call they repeat every minute or so. They also have a chattering alarm, that when sounded will be prolonged for five or six seconds and can be heard up to a quarter of a mile away.
  Their homes are in tree cavities or in water-proof leaf nests high up in the trees, sometimes as high as 60 feet. They also dig burrows in the ground, but these are for food storage.
   Unlike their larger cousin the Gray Squirrel, which can subsist on a rather small quantity of buds and nuts through the winter months, the American Red Squirrel is extremely active in the snowy seasons and requires large amounts of seeds and nuts. They have a habit of hoarding large quantities of food in burrows, neighboring trees, and in their nests.

Description:    American Red squirrels are covered with short hair and appear mostly reddish, having brown, black, and yellow specks throughout, with a white underbelly.

Interesting Facts:    - American Red Squirrels are hunted in Canada for their fur seasonally.
   - They eat a certain type of mushroom called 'Amanita' that is poisonous to
      humans.
   - Their preferred food is pine seeds, and their winter stores sometimes
      contain more than 150 pinecones!
   - They are active mostly during the day - particularly at dawn and in late
      afternoon - and sleep at night.
   - They are capable of both swimming and diving.

Author: Jasmine Brough
Lastest Animal Stories on American Red Squirrel

Amy - 2007-07-26
Hello,
I too have fallen in love with a red squirrel. We named her Gabbie. Her eyes were not opened when we found her. We feed her Esbilac until she weened herself off. We fed her through an eye dropper and she would just grab it and shove it in her mouth. I think she was about 3 months old and still taking her milk about twice a day. We then added mixed grain cereal for babies (Gerber). No plain rice. I was told it should not be given to them. Anyway, she lived inside with us for 2 months and knowing I would release her, I built an outside cage for her to stay in in the day. It was a 6x6 heavy gage wire cage with a door. We then would bring her in at night. We filled it with limbs for her to learn to eat on and climb. We let her stay in this cage for about 1 month and then inside at night. I noticed her natural instincts starting to kick in. I just felt that she was really wanting to climb trees and it just broke my heart to see her in a "zoo". I wanted so badly to keep her. My children and I cried for days. However, I put my selfish human tendencies aside and I let her run up a tree. She now lives in our woods with the other red squirrels. It was very very hard on us at first because we missed her so much. We missed her constant contact with us. However, I know she is so happy being free. I loved her enough to give her what she longed for, freedom. We now go to see her twice a day, call her name, and give her treats. She is soo beautiful jumping on limbs and being just what god intended for her to be, a squirrel.

  • Peggy - 2013-10-25
    Hi Amy, I was happy to read in your story that you released Gabbie when she was ready. I have a permit through the MN DNR to take injured or orphaned wildlife, and over the past many years have raised and released hundreds of gray, reds, and flying squirrels. What concerns me when I read stories like some posted here, is that people try and help these orphans when they find them, but without the knowledge of what to do-they end up hurting more than helping. You should start to wean squirrels when they are 6 weeks old. Offer raw fruit(cut up) w/ plain yogurt, and make a baggie of this mix= Cheerios or Kix, plain granola (or the kind with almonds and dried bananas), dry puppy chow. As they get older add shelled sunflower seeds (unsalted), dried whole kernel corn, pine nuts, plain peanuts. They like raw veggies, especially corn on the cob, too. Provide deer antlers and milk bones bisquits to gnaw on to add calcium as you wean them off formula. Please realize as the squirrel ages, it needs to run around, search for and eat a variety food, and be around other squirrels. Spending life in a cage 20 hours a day is no life for a squirrel. Sometimes people have brought me orphans they have tried to care for 'just a couple of days' and often they are dehydrated, malnourished, have diarrhea from bad formulas, pneumonia, mange-lice-fleas,or traumatized from too much noise or handling. I especially wince when they say,'my children were taking care of them but after one died we decided to call the DNR, who referred us to you.' If you like caring for orphaned wildlife, contact your local Wildlife Rehabilitation Group, and start working on getting your permit. It's pretty much free, the group helps you get free supplies, and provides classes and free mentoring. For the sake of the animals, do it right or give them to somebody that can.
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ashley - 2009-01-21
Last August (about 5 months ago) I found a baby red squirrel on the ground in the grass next to it's (sadly) smushed sibling. They were so tiny, at first I thought there was a frog or toad on the ground and when I looked closer I saw what I thought was a baby chipmunk because it was slightly brownish with two black stripes. At this time, the baby was about 1 week old with closed eyes and ears. Later when he started to get a fuzzy tail, we realized he was a squirrel. In the meantime, we kept him warm at first by cutting the toe off of a "fuzzy sock" like slipper-socks and put it around a small tupperware bowl. He stayed curled up inside of it all day long. Before long, we got a small heating pad to keep him warm as well. We bought puppy milk and fed him with an eye dropper every 3 hours, yes that means waking up in the middle of the night. At first he only ate about 2 ML, but that increased quickly and sometimes he would even eat 3-4 eye droppers. We always fed him until he wouldn't accept any more. By the 4th week his eyes opened and shortly thereafter his ears opened. At this time we started to leave sunflower seeds in his cage just in case he got curious. He began to teeter on his back legs, trying to stand up and eat. This was probably the cutest part of all, when they are learning to stand up. We still continued milk feedings, and as he started to eat more solid foods we spaced the milk feedings out more and more until at about 12 weeks he was completely off the milk. He now eats a variety of nuts including walnuts and shaved almonds (his favorites), pine seeds, sunflower seeds, in-the-shell-unsalted-peanuts, outdoor squirrel feed (which has the likes of dried corn, in-shell-sunflower seeds, etc). He loves banana chips, apple, peapods, cherries (real, not maraschino), dried fruits, and pretty much any fruits. He will not eat mushrooms or celery, though.
He lives in a big bird cage which we regularly fill with branches from pine trees (and in the summer he gets leafy-trees too). He makes a mess throwing pine needles out of his cage, but he loves it, it makes it more wilderness-y or him. We keep him in an un-carpeted area so we can sweep up his messes :) He also gets to run free in the house for a while every day. He is very nice, will jump right on you while you are walking by. However, his nails are sharp so it is probably not a good idea to let kids play with them. They also try to eat your drywall and can tear up your curtains, so you have to keep a constant eye on them while they are loose. We bought a bunch of edible wooden logs/tikihouses/etc the pet stores sell for rabbits and hamsters or other small animals. He chews on those, which is very important to keep his teeth trimmed. A red squirrel is a lot of work from babyhood to adulthood, but also such a joy. We will not be "acclimating him to the wild" He is our pet, he loves people and we feel it would be cruel to take him from his home and shove him out into a cold, harsh world. After all, they live only an average of 3 years in the wild due to all the dangers of other animals and cars, and can live up to 10 yrs in captivity. If anyone ever needs any tips on how to care for a baby squirrel, feel free to email me at redsquirrelinfo@yahoo.com

  • Cheryl Haag Brown - 2013-09-25
    Cool.......We found our little one yesterday when it staggered out of the bushes. Loved the peanuts right off. Fell asleep in our little fleece baby animal rescue bed. Thanks for all the info. I've raised/rehabbed a grey squirrel, seagull, 3 finches, a rabbit, a robin, and now God sent me this cute little blessing. Thank you God.
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Jennifer Ashley - 2009-10-26
Raising "Baby Piglet" a squirrels' tale...........
I found Baby under our oak tree 8/11/09. She was pink,hairless, and her umbilical was still wet. Poor baby had fallen 50ft from a leaf nest and was bruised but active and wiggling around. She wouldnt have lasted long with the cats nearby so I had to take her. Like most people I had no clue as what to do. I contacted local rehabbers and none would take her. They told me she would die or they didnt have the time and resources to care for a "pinkie". I finally found someone to give me care instructions.
For weeks I did feedings every 2 hours round the clock....no sleep.....but worth it. It is amazing to watch your baby grow and develop from a pinkie to getting fur and then: they open those sweet eyes. She's is fat and healthy and looks like a proper squirrel now and just begining to eat some solids.
I found lots of advice online....some good....some bad....and some scary. If you decide to care for an orphan baby here is a list of things you should know.

First found...... check your baby for injuries ( broken bones, lacerations, bruising, animal bites) the baby may appear fine but could have internal damage. if hurt call your local vet or rehabber.

your baby will be cold......warm them gently in your hands. a warm baby is actively wiggling when awake (never feed a cold baby you will kill it)

Dehydration.....your baby may be dehydrated. gently pull skin and if it doesnt spring back your baby needs fluids. Pedialyte works great (never gatorade) you can make your own pedialyte. mix 1 quart water 1 tsp sugar 1 tsp salt. feed with eye dropper at room temp.

the baby bed........ I had to get creative because I have a dog,cat,birds, and kids running around. I cleaned out a drawer in my night stand. placed a heating pad on the bottom and covered that with a towel. The heating pad should be on its lowest setting. this way i could keep her in a safe dark warm place. I used white towels so they could be bleached and kept sanitary for baby.

formulas...... Never feed baby cows milk! youll kill it. the fat in cows milk is too big for your baby to digest. Most reccomend puppy milk that you can get at your local pet store. But I found a cheaper formula. Meyenburgs goats milk !
you can find it at any grocer at the milk case or evaporated even dry powder. I used the dry powder and mixed it with plain unflavored yogurt. 2 parts milk to 1 part yogurt mix well. ( use blender) I would mix up a weeks worth at a time so i always had fresh milk available. Fill up several eye droppers so they get to room temp before feeding......rinse and fill again after feedings and milk will be at room temp by next feeding. I let her fed until she was full and fall asleep. They do like to wiggle around when feeding and you must feed them slowly or they will aspirate (inhale) the formula. pat milk away from face when they start bubbling milk from nose and wait a minute before finishing feeding.

Going potty.......after each feeding your baby needs help to go potty. I placed my baby on clean washcloth and with a dry Q-tip...gently stroke genitals until baby goes. You can shake the lil poops in the trash and wash the towel. (Baby will needs lots of towels and I found its cheaper to buy a large pack of wash clothes for feedings and potty rather than paper towels) say go potty every time you do this so you can housebreak baby later.

Introduce solids.....once your babys eyes are open and starts to get a bushy tail you can start introducing solids. If your baby sees you eat it they will want to try it. Bananas work great, split grapes,apple slices. let them eat their fill and still give their regular milk feeding.

I hope some of this will help someone.!

  • oversweet10 - 2011-08-10
    Thanks for all the info! I rescued a baby squirrel 3 days ago. She is about 5-6 wks old I think and is thriving. My question for you....Sometimes she just wants to eat fruit and nuts ie, bananas, pine nuts, almonds, etc. and doesn't want the milk as much. Should I slowly stop giving it to her or how would I go about doing this? Also I am afraid she might exasperate. :(

    ~Janelis
  • kathy staggs - 2012-03-01
    I've had my baby about two weeks and he seems to be doing well. I've read everything I could find on the net and you all seem to have the best advice. My son said to name him Phillip but I call him little Phill. He is the sweetest little thing, I can rub under his chin and he holds his hand out so I can rub more lol. Any way just thought I'd share .
  • arghya - 2013-07-25
    Thanks for such great info.
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Jan Engman - 2008-08-28
I found a baby squirrel this last summer. I believe that she had fallen out of her nest. To the person that said that one of the squirrels had sezuires, that is due to not giving it the correct diet. If that happens again, give the baby some sugar water to stop the seizures but that is just a quick fix. Their diet has to be bland, no salt what so ever, should actually go back to hand feeding with puppy milk that you can get at a pet store. I gave "Grace" pecans, almonds, dried fruit, cantalope and sunflower seed, acorns if available are good. I had no intentions of keeping her as a pet, I truly think that they belong in the wild. After a month or so I would put her kennel outside by a tree and let her venture on her own. One day she made a nest out of an abandoned bird's nest. She will still come by to see me from time to time. I think mainly to see what goodies I may have for her. I truly enjoyed raising her and learned a good deal from the experience. I would do it again in a heart beat, even though it's illegal to do so in the state of IL... but phooey on that!

Jan
Aurora, IL

  • Cheryl Haag Brown - 2013-09-25
    Right on, Girl. Saved a seagull, finches, rabbits, red & grey squirrels also by ignoring that stupid law.
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Monika - 2006-02-12
You guys are the best! Like you tell me about everything I need to know about having a squirrel. Because I just got one and no other website could tell me what you did I didnt know that squirrels can swim or more interesting...

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Thank-you, you were a really great help!

  • mary - 2010-12-20
    Having a squirrel is sooooooo much fun I wish could have a million more :)!
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