Douglas Squirrel Tracks
Douglas squirrel scolding from a tree.
Hover mouse pointer over picture above to start sound.
Netscape users: click here to see and hear a Douglas' squirrel scolding
Natural History of Douglas Squirrels
|Douglas' squirrels are active during the day.
They have rust red coats and white rings around the eyes. The underside is orange. Long,
curved toenails act as hooks to help the animals climb. Douglas' squirrels build their
nests high in trees. In summer, they build a nest out of lichens, mosses, twigs, and bark.
In winter, their nests are located in holes in trees. They also live in ground burrows and
sometimes move into and cap abandoned bird nests with sticks and leaves.
These squirrels are fairly noisy and will scold and chatter at people from their perches. Their tracks show four toes on the front foot and five toes on the hind foot. The young, usually a litter of four to six, are born in May or June. A family group may stay together for almost a year. Douglas' squirrels are also called pine squirrels or chickarees.
|They eat green vegetation, new
shoots of conifers, acorns, nuts, mushrooms, insects, fruits, and berries. They are fond
of cones and will drop them to the ground and gather them up later for winter storage.
They establish favorite feeding stations in the trees. They eat the seeds, which they get
to by stripping the cones. Cone scales mound up on the ground below feeding stations in
piles called middens. The squirrels also stash mushrooms in the forks of tree branches for
later use. Douglas' squirrels open acorns by gnawing on the shells. You may find piles of
these opened nuts beneath a tree where the squirrel has been working.
Common predators include bobcats, foxes, house cats, and owls. Humans raid the cone caches for seeds to be used in planting nursery trees.
Douglas squirrel feeding signs. These Douglas Fir cones were stripped of their bracts (the cone scales) and the seeds underneath them were eaten.
|Squirrel track pattern in snow. These are not Douglas' squirrel tracks, but they have a similar trail pattern. Snow causes distortion in the tracks and can make them appear larger. These sets of tracks will often be in a straight line.|
Squirrel track pattern in snow. These are not Douglas' squirrel tracks. Thanks to Laurie Lee for the use of her photos!
Personal Notes on Douglas Squirrels
|Douglas' squirrels seem to be very vocal animals. Whenever I startle one on a trail, it will run up a tree and sit there scolding me! I can always tell where other hikers are in the forest by listening for the squirrel's scolding calls!|
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Copyright © 1997, 2012. Text, drawings, and photos by Kim A. Cabrera
Copyright © 1999, 2012. Kim A. Cabrera - Desert Moon Design
Page updated: Saturday, March 31, 2012