Douglas’ Squirrel

Tamiasciurus douglasii

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' squirrel scolding me from a tree. 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. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2006.

Douglas squirrel feeding signs. These Douglas Fir cones were stripped of their bracts (the cone scales) and the seeds underneath them were eaten.

Copyright Laurie Lee 2007.

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.

Copyright Laurie Lee 2007.

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 squirrel ad nut. 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

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Copyright 1999, 2012. Kim A. Cabrera - Desert Moon Design

Page updated: Saturday, March 31, 2012