TRR photos by Sandy Long

Red squirrels are approximately half the size of gray squirrels and sport reddish-brown fur with spiky ear tufts. This species is very feisty, energetic and territorial. They will fend off gray squirrels to protect food sources and dens.

Know your rodent

In the heart of winter, the landscape can seem especially dreary, brightened mainly by birds and the occasional white-tailed deer. But a glance around your backyard can clue you in to the antics of furry rodents that scurry about in search of sustenance to last through the season of snow and ice.

The gray squirrel is the commonly sighted of
the four species of squirrels native to
Pennsylvannia. Its silvery gray fur is its most 
recognizeable feature, although albinism
occassionally occurs and melanism (black
coloration) is fairly common, according to the
PA Game Commission.

Squirrels and chipmunks are popular co-inhabitants of our regional forests and well-adapted to living near humans. They enjoy plundering the feeders we fill for our feathered friends and harvesting the seed that falls to the ground below.

There are four species of squirrels native to Pennsylvania: gray squirrels, red squirrels, fox squirrels and flying squirrels. All are skillful and agile acrobats. Although they see only in shades of black and white, their eyesight, hearing and sense of smell are keen. Breeding season typically begins in late winter and young are born following a gestation period of approximately 40 to 45 days.

The eastern chipmunk is a member of the squirrel family. While mostly dormant in their underground tunnels during winter, chipmunks occasionally emerge on sunny days and begin breeding in late February or early March. Gestation is usually 31 days, with young born from mid-April to May. A second litter is possible in late July or early August.

Eastern chipmunks are typically between
eight to 10 inches long (including their tails)
and weigh between 2.5 to 4 ounces.
This highly vocal species is
characterized by cinnamon-colored fur
and five dark stripes along its back and sides. 


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