Wednesday, February 17, 2010

RED SQUIRREL MIDDENS


As autumn rolls around spruce cones fall to the ground and the American Red Squirrel begins their harvest.  They store these cones in a central cache called a midden.  Middens are made up of shelled spruce cones and are typically found under large trees or windfalls.  Red Squirrels will use the same midden each year making some of them over a meter deep!


The American Red Squirrel's binomial name is Tamiasciurus hudsonicus. Tamiasciurus is Latin for “hoarder squirrel” or "the steward who sits in the shadow of his tail", while hudsonicus refers to Hudson Bay, Canada, where the species was first catalogued by Erxleben in 1771.

The Red Squirrel is active year round since they do not hibernate.  However, it can get quite cold up in the Boreal Forest and middens offer great insulation.  When the temperature drops to -30 degrees Celsius red squirrels head underground.  So, if you are out on a winter hike and you don't see any Red Squirrels, you'll know what the temperature is.

6 comments:

  1. When I lived in Massachusetts, I had these buggers living in my wall. They used to haul nuts into the wall and drop them. They were so noisy, destructive, and irritating, but still kind of fun to watch.

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  2. I lived in San Francisco I have seen some cute red squirrels around my house, I always look at them and when I can I leave some acorns so they can eat some!

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  3. I have a female red squirrel on my property who will take peanuts from my hand and has amassed a midden in the vent above our main floor bathroom.
    She has raised two litters that I know of this spring/summer. Unfortunately she has lost the use of one eye probably due to a fight with another squirrel or other animal.
    She has passed on the midden to one of her offspring and has now established a new territory
    behind the back fence in a brushpile and must be beginning a new midden, for she still continues to come and take peanuts. I really enjoy watching her antics and activity and she is very feisty against the black and brown squirrels in the neighborhood.
    I feel privileged to be a part of the wildlife in my area and enjoy getting my morning coffee while she awaits on the fence for her peanuts.

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  4. We have seen many generations of red squirrels grow old and die here. I like them because they are territorial and the young move off and are gone, although an older female will give her midden to an offspring.

    Yesterday for the first time ever a vibrant, young, adult female took a peanut from my hand after many weeks of gradual friendly conditioning. And then another. I was in shock. I have had red squirrel star pupils in the past who could catch a peanut but this was a first.

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