Outdoors Journal: Red squirrels in Minnesota

  • Article by: JIM GILBERT
  • Updated: February 11, 2010 - 9:41 PM

 

Red squirrels prefer evergreen forests and, consequently, are not as abundant in southern Minnesota as they are farther north. Although they store cones and nuts under tree roots or in underground burrows, they also will tunnel through snow to search for nuts on the ground or to have safe and easy access to a shrub or tree that has fruits. Individuals might eat eggs, young birds and other small animals, but in general they are vegetarians. They perform a service in forests since many of the seeds they bury remain in the ground, eventually becoming trees.

The range of a red squirrel is small, seldom more than 400 feet in diameter. Like the blue jay, it is a sentinel of the forest. If anything unusual is going on in a red squirrel's territory, it responds with loud chattering and scolding.

Like the gray squirrel, the red prefers to nest in a hollow tree but will build a nest of leaves if no tree cavity is available. It might dig a burrow for a nesting site, which probably will be located under a tree or stump, and a single squirrel might have all three types of homes described. They, like grays, are active all winter, but both hole up in bad weather.

JIM GILBERT

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