Red Squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis

The Red Squirrel is a small tree squirrel, which is a game species, is found only in the higher elevations of eastern Tennessee. 

A small tree squirrel with reddish-gray or yellowish back (brighter on the sides) and white or cream-colored belly.   

The tail is similar in color to the back with broad, black band edged in white and less bushy than other tree squirrels.   

Eyes are edged in white and ears are tufted in winter.  Sides have a black line in the summer.   Males and females are similar in description.

Length: 11 - 15 inches
Tail: 3.6 - 6.3 inches
Ear: 0.8 - 1.2 inches
Weight: 5.0 - 8.9 ounces

Similar Species: 
Eastern Gray and Eastern Fox Squirrel are larger and have thicker, bushier tails. They do not have a black line on their sides during the summer.

 Prefers coniferous forests in higher elevations, but can be found in hardwood and mixed coniferous-hardwood forests as well.

Primarily feeds on pine cones but eats a variety of acorns, nuts, seeds, berries, and occasionally bird eggs and young.

Breeding information: 
Red Squirrels generally breed twice a year, in the late winter and mid-summer.

Females give birth to litters ranging from 1 to 8 (average 2-5) young in tree cavities, leaf nests, or ground burrows after a 33-35 day gestation period.

The young grow rapidly and are weaned at 7-8 weeks. Juvenile mortality is high due to predators; only 25% survive to adulthood.

Status in Tennessee: 
Not a species of concern; common in east Tennessee.

Fun Facts:

  • Red Squirrels store their food for the winter in large underground caches.
  • Red Squirrels have a distinctive, long descending trill vocalization, which can be heard at a great distance.

Best places to see in Tennessee: In the higher elevation forests of the Unaka Mountains in East Tennessee.

Red Squirrel