Sunday, November 6, 2011

Abert's Squirrel

Sciurus aberti
Abert’s Squirrels are adorable little dudes that are sometimes referred to as Tassel-Eared Squirrels (guess why). Their are nine recognized subspecies that vary in coloration and location, but most sport grey-brown coats and white underbellies.

 They live in the coniferous forests of western North America, and have a rather interesting relationship with the Ponderosa Pine tree. You see, unlike some plant-animal relationships (I’m looking at you Maned Wolf / Lobeira), the one between the Squirrel and Pine is not a perfect one for all parties involved. The Squirrels use the trees for shelter and food, but the Pines don’t really want them there, despite the fact that the Squirrels help to spread beneficial fungi to the Pines.

Abert's Squirrel
The Ponderosas that live in especially Squirrely areas secret extra chemicals to keep the critters away, and the Squirrels search for less toxic Ponderosa’s to live and feed on. Unfortunately, the Pines with higher chemical secretions have lower vitality and growth rates. It’s definitely a weird relationship!

Abert’s Squirrels are also interesting in that they don’t store food like many other Squirrels do. Rather than stash food, hibernate, and then find it all again in spring, these Squirrels are active year round and have no reason to hide their meals.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : North America
Size : Body Length up to 23in (58cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Rodentia
Family : Sciuridae -- Genus : Sciurus  -- Species : S. aberti

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