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Squirrels, also known as pine squirrels, are found in Maryland
mostly in the western counties. The red squirrel is arboreal
like the gray squirrel but is about half its size, with a body
length of 7 to 9 inches and a weight of 7 to 12 ounces. Though
small, the red squirrel is very active and very vocal.
Also distinguishing red squirrels are its white eye ring and a tail not quite as bushy as other squirrels. In summer, red squirrels may have a black line separating the red/brown back from the white belly.
Red squirrels generally bear three to seven young in the early spring, though occasionally there will be a second litter at the end of the summer.
Much of the red squirrel's diet is made up of pine seeds and cones. Because of this, the red squirrel and other squirrels play an important role in the distribution of seed and trees in our state. Red squirrels also like to drink sap, often nibbling through tree bark until sap starts flowing.
Red squirrels are active year-round (with the exception of those in the northern most parts of Canada, which hibernate). Like the gray squirrel, the red squirrel is diurnal active in the early morning and late afternoon. But the red squirrel does not tolerate squirrels of any species in its territory, it is highly territorial.
As with most small mammals, its predators are hawks, owls, coyotes and foxes.
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Grey squirrel: Sciurus carolinensis
Prefers mature deciduous woodland but also common in
parks and gardens in towns and cities.
Winter fur is dense and silvery grey with a brown
tinge along the middle of the back. Summer fur is yellowish-brown. White
under parts. Bushy, grey tail. Ears without tufts.
Size: Head and body about 25cm (10in); tail about 70cm (8in). Weight: 350-800g.
Some live up to 10 years in the wild although most
only manage 3-4 years.
The grey squirrel does not hibernate and it cannot store enough energy to survive for long periods without food. A larger, thicker winter nest is built, usually on a strong branch close to the trunk, and a squirrel will lie up in this in very cold weather, coming out now and then to search out hidden stores of food. These stores of single nuts and other items are buried in the ground in autumn, well spread out. They are found by smell, rather than memory. Often they are not found at all and later may grow, helping the dispersal of trees. Winter nests are often shared for warmth. As it sleeps, the squirrel curls its tail around its body to act as a blanket.