The Douglas squirrels are our native squirrels and are half the size of the grey and black ones. Our native squirrels prefer old growth or 2nd year growth forest habitats but will move out when developments move in. Their food preferences are cones and nuts from fir, pine, spruce, oak and beech trees but eat garden fruits like plums as well as some mushrooms. Mating occurs twice a year in spring and the male leaves the female alone to do the rearing of the young. (Between 1-7 pups)
They are a member of the rodent family and must gnaw to wear their teeth down. Douglas squirrels loose up to 25% of their stashed food to predators, including their own species!
Squirrels are hunted by hawks, owls, falcons and domestic cats. They are very flexible acrobats and are able to leap 10 times the length of their body and they can rotate their ankles 180 degrees for a quick spin around and take off. They regulate their body temperature with their tails by holding it close to the body to preserve heat. They also have incredible vision with built in “sunglasses” to reduce glare in their eyes, which are located on both sides of their head in order to see behind them! Their eating area, usually on or near a tree stump, is called a “midden”, covered with piles of pine cone pieces. They do not hibernate and are active during the day and use tree nests (called a “drey”) to sleep in. They communicate with loud chattering, foot stomping and tail flicking to protect territory or warning each other for danger. Our Douglas squirrels are “larder hoarders”, burying nuts all in one spot, unlike the grey and black rodents who hide nuts in various locations.
The grey squirrels are not well liked because of the damage they cause to trees by stripping bark to get at the sap underneath, causing disease or limb breakage. While they eat spruce tips and use needles to line nests, lots of tips will break and these fall under the tree below (check our neighborhood!)
Love them or loathe them but squirrels are the best at replanting the forests, for the nuts they forget will soon sprout!!