Red squirrel

Sciurus vulgaris

Red squirrel, photo: Eero Haapanen

The tail of red squirrels is slightly shorter than their body and covered in long hair. In summer, they are reddish-brown; in winter, they are greyish-brown with a white stomach. In winter, they also have white ear-tufts. In Estonia, they are widely spread; however, they mostly live in spruce-mixed forests and parks. They are typical wood-inhabitants: their long toes have curved claws, which help them move very quickly on the trees and jump from one tree to another. They can even fall from trees without getting hurt. This is thanks to their big fluffy tail: it enables them to change direction mid-jump and slow down. They are most active during daytime. They are omnivorous, but prefer nuts and seeds of various plants. They will also gladly eat chicks, their eggs, and snails. In the second half of summer, they collect food for winter. They hide it in tree hollows or under moss. In winter, they find their reserves by smell. Their main enemies are pine martens and goshawks. In the old times, they were also endangered by humans, but now, we do not hunt them anymore.