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Sciurus aberti

Abert's Squirrel

Order: Rodentia
Family: Sciuridae

Image of Sciurus aberti
Sciurus aberti - typical summer and winter coloration, upper and mid right; black coloration, upper left; brown central Colorado coloration, mid left; North Grand Canyon (Kaibab) coloration, lower left
Click to enlarge. (65 kb)

Conservation Status: Least Concern.


Abert's Squirrels have a complicated relationship with ponderosa pine trees. These squirrels mostly live in pine forests and use the trees for shelter, nesting sites, and food. Where they exploit the pines extensively, the trees produce extra terpenes—chemicals that give pines their scent—to discourage the squirrels' appetites. These trees grow more slowly than pines in areas where Abert's Squirrel is absent and the trees produce less of these chemicals. The pines vary in the amount of toxins produced, and the squirrels select trees that are less toxic. A pine growing in squirrel range may suffer reduced vitality as a consequence of having its stems and seeds eaten by squirrels, or have its growth rate reduced because it is producing more toxins. However, the squirrels provide an important benefit to the pines by distributing fungal spores (through their feces), which as mature fungi are essential to the pines' health, so the relationship is a fascinating one.

Also known as:
Tassel-eared Squirrel

Sexual Dimorphism:
None

Length:
Range: 463-584 mm

Weight:
Average: 620 g
Range: 540-971 g

References:

Woodhouse, S.W., 1853.  Description of a new species of SciurusProceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 6:110.

Links:

Mammal Species of the World

Mammalian Species, American Society of Mammalogists' species account

Distribution of Sciurus aberti

Image of Sciurus aberti
Black coloration.
Click to enlarge. (95kb)

Image of Sciurus aberti
The Kaibab subspecies.
Click to enlarge. (116kb)

Image of Sciurus aberti
Click to enlarge. (68kb)