THE ABERT SQUIRREL resembles a large gray squirrel in size but has a heavier body. Abert and Kaibab squirrels belong to the tufted-ear group of squirrels and have, as one of their outstanding characteristics, blackish hairs extending upward from the ears, which give these members a distinct tufted appearance. They are unique among North American squirrels in this possession of tufts of long hairs on the ears, and in this respect resemble certain tree squirrels of northern Europe and Asia.
The upper parts of the Abert squirrel are grizzled gray, with a broad rusty band extending down the back; a black line extends along either side of the animal; the under parts and feet are whitish; the tail is dark gray above and white on the under surface. These squirrels have an average length, from nose to end of tail, of about 21 inches; tail, 9 inches long.
They construct large nests of twigs, pine needles, and leaves in protected situations in the tops of yellow pine trees. Sometimes, they make use of hollow tree trunks for homes. Unlike many of the ground squirrels, they do not hibernate, although they may be inactive for a few days during extremely cold weather.
Usually, Abert squirrels have litters of three or four. However, they have cyclic seasons of abundance, and following a series of favorable seasons may become quite numerous. At such times several may be seen together, while during poor seasons only single individuals will be encountered. Many of them were reported in the Grand Canyon area during the fall of 1930, which was said to mark one of their periodic seasons of abundance.
Abert squirrels eat the seeds of pine trees as well as the acorns from oaks. They also frequently eat the under bark from the twigs and small limbs of the pines. Nestling birds and eggs are eaten when they are available.
Last Updated: 01-Jul-2010