- Abert’s squirrel was named for Col. J.J. Abert, a topographical engineer and naturalist with the military in the early 1800s. (Ref. 109946)
Click on the language to view common names.
Common Names in English:
Abert's squirrel, tassel-eared squirrel, Tassle-eared squirrel
Common Names in Spanish:
Ardilla de Albert
Species Sciurus aberti
All Abert’s squirrels have conspicuous ear tufts and long, bushy tails. The ear tassels are about an inch long during winter, giving the nickname of “tasseleared squirrel” but they are reduced in summer. Average adult are nearly two feet long from the tip of the nose to the tail. Their broad tails comprise nearly half of this length and may be used as an “umbrella” to shade against overheating. Coloration varies geographically in the distinct subspecies with the amounts of white, grey and black on the tails and bellies differing. There are two periods of molt each year, in the spring and again in the fall . Summer pelage is brighter and has more white hairs .
The principal habitat of Abert’s squirrels is the ponderosa pine forest ; nearly all large stands of ponderosas support them. The squirrels live, nest , feed and seek refuge from enemies in these trees . Abert’s squirrels are found also in mixed coniferous forest where humans may have introduced them.
- 1 Forest
- 1.4 Forest - Temperate [more info]
Ponderosa pines provide much of the diet
; seeds, buds, inner bark
and the male cones
are all eaten. A litter
of clipped ponderosa pine
on the ground
may signal squirrels feeding above. Fungi are
eaten extensively throughout the summer, and when available throughout
the rest of the year. These provide an important source of moisture.
Abert’s squirrels will also eat mistletoe, acorns
, insects, carrion
and occasional pieces
and grasses. They gnaw bones and
antlers for the mineral content.
Unlike many of their relatives, Abert’s squirrels do not store large caches of food in the nest , though they may bury single pinecones. This behavior helps San Juan Rio Arriba Taos Colfax Union Harding Mora San Miguel Quay Guadalupe Curry Santa Fe Los Alamos Torrance Valencia Bernalillo McKinley Cibola Catron Socorro Lincoln Sierra Grant Luna Dona Aña Otero Hidalgo Eddy Lea Chaves Roosevelt De Baca Sandoval Range of Abert’s Squirrel disperse pine seeds through the forest . The main factor regulating Abert’s squirrel populations may be the availability of food. Numbers may fluctuate widely over the years, dwindling when pinecones are scarce.
Abert’s squirrels mate from early spring to early summer. Small groups of males may pursue single females through the trees for hours at a time. Females can breed twice in good years. Young are born in June and early July after a gestation of about 40 days. A litter consists of two to five hairless and blind young. The young are about 2 1/2 inches long and weigh less than half an ounce . At about seven weeks, they have hair, their eyes are open and they may begin short ventures away from the nest .
Abert’s squirrels are active
between sunrise and sunset all year
long. They may bark
when excited, but are usually rather quiet. They
are less boisterous than are their chickaree (red squirrel) relatives.
At night and in bad weather they retire to their nests
. They build
these nests in the crotch
of a branch
or in a witch’s broom
, a dense
growth of small branches stimulated by mistletoe infection
to the nest site, tamp them into place with their
forefeet and line
them with shredded
, bark, or shredded
paper or cloth cast
off by humans. Nests are found from 16 to 90
feet above the ground
, usually on the south side of trees
. The outside
diameter of nests is about 1 1/2 feet; the inside chambers about
Abert’s squirrels are not known to defend territories. Home ranges of this species are large, averaging nearly 20 acres .
Although Abert’s squirrels do not hibernate, they may sleep through periods of sustained cold. As soon as the temperature heats up, they Wildlife Notes is published by the Department of Game and Fish. If you are interested in obtaining additional copies, please send your request to: Conservation Education Section Department of Game and Fish PO Box 25112 Santa Fe, NM 87504 (505) 476-8000 will resume foraging . On winter mornings, Abert’s squirrels may spend some time sunning on exposed limbs before becoming active. After bouts of vigorous activity, they tend to rest in the shade in a prostrate position for more rapid heat loss. They may also hide by flattening themselves horizontally atop branches so they cannot be seen from below. On windy days, they tend not to forage . Perhaps wind masks the sound of approaching predators .
Hawks are the most important predators of Abert’s squirrels. Other predators include automobiles, coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats, and domestic and feral dogs and cats. Squirrels are vulnerable to house cats when they are on the ground ; this is especially true for young squirrels.
- Whittaker & Margulis,1978
- C. Linnaeus, 1758
- (Hatschek, 1888) Cavalier-Smith, 1983
- Grobben, 1908
- (Haeckel, 1874) Cavalier-Smith, 1998
- Bateson, 1885
- Cuvier, 1812
- Jawed Vertebrates
- Goodrich, 1930
- C. Linnaeus, 1758
- (Rowe, 1988) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- (Wible et al., 1995) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- McKenna, 1975
- McKenna, 1975
- McKenna, 1975
- (McKenna, 1975) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- (Parker & Haswell, 1897) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- (Owen, 1837) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- (Mckenna, 1975) M.c. Mckenna & S.k. Bell, 1997
- (McKenna, 1975) McKenna, in Stucky & McKenna, in Benton, ed., 1993
- (Szalay & McKenna, 1971) McKenna, 1975
- (Weber, 1904) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- Bowdich, 1821
- Brandt, 1855
- Infraorder: Sciurida () - (Carus, 1868) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- Suborder: Sciuromorpha () - Brandt, 1855
- Order: Rodentia () - Bowdich, 1821 - Rodents
- Mirorder: Simplicidentata () - (Weber, 1904) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- Grandorder: Anagalida () - (Szalay & McKenna, 1971) McKenna, 1975
- Superorder: Preptotheria () - (McKenna, 1975) McKenna, in Stucky & McKenna, in Benton, ed., 1993
- Magnorder: Epitheria () - (Mckenna, 1975) M.c. Mckenna & S.k. Bell, 1997
- Cohort: Placentalia () - (Owen, 1837) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- Supercohort: Theria () - (Parker & Haswell, 1897) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- Infralegion: Tribosphenida () - (McKenna, 1975) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- Sublegion: Zatheria () - McKenna, 1975
- Legion: Cladotheria () - McKenna, 1975
- Superlegion: Trechnotheria () - McKenna, 1975
- Infraclass: Holotheria () - (Wible et al., 1995) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- Subclass: Theriiformes () - (Rowe, 1988) M.C. McKenna & S.K. Bell, 1997
- Class: Mammalia () - C. Linnaeus, 1758
- Superclass: Tetrapoda () - Goodrich, 1930
- Infraphylum: Gnathostomata () - auct. - Jawed Vertebrates
- Subphylum: Vertebrata () - Cuvier, 1812 - Vertebrates
- Phylum: Chordata () - Bateson, 1885 - Chordates
- Infrakingdom: Chordonia () - (Haeckel, 1874) Cavalier-Smith, 1998
- Branch: Deuterostomia () - Grobben, 1908
- Subkingdom: Bilateria () - (Hatschek, 1888) Cavalier-Smith, 1983
- Kingdom: Animalia () - C. Linnaeus, 1758 - animals
Status: Accepted Name
Last scrutiny: 08-Jun-2004
Members of the genus Sciurus
ZipcodeZoo has pages for 41 species and subspecies in this genus:
S. aberti (Tassle-Eared Squirrel) · S. aberti kaibabensis (Kaibab Squirrel) · S. aberti mimus (Abert's Squirrel) · S. aberti subsp. aberti (Abert's Squirrel) · S. aestuans (Guianan Squirrel) · S. alleni (Allen's Squirrel) · S. anomalus (Caucasian Squirrel) · S. arizonensis (Arizona Gray Squirrel) · S. arizonensis arizonensis (Arizona Gray Squirrel) · S. aureogaster (Bushy-Tailed Olingo) · S. aureogaster aureogaster (Mexican Gray Squirrel) · S. carolinensis (Eastern Grey Squirrel) · S. colliaei (Collie's Squirrel) · S. deppei (Deppe's Squirrel) · S. flammifer (Venezuelan Squirrel) · S. gilvigularis (Yellow-Throated Squirrel) · S. granatensis (Red-Tailed Squirrel) · S. griseus (Western Gray Squirrel) · S. griseus griseus (Western Gray Squirrel) · S. ignitus (Bolivian Squirrel) · S. igniventris (Northern Amazon Red Squirrel) · S. lis (Japanese Squirrel) · S. nayaritensis (Mexican Fox Squirrel) · S. nayaritensis chiricahuae (Chiricahua Squirrel) · S. niger (Bryant's Fox Squirrel) · S. niger avicennia (Big Cypress Fox Squirrel) · S. niger cinereus (Bryant's Fox Squirrel) · S. niger niger (Fox Squirrel) · S. niger shermani (Sherman's Fox Squirrel) · S. niger vulpinus (Eastern Fox Squirrel) · S. oculatus (Peters's Squirrel) · S. pucheranii (Colombian Squirrel) · S. pyrrhinus (Jun?n Red Squirrel) · S. richmondi (Richmond's Squirrel) · S. sanborni (Sanborn's Squirrel) · S. spadiceus (Southern Amazon Red Squirrel) · S. stramineus (Guayaquil Squirrel) · S. variegatoides (Variegated Squirrel) · S. vulgaris (Eurasian Red Squirrel) · S. vulgaris russus (Eurasian Red Squirrel) · S. yucatanensis (Yucatan Squirrel)
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Accessed through GBIF Data Portal March 11, 2008:
- Burke Museum: Mammal Specimens
- Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History: Vertebrate specimens
- Marine Science Institute, UCSB: Paleobiology Database
- Michigan State University Museum: Vertebrate specimens
- Museum of Vertebrate Zoology: Terrestrial vertebrate specimens
- Sternberg Museum of Natural History: Mammal Collection
- University of Alaska Museum of the North: MSB Mammals Specimens
- University of Alaska Museum of the North: UAM Mammals Specimens
- Utah Museum of Natural History: Mammal specimens
- Biodiversity Heritage Library NamebankID: 109352
- Catalogue of Life Accepted Name Code: ITS-180173
- Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) Taxonomic Serial Number (TSN): 180173
- IUCN ID: 241409
- Natural Heritage Network Species Identifier: AMAFB07030
- Zipcode Zoo Species Identifier: 16707