Like other squirrels, the courtship of Tamiasciurus douglasii consists of a mating chase in which the males and females call to and chase each other. This ultimately leads to coupling off and mating. Each Douglas squirrel has one mate per mating season.
Mating System: monogamous
Male Douglas squirrel testes become mature in spring. Reproduction occurs from January until mid-August with the greatest portion between March and May. Most females have only one litter per year, although occasionally a second litter is born in August or September. The gestation period ranges from 36 to 40 days. Females have eight mammae, and the litter size ranges from 1 to 8, with 4 to 6 on average.
Breeding interval: The majority of Douglas squirrels breed once a year.
Breeding season: Reproduction can occur from January through August, although it usually occurs from March to June.
Range number of offspring: 1 to 8.
Average number of offspring: 4-6.
Range gestation period: 36 to 40 days.
Range weaning age: 6 to 9 weeks.
Range time to independence: 4 to 7 months.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 8 to 9 months.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 8 to 9 months.
Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous
Douglas squirrels are born blind and without hair, weighing between 13 and 18 g. Fur covers the body by 18 days, and the eyes open at around 26 to 36 days. The young stay in their mother’s nest until they are one-half to two-thirds the size of an adult, usually around mid-July to early August. Siblings and the mother remain in close contact when they first leave the nest. Weaning starts at 6 weeks and is finished by 9 weeks. After this, the young become more independent, but families remain together until December. A juvenile Douglas squirrel will reach adult body size after around 8 to 9 months. Most will reproduce the following summer.
Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)
Douglas squirrels are very vocal and have a wide variety of calls. Maser describes them as “ranging from a low ‘chir’ or ‘burr’ to an explosive ‘bauf, bauf bauf.’” (Maser et.al., 1981) The squirrels communicate with each other when disputing over territory, during courtship, and when warning of danger. They presumably also use chemical signals (i.e. scent), like other squirrels, to communicate with each other.
Douglas squirrels have whiskers above and below their eyes, as well as on their noses, and chins. These allow tactile perception of their environment. Additionally, Douglas squirrels have very good vision and hearing, and a good sense of smell.
Communication Channels: acoustic ; chemical
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
There are no known major threats to Douglas squirrel populations.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
Douglas squirrels can cause damage to homes. They also sometimes gather nuts from filbert orchards before they are ready.
Negative Impacts: crop pest; household pest
People often steal Douglas squirrels's green cone caches and sell the cones, which contain fresh seeds, to tree nurseries.
In eating the fruiting bodies of fungi, Douglas squirrels may help to distribute the fungi's spores through their feces. These spores may then develop mycorrhizal relationships with conifer roots. They probably also help disperse conifer seeds in carrying cones to their caches. They also use plants from their environment to build their nests.
Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds; creates habitat
Species Used as Host:
Douglas squirrels feed on a wide array of foods. They are mainly granivorous; pine seeds make up large portion of their diet. Depending on the season, they also eat fungi, cambium of conifers, twigs, sap, leaves, buds, acorns and other nuts, mushrooms, fruits, and berries. From time to time, they also eat arthropods, birds eggs, and nestlings. In fall, Douglas squirrels cut green cones from the tops of trees and cache them in a damp place, so the seeds remain fresh to eat throughout the winter. They will also cut mushrooms and store them in the forks of trees to dry and eat during winter. Douglas squirrels often store more food than they will eat during the winter, which can be useful if food sources are poor in the spring. They are protective of their caches and will burrow through the snow to get to them.
Animal Foods: birds; eggs; terrestrial non-insect arthropods
Plant Foods: leaves; wood, bark, or stems; seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit; sap or other plant fluids
Other Foods: fungus
Foraging Behavior: stores or caches food
Primary Diet: herbivore (Granivore )
Douglas squirrels are found along the Pacific coast of North America. Their range is limited to northern California, west and central Oregon, western Washington and southwestern British Columbia, Canada.
Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )
Douglas squirrels mainly inhabit conifer forests; on occasion, they are found in other forests where conifer trees are present. Their elevation ranges from sea level to 3300 meters.
Douglas squirrels make their homes in nests. In summer, they usually build their nest of twigs, mosses, lichens and shredded bark. Sometimes they will occupy empty bird nests. The nests can be found in the forks of trees or further out on the limbs. In winter, they often build their nest in tree crevices, in holes from deserted woodpecker nests, or underground, under their food cache.
Range elevation: 0 to 3300 m.
Habitat Regions: temperate
Terrestrial Biomes: forest
No information could be found on the lifespan of Tamiasciurus douglasii.
There are no characteristic differences between the physical appearances of female and male Douglas squirrels. The adult body length ranges from 270 to 355 mm. The tail ranges from 100 to 160 mm. The hind feet range from 44-60 mm. Weight range is 141-312 g.
Douglas squirrels have distinct summer and winter coats. Their summer pelage ranges from reddish-brown to grayish-brown on the backside. Many of these hairs are orange or black at the ends. The underside ranges from light to dark orange, sometimes with white areas. It is this orange coloring on the chest and belly that sets Tamiasciurus douglasii apart from its nearest relative, the red squirrel. Douglas squirrels have a broad, bushy tail, the dorsal side of which is similarly colored to the back, with a black tip. The tail's underside is reddish-brown in the center, fading out to black, and then to light orange or white at the edges. Douglas squirrels have a black stripe that runs along their sides. This stripe is lacking in juveniles and faded or absent in winter. The winter pelage is more gray overall; thus, the orange of the underside becomes less visible. In the most northern part of its range, Tamiasciurus douglasii may also have ear tufts in winter.
Range mass: 141 to 312 g.
Range length: 270 to 355 mm.
Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Predators of Tamiasciurus douglasii include bobcats, martens, coyotes, larger owls, long-tailed weasels, domestic cats, foxes, and goshawks. Douglas squirrels are alert and fast, helping to evade predators. Typically, they will not eat on the ground, since this inhibits awareness of their surroundings.
The Douglas squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii) is a pine squirrel found in the Pacific Northwest of North America, including the coastal states of the United States as well as the southwestern coast of British Columbia in Canada. It is sometimes known as the chickaree or pine squirrel, although these names are also used for the American red squirrel. Variant spellings of the common name are Douglas' squirrel and Douglas's squirrel. The Native Americans of Kings River called it the "Pillillooeet", in imitation of its characteristic alarm call.
John Muir described the Douglas squirrel, Tamiasciurus douglasii, as "by far the most interesting and influential of the California Sciuridæ". Adults are about 33 cm in length (including its tail, which is about 13 cm long), and weigh between 150 and 300 grams. Their appearance varies according to the season. In the summer, they are a grayish or almost greenish brown on their backs, and pale orange on the chest and belly, while legs and feet appear brown. In the winter, the coat is browner and the underside is grayer; also, the ears appear even tuftier than they do in summer. Like many squirrels, Douglas squirrels have a white eye ring.
Mating can occur as early as February. Gestation is about four weeks, and the young (which are altricial) are weaned at about eight weeks of age. There may be up to six kits in a litter, though four is more usual. In the southern and lower parts of their range they produce two litters each year.
Douglas squirrels live in coniferous forest habitats along the Pacific Coast, from the Sierra Nevada (mountains) of California, northwards to the southwestern coast of British Columbia. Tamiasciurus douglasii prefer old-growth forests or mature second-growth forests, and some authors regard them as dependent on its presence. They essentially replace the American Red Squirrel, which inhabits the coniferous forests of the rest of North American, in these areas. The two species have very minimal overlap in territory.
They are territorial; in winter, each squirrel occupies a territory of about 10 000 square metres, but during the breeding season a mated pair will defend a single territory together. Douglas squirrels are active by day, throughout the year, often chattering noisily at intruders. In summer nights, they sleep in ball-shaped nests that they make in the trees, but in the winter they use holes in trees as nests. Groups of squirrels seen together during the summer are likely to be juveniles from a single litter.
Douglas squirrels mostly eat seeds of coniferous trees such as Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) and shore pine (Pinus contorta). They also eat acorns, berries, mushrooms, the eggs of birds such as yellow warblers, and some fruit including strawberries and plums. Douglas squirrels are larder hoarders, storing their food in a single location or 'larder' called a midden. As the squirrel peels the scales off cones to get at the seeds, the discarded scales accumulate into piles that can grow to several meters across as the same site is used by generations of squirrels.
Their predators include American martens, bobcats, domestic cats, northern goshawks, and owls; although they quickly acclimatise to human presence, humans can be a threat to them, through robbing of their cone caches to find seeds for tree cultivation and through the destruction of old growth forest. However, the squirrels' numbers appear to be unaffected by commercial thinning of forests.
The Douglas squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii) is a pine squirrel found in the Pacific Northwest of North America, including the coastal states of the United States as well as the southwestern coast of British Columbia in Canada. It is sometimes known as the chickaree or pine squirrel, although these names are also used for the American red squirrel. Variant spellings of the common name are Douglas' squirrel and Douglas's squirrel. The Native Americans of Kings River called it the "Pillillooeet", in imitation of its characteristic alarm call.Anacortes Community Forest Lands (Washington)