04.21.08–Athabascan Words of the Week– Red Pine Squirrel

red_pine_squirrel_tracks_b&w

Red Squirrel = dilja = Upper Kuskokwim Dialect

Flying Squirrel = Ch`its`idoluhja = Upper Kuskokwim Dialect

Ground Squirrel = Konsa

Red Squirrel or Pine Squirrel: Tamiasciurus hudsonincus

Order: Rodentia (gnawing mammals).

Family: Sciruridae (squirrels).

Range and Habitat: throughout most of Alaska; in coniferous forests.

Size and Weight: 12 inches, 9 ounces.

Diet: pine and spruce cone seeds, willow catkin seeds, fruits, nuts, insects, buds and flowers.

Sounds: scolds, chatters, and churrs.

The red squirrel has a reddish gray coat above and white underneath, and is the only tree squirrel living in Alaska that is active during the day; the northern flying squirrel is nocturnal. These squirrels are active all day and at all times of the year. They are especially busy during the early fall. On a September walk through the woods, you might hear mysterious thumping sounds. Look to the top of an eighty–foot spruce where a red squirrel may be energetically heaving cones to the ground like a gnome-sized dock-worker unloading freight. It will pitch cones for a while, then scamper down the trunk to gather them for its winter food cache.

Red squirrel tracks have definite toenail imprints, because squirrels have curved toenails that act as hooks for tree climbing. The tracks shows the squirrel’s four toes on its front foot and five toes on its hind foot. Oftentimes the hell mark will not show. Spacing between the tracks may vary widely, as squirrels leap from 8 to 30 inches.

Cited From: Animal Tracks of Alaska, written by Chris Stall, published by The Mountaineers, 1993.

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