Eurasian Red Squirrel
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|Eurasian Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)|
Conservation status: Near Threatened!
Species: S. vulgaris
Binomial name: Sciurus vulgaris (Linnaeus, 1758)
Red squirrels have a typical head to body length of 19 to 23 cm, a tail length of 15 to 20 cm and a mass of 250 to 340 g. They are not sexually dimorphic as males and females are the same size. The red squirrel is slightly smaller than the eastern gray squirrel which has a head to body length of 25 to 30 cm and weighs between 400 and 800 g. It is thought that the long tail helps the squirrel to balance and steer when jumping from tree to tree and running along branches and may keep the animal warm during sleep.
The coat of the red squirrel varies in color with time of year and location. There are several different coat color morphs ranging from black to red. Red coats are most common in Great Britain; in other parts of Europe and Asia the different coat colors co-exist within populations, much like hair color in humans. The underside of the squirrel is always white-cream in color. Red squirrels shed their coats twice a year, switching from a thinner summer coat to a thicker, darker winter coat with noticeably larger ear-tufts (a prominent distinguishing feature of this species) between August and November. A lighter, redder overall coat color, along with the larger ear-tufts, helps to distinguish the European red squirrel from either of the Eastern Grey Squirrel or the American Red Squirrel.
The red squirrel, like most tree squirrels, has sharp, curved claws to enable the climbing of trees, even when branches are overhanging.
Reproduction and mortality
Mating can occur in late winter during February and March and in summer between June and July. Up to two litters a year per female are possible. Each litter usually contains three or four young although as many as six may be born. Gestation is about 38 to 39 days. The young are looked after by the mother alone, and are born helpless, blind and deaf and weigh between 10 to 15 g. Their body is covered by hair at 21 days, their eyes and ears open after three to four weeks, and they develop all their teeth by 42 days. The juvenile red squirrel can eat solids around 40 days following birth and from that point can leave the nest on their own to find food, however they still suckle from their mother until weaning occurs at eight to 10 weeks.
During mating, males detect females that are in strus from an odor that they produce, and although there is no courtship the male will chase the female for up to an hour prior to mating. Usually multiple males will chase a single female, until the dominant male, usually the largest in the group, mates with the female. Males and females will mate multiple times with many partners. Females must reach a minimum body mass before they enter strus, and heavy females on average produce more young. If food is scarce breeding may be delayed. Typically a female will produce her first litter in her second year.
The lifespan of the red squirrel is on average three years, although individuals may reach 7 years of age, and 10 in captivity. Survival is positively related to availability of autumnwinter tree seeds, on average, 75-85% of juveniles disappear during their first winter, and mortality is approximately 50% for winters following the first.
Ecology and behavior
The red squirrel is native to usually coniferous forest and it is also found in temperate broadleaf woodlands. The squirrel makes a nest, known as a drey in a branch-fork of a conifer by laying down twigs to make a domed structure about 25 to 30 cm in diameter, then lining it with moss, leaves, grass and bark. Hollows and woodpecker's nests are also used. Red Squirrels are solitary animals and are shy and reluctant to share food with others. However, outside the breeding season and particularly in winter, multiple Red Squirrels may share a drey to keep warm. Social organization is based on dominance hierarchies among and between sexes, although males are not necessarily dominant to females, the dominant animals tend to be larger and older than subordinate animals and dominant males tend to have larger home ranges than subordinate males or females.
The red squirrel is protected in most of Europe, as it is listed in Appendix III of the Bern Convention; it is also listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. In some areas it is abundant and hunted for its fur. Although not thought to be under any threat worldwide, the red squirrel has drastically reduced in numbers in the United Kingdom. Under 140,000 individuals are thought to be left, approximately 85% of which are in Scotland. This population decrease is likely to be due to the introduction of the eastern gray squirrel from North America as well as the loss and fragmentation of its native woodland habitat.
Cultural and economic significance
Red squirrel used to be widely hunted for its pelt. In Finland squirrel pelts were used as money in the ancient times, before the introduction of currency. The expression "squirrel pelt" is still widely understood to be a reference to money.
Taxonomy and distribution
There have been over 40 described subspecies of red squirrel, however the taxonomic status of some of these is uncertain. A study published in 1971 recognizes 16 subspecies and has served as a basis for subsequent taxonomic work.
Here's another interesting link: www.ladywildlife.com
I took this picture last spring at the base of Tampa mt. in Brasov, SE Transylvania. The weather was fine, clear sky and the sun low above the horizon. When I noticed the squirrel I could hardly look at it because it was standing right in the sun. These opportunities don't show up so often so I decided to take a chance in spite of the blinding backlight. I popped up the built-in flash and quickly adjusted the camera, moved slowly one step into the cover of shade of the tree where the squirrel was standing and fired. This is what I captured. I hope you don't mind the small scar. The warm light is great.
ISOSpeedRatings - 100
ShutterSpeedValue - 1/250 seconds
ApertureValue - F 4.00
ExposureBiasValue - 0.00
Flash - Flash fired, compulsory flash mode, red-eye reduction mode
FocalLength - 200 mm
White Balance - Auto
PP in CS2:
- RAW to TIF to JPG;
- selective sharpened with high pass filter;
- removed red eye effect;
- darkened the bright, narrow area between the tree and the squirrel's belly.
- cropped, resized, added frame and signature;
pankajbajpai, cataclysta, Argus, Patleboss, fartash, mirceax, Luis52, uleko, Jonas_Schmitt_ has marked this note useful
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Maybe it is not perfectly sharp but the composition and buckgroun light is beautiful. Great summer shot and very informative note (very long I am still reading it:-)
PS i was in Brasov in 2002 I like Roamania very much Great mountains, great places great people :-)
very fine capture,
the light coming from the back makes this shot quite interesting, i like the pose of the squirrel vey much, sharp image, the details on the tree bark adds to the look of the shot, nice composition, very good pov, beautiful framing,
tfs & regards
- [2007-08-28 6:24]
Another splendid shot and you have timed it perfectly to get this stretched pose. The backlighting presents a nice effect on the tail and ears. Very sharp image and a precise DOF makes it stand out from the BG. Excellent POV and very nicely composed. Kudos.
- [2007-08-28 6:58]
This is a very good capture of an active squirrel taken in difficult lighting. Excellent pose. Nice use of flash to supplement the lighting and fine catchlight in the eye.
I like the composition and the contrasting late summer colours of the BG.
Well done and TFS!
Nice action shot with cool composition and interesting light. Looks like late afternoon and nice time to photograph.
superbe photo de cet écureil dans une pose extraordinaire, les couleurs et la lumière sont magnifique, très joli baground,
a great shot !!!
Light is 'the' parameter for me in photography; you used it very well.
Photogenic and cute animal.
Excellent shot of this Red Squirrel,
Great details,comosition and framing,
Foarte simpatica captura.A iesit super cu lumina in fata care scoate in evidenta firele de par de pe urechile si coada vevetitei.Nuantele de galben si mara dau un aspect foarte placut si cald imaginii, iar compozitia verticala e super.
- [2007-08-28 15:47]
captura en momento óptimo,
exquisito bg, (molesta la luz del flash en el ojo) es solo mi opinión, la presentación es excelente,
- [2007-08-28 16:54]
Hola Eduard.- Muy bela la foto, Lograda a contra la luz, lo que la hace aun mejor. Gran claridad y hermosa la pose de esta "Ardilla" Saludos Luis52.
- euk (11)
- [2007-08-29 5:59]
thank you, thank you! I've learned so much from this picture. I don't know what to do now, how to thank you! - please write me down your bank account number so I can thank you with money, too.
I would surely like to meet you one day!
- [2007-08-29 13:27]
Très belle prise avec un excellente effet de contre jour (pas facile à gérer) attitude du sujet, cadrage et netteté. Bravo
- [2007-08-30 4:09]
I've missed your little red squirrel in a common pose but unusual light. I like especially the way the bushy tail and ears stand out against the light. I love the look on its face too. Considering the light it is an excellent capture with sharp details and good colours. I only wonder if you have over-sharpened it slightly by the look of the white spots on the fur.
Many thanks, Ulla
Very beautiful that is! Marvellous shot!!
exceptionala postura si aici
Great picture of this cute squirrel in action!
Hello Eddie from early morning in Canada :)! It seems that I have missed this unusual squirrel picture! I like your Eurasian Red Squirrels, they are very different from the Grey Squirrels I see here; especially their so funny ears. I would love to see those beauties in real as I find them so cute :) This is a very good picture in which you managed exposure perfectly. This kind of picture with backlighting is not easy to achieve and you did great with beautiful glance on its fur! You captured a typical and beautiful pose from this little one with good details, POV and composition. The only thing I can say it that maybe I would have correct the colors to make it a little less green. Your notes are much interesting and I have learned new things. For example, I didn't know that squirrels could be exchange money; time changes... Thanks and keep well :)!
- Kanya (26)
- [2008-04-28 9:47]
I think this is a great shot & composition! Beautiful squirrel and great timing!