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SQUIRRELS IN GERÊS

2020/02/29

The Red Squirrel is the only tree rodent with daytime habits in our fauna in Gerês. It has incredible agility, which allows it to make great leaps in the treetops, and its plush tail makes it unmistakable.
 The Red Squirrel, is a small mammal. The length of the body is 18-24 cm and the tail measures about 17 cm. Juveniles weigh 100-150 g, with adults reaching 450 g.
The eyes and ears are large, with the ends having a tuft of hair, which reaches larger dimensions in winter and disappears with the arrival of summer. The tail is long and very hairy, serving as a "blanket" in the coldest and it is important in terms of balance. The strong fingers have long, curved and toothed claws on the side faces.
In Portugal, the species seems to have become extinct in the century. XVI. From the 1980s, squirrels from Spain began to be observed in the north of the country. They are currently established in areas such as the Peneda-Gerês National Park and others.
This species has a generalist diet, essentially based on vegetable matter. Her favorite foods are seeds. When these are scarce, they consume mushrooms and other fungi, roots and flowers, insects, earthworms and eggs removed from the birds' nest. The bark of certain trees provides them with a mineral supplement.
They are in the habit of storing food, hiding it in holes in the trees or, more often, burying it in the soil. A developed sense of smell allows them to later retrieve food, which can detect up to 30 cm in depth.
Females can have two litters per year, which correspond to the breeding peaks, which occur in spring and summer. However, they can breed at almost any time of the year, depending on the climate and food availability. In order to be able to mate with a female, several males show themselves, revealing their agility and all the acrobatics they are capable of, between the trunks and branches of the trees.
Squirrels are not territorial animals, and even a nest can be shared by several individuals, particularly in very adverse weather conditions.
As a curiosity, it should be noted that squirrels are excellent swimmers, with a displacement of 1.6 km in the water.




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