Winter Rest - Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)

The red squirrel or Eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) is a species of tree squirrel in the genus Sciurus common throughout Eurasia.

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 and 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. They still suckle from their mother until weaning occurs at 8 to 10 weeks.

During mating, males detect females that are in oestrus by 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.

Source: - 07.04.2010


Winter Rest - Sleeping and Eating

Winter rest is seen with many plants and several animals in geographic regions with distinctive seasons.

With plants it happens by discarding the leaves of the trees and bushes respectively dieback of the overground sprouts of perennial herbaceous plants.

Examples for animals with constant body temperature, which are hibernating, are Brown Bear, European Badger, Red Squirrel, European Mole and Raccoon. In contrast to the winter sleepers they do not lower their temperature so much during the winter rest, awake more frequently in between, too and sometimes look for food. But therefore a moderate coldness and at least a lowly food supply is necessary.

With the Brown Bears the kind of winter rest depends on their habitat: During the ice-cold Siberian winter these animales do not leave their holes for up to seven months, while they break the winter rest during the lesser strong European winter several times for going out. If Brown Bears are living in the zoological garden, where is warmness and sufficient food, they completely abstain from winter rest.

The hibernation strategy with animals with constant body temperature is called torpor.

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