The Kaibab Squirrel

Famous Kaibab White-Tailed Squirrel

Kaibab White-Tailed Squirrels are only found in the ponderosa pine forests of the northern Kaibab Plateau near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. They are unique in the possession of conspicuous tufts of long hairs on the ears, and white plumy tails. Their bodies can sometimes be twelve inches or more in length, with their tails almost as long. Their bodies are a dark grizzled gray, with a russet stripe down the back. Their tails, probably their most noticeable feature, are broad, feathery, and nearly pure white.


The reason for this odd combination of coloring is that these particular squirrels never hibernate, so they must be able to camouflage themselves in all seasons. Kaibab squirrels are truly remarkable in their ability to adapt to their surroundings. Their body color allows them to blend in with the tree bark, while their white tails camouflage them with clouds or snow in the winter.


These squirrels do not lay a store of food for the winter months, and have come up with ingenious ways to ensure that they have a ready food supply. Their food is primarily the cambium layer (inner bark) of ponderosa pine twigs. They also eat pine cones, weeds, and mushrooms.


Kaibab Squirrels are most active in the early morning and evening. They are expert at hiding from sight among the branches of trees. When excited or angry, they have a chuckling or deep churring call that is not easily recognized by one who has not heard of it, but as a rule they are very silent. They build nests of pine twigs, needles, grasses, bark, or anything available among the branches of living trees. These homes are thirty or forty feet above the ground and larger than a bushel basket. The young squirrels stay in these homes until two-thirds grown.

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