The Red Squirrel is a noisy little squirrel, often using a loud, harsh, strident call as a means of announcing the presence of an intruder. The Red Squirrel is easily identified by his rusty red colored fur above with whiter fur below. He is a little smaller than the Gray Squirrel and has a somewhat less bushy tail. He is usually about 7 ½-8 ½ inches long in the body with a 4-6 inch tail.
While you will find several ground squirrels and chipmunks inside Zion National Park, the Red Squirrel is more likely to be found in the higher elevations of Bryce Canyon National Park with its mountainous forests and more abundant Ponderosa Pine. This is not to say that you will not find him in Zion at all- especially in places where tourists are known to sit down for lunch!
Like many animals, the Red Squirrel is most active in the short hour or two just after sunrise and just before sunset. Much of a Red Squirrel’s summer day is spent in cutting down pine cones and caching them in a private log or burrow. During the winter, the seeds found within these cached pine cones will serve as their nourishment. The Red Squirrel is also known to feast on various mushrooms that would be quite fatal to humans. Along with pine seeds and poisonous mushrooms, the Red Squirrel also feasts daily upon tree sap, buds, and sometimes even bird eggs and nestlings. These Red Squirrels are themselves an important source of food to many birds of prey.
Like many rodents, they are known to carry many deadly diseases, so even though they may be cute it is wise to resist the urge to pet them. A bite from a rodent is much more to be feared than a Mountain Lion. If you see a Red Squirrel on your visit to Utah’s National Parks, be sure to keep at arm’s length (or even longer.)