SQUIRREL, RED

Under Construction May 2011

RED SQUIRREL

Tamiasciurus hudsonicus

GUARD HAIR

Length: 10mm, tail hairs over 20mm  (Adorjan and Kolenosky 1969), 20-30mm (ASM #1) 10-13mm 45mm on tail (ASM #2)

Diameter Range: 37.5- 72.5 (ASM#1), 60-80 (ASM #2)

Medullary Index: 0.8-0.79 (ASM#1), 0.75 (ASM#2)

Medulla: Continuous and appearing in rows of three to four cells across the width of the medulla that are bubble-like, wider than tall, and connected at the farthest ends. The average width of the cells is 25 microns, and the length is 7.5 microns. The perimeter of the medulla appears as regularly occurring, continuous “M” shapes (ASM #1).  Similar characteristics were observed in ASM#2 only the medulla appeared to have a more checkerboard-like quality.

A second guard hair from ASM#2 showed a continuous medulla where no features were observable, just a solid, thick black line running the length of the hair.

Color: Light purplish-red throughout the cortex and in between the cells of the medulla (ASM#1). Samples from ASM#2 showed some fibers with no pigmentation throughout, and others with a dense brown black throughout the entirety of the hair.  One source says that the hairs are reddish fawn with a visible black band in the lower third.  Secondary guard hairs may be reddish fawn at the tip, but almost black in the primary guard hairs. Tail hairs ought to be black near base and light fawn at the tip.  Two fawn colored bands in middle (Adorjan and Kolenosky 1969).

Scales:  Scales usually have very smooth margins that are about 7.5 microns in length on average. There are about two to three scales per the width of the fiber. The scales appear to be consistent throughout the length of the hair. Shingle-like scales near base that have a tooth or two at each tip, then becoming close together and wide with smooth edges near the middle and finally wavy with rough edges and fairly closely spaced near the tip (looking at images from Adorjan and Kolenosky 1969).

UNDERFUR

Length: 7-15mm (ASM#1) 8mm (ASM #2)

Diameter Range: 15 microns (ASM #1)

Medullary Index: 0.33 (ASM#1)

Medulla: Uniserial ladder with cells that are slightly rounded (ASM#1)

Color: Faint reddish/purplish color

Scales: Stacked crowns

Macro Qualities:  White eye ring year round.  Olive brown with flecks of black in the summer, redder in winter (Forsyth 1999).  11-13” long on average including tail, with a rusty-olive color on upper body and whitish belly and underparts.  In summer, a dark strip on the side separates the upper rusty color from the white of the belly.  Tail may be oranger or redder and have light tipped hairs (ADF&G 2008).  Supposedly there is strip of white on the belly of all squirrels that has no underfur? (Bachrach 1953) Our taxidermy specimen is reddest along the top surfaces of back, head, tail.  White underbelly and eye ring.  Grey on cheeks and sides of neck.  Sides and outsides of legs are grizzled gray and banded.  Hairs at the tip of the tail are banded. (ASM #2)

Cultures:  For example: An old Russian method for trade sewed squirrel skins into “plates” ie 4 lines and 14 across (56 skins) gives a product 42” x 45”.  A “six line plate squirrel” may be 60 skins made from five lines ten across and measure 29” x 42” (Samet 1950).  Samet also refers to squirrel bellies and paws being sewn together and used for children’s coats, carriage covers etc.

Notes: ASM #1 is from the ASM education collection pelt ring, ASM #2 is a taxidermy mount for the ASM eagle tree exhibit made by AARRKK Taxidermy.

Troubleshooting: Squirrels (Arctic Ground, Northern Flying and Red) have shorter guard hairs than the other rodents observed, with a length not exceeding 30mm except on the tail where it might reach 35mm on the arctic ground squirrel and 45 mm on the red squirrel.  Underfur of squirrels also may have a distinct brownish tip after a seemingly colorless shaft for most of its length.  Squirrels may also have intermediate sized hairs with long narrow interrupted or uniserial ladder medulla near the base until the shield where the medulla looks like tire tread.  Distinguishing among the squirrels: arctic ground squirrel underfur has no medulla.  Northern flying squirrel is gray in color?  To distinguish squirrel from muskrat, observe the underfur.  Often, muskrat underfur has a gray appearance to the naked eye with a hint of cool lavender purple.  Under magnification, the underfur often has no medulla, or a few fibers will have an interrupted medulla. 

Range: Forested areas (ADF&G 2008).

Names: Order Rodentia (the rodents) Chickaree, fairydiddle, pine squirrel (Forsyth 1999). 

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