One of the more striking of the squirrel species, the Albert’s squirrel has dark ear tufts, a gray body with a rusty stripe down its back and bright white undersides.
Habitat: Dependent upon ponderosa pine vegetation.
Food Preferences: Plant materials including leaf buds, acorns, forbs, fungi, and in particular, the seeds of ponderosa pine trees.
Distribution: 5,000–9,000 feet along the Mogollon Plateau and White Mountains.
No fewer than four species and eight subspecies of tree squirrels can be found in Arizona’s forests. Of these, the Abert’s, a tassel-eared squirrel, is the most widespread and contributes most to the annual squirrel harvest.
This squirrel, with its easily discernable ear tufts or tassels, along with its close relative, the black-bellied and white-tailed Kaibab squirrel, are exclusively inhabitants of ponderosa pine forests and the life cycles of the squirrels and the tree are remarkably intertwined.
Less well known is the Arizona gray squirrel and its close relative, the rust colored Chiricahua fox squirrel, both of which inhabit riparian deciduous forests and oak woodlands south of the Mogollon Rim.
Another species is the chicaree, piney or red squirrel (actually more olive or gray than red in Arizona), which is restricted to the higher forests of spruce and fir above 8,500 feet elevation. Both the tassel-eared and gray squirrels average a little under 1.5 pounds in weight, while the diminutive red squirrel averages just over 0.5 pounds.
Abert’s Squirrel Viewing Areas
Abert’s squirrels are commonly found in ponderosa forests, which includes most of the trails in the White Mountains ares. However, you probably don’t need to travel far to find Abert’s squirrels. You can usually find Abert’s squirrels in some of the Pinetop-Lakeside trails and parks, including: