By Danielle Grobmeier / Photo by Bruce D. Taubert
Chiricahua fox squirrels live up to their name — their tails are characteristically bushy, like fox tails. Located as far north as Arizona’s Chiricahua Mountains and as far south as Jalisco, Mexico, adult Chiricahua fox squirrels are nearly 2 feet long with grayish-brown backs and reddish-brown or orange underbellies.
These large tree squirrels are elusive, making their numbers hard to measure. Therefore, in an effort to conserve the population, the Arizona Game and Fish Department prohibits the shooting of fox squirrels in the Chiricahuas.
Chiricahua fox squirrels usually make their homes in trees and thick growth at the bottoms of canyons. They subsist primarily on a diet of seeds, nuts, flowers and fungi, and they’re known to occasionally steal eggs from birds’ nests. Unlike many other squirrel species, Chiricahua fox squirrels do not store their food. Instead, they will scatter-hoard seeds by hiding them under loose soil or leaves.
Female Chiricahua fox squirrels, which are slightly larger than males, are capable of producing one litter every year, with each litter consisting of one or two babies. The squirrels are known to nest collectively. Because of their shy nature, they don’t often nest near campsites or gather food from feeding stations or trash cans, as other squirrels often do. When in danger, they usually remain motionless.