Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
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last updated: 03/18/2014
Oregon Species

Oregon Wildlife Species

Mammal Species of Oregon - Squirrels

Opossum | Shrews, Moles, and Shrew-moles | Bats | Pikas, Rabbits and Hares | Mountain beaver | Squirrels, Chipmunks, and Marmots | Pocket Gophers | Pocket Mice, Kangaroo Rats and Kangaroo Mouse | Beavers | Rats, Mice, Voles, Muskrats | Porcupines | Coyotes, Wolves and Foxes | Bears | Seals and Sea Lions | Ringtails and Raccoons | Weasels, Badgers, Otters and Skunks | Cats | Hoofed Mammals | Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises
Order Rodentia
Squirrels, Chipmunks, and Marmots - Family Sciuridae
Yellow-pine Chipmunk
Yellow-pine Chipmunk

Yellow-pine Chipmunk Tamias amoenus

The Yellow-pine Chipmunk is one of the smallest in Oregon, only slightly larger than the Least Chipmunk. Its face is marked with a dark stripe, followed laterally by two alternate light and dark stripes. The outermost light strip is nearly white.

It occurs on the east slope of the Western Cascades and eastward through most of the remainder of Oregon, except it is absent from most of the Columbia Basin and much of southern Harney, eastern Malheur, and southern Baker counties. Its range also extends westward in the Siskiyou Mountains in southern Jackson and Josephine counties. Ponderosa pine seems to be the common factor in habitats occupied by this species.

Yellow pine chipmunks are active during the daylight hours, with activity commonly commencing slightly before sunrise, then, following a midday break during hot days, continuing until slightly after sunset.

Least Chipmunk
Least Chipmunk

Least Chipmunk Tamias minimus

The Least Chipmunk is the smallest chipmunk in Oregon, but it is only slightly smaller than the Yellow-Pine Chipmunk As in all chipmunks, the face is marked with a dark stripe through the eye bordered on each side with a light- and a dark-colored stripe. The middorsum is marked with a dark-colored stripe followed on each side by two alternating light- and dark-colored stripes.

The Least Chipmunk has the largest geographic range of any chipmunk. In Oregon it occurs east of the Cascade Range except in the Columbia Basin and most of the Blue Mountains. In general it is a chipmunk of the shrub-steppe, but sometimes it occurs at the edges of open forests.

Least Chipmunks are active during the daylight hours. It moves swiftly through its habitat, disappearing when pursued too closely, but reappearing a little further away if the observer remains motionless for a few moments. They can often be seen sitting in the tops of shrubs.

Allen's Chipmunk Tamias senex

The Pelage of this chipmunk is marked with five dark and four light stripes on the dorsum; the middorsal stripe is usually black and nearly always darker than the other four dark stripes. The sides of the face are marked with three brown and two light gray stripes, a patch behind the ear is light gray. The tail is blackish frosted with ochre dorsally and rusty brown ventrally. Allen's Chipmunk produces a call of a rapid series of three-four to as many as 10 syllables.

In Oregon, it occurs in forested areas along the eastern part of the Cascade Range fro Ollalie Forest Camp and Warm Springs in Jefferson County south to E Ashland, Jackson County, and Lakeview, Lake County. These chipmunks are forest dwellers that, in addition to climbing in trees, frequent dense thickets and rocky outcrops. These chipmunks are superb climbers.

Siskiyou Chipmunk Tamias siskiyou

The Siskiyou Chipmunk is slightly smaller than the Townsend's Chipmunk and slightly larger than the Allen's Chipmunk. The pelage is marked with five dark and four light stripes on the dorsum; the middorsal stripe is usually black and nearly always darker than the other four dark stripes. The sides of the face ar marked with three brown and tow light gray stripes; a patch behind the ear is light gray.

It occurs in Curry, Josephine and Jackson counties south of the Rogue River; in extreme western Klamath County; in extreme eastern Douglas and Lane counties; and in extreme southeastern Linn County.

Siskiyou chipmunks exhibit three diurnal peaks of activity: an early morning peak, a midday peak, and the maximum peak in early evening.

Townsend's Chipmunk Tamias townsendii

Townsend's chipmunk is the largest member of the genus in Oregon.The pelage of this chipmunk is dark and dull but as in other Oregon chipmunks there is a dark brown to blackish middorsal stripe with alternate light and dark stripes, laterally, a total of five dark and four light stripes. Alternate dark (three) and light (two) stripes adorn the sides of the face. The throat, belly, and a patch behind the ear are white. The tail is black on the tip and the margins are frosted above with buff or white-tipped hairs.

Townsend's Chipmunks have been found on the west slope of the Cascade Range in Clackamas, Linn, and Lane counties in old-growth forests and clear-cuttings. They tend to be more secretive than most and are heard more often than seen. When active, they tend to stay in the shadows or hidden by thick vegetation. When observed, they commonly are sitting on a stump, log, or low branch.

Yellow-bellied Marmot
Yellow-bellied Marmot

Yellow-bellied Marmot Marmota flaviventris

The Yellow-bellied Marmot is the largest squirrel in Oregon. It has short legs, a short and bushy tail, and ears short and covered with fur. The pelage consists of a dense, wooly underfur covered by long, course guard hairs and is distinctively colored and marked.

In Oregon, it occurs in suitable habitats east of a line connecting Mt. Hood, Hood River County, and Mt. Mazama, Klamath County, except for the Columbia Basin. The primary requisites of suitable habitats for the Yellow-bellied Marmot ar boulders of piles of rocks and an abundance of succulent vegetation in close proximity thereto. Occasionally, an abandoned building or pile of logs serves as a substitute for rocks.

Marmots hibernate; body temperature, heart rate, respiration, and physiological processes decline to extremely low levels. In central Oregon, marmots emerged from hibernation the last week of February or the 1st week of March, adult males first, followed in order by adult females, yearling females, and yearling males. Adults remained active for 135-150 days, entering hibernation by the end of July, or for juveniles mid August.

White-tailed Antelope Squirrel
White-tailed Antelope Squirrel

White-tailed Antelope Squirrel Ammospermophilus leucurus

The White-tailed Antelope Squirrel is the smallest species of ground squirrel in Oregon. Although rather cryptically colored, it is marked distinctively: the grayish-brown dorsum and sides are separated by a white stripe on each side. The stripes are tapered at both ends and extend from behind the ear to near the base of the tail. A white line encircles each eye, the underside of the tail is white grading to grayish near the tip and the benter is white.

In Oregon it occurs south and east of a line connecting Bale, Malheur County; Harney Lake, Harney County and Paisley, Lake County.

The White-tailed Antelope Squirrel is active at all seasons. It does not hibernate. When active above ground, these squirrels move from one shady spot to the next extremely rapidly with the tail held over the back as a sunshade.

California Ground Squirrel
California Ground Squirrel
-Photo by Kathy Munsel, ODFW-

California Ground Squirrel Spermophilus beecheyi

The California Ground Squirrel is a large, long-tailed gray squirrel with a large, nearly black, triangular patch between light-gray shoulder patches. The gray dorsal pelage is speckled with buffy white spots. The tail is bushy, but not so full and spreading as those of tree squirrels.

In Oregon, it occurs throughout the area west of the Cascade Range and eastward through southern Klamath and Lake counties to Lakeview, Lake County. An arm of the range also extends from the Columbia River in Hood River, Wasco, and Sherman counties southward through Jefferson and Crook counties to Prineville, Crook County. It is considered among the most generalized of the ground squirrels; it inhabits a variety of habitats.

Although it is a ground-dwelling squirrel it has a strong propensity to climb. It ic commonly observed sitting on fence posts, stumps, brush piles, foundations of razed buildings, boulders or other objects that extend above the grade, and occasionally up in trees.

Belding's Ground Squirrel
Belding's Ground Squirrel

Belding's Ground Squirrel Spermophilus beldingi

Belding's Ground Squirrel is a medium sized ground squirrel without spots, stripes, or splotches. The pelage is smoky gray with some pinkish on the face, feet, and venter, and with a more or less well-defined reddish or brownish band in the middorsal region. The tail is cinnamon on the ventral surface.

In Oregon it occurs south and east of a line connecting Enterprise, Wallowa County; Heppner, Morrow County; Maupin, Wasco County; Sisters, Deschutes County' Diamond Lake, Douglas County and Fish Lake, Jackson County. It may occur in steppe and shrub-steppe area, particularly in meadows; sagebrush flats; and small-grain pasture , and hay-crop fields, and sometimes in openings in woodlands.

The Belding's Ground Squirrel spends 6-8 months in topor; duration and dates of immergence vary with elevation. In preparation, these squirrels become obese as they must rely on body fats for energy during dormancy.

Columbia Ground Squirrel
Columbia Ground Squirrel
-Photo by Keith Kohl, ODFW-

Columbian Ground Squirrel Spermophilus columbianus

The Columbian Ground Squirrel is the larger of the two short-tailed, spotted ground squirrels in Oregon. The pelage of this squirrel is strikingly different from that of other ground squirrels in Oregon. The dorsum is brownish to dark gray with orangy-tan spots; the face, feet and legs are a bright orangey rust; and the venter is yellowish rust. The head and neck are grayish. The tail is grayish or rusty.

In Oregon, the species occurs in the Wallowa and Blue Mountains in small openings and meadows in forested areas. Most of these areas flood each spring so the ground squirrels are restricted to the edges of meadows or to mounds within them.

Columbian Ground Squirrels spend an average of 245-255 days in tupor and an average of only 69-94 days active. While above ground they spend more time alert than in any other activity. This ground squirrel engages in a greeting behavior that resembles kissing, touching mouth and nasal areas usually for 1-5 seconds before other social behavior.

Wyoming Ground Squirrel
Wyoming Ground Squirrel

Wyoming Ground Squirrel Spermophilus elegans

The Wyoming Ground Squirrel is a medium-sized ground squirrel without spots stripes, or splotches. The dorsal pelage is grayish with a slight buffy wash. In the field, it appears distinctly more yellowish than other ground squirrels that it might be confused with. The tail is usually longer, as well.

This ground squirrel is found in southeastern Oregon. The Wyoming Ground Squirrel emerges from hibernacula in the spring and by late July have again entered tupor. During the active season, individuals usually become active within an hour after sunrise.

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel
Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel
-Photo by Simon Wray, ODFW-

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel Spermophilus lateralis

The Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel doubtlessly is the most distinctively marked ground squirrel in Oregon; a white stripe bordered on both sides by a blake stripe extends from the shoulder to the hip. From nose to nape above the eye, the head is russet. The back between the stripes is grizzled dark grayish-brown becoming less grizzled on the rump; lateral to the stripes the color grades to a light buffy-gold on the venter. The face, shoulders, front legs, and feet a a bright orangish-gold.

This ground squirrel occupies the east slope of the Cascade Range and most of central Oregon, and the Siskiyou mountain, Wallowa Mountains, on Steens Mountain and southeastward south of Huntington, Baker County.

The Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel is active diurnally from late winter-early spring to midautumn. Most of its activity is confined to the ground where it travels rapidly among sumps, logs, or other slightly elevated prominences. In late summer it is highly visible as it scurries about gleaning seeds.

Merriam's Ground Squirrel Spermophilus canus

Merriam's Ground Squirrel is one of the two small gray ground squirrels in Oregon without stripes or spots.

Most of the geographic range of this squirrel is in Oregon, where it occurs south and east of a line connecting Huntington, Baker County' North Powder, Union County; Squaw Butte, Wheeler County' Maupin, Wasco County' Warm Springs, Jefferson County; Bend, Deschutes County; and Fort Rock, Summer Lake, and Plush, Lake County. This species does not occur south of the North Fork Owyhee River in Malheur County.

These ground squirrels emerge in early march, breed, rear their young, become exceedingly fat and immerge into their hibernacula by early August.

Piute Ground Squirrel Spermophilus mollis

The Piute Ground Squirrel is the other of the two small gray ground squirrels without stripes or spots.

In Oregon, it occurs south of Sheepshead and Cedar mountains in Malheur County. It is a species of the high desert and commonly occurs in habitats in which the dominant shrub is big sagebrush, saltbush, or greasewood. It is commonly associated with rocky outcrops, levees, railroad embankments, ditchbanks, and sand dunes. Some occur in fencerows and edges of alfalfa and small-grain fields.

These ground squirrels are usually active for 3-5 months each year. They emerge from their hibernacula in February or early March. Although the species is diurnal, most activity is restricted to the cooler morning hours when winds are calm. Much of the active period is devoted to feeding. It climbs into shrubs to feed on the leaves or to obtain a better view of the surrounding area. It can also swim well.

Washington Ground Squirrel Spermophilus washingtoni

The Washington Ground Squirrel is the smaller of the two short-tailed, spotted ground squirrels in Oregon. The dorsum has squarish grayish-white spots on a background of pale smoky-gray with a pinkish wash to brownish gray.

This squirrel is endemic to the Deschutes-Columbia Plateau Province east and south of the Columbia River and east of the John Day River.

A colonial species, it emerges from dormancy in January-early March, males before females. At the approach of a potential threat the Washington Ground Squirrel produces a soft, lisping whistle. Other members of the colony respond by standing upright, repeating the whistle, and quickly retiring to their burrows.

Eastern Gray Squirrel
Eastern Gray Squirrel

Eastern Gray Squirrel Sciurus carolinensis

The Eastern Gray Squirrel is the smallest member of the genus in Oregon. This squirrel was introduced into Oregon and can now be found in Salem, Marion County; Portland and Milwauki, Multnomah County; and Vale, Malheur County. All populations in Oregon have been found in urban areas.

This squirrel is active throughout the year, activity restricted to daylight hours.

Western Gray Squirrel
Western Gray Squirrel
-Photo by Kathy Munsel, ODFW-

Western Gray Squirrel Sciurus griseus

The Western Gray Squirrel is the largest tree squirrel in the state. It occurs from central Wasco, Jefferson, Deschutes, and Klamath counties west, except for unforested portions of the Willamette Valley, to central Washington, Benton, Lane, Douglas, Coos, and Curry counties. It is commonly associated with mixed forest communities.

These squirrels are wary and secretive, but curious; they examine new objects placed in their environment but, once captured, they often avoid live traps. It is active at all seasons and exhibits diurnal activity almost exclusively.

Eastern Fox Squirrel
Eastern Fox Squirrel

Eastern Fox Squirrel Sciurus niger

The Eastern fox squirrel is among the larger of the tree squirrels in Oregon. Its body is the typical squirrel shape. The ears are short, rounded, and without tufts. The tail is flattened and somewhat fluffy.

In Oregon, it has been found in Multnomah, Washington, Marion, Lane, Union, Clackamas, Yamhill and Baker counties, all occurring in urban areas or in association with nut orchards.

It is active throughout the year. All activity is during daylight with its greatest activity during early morning and late afternoon. During autumn, they are exceptionally active on the ground, scatter-hording nuts and acorns as they mature and ripen.

Douglas' Squirrel
Douglas' Squirrel

Douglas' Squirrel Tamiasciurus douglasii

The Douglas' Squirrel is one of the smaller tree squirrels in Oregon. The color and markings of this squirrel differ individually, geographically and seasonally, appearing a dusky olive to brownish gray with an indistinct band of reddish brown with a blackish band along the flanks.

In Oregon it occurs in coniferous forests from the Pacific coast to as far east as western Baker County.

Douglas' squirrels are active during the daylight hours year-round; although they may remain in their nests or tree dens for a day or two during inclement weather.

Red Squirrel Tamiasciurus hudsonicus

The Red Squirrel is also a small tree squirrel, only slightly larger than the Douglas' Squirrel. They occur in the montane forested portions of Wallowa, Union, Umatilla, Morrow, Malheur and Baker counties. It is a largely arboreal, forest-dwelling species and although often occupying areas vegetated by other conifers, it is associated most frequently with lodgepole pine.

Activity patterns of Red Squirrels are similar to those of Douglas' Squirrels. Much activity is directed toward foraging, gathering and catching cones, feeding, and resting.

Northern Flying Squirrel Glaucomys sabrinus

The Northern Flying Squirrel is the smallest arboreal squirrel in Oregon. It is typically squirrel-like except that the fore- and hind legs are connected by a furred patagium that extends from the ankle to the wrist. It is lead colored with buffy brown to brown tips.

It occurs in forested areas west of the Cascade Range and eastward to near Lakeview, Lake County and Paulina Lake, Deschutes County. The species also occurs in the Blue, Ochoco, and Wallowa mountains.

The activity of the Northern Flying Squirrel is mostly nocturnal although individuals my be observed abroad during light hours on rare occasions. They are usually active for 2 hours immediately after sunset, then after a sojourn in the nest are active for 1.25 hours in the few hours before sunrise. Activity continues throughout the year, even at low temperatures and in snow.

Sources: Land Mammals of Oregon by B.J. Verts and Leslie N. Carraway

Living with Tree Squirrels

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
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