A squirrel is common, or a bishop is a rodent of the squirrel family. The only representative of the genus protein in the fauna of Russia. In colloquial speech and fiction, it is often referred to as a "red squirrel", which leads to confusion, since in the US and Canada the same term designates a red squirrel - a representative of the genus Tamiasciurus.Appearance
This small animal is typically squirrel-looking, with an elongated slender body and a fluffy tail with a "comb". The length of her body is 19,5-28 cm, the tail is 13-19 cm (about 2 / 3 body length); Weight 250-340. Head is round, with large black eyes. Ears are long, with tassels, especially pronounced in winter. Sensitive vibrissae grow on the muzzle, forelegs and abdomen. Hind legs considerably longer than the forelimbs. Fingers with tenacious sharp claws. Hair on the sides of the tail reach a length of 3-6 cm, which makes the tail flattened.
The winter fur of the squirrel is tall, soft and fluffy, the summer fur is stiffer, rare, and short. On the variability of coloring, the protein holds one of the first places among the animals of the Palearctic. Its color changes seasonally, by subspecies and even within the same population. In summer, red, brown or dark-brown tones predominate in it; In winter - gray and black, sometimes with a brown tinge. The abdomen is light or white. There are melanic proteins with completely black fur and albinos, as well as pie proteins, whose fur is covered with white spots. According to the winter color of the tail, the squirrels are divided into "red-tailed", "brown-tailed" and "black-tailed". In the steppe forests of Western Siberia, there are squirrels-gray-tailed. The size of the protein decreases from the mountainous regions to the plains, the size of the skull is from the south to the north, and the color becomes lighter towards the center of the range. Black and brown tones of winter fur in the Carpathian, Far Eastern and Manchurian subspecies are replaced by bluish-gray and ash-gray, most pronounced in the protein-teleut. Simultaneously, the area of the belly white field increases in the same direction and the percentage of "red-tailed" increases.
The squirrel molts 2 times a year, with the exception of the tail, which sheds once a year. Spring molting occurs mainly in April-May, and autumnal - from September to November. Terms of molting strongly depend on fodder and meteorological conditions of the given year. In the harvest years molting begins and ends earlier, in bad years it is strongly delayed and stretched. Spring molt goes from head to tail root; Autumn - in reverse order. Adult males begin to molt earlier than females and juveniles. Molting in proteins, like in all other mammals, is caused by a change in the length of daylight, which affects the activity of the pituitary gland. The thyroid-stimulating hormone secreted by the pituitary gland affects the activity of the thyroid gland, under the action of the hormone which moults.
The squirrel lives in all forests of the European part of Russia, Siberia and the Far East. Around 1923-24 Appeared in Kamchatka, where it is now usual. On the territory of Russia, fossil remains of proteins are known from the late Pleistocene. The northern boundary of the distribution of proteins coincides with the northern boundary of the high-altitude forest: it starts in the north-west of Russia near the town of Kola, goes along the Kola Peninsula, then from Mezen through Ust-Tsilmu and Ust-Usu to the Northern Urals, from the Ural Range to the Middle Current R. Anadyr, and from there to the south-west along the coast Okhotsk и The Japanese seas To Sakhalin and Korea. The southern border in the west roughly coincides with the southern boundary of the forest-steppe, but at the southern tip of the Ural range it sharply turns north towards Shadrinsk, then goes through Omsk and northern Kazakhstan (Pavlodar, Semipalatinsk) to southern Altai. The rest of the southern range belongs to the Mongolian People's Republic, northeastern China, Korea and Japan. Since the end of 1930-ies. Protein was repeatedly dispersed in the mountains of the Caucasus, Crimea and Tien Shan, in the island forests of Central Kazakhstan, as well as in the Mogilev, Bryansk and Rostov regions.
The squirrel is a typical forest dweller. Since the basis of its nutrition is the seeds of tree species, it prefers mixed coniferous-broad-leaved forests that provide the best fodder conditions. Mature dark-coniferous plantations like cedar forests, spruce forests, fir-trees also like; Followed by larch forests, cedar thickets and mixed pine forests. In the north, where mainly pine and larch woodland grows, the density of its livestock is low. In the Crimea and the Caucasus, she mastered the cultural landscapes: gardens and vineyards. The lifestyle is predominantly woody. Squirrel is a living, mobile animal. It easily jumps from tree to tree (3-4 m in a straight line and 10-15 m along a descending curve), "tail". During the snowless period, as well as during the rut, considerable time spends on the ground, where it moves by jumps to a length of up to 1 m. In winter, it moves mainly by the "tops". When the danger lurks in the trees, usually hiding in the crown. Active in the morning and evening hours, from 60% to 80% of this time spending in search of food. At the height of winter leaves the nest only for the time of feeding, and in severe frosts and bad weather hides in the nest, falling into a half-demented state. Not territorial; Individual sites are weakly expressed, overlap. Shelter ordinary squirrel suits only on trees. In deciduous forests usually lives in hollows, pulling there a soft litter of grass, arboreal lichens, dry leaves. In the conifers he builds globular nests from dry branches (gayna), which are lined with moss, leaves, grass, and wool from the inside. Diameter of the socket - 25-30 cm; It is located in the fork of branches or among dense branches at an altitude of 7-15 m. The squirrel also willingly occupies birdhouses. Males usually do not build nests, but occupy empty nests of females or thrushes, forty, crows. As a rule, each animal has several nests (up to 15), and each 2-3 protein day changes its shelter, obviously, escaping from parasites. The female carries the cubs in the teeth. In winter, 3-6 protein can winter in one nest, although usually they are single animals.
The protein diet is very diverse and includes more than 130 names of feeds, among which the bulk of the seeds are coniferous trees: spruce, pine, cedar, fir, larch. In southern regions, where oak forests grow with an understory of hazel, they feed on acorns and hazelnuts. In addition, the protein consumes mushrooms (especially deer truffles), buds and shoots of trees, berries, tubers and rhizomes, lichens, herbaceous plants. Their share in the diet increases markedly when the main food fails. Very often, protein fiber is intensively eaten by floral spruce buds, causing damage to these plantations. During the breeding season, it does not disdain animal feeds - insects and their larvae, eggs, chicks, small vertebrates. After wintering, the squirrel readily gnaws at the bones of dead animals, visits solonetzes. The daily amount of food depends on the season: in the spring, during the rut, the protein eats up to 80 g per day, in winter - only 35. For the winter, the protein makes small stocks of acorns, nuts, cones, dragging them into hollows or burrowing among the roots, and also dries Mushrooms, hanging them on the branches. True, she quickly forgets about her warehouses and finds them accidentally in the winter, than other animals use - birds, small rodents, even brown bears. However, the protein itself uses the reserves of other animals (chipmunk, nutcracker, mice), which easily finds even under the 1,5 m layer of snow.
Proteins are very prolific. On most of the range, 1-2 litters are brought, in the southern regions - up to 3-x. Yakut squirrel usually has only 1 brood per year. The breeding season, depending on latitude, feeding conditions and population density, begins in late January-early March and ends in July-August. During the race near the female 3-6 males are held, who demonstrate aggression towards their competitors - loudly growl, beat their paws on branches, run after each other. After pairing with the winner, the female builds a brood nest (sometimes 2-3); It is neater and larger. Pregnancy lasts 35-38 days, in litter from 3 to 10 cubs; In the second litter less. Newborn babies are naked and blind, weighing about 8. They have hair follicles on 14 day, only on 30-32 day. From this moment they start to leave the nest. Milk is fed up to 40-50 days. At the age of 8-10 weeks, the mother leaves. Sexual maturity is reached in 9-12 months. Having grown the first litter, the female is somewhat fattened and mated again. The interval between broods is about 13 weeks. In October-November the squirrel stock on 2 / 3, and sometimes also on 75-80%, consists of squirrel-squirrels.