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Red Squirrels Dining on Black Walnuts

1-4-15 black walnut 145The method in which a nut has been opened depends on both the species of nut as well as the species of animal that opened it. To complicate things further, it can be difficult to ascertain who opened a nut as a given species, such as the Red Squirrel, often has more than one way of opening a nut. However, a given squirrel usually chooses one way to open a nut and consistently uses that method, so that if you come upon a pile, or midden, of nuts eaten by a Red Squirrel, the nuts will most likely all have been opened in the same way.

The beveled edges on the hole in the pictured Black Walnut, the fact that it was opened from both sides (leaving the dividing rib between the two sides intact), and the central location of the holes are indications that a Red Squirrel dined on the nutmeat. The chewing of open, jagged holes on either side of a nut is a Red Squirrel’s most common method of opening a nut. Gray Squirrels tend to remove the entire side of a walnut, as opposed to chewing a hole in it.

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4 responses

  1. Bill Codington

    I think your tag has the wrong name for American Red Squirrel, should be Tamiasciurus hudsonicus, according to Wikipedia. Happened to notice yesterday that these two squirrels were not in the same genus.

    January 4, 2016 at 8:24 am

    • You’re absolutely right, Bill. I should have known that — my father’s name is Hudson!

      January 4, 2016 at 9:23 am

  2. fludwig12

    Owl’s face black walnut halves from gray squirrels?

    January 4, 2016 at 9:44 am

  3. My local red squirrels include in their diet hickory nuts, mushrooms, and crabapples. See here for stills and videos showing details of how they eat hickory nuts, and other stuff. If anyone can explain why they tap the nuts on the ground, I’d love to know.

    https://picasaweb.google.com/moira.yip/SmallMammals?authkey=Gv1sRgCJXZtMzbrpnJZg#

    January 4, 2016 at 11:31 am

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