2 Types of Squirrels That Live in New Mexico! (2024)

What types of squirrels can you find in New Mexico?

common squirrels in new mexico

I have found squirrels cause a range of emotions. Some individuals find them adorable and love watching their crazy antics!

But many people can’t stand having squirrels around, particularly on their bird feeders! These feeding enthusiasts are constantly battling these acrobatic rodents to keep them on the ground and away from their bird food.

Regardless of your personal feelings, I think squirrels are interesting to learn about. If you are curious about all the species that can be found near you, please keep reading. 🙂

2 types of squirrels in New Mexico!

#3. Abert’s Squirrel

aberts squirrel

Scientific Name: Sciurus aberti

Average Length (Including tail): 18 – 23 inches / 46 to 58 cm

Weight: 19 – 34 oz / 540 – 971 g

The ears on an Abert’s Squirrel, which are also called Tassel-eared Squirrels, are unique, and it’s hard to mistake if you see one. Just look for long tufts of hair on each ear (except that the tufts disappear in summer)! In addition, they have a dark gray coat, pure white underbelly, and a noticeable rusty brown patch of fur on their back. They look a lot like the adorable Eurasian Red Squirrel, except for their color.

Abert’s Squirrels are found in New Mexico, primarily living in coniferous forests close to their favorite tree, the Ponderosa Pine.

Abert’s Squirrel Range Map

aberts squirrel range map

Ponderosa Pines play an important role in the life of Abert’s Squirrels.

In fact, these trees provide everything from food to nesting to protection from predators!

  • Food:

While these squirrels eat a wide variety of foods, Ponderosa Pines are their favorite and their primary nutrition throughout the entire year. In warm months, the seeds and buds are consumed. Incredibly, a single squirrel can eat the seeds from up to 75 pine cones per day!

During colder months, Abert’s Squirrels eat the inner bark of the actual tree, in addition to twigs. In winter, on average, about 45 twigs are eaten every day!

The Ponderosa Pine provides such a consistent food source throughout the year, the Abert’s Squirrel rarely stores any food for winter. This behavior is incredibly unique when it comes to squirrels!

  • Nesting:

Females will build twig nests, which resemble large, messy bird nests, on the branches of Ponderosa Pines. Adults will even use these shelters year-round for nightly protection. These squirrels would use a cavity, but pines rarely have holes big enough for nesting purposes.

  • Cover:

Abert’s Squirrels and Ponderosa Pines go hand in hand. These pine trees not only provide food and nesting areas, but their interlocking canopies serve as protection against predators. Animals such as hawks, particularly the Northern Goshawk, hunt these squirrels regularly.

Lastly, these adorable squirrels have a sweet tooth!

In spring, it’s possible to see them licking the sugary sap off the bark of Boxelder Trees, which are related to maples.

#2. Arizona Gray Squirrel

arizona gray squirrel

Scientific Name: Sciurus arizonensis

Average Length (Including tail): ~20 inches / ~50 cm

Weight: ~23 oz / ~567 grams

The Arizona Gray Squirrel has a small range and only lives in parts of Arizona and New Mexico. These squirrels are typically found at higher elevations in the mountains. Look for them by rivers in deciduous woods near trees that produce their favorite foods, which are acorns, walnuts, and pine cones.

Arizona Gray Squirrel Range Map

arizona gray squirrel range map

Interestingly, the breeding activity of these squirrels is correlated with the blooming of flowers! These mammals love feasting on flowers, and the nutrition and vitamins inside help sustain the energy demands required for reproduction.

Not much is known about the status of the Arizona Gray Squirrel, as they are shy and hard to study because they live in the mountains. But it’s thought that their population has declined, due to a few reasons.

First, these squirrels, like most animals, have experienced habitat loss. Second, it seems they are being out-competed by the larger Abert’s Squirrel, as it extends its range. Arizona Gray Squirrels are not currently on the Endangered Species List, but they may end up there eventually.

Which of these squirrels have you seen before in New Mexico?

Leave a comment below!

Learn more about other animals found in New Mexico HERE:

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  1. Watching an Arizona Grey munching on prickly pear in Ojo Caliente. Has eaten at least 6 in the past 20 minutes

  2. We live in Abiquiu, NM in a sparely populated area we have Arizona Grey Squirrels and Chipmunks all around the house and area every day and eveing. We keep a supply of fresh water available at all times and also feed for the animals and birds. From Time to time, we have a Coyote and a red fox visit.Have never seen the grey tufted ear squirrel here.We feel very fortunate to have these beautiful animals visit us.!!!!!

  3. Just saw this squirrel come out totally exposed himself after 14 years. He would always just peek his head out of the wood pile I never touch.

    Arizona Gray Squirrel.