Colorado Squirrels Types and Plague (A Detailed Guide)

Typically, two types of squirrels are found in Colorado all around the year. They are tree squirrels and ground squirrels.

Some species of these rodents have occupied the mountains of Colorado as well.

Colorado Squirrels: 5 Types Of Squirrels Live In Colorado


Here are 5 types of squirrels live in Colorado.

CharacteristicsFox squirrelAbert’s squirrelRed squirrelPine squirrelRock squirrel
Scientific NameSciurus nigerSciurus abertiSciurus vulgarisTamiasciurus hudsonicus Tamiasciurus douglasii Tamiasciurus fremontiOtospermophilus variegatus
Average length50.8-76 cm46-58 cm19-23 cm27-35.5 cm53 cm
Lifespan8.6-12.6 yrs3-8 yrs3-10 yrs5-6 yrs2-3 yrs
ColorsBrown, blackgrayredrust, gray, black and whiteGray, brown
Weight range1-2.5 pounds620 g250-340 g141-312 g600-850 g
TemperamentdiurnaldiurnalActive during the day and eveningdiurnaldiurnal
PersonalityNon-territorialQuietNon-territorialHighly territorialsocial
Area (available in)Canada, Texas, DakotasArizona, New MexicoNorthern Europe, SiberiaCanada  Alaska, Northwestern MexicoMexico, Southwestern United States

Fox Squirrel

Fox Squirrel

Fox squirrels make up the largest species of tree squirrels. They are mostly found in forests that have either less or no understory vegetation.

A female fox squirrel produces two litters in a year. Baby squirrels are blind and hairless.

Fox squirrels generally take more time than other squirrels to develop completely.  

Abert’s Squirrel

Abert’s Squirrel

These squirrels also come under the category of tree squirrels and normally reproduce during the summer.

Abert’s squirrels were named after a military officer in America whose name was John James Abert.

Around nine subspecies of Abert’s squirrels have been recognized. These squirrels make use of ponderosa pines for their habitats, food, and shelter.

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel

Red squirrels are also recognized as tree squirrels and are herbivores. They are usually found in coniferous forests.

On average, a female Red squirrel produces two litters in a year. One between February to March and the second between May to June. One litter contains three baby squirrels known as kits. There has been a drop in Red squirrels population in the past few years.

Pine Squirrel

Pine Squirrel

Pine squirrels are tree squirrels that usually comprise three subspecies: American red squirrel, Douglas squirrel, Southwestern red squirrel.

These squirrels are granivores and have seeds, nuts, and small insects for food.

Female American red squirrels give birth to one litter each year, and each litter consists of one to five babies. Douglas squirrels have two litters in a year that usually contains four kits.

Rock Squirrel

Rock Squirrel

Rock squirrels are found on the grounds of Colorado and are herbivores. Typically, a female rock squirrel produces two litters per year, and each litter ranges from three to nine baby squirrels.

These squirrels fall prey to raptors, snakes, and some mammals as well.

Colorado Squirrel Characteristics

Here are some characteristics of colorado squirrels.

Fox Squirrel

Fox squirrels share some resemblance with American red squirrels even though their colors are different. Mostly, fox squirrels are brown with either a grayish or a yellowish shade on the upper part of their body.

In eastern areas, they are darker in color, with white bands around their face and tails. While in southern regions, they are usually plain black with no patterns or shades.

Fox squirrels have strong eyesight and a good sense of smell and hearing. In addition, they have whiskers around their eyes, chin, and nose to help them beware of the surroundings.

Abert’s Squirrel

These squirrels are also called tassel-eared squirrels because of the tassels of hair on their ears.

During the summers, these tufts either become small in size or disappear. Abert’s squirrels have gray hair on the sides, a white stomach, and red on the back.

They are good climbers and can make long jumps from branches.

Red Squirrel

The red squirrel has fur that changes color from different shades of black and red according to location and season.

They are mostly found in red that helps them in camouflaging with the wood of pine trees. Their bellies are whitish cream, and their fur comes off two times per year.

They have long tails and sharp claws to help them make long leaps from tree to tree while maintaining their balance.

Their tails also keep them comfortable when they are asleep. Their legs are strong, and they can swim too.

Pine Squirrel

American red squirrels have a red coat with a white stomach. They must find an area for themselves that suits them for living to survive. They are not very social and usually stay around their territories.

The Douglas squirrel shares physical resemblance with the American red squirrel. However, their bellies are more of a rusty shade.

Rock Squirrel

Rock squirrels are usually brown with shades of gray. This gray shade morphs into a darker brown on their bellies. Around their eyes, there are rings very light in color.

Their tails are tall with thick fur and have white edges. Their ears are positioned directly above their heads and are pointed at the ends.

Colorado Squirrels Plague

Around two millenniums ago, the Bubonic plague, also called the Black Death, was discovered in Asia. Within five years, 25 million people in Europe died because of this plague.

The Colorado squirrels have been known for carrying this plague since the 1940s. Although several rodents can spread this plague, ground squirrels are the most common transmitters.

It spreads to people very rarely, just in cases where a person has infected lungs by respiratory droplets or when bitten by infected fleas or rodents. Either way, they can be prevented by taking the simplest of precautions. Also, it can be cured by antibiotics as it is caused by bacteria called Yersinia Pestis.

Ground squirrels also get infected by this plague when bitten by infected fleas. Squirrels die because of it. The infected fleas usually find hosts, generally rodents, for the spread of this disease.

Squirrel Plague California

In California, the Bubonic plague is mostly found amongst ground squirrels and chipmunks. It does not infect humans, cats or other animals. They can get infected by it only when they go to wild areas where this plague is spread.

The last case of the Bubonic plague in California was recorded in 2020. Before that, two people tested positive for this plague when they were in a park in 2015. Both were treated and they recovered.

Squirrel Plague Tahoe

The plague found in squirrels, the Bubonic plague, was also detected in Tahoe when a dead squirrel with ten fleas was found at Lake Tahoe promptly resulting in the sites being temporarily closed. This affected the beautiful spots near Lake Tahoe which were pretty famous.

After the burrows of squirrels and other rodents were sprayed with insecticide, Lake Tahoe was opened a week later.

Colorado Squirrel Plague Symptoms

The symptoms of Bubonic plague are shown around two to six days after the person has been infected. It is better to treat this disease as soon as it is diagnosed to prevent any altercations.

  • The plague causes lymph nodes to swell greatly and leak puss after being developed.
  • A person may suffer from fever, chills, and pain in the abdomen, legs, and arm muscles. Headaches are also one of the common symptoms.
  • Patient starts becoming very weak.

6 Tips to Keep Colorado Squirrels Off Your Bird Feeders

  • Attach baffles to your bird feeder
  • Add either spice or seeds the squirrels don’t like, such as nyjer seeds
  • Grease the poles of your bird feeder
  • Attach bird feeders to a spinning hook
  • Keep your garden clean
  • Feed the squirrels separately to keep them off your bird feeder

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about Colorado squirrels.

What kinds of squirrels live in Colorado?

Colorado is home to two main categories of squirrels: tree squirrels and ground squirrels. The three main types of squirrels in Colorado are Fox, Abert’s, and Pine squirrel.

What is the most common squirrel in Colorado?

The most common squirrel that lives in Colorado is the Fox squirrel. It comes under the category of tree squirrels.

What disease did the squirrel have in Colorado?

The squirrel in Colorado had the Bubonic plague, also known as the Black Death. The squirrel tested positive for the Bubonic plague in the town of Morrison, and fifteen dead squirrels were found all over the town. All these were ground squirrels.

Where do squirrels sleep in Colorado?

During the night, tree squirrels go to sleep in the nests built with leaves, twigs, and other things they find in a forest. In contrast, the ground squirrels have made burrows for themselves underground where they sleep.

What do squirrels in Colorado eat?

Squirrels have a variety of food in Colorado. During the summers, squirrels eat fruits, insects, or small animals. They keep food stored for winters. When they finish all of it, they can start eating the wood of trees.

How long do squirrels live in Colorado?

Squirrels are found throughout the year in Colorado. They may live up to fifteen years. On the other hand, they may not even live for a single year when they live in the wilds, as they usually fall prey to other animals.

Do squirrels in Colorado hibernate?

Squirrels live in hibernation during the winters from August to February. This period may vary from six to eight months. They come out of hibernation when their stored food turns into fat. This also marks the start of their breeding period.

Do squirrels live in the Rocky Mountains?

Yes, squirrels do live in the rocky mountains at around 8500 feet high. They enjoy having the woods of ponderosa pines which are becoming rarer over time.

Are black squirrels rare?

While rare would not be the right for Black squirrels, they are not very common as well. Approximately only 1% of the squirrels are black as it is not a separate species. They are found amongst the subspecies of gray, red, ground, or flying squirrels.

Are black squirrels aggressive?

Unlike popular belief, Black squirrels are not aggressive. They are more aggressive than gray squirrels, but they are not a threat to them. Although, they are comparatively faster and stronger.

Do squirrels carry diseases to dogs?

A dog can be infected by killing a squirrel. While few diseases can be transferred to dogs by squirrels, squirrels carry a bacteria called Leptospirosis that attacks internal organs, especially the kidneys and livers.


Squirrels are so abundant in Colorado that you may find some of them in your neighborhood.

They usually like to nest where birds are high in numbers and are always busy doing just two things: either searching for food or building a shelter for themselves. While they may look cute, they are carriers of very harmful plagues that may infect you or your pet. So, be careful and consider these facts before interacting with a squirrel.

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